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Cooler Master's HAF XB: Give Your LAN Party Box Breathing Room

Introducing Cooler Master's HAF XB

Cooler Master visited the Tom's Hardware office in Culver City, CA before introducing its HAF XB. Company representatives proudly showed off the design, which was unlike anything we had seen or used before. I'll fully admit to being dubious that a configuration consuming so much horizontal space would take off. And yet, when I talk to enthusiasts or stop by booths at trade shows, I'm seeing a lot of the HAF XB.

The appeal is that the case lets you put your storage and power supply on one level at the bottom of the case. Your motherboard and other platform components sit on the top level of this double-decker enclosure, enjoying unobstructed airflow from the front to the back. Depending on the version you buy (one has a mesh top and the other is windowed), even more hot air can be pushed out. You can clearly see how this would be a nice setup on a test bench like the ones we use every day. 

Of course, it's easy enough to work inside the HAF XB with a top and side panels that can all be removed. This makes the case's role as an open bench system even more appropriate. And because it has your motherboard lying flat, it'd be pretty ideal for keeping a liquid nitrogen-cooled platform stable and self-contained, too.

But even if your end goal is a regular desktop PC cooled by air or closed-loop liquid, Cooler Master's HAF XB does, in fact, have a lot to offer. As you can see, it's pretty darned spacious and even accommodates a couple of hot-swappable hard drives. Want a pair of compact water coolers? You can do that. Suffice it to say that, despite some initial trepidation, this chassis positively surprised us with its many well thought-out details.

Again, the HAF XB is available in two versions. One has a window on top of the case, while the other one employs a mesh top with the option to install a 200 mm case fan.

Packaging

Cooler Master's HAF XB is spacious inside, but won't break your delivery guy's back with unwieldy packaging. Two recessed handles on the sides make transport easier, too. The box features a thin film finish that conveys quality on the outside, and the back boasts a small illustrated guide to the case's unique features.

Unfortunately, the inside of the box does come packed with Styrofoam to hold the case securely in place. Once you pull the HAF XB out, you'll need to break out your vacuum cleaner.

In the Box

Cooler Master's included accessories shouldn't leave you wanting. The only trouble you'll run into is locating them all, since they're hidden in the lower hard drive bay. Pull the extras out, though, and you'll find a detailed and well-illustrated manual that walks through the installation step-by-step, and in nice print quality. There’s also a familiar assortment of screws that match the case for installing add-ins and accessories, plus a handful of cable ties and eight side rails for the tool-less 2.5” drive installation.

Two drives can be installed in the bays using hot-swap connectors, and a separate drive cage accepts storage devices that don't require this functionality. Cooler Master goes so far as to bundle a Piezo speaker and a small hexagon bit that lets you fasten the motherboard spacers with a normal screwdriver.

  • supermag24
    bitfenix prodigy > HAF XB
    Review the prodigy.

    Good review, though.
    Reply
  • ohyouknow
    Absolutely love this case. Only thing I don't like is motherboard removal is a pita if you have a water cooler and want to add drives to the bottom compartments. Nice and clean up top.
    Reply
  • panderaamon
    i've been using this case for the last 2.5 months. my only problem is that my H100i cant work in 4 fan mod cause my GTX 570 DIICU is 3mm's longer than i calculated. oh well, 3 fan mod is working nice. also whatever you do get the upper case fan aswell. use it as an exhaust. you'll be suprised what a difference it makes.
    Reply
  • midnightgun
    The only change I would like made to this case is the ability to mount rads to the top where the 200mm face spot is. I am really interested in this case for my build early next year. Will you also be reviewing the Corsair Carbide Air 540?
    Reply
  • thebluephilip
    i really love this case! perfect for almost all around duties regarding pcs. :)
    Reply
  • Vlad Razvan
    I fell in love with the HAF XB first time I saw it. Have been using one for three months now - lots of space, extremely well ventilated, easy to work with, and a great looker too.

    Initially I wanted to go for an expensive 250$ case so my crossfire configuration could fit and have enough ventilation, but then I saw this thing for 125$, bought it and we have been happy ever since.

    PROTIP - buy the quietest 120 and 140mm fans you can find or get a fan controller. If you keep the stock frontal fans, you're gonna have a noisy time.
    Reply
  • Vlad Razvan
    11393992 said:
    bitfenix prodigy > HAF XB
    Review the prodigy.

    Good review, though.

    For a lanparty, yes, the prodigy es better because it's smaller. As a high-end PC enclosure / testbench - HAF XB is way better. My sister used to keep a pair of GTX 480s in SLi in her HAF XB - it's one of the few cases with good enough ventilation for such hot hardware.
    Reply
  • cscott_it
    Kai,

    Given your experience with this case (and any previous case testing), do you think the HAF XB would cool well with better fans? You wouldn't happen to have the time and a couple of decent Noctua or Thermaltake (the models with the fluid bearing) to test with, would you?

    Also, any thoughts on the stock fans rated CFM vs. actual amount of heat dispersed and any impressions with them? My experience with Coolermaster's case fans has been unfavorable over the years.
    Reply
  • dgingeri
    I absolutely love my HAF XB. I don't use the internal 2.5" drive bays, though. I used a Vantec 5.25" to 4X2.5" hot swap drive bay adapter, for a total of 6 hotswap drive bays. I have 4 SSDs installed, with no mechanical storage. I use a HAF 932 for my storage server, keeping my personal data stored elsewhere so it can be independently virus scanned and backed up. This way I can take my main system places without risking my personal data. I mess around with the insides of my main system enough that this saves me a ton of frustration. It's just awesome.

    For the guy who suggested the Bitfenix Prodigy as an alternative to this: what are you, crazy? That thing is a mini-ITX case. It could never pull the duty of this case. It's worthless to any of my needs. Go play with your toys and leave the big boys to talk here.
    Reply
  • rolli59
    Looking good, one of my favorite cases.
    Reply