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.
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.