Cooler Master HAF X
Cooler Master released the HAF (High Air Flow) case series in 2008. The first in the lineup was the HAF-932, followed later by the smaller HAF-922. Today we get the next step in the HAF evolution, the HAF X. True to the HAF design concept the HAF X has been designed to have excellent air flow and a few new features as well. Cooler Master has said the MSRP of the HAF X in the US will be $199.99. At that price it could put up a fight for other high-end enthusiast cases like the Corsair Obsidian 700D.
The HAF X carries a similar look to the previous HAF cases. Rugged looking panels with large mesh grills, definitely not something you would see in a classic home theater setup. The HAF X lives up to its HAF name by coming with a 200mm fan in the top, a 200mm fan on the side, a 230mm fan in the front and a 140mm fan in the rear. It comes with the ability to add an additional 200mm fan to the top, 120mm fan for the GPU air duct and an 80mm fan to the GPU support bracket. Some of the new features in the HAF X are the nine PCI slots, two Super Speed USB 3.0 ports on the front panel, two front accessible hot swap drive bays that will support 2.5” and 3.5” hard drives, GPU support bracket, and a GPU cooling duct. The GPU cooling duct was co-developed with nVidia to meet their requirements for cooling the notoriously hot GTX480. It will also support SLI configurations. Now, before we get into all of this in detail let's take a look at the specifications for the HAF X. Cooler Master HAF X Specifications
- Color: Black
- Material: Steel + Plastic
- Dimension (DxWxH): 230 x 550 x 599mm (9.1 x 21.7 x 23.2 inch)
- Weight: 14.35kg
- Motherboard Type: Micro-ATX, ATX, E-ATX
- 5.25” Bays: 6
- 3.5” Bays”: 5 Hidden
- SATA HDD Drive Bay/2.5” Drive Bay: 2 (Converted from 5.25” drive bay)
- I/O Panel: 2x USB3.0, 2x USB2.0, 1x 1394a, 1x eSATA, 1x Audio, 1x Mic
- Expansion slots: 9
- Cooling System:
- Front: 1x 230x30mm red LED fan with LED switch, 700RPM, 19dBA
- Top: 2x 200x30mm fans, 700RPM, 19dBA (one optional)
- Side: 1x 200x30mm fans, 700RPM, 19dBA
- Rear: 1x 140x25mm, 1200RPM, 19dBA
- VGA Fan Duct: 1x 120x25mm or 120x38mm (optional)
- VGA Holder: 1x 80x15mm (optional)
HAF X Case Packing
The HAF X comes packed in a nice look box with a shot of the case and the HAF X logo on one side.
Case shots point out all the new features on the other.
Opening the box we can see the HAF X is shipped in foam end caps and wrapped in plastic.
The side panel comes with a protective film.
The first things that I noticed when looking at the HAF X were that the HAF logo was missing from the side of the case and the L shape side panel window.
Starting at the very top the HAF X can support two 200mm fans. The top of the case has two large open mesh vents with screens.
At the very top of the front panel we have the power, reset and LED switches.
The switches can be covered/protected by sliding a cover over them.
Just below the switches are the front I/O ports consisting of a pair of USB3.0 ports on the front of the case. There is also a pair of USB2.0 ports as well as an eSATA, 1394a, and audio ports.
The bottom two 5.25” bays are hot swap bays. Each bay can use either 2.5” or 3.5” hard drives.
At the bottom we have an access panel to the front fan and filter for easy cleaning.
External Impressions Continued
The panel is somewhat plain, but it does have some bulges that will allow for more room for cables to be routed behind the motherboard tray.
Moving around to the back we can get a good overall look. The first thing that jumps out is the HAF X that has 9 expansion slots.
Interestingly, the HAF X has three water cooling pass through points. Two of these are meant for water cooling tubes, the third is for allowing the front panel USB3.0 port cabling to reach the rear motherboard I/O ports as currently there are no USB3.0 headers on motherboards. So Cooler master made allowances for the end user to run cables through the case and out the back.
The HAX-X’s rear exhaust fan is a single 140mm fan.
There are 9 expansion slots on the HAF X. Cooler Master went with 9 slots as this allowed for quad SLI and Crossfire X configurations no matter the board type. To the side of the expansion slots there is a small slot for mounting the GPU support bracket. Next to that is a large vent area.
The bottom of the HAF X has a large vent for the PSU area. The vent is large enough that no matter the length of your PSU the fan should be able to get fresh air. There is also an option for case feet.
The HAF X comes with 4 rubber pads that are glued into small recesses in the case bottom. These don’t allow for the HAF X to sit very high up off the floor. In fact, if you have real plush carpet I doubt it would be off the floor at all.
Cooler Master also provided mounting points for the casters. That will make moving a fully loaded HAF X around much easier as well as raise it off the floor more.
Moving inside the HAF X
Pulling the side panel off we can start to get a look at the inside of the HAF X. The HAF X has some new features that previous HAF cases didn’t have, like all blacked out interior, GPU air duct and a PSU cable management partition.
Looking at inner side of the side panel there is a duct that will push air onto the expansion card area. More on how this works with the GPU duct later.
There are six 5.25” bays on the HAF X. The upper four are tool-less, the lower two have been converted to hot swap drive bays. If you choose not to use the hot swap drive bays then you can remove the backing plate and use the bay as a standard 5.25” bay. It will just not be tool-less.
Pulling the hot swap bays out we can see the drive connections. The plate that holds the back plane is attached to the 5.25" bay with four screws and is vented to allow air to move through the cages.
Below the 5.25” bays is the internal 3.5” bays. There are 5 tool-less drive bays that will support 3.5” drives. One bay has a 3.5” to 1.8/2.5” drive adaptor that will allow for two 1.8/2.5” drives to be mounted in the one 3.5” bay. To the inside of the drive bays is the GPU cooling duct. This cooling duct can hold a single 120x25mm or 120x38mm fan to provide extra cooling for the GPUs. This duct was co-designed with nVidia to provide adequate ventilation for GTX480 and GTX470 video cards. The duct can be adjusted up and down to line up with the video cards.
At the bottom we have the PSU cable management partition. This can be adjusted to match up with your PSU length by sliding it front to back.
With the cover out of the way we can see the rubber PSU supports and the lower vent.
Looking to the back of the case we can see the expansion slots have thumbscrews.
Looking under the top bezel we can see the preinstalled 200mm fan and the space for a second. The top of the HAF X is also predrilled to accept up to a 3x120mm radiator for water cooling.
Looking closer we can see the front panel I/O backplane.
The front port cables are more than long enough to reach. The blue cables are the USB3.0 cables that will need to be run though to the back of the case. Cool Master also provides an internal header USB3.0 cable for future use with motherboards that have the USB3.0 internal header.
Here we have the right side of the case. The motherboard tray has a large CPU cut out for allowing access to CPU backing plate without having to completely remove the motherboard. With the bulges in the side panel there is ½” of room between the panel and the motherboard tray for cables to be run.
The space behind the internal 3.5” hard drive bays is plentiful.
The main wire routing hole is large and has well rounded edges. There is no grommet here as it will be covered by the PSU cable management partition.
Pulling one of the hot swap trays we can get a quick look at it. The tray pull looks very similar to that of the front 5.25" bay cover. To pull it out all you have to do is pinch the sides in slightly and pull.
There are mounting points for both 2.5" and 3.5" SATA drives. Drives mount using the bottom mounting points of the hard drive. These drives are not tool-less, but Cooler Master provides mounting screws for both the 3.5" and 2.5" drives.
Installing Parts into the HAF X
The accessories that Cooler Master provides with the HAF X looks a little light but it's all that is required since most of the case is tool-less. There is the GPU support bracket, internal USB3.0 cabling, speaker, 12 inch 8pin extension cable, wire ties, and motherboard standoffs and screws.
Cooler Master also includes a small socket for installing the motherboard standoffs. This used with a standard screwdriver makes installing the motherboard standoffs easy, and without the need of using a pair of pliers to get the standoff tight.
Next I mounted up a 3.5" drive to the hot swap drive cage to see how well it mounted up. Installing the drive was painless.
Same for mounting a 2.5" hard drive.
I then mounted the rest of my test system and it went very smoothly. It swallowed the massive Noctua NH-D14 with ease and still had tons of room above it. The rest of my components went where they should and how they should with no issues. At this point I started putting in things like the GPU duct and PSU cable management partition, just to see how easy they were to reinstall with parts in the case. The PSU cable management partition was easy to put in.
Next I added the GPU support bracket. You can see in this image really well how the duct will funnel air into the video card, and the also how the support rail will help hold up the card. This may not be needed with some cards, but if you have a video card like the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 with a copper water block you will need this. Even with all this mounted there is still plenty of room between the system and the top of the power supply.
With the side panel on you can see how air is funneled straight to the expansion card area. With both the side panel fan blowing down on the cards and the GPU duct blowing straight into the video card inlets this should be a very effective air solution to try and tame the heat from any nVidia 4XX series card.
In the unit we received the side panel duct was turned 180 degrees the wrong direction, thus hitting the GPU support rail. This was easily fixed as all it required was 2 minutes' time to unscrew the duct and turn and reinstall. We asked Cooler Master about this and this is what they had to say:
"This issue you are mentioning is not exactly the intended application. Based on our initial design with nVidia, you can use either the side panel shroud, or the GPU holder - not both. We orient the cut in the shroud towards the front of the chassis because we found that the shroud will interfere with the power supply cables. This means the cut out is towards the front to reduce the cable management issues with the GPU 8 pin power supply cables. The GPU support is available to fit larger non nVidia cards also. Either way, you found a solution to use both parts but I hope you have enough room for your graphics cards power cables." - Cooler Master PR
Cooler Master also sent along some pictures for our readers that show a system build using popular Cooler Master components. I really like this picture because they show that a pair of ATI Radeon HD 5970 graphics cards fit just fine in the Cooler Master HAF X PC case. The Radeon HD 5970 is one of the longest graphics cards on the market today as it measures in at just over 12" in length! You can see that the HAF X has more than 12" of space for the video cards!
FAQ for HAF X
- When will the HAF X be available? The HAF X street availability will be early June worldwide. - How do I use the Nvidia GTX 480 ducting and what is the best solution for nVidia certified cooling? There are 3 major components of the GTX 480, GTX 470 SLI-certification: The GPU duct, the side fan duct and the GPU duct fan. The GPU duct fan requires a extremely high airflow 150cfm fan with at least a 120x38mm specification. This specification was developed by nVidia. Adding a similar high performance fan will also achieve the same cooling effects. To install with 3-way SLI, first remove all the components. Mount the cards, and install the GPU duct, GPU duct fan, then the side panel with 200mm duct. The GPU holder can be used instead of the side fan duct, but will not meet the nVidia engineered requirements for cooling. - How do I use the GPU bracket? With the computer installed and the graphics cards screwed in place, assemble the front of the GPU bracket. Attach the optional 80mm x 15mm R4-SPS-20AK-GP slim fan. If the GPU are separated by a single slot, pull the fingers of the GPU bracket off and adjust to a farther apart position. With the GPU fingers in place, press them against the cards while screwing in the adjustment in the back of the HAF X. Ensure the GPU bracket is parallel with the GPU cards and perpendicular to the chassis back frame.
- Why are there 9 PCI slots? HAF X uses 9 expansion slots for 3 and 4-way SLI and Crossfire X support. With selected motherboards, a HAF X will allow the GPU to be fixed to the chassis firmly. For additional support the GPU retention bracket, can reinforce the lower cards. Note that the ATX standard calls for 7 expansion slots and certain motherboards will not use the first two slots. With 9 slots, the HAF X will maintain the 7 slot standard even using the largest motherboards. - How are the HAF X made and what are they made of? The HAF X is made from .8mm SGCC steel, with ABS plastic. The entire chassis is ROHS certified materials. HAF X is manufactured exclusively by Cooler Master on our own machinery in ISO 9001, 9002 and 14001 certified facilities. - How do I use the front hot-swap bays? The bays should be gripped from the sides and gently pinched together to release the tray. Once the tray is removed, the hard drive can be screwed directly to the tray. The tray must be gripped firmly and installed straight in to contact the rear backplane. SATA cables are directly attached from the backplane to the motherboard for a direct connection. - How do I use the SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports? HAF X is the first available full tower chassis with USB 3.0 support. Currently the NEC controllers on USB 3.0 motherboards do not support a standardized header. To use the USB 3.0 ports, route the extension cables from the I/O behind the motherboard and through the rear hole in the motherboard tray. You can then use one of the three rubber water cooling ports on the rear of the chassis to meet the USB 3.0 port on the motherboard. As soon as a better solution is released with a standard USB 3.0 motherboard header on chip, Cooler Master will provide the internal header USB 3.0 cables as a free part exchange. - How do I mount a radiator on the top? HAF will support a 240, 360, or 280mm radiator with no modification. Remove the top 200mm fan, and use the 8 holes to attach the radiator. The top panel must be removed by pressing on the internal plastic clips within the chassis. Some extreme radiators over 60mm thick, or too heavy may run into some issues in support, although most 360mm radiators will be accommodated with no issues. - What is the proper order of assembly? First remove all the ducting. These ducting should be added after installation of the motherboard, fans and video cards. Make sure to install the CPU cooler before installing the motherboard since many motherboard layouts use different CPU socket locations. Install the power supply partition after the PSU is installed. Then install the GPU duct after the GPU are installed. - What is the largest type motherboard that can be installed? HAF X will support ATX, EATX and some non-standard sizes. Please note that some motherboards from EVGA follow non-standard layouts. The HAF X will support the EVGA X58 Classified 4-Way SLI motherboard with optional 4-way SLI support. There is not enough depth or width available to support the EVGA Classified SR-2 because the motherboard is of a non standard layout and is 15 inches wide. This is over 2 inches longer than the interior of the chassis. - What is the maximum GPU length supported? Video cards can be up to 342mm or 13.46 inches. Please note that using the GPU ducting, or other fan mounting on the hard drive bays, will reduce the clearance by up to 40mm. - What is the maximum CPU cooler height supported? The HAF X will support all modern coolers including the V6, V8, V10 and any cooler under 175mm in height. - What is the maximum PSU length supported? HAF X will support all modern PSU from 160mm to over 210mm. Note that longer PSUs will be covered by the power supply partition.
CM HAF X Final Thoughts
Overall I like the Cooler Master HAF X enthusiast PC chassis as it has a bold, industrial appearance and most all of the features that any enthusiast demands at the current time. The Cooler Master HAF 932 has been the flagship case for the HAF series, but today the HAF X is now the flagship product of the HAF series and that says a ton. The HAF 932 was known for redefining the market for full tower chassis. The Cooler Master HAF X does so again by being one of the first cases on the market to offer support for Super Speed USB 3.0 connectors on the front panel, dual front SATA hot-swap bays, nine PCI slots for insane multi-GPU setups and the HAF X even has fully filtered air intakes to help keep your chassis clean. The HAF X was designed to be a high airflow case thanks to the large 200 and 230mm fans that come with the case. These fans move a ton of air, but spin at lower RPMs and that means they don't make much noise. The HAF X also has space for optional fans for even more airflow, which is a nice touch. As you can see from the image below you can easily add four more fans and if you own a Dremel tool and like case modding then you will find the sky is the limit with modifications to a case like the HAF X.
The GPU cooling duct will be handy for those who choose to stick with air cooling. It funnels air straight into the end of a video card like the GeForce GTX 480. Those that are going the water cooling route would need this feature, but they will like the fact that you can top mount a 240mm to 360mm radiator up on the top of the case. You can even manage to fit 25-80mm thick radiators up there, so you have a fair bit of space to work with. One GPU related feature that both air cooled and water cooled video cards will get use from is the GPU support bracket. I see water guys getting the most benefit supporting the card with water blocks that can get up and over 1kg; anything to help with that stress will make everything last longer. The cooling is so great in this case it should pass NVIDIA SLI certification testing for the GeForce GTX 480 series, and that says something!
I see the HAF X as an alternative to the Corsair 700D. I say this for couple of reasons. First being taste for overall look; HAF leans more, "hey look at me", 700D leans more laid back. The HAF X can support quad video card setups, 700D triple. Both can handle the same amount of drives and motherboard types. Both can handle water cooling, the Corsair Obsidian 700D is a little more roomy in that respect but it is also 3" deeper and 1" taller than the HAF X. The biggest thing the HAF X has over the 700D is it costs less -- $50 less -- and has other features like USB 3.0 and hot-swap drive bays not found in the 700D or really any other case in this price range. Cooler Master says that the HAF X will have an MSRP of $199.99 and will be available worldwide early June 2010. So if you're in the market for a case that can hold up to 4 video cards, water cooling, hot swap bays and looks cool, then Cooler Master has you covered with the HAF X. At under $200 you would be hard pressed to beat it.
Legit Bottom Line: The Cooler Master's HAF X is a solid case and it should be at the top of the list for those wanting an enthusiast case with a little flair and great air flow.