The CM HAF X Gets Shrunk Down
Cooler Master is a veteran PC component company of over two decades providing PC enthusiasts the products they desire. The company invests quite a bit of time and funds into research and development to create unique solutions. The product portfolio that they have developed is quite expansive and is more than just PC cases, but also most accessories that would be needed for any PC builder. Let's see how Cooler Master wants to WOW us with their HAF (High Air Flow) PC case series. I think we are going to see more than just a few LED lights to prove it.
The HAF series is not a new series for Cooler Master. The series has been around for years and includes models that come in full-towers and mid-towers. The HAF series even has special edition models for fans of NVIDIA and AMD. What I have in store for you today is the Cooler Master HAF XM mid-tower (RC-922XM-KKN1). The HAF XM is a 'mid tower' version of the HAF X, which is hands down one of the most popular full tower cases for enthusiasts.
Cooler Master has not only designed the HAF XM for PC enthusiasts, but all PC enclosures in this series should hit a sweet spot for PC enthusiasts. Unlike the NVIDIA and AMD edition, which are full-towers, the HAF XM is a mid-tower. This edition will come only in black with red LED lighting, appealing to PC gamers at a LAN. I know I am one to have to have a flashy case because it certainly doesn't translate to my FPS skills at a LAN party. Cooler Master will also be making a side panel available for purchase in a few weeks that has a window on it.
So how much does Cooler Master expect you to pay for this case? How does an MSRP of $129.99 sound? The case will be covered by a two year manufacturer warranty. This is a pretty typical type of warranty for a PC enclosure covering manufacturer defects but not typical wear and tear. More details can be read here on the Cooler Master website about their warranty policy.
Cooler Master HAF XM Specifications
- Materials: Synthetic Mesh & Steel Body
- Dimensions: W/H/D: 252 x 530.5 x 579mm / 9.9 x 20.9 x 28.8 inch
- Weight: 10.3 kg / 22.7 lbs
- MB Type: Micro-ATX, ATX, E-ATX
- 5.25" Drive Bays: 3
- 3.5" Drive Bays: 8 (6 hidden, 2 x-docking)
- 2.5" Drive Bays: 9 (6 converted from 3.5" bays, 2 converted from x-docking, 1 behind MB)
- I/O Panel: USB 3.0 x 2 (internal), USB 2.0 x 2, Audio In & Out x 1 (supports HD audio), LED switch for front fan.
- Expansion Slot: 8 + 1
- Power Supply: Standard ATX PS2 / EPS
- Front: 200 mm LED x 1 (Converted to 120 mm fan x 2 / 140 mm fan x 1)
- Top: 200 mm fan x 2 (One is optional, converted to 120 / 140 mm fan x 2)
- Rear: 140 mm fan x 2 (converted to 120 mm fan x 1)
- Side: 200 mm fan x 1(optional, converted to 140 mm fan x 2)
- HDD: 120 mm fan x 2 (optional)
- VGA Card Length: 354 mm / 13.9 inch (with HDD cage); 463 mm / 18.2 inch (without cage)
- AMD Radeon HD 6990: 304.8 mm; NVIDIA GTX 590: 279.4 mm
- Can accommodate Cooler Master CPU cooler
: 163 mm /6.4 inch
Taking the HAF XM out of the Box
Anytime that you receive a new component you want to make sure you make a well informed decision and that your product arrives safely. Cooler Master does a nice job with the HAF XM mid-tower case. If in store and looking at the box you will see most features right on the box and what the differentiators are compared to other models. The box is well constructed and you will not have to worry about anything broken upon shipment. In other words, the HAF XM won't arrive in half!
The front of the box gives us a nice general clean look. The black front gives a nice shot of the Cooler Master HAF XM with a front profile look also tilted enough to see some of the top. If you look closely you can see the top IO panel is set for USB 3.0 and the power buttons are on top. The bottom lettering shows "HAF XM Mid Tower". On bottom right in a dark red box several things are mentioned to get one's attention: enthusiast mid-tower, easy access latch design, 3-way SLI/CF support.
The front of the box should have no problem having someone looking at the box to turn the box around. The back of the box give a much better break down of what features the HAF XM includes. Front, open primary side, and back panels are shown with bullet points and pointing out some key features. You can easily sport USB 3.0, x-docking, sliding cable management box, behind the motherboard 2.5" SSD, and 3-way SLI/CF to name a few. Alternative languages other than English are also breaking down the HAF XM on the back of the box. Any PC enthusiast should have their interest piqued by this layout.
While spinning the box to a side a few more specifications can be read. The HAF XM logo tops off this dark red/purple siding. The specifications are listed on the introduction page to this review as well. Multiple worldwide Cooler Master Contact information is also provided below the specifications. Also, a sticker with bar codes and the model number RC-922XM-KKN1 round off the side of the box.
The alternative side panel is much like the front of the box. It is clean with another front profile picture of the mid-tower case. This angle shows the side where it is obvious a large fan or two can be installed. Another model sticker with bar code is on this side of the box. Also a check list of PSUs is listed. None are checked for this model.
The top panel is simple and clean again. The dark red/purple color is the backdrop for the HAF XM mid-tower graphic. The Cooler Master graphic heads the other panel. More importantly, let's see what is inside!
The HAF XM, once pulled out of the box, is nicely packaged. It is in Styrofoam casing. This case itself is also in a plastic bag to prevent scratching. The Accessory package is inside the case.
Once the door is popped off (the hand latch is an excellent idea) a brown box and manual can be found. The manual is packed with good information and how to set up this feature rich case. There are also the accessories and more than enough to cover what is needed to get your PC set up in this mid-tower.
The HAF XM from the Outside
Cooler Master is a tried and true brand. PC enthusiasts for quite some time have not only had solid enclosures from the HAF series for some time but they are also pleasing to the eye. The series has some great eye candy such as the NIVIDA and AMD models. Here is how the XM Mid-tower shapes up against the long line of models Cooler Master has created.
The obvious first side we will look at is the front of the HAF XM mid-tower. The edges around the left and right sides do give a nice design. The top give us the I/O ports which we will take a closer look at in a moment. Three 5.25" meshed cover bays follow the IO ports. Two 3.5" mesh covered bays follow suit. These 3.5" are also bays that you can pull out from creating the X-DOCK. This is a very nice feature for adding small SATA based devices (SSDs!). Mesh rounds out the rest of the front side with a nice clean Cooler Master logo.
Here is a closer look at the front I/O ports. In the center are ports for your audio I/O that is HD compatible. While facing the front, to the left of the audio port are 2 USB 2.0 ports. To the right are two USB 3.0 ports. This will help future proof your computer for a while.
The power button was not forgotten! It is on the top in a hexagon shape. It has on either side in a hexagon shape the reset button and the fan LED button. Also I want to show there is a rubber matted space to place external device such as MP3 places and external drives.
Here we have the primary side of the enclosure to the HAF XM mid-tower. At the top there is a hand latch. I found this very easy to use to open the case from this side. You will still need to remove two thumb screws open this side. You can see the door will support fans 2 x140 mm or 1 x 200 mm (the manual mentioned there may be models with a window instead). A loop is also at the end of the door if a security cable needs to be added.
We have already started to look at the top side. Power buttons and a nice location for external devices are in place. The rest for the top is more or less a removable cap. Under the cap is 200 mm fan. There is room enough to add a second 200 mm fan. So you can go crazy with air cooling if you'd like but this case is also compatible with liquid cooling.
The second side panel is a little less exciting. There is a pattern on the first side that is replicated here. The door is held in place with two thumb screws.
The back side tops off with the thumb screw to remove the top cap. Below three rubber ports are in place for liquid cooling. A 140 mm fan is also installed. The IO opening for the MB comes without a place holder. Next are the 8 + 1 expansion slots that are just waiting for your CF or SLI video cards. The back is rounded out by the power supply location.
The bottom even has some features. The power supply will sit and a meshed out bottom that will help with air flow. The feet are rubber dials that from the side are chromed out for a nice look. You can also see from the bottom where you can place your fingers to pull off the front bezel.
The HAF XM front the Inside
Cooler Master historically has done a great job with the interior of their PC enclosures. The HAF series is no exception. The HAF XM, for a mid-tower, has a quite a bit of room, wire management, and versatility for the size of the PC enclosure.
Here we can see how vast the interior is overall. It is so large that a video card of 13.75" can be installed without cage removal. An 18" video card can fit with the top half of the hard drive cage removed. This is great news for any gamer looking to install long cards even in a CrossFire or SLI multi-GPU setup.
Also what is really important to note is the black box at the bottom. This is a key for wire management. It is a removable sliding device that will hide most wire during installation. This may even help cure my own wire management problems!
The front bezel is easily removable. With a pull at the bottom the front bezel pops off. You will want to remove the 3.5" X-DOCK caddies first. The 5.25" bays are open to slide in any optical devices that a builder would want to install with ease. It is tool-less as we will see soon. A big 200 mm red LED fan rounds out the front side interior.
I have mentioned X-DOCK a couple of times in this review. If you are not familiar with it here is what it looks like. The 3.5" bays are modified with a dual SATA and power cards. This works really well with mounting an SSD to the caddy and sliding it in. This also gives an easy hot swap option if needed.
The SATA/power card in the X-DOCK is powered by an internal Molex connector and linked with two SATA connections that can be directly connected to the motherboard.
To window a door, or fan a door that is the question. The HAF XM that is being reviewed has fan mounts on the door. The door will support 1 x 200 mm fan or 2 x 140 mm. The manual mentions a window option as well.
As mentioned at the top the 5.25" bays are tool-less. An easy to push thumb latch allows a drive to be installed. Pushing it back into the lock positions will secure the drive. Yes, it is that easy.
The Cooler Master HAF XM also has you covered if you are looking for bays to install hard drives. There is a split drive cage. A total of 6 drives can be installed. The top half of the cage can be removed if looking to install video cards longer than 13.75".
The drive cage had 6 easy to remove drive caddies. The caddies can support for 3.5" drives or smaller 2.5" SSD drives. The X-DOCK caddy is very similar to this type of caddy.
Some problems with PC enclosures are that they do not support a lot of types of motherboards. The HAF XM is a remedy for those looking to support different types of boards. Micro-ATX, ATX, and E-ATX are all supported formats. Each motherboard screw has an associated letter. There is a key inscribed on the tray associating each letter with a board type allowing for easy screw installs. The large cutout from the tray allows versatility for CPUs and cooling. The rubber ports are also well placed for wire management to the board.
The rear I/O panel is set up like most these days. The 140 mm fan is powered by a 4-pin Molex connector. The MB I/O panel cut out is next to the fan. Three rubber ports are above that support liquid cooling. CF/SLI is supported with the 8 + 1 expansion slot that is held in with thumb screws. A conventional power supply location is at the bottom. The power supply will sit on a mesh screening.
The cap has been removed and this is what is under it. A massive 200 mm fan is pre-installed. A second location can also have another 200 mm fan install as well. This is also where you would want to install a radiator if you are installing liquid cooling.
The back of the PC enclosure is like the backbone of the case. The hard drive cage is completely open allowing for easy wire access. All cables coming from the case are managed nicely and lead to the rubber port that is behind the wire management box. Three other rubber ports can be used for wire management. The motherboard tray is also very obvious from this angle. There are also four mounting brackets on the motherboard tray that can be used for 2.5" SSD drives. There is also a good amount of room between the secondary door and the PC enclosure to hide more wiring.
Installing PC Hardware
The PC Build
Now it is time for all the parts to come together. The installation was easy with the PC enclosure mid-tower. All power connections and wire management are very easy to use. The HAF XM is a dream and even may feel like it for some when the red LEDs are on.
The AM3+ motherboard has more than enough room. So much so that the board didn't even cover the cut out behind it. The cooling options are plentiful. Cooler Master has preinstalled 2 x 200 mm fans and 1 x 140 mm fan. The case can easily handle multiple and long cards while the NVIDIA 460 looks dwarfed in the case. Simply said, this case looks like it can handle most configurations out there. So, if you are looking for a home for your NVIDIA 680s or ATI 7970s you would have to consider this case.
After the power supply was installed the wiring was very easy to hide. The box for hiding cabling is such a simple but amazing idea. It even helps greatly on my usually terrible cable management. The cabling easily reached wherever it needed to flow to using the wire management. Although three fans are pre-installed a total of 7 - 9 fans can be installed depending on which size fans are used. The CPU cooler can be 7.7 inch x 13.9 inch (18.2" without the cage). There is plenty of real estate to use in this PC enclosure.
Here is the real fun that you can share with everyone about the HAF XM. The front 200 mm fan has a nice red LED. The LED will light up the front of the case. The lighting can be turned on and off with the hexagon fan button on the top of the case. The fan is powered by a 4-pin Molex connector that is fed behind the hard drive cage.
Now that it is known the LED can be turned on and off, what does it look like on? When you are ready for a LAN party and push the LED light on, this is what you will be working with. The LED light shows nicely though the honeycomb front while spilling under the case for a nice effect.
Thoughts and Conclusions
Breaking Down the HAF XM
Cooler Master has simply mastered the art of the PC enclosure. The HAF series has showed time and time again it is up to the challenge of keeping up with the wants and needs of PC enthusiasts. The HAF XM is one such PC enclosure, mid-tower format, which will meet nearly any builder's desires. Cooler Master states on their web site "...This comes from an endless drive to deliver world class quality service to customers." I would have to agree that the HAF XM would fall under that statement of world class quality.
HAF XM Continues the Series on the Right Foot
The HAF XM is more than just a PC enclosure mid-tower on shiny dial feet. The case is anything a PC enthusiast of today's market could want. Cooler Master brought nice innovations to this model and other manufacturers should take notice.
The Cooler Master HAF XM is impressive on every level. In past reviews I find at least one item on a case that is easily breakable. I didn't feel this way at all about every part of this case. Innovations such as the X-DOCK feature and an SSD mount behind the motherboard tray just shows how Cooler Master is thinking out of the box. I also get a "GO BIG OR GO HOME" attitude with how the cooling is set up. The number of fans and included 200 mm fan help prove this point. I also love the fact the LED light has a button on the top of the case to turn it off. When I am working in my office I personally would like it off. When at a LAN party it's perfect to have the HAF XM glowing red. Talking about LAN parties, the newest NVIDIA SLI and AMD CROSSFIRE cards will fit without a hitch. The most simple but equally amazing feature is the sliding box to hide wires. It is amazing that this feature hasn't been thought of before. I even have to give a nod to the manual that comes with the case. It is very easy to follow and shows you how to use and install all the main features for the HAF XM. The $129 price range may make some builders shy away from this design but I personally think it is a great value!
A Flawless HAF XM?I am trying to think of anything that bothered me about this case while building it. I have come up nearly nil. The only thing I can complain about it that I had some trouble connecting my PSU four pin Molex power connector to the front case fan. There also was a typo on the box for the size of fans that can be used on the hard drive cage. Not really much more to pick apart here with the Cooler Master HAF XM, so time to move along.
Comparing to the CompetitionI constantly kept thinking of the Gelid DARKFORCE while building the Cooler Master HAF XM. I praised the DARKFORCE and I have to say the HAF XM is on par, or maybe even a nose a head. The DARKFORCE was full of innovations like my favorite feature, the external SATA docking connection on the top of the case. The HAF XM competes with this feature with the X-DOCK that can have two drives installed at the same time. The behind the motherboard SSD drive is brilliant. The fans that are stock with the HAF XM are larger than the DARKFORCE fans. I feel as though for a few dollars more you are getting a lot more value in your PC enclosure. Although both the DARKFORCE and the HAF XM have similar features if you have a $129.99 in your budget for a case, buy it!
The Legit bottom Line: The Cooler Master HAF series has been around for years now. Somehow Cooler Master continues innovating this series, like the HAF XM, to make PC enthusiasts stay loyal for their next build or envy your friend's during the next LAN party.