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Cooler Master HAF XB LAN Box Case Review

Manufacturer: Cooler Master

Conclusion

Pricing

As of July 21, the Cooler Master HAF XB mid tower case was available at Newegg.com for $99.99 with free shipping. The case was also available from other retailers such as Amazon.com for $92.82 with Prime shipping and TigerDirect.com for $89.99.

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Conclusion

Before continuing with our final weigh-in on the HAF XB, we would like to take this opportunity to give our friends at Cooler Master a hearty “Thank You” for giving us the opportunity and pleasure of reviewing the HAF XB mid tower case. Normally, mid tower cases are more of an after though for me rather than a target. I want a case that will house all my drives and water cooling equipment and tend towards the full tower case spectrum. Let me say that I was pleasantly surprised with the HAF XB and the sheer amount of space available inside this mid tower case. Cooler Master calls this a mid tower case because of its physical height and dimensions, but it has as much room as many full tower cases because of its cube shape and dual layer design. In a stroke of genius, Cooler Master physically separated the case into two distinct layers - the lower level for housing the drives and PSU with the upper layer housing the motherboard and CPU heat sink. This design allows for heat to be segregated and dispersed in a custom tailored fashion on a per level basis rather than the balancing act needed to optimize air flow patterns over an entire upright case. The lower level can be cooled by the PSU alone or with the addition of optional add-in fans without affecting the air flow for upper level area. The upper level and its heat generating centers (read that as the CPU and video card) are similarly segregated from the lower level drive devices and can be cooled accordingly.

Best of all for me is the configuration options that are open for cooling the top level components. You can use larger air coolers, single or multiple all-in-one water coolers, or even custom cooling loops using multiple radiators. Further, the case can be modded to allow for use of even larger radiators such as 360mm (3x120mm) size radiators without much work needed. For routing, the custom water system can be split between levels with the pump and reservoir installed on the lower level without much hassle.

Strengths

  • Sleek flat black powder coated surfaces - inside and out
  • Tool-less hard drive and device trays
  • Support for multiple water cooling radiators and custom water loops
  • Available external port support
  • Inclusion of externally accessible hot-swap drive bay
  • Fan filters
  • Internal spacing, layout, and design
  • Rubber grommets for case fans
  • Ground clearance
  • Case configuration and modding possibilities

Weaknesses

  • Lack of bundled fans

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August 2, 2013 | 02:07 PM - Posted by pdjblum

Morry,

You are a breath of fresh air. Finally someone doing a review of a case on pcper that lists the materials used in the spec sheet. Thanks so much.

August 2, 2013 | 02:28 PM - Posted by ArcRendition

This is one of the best designed cases I've ever seen. Incredibly flexible and very affordable.

August 2, 2013 | 03:59 PM - Posted by Mnemonicman

Was going to ask if that case could fit a 360 radiator but you already answered that question. Looks like a good case for my next project. Thanks for trying the swiftech rad.

August 3, 2013 | 03:04 AM - Posted by Fishbait

Great review, thanks Morry.

I've been looking into this case on and off for about a month now and seeing these detailed pictures showing the amount of space, and reading your thorough review have removed the few doubts I had about it. :D

August 3, 2013 | 03:56 AM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

Glad to help on this.  The case has alot more space than it seems, especially if you are willing to break out the dremel or take a creative approach to mounting...

August 3, 2013 | 03:55 PM - Posted by Bill (not verified)

Great review of a really nice looking and well designed small case. Although I doubt I'll ever buy one as I'm WAY too happy still with my Haf-X! It's easily the best case I've ever owned and the workmanship is top notch. I can only imagine this one is the same.

August 3, 2013 | 04:28 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

Yeah, I can relate.  I absolutely love my HAF 932, but the HAF XB would make an intriguing modding project...

August 4, 2013 | 04:41 PM - Posted by tim (not verified)

Love Cooler Master...Got a CM mid-tower in 2010 right before Christmas at Fry`s for $15 Not too tall , but good depth for GPU`s
Can`t beat that. Plus it looks nice and clean like this review unit.
No crazy plastic lumps hanging off of it.

August 4, 2013 | 06:15 PM - Posted by ShadowLeaper

One thing:

"Additionally, the case supports up to three fans in the rear panel - one 200mm fan in the top deck and two 80mm fans in the lower deck."

It's a 120mm fan in the top deck rear panel, not 200mm.

The XB is a great case. I debated between the Thermaltake Armor A30 and the XB for my most recent gaming build, so I actually bought both. The Armor A30 got the nod for that one (which I will be selling to a buddy of mine), and the XB will house the new build I'll be doing in September.

August 5, 2013 | 10:08 AM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

Thanks for pointing that out...

November 24, 2013 | 01:28 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

That is incorrect. The 200mm fan goes in the top the dual 120mm are in the top half in front

November 28, 2013 | 12:14 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

You are incorrect in saying "That is incorrect." when it is correct the top deck REAR panel does fit 120mm fan not an 200mm which is what the ShadowLeaper stated.

August 13, 2013 | 11:59 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Just ordered the case, can't wait to get it and start my build. I do have a question about cooling. The cooler master web site show the air flow setup as two front fans bringing in the air, and the top fan exhausting it. I'm going to do a 240mm radiator with push pull fans. I will now be exhausting the hot air out of the front of the case. Do I still use the top as exhaust as well? (Hot air wants to go up anyway) If I did my concern is that the case will be a dust collector. Is is best to keep the case at negative pressure? Do I flip the top 200mm fan to intake, or do I add more fans, and try to create positive pressure within the case? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!

August 13, 2013 | 03:06 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

That sounds like a cool setup, I'm sorta jealous :)

Anyway, your concerns about case negative pressure and dust collection are spot on.  For case cooling (and especially for watercooling) it is best to have positive pressure in your case so that air is push out, rather than negative pressure which causes dust and debris to get sucked in.  Also, positive pressure will result in slight better airflow and pressure through your rad which is always a good thing.  I would recommend using the top fan to push air into the case.

If you are mounting the 240mm radiator at the case front, it may also be better to pull air in through the front of the case rather than to push air out.  That way, you have cool outside air flowing over your rad rather than hot case air flowing through it.

Good luck...

September 18, 2013 | 05:25 PM - Posted by Ben (not verified)

Hey Morry,

Regarding cooling, I'm trying to plan my setup. This will be my first build, so I'm new to the whole cooling world.

I'm currently trying to decide between a noctua NH-D14, and the Thermaltake Water 2.0 Extreme. Air vs. water--the age-old decision.

Anyhow, what would the best cooling setups be respectively for either of these coolers?

If I choose noctua, I don't lose the functionality of the case's included fans. Would I need more as well?

If I go with the Thermaltake, I understand it mounts to the front. Does that replace the existing fans or mount behind them? You mention a quad setup in the review.

If they do get replaced, can they be used elsewhere in the case? What setup would be best for airflow? If you intake via the front, an have the reservoir there, where would you exhaust... Up too? Should I get the 200mm fan?

Thanks so very much for any help you can render!

Cheers,
Ben

January 10, 2014 | 06:30 AM - Posted by Eltonin (not verified)

The main advantage I see in this device is that it can accommodate nearly any size of board that is compatible with it. Even the tray for motherboard is not at all a bad idea. Anyways thanks a lot for sharing this.

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