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Cooler Master HAF XB LAN Box Case Review

Manufacturer: Cooler Master

System Cooling

As far as space for air or water cooling goes, Cooler Master designed the HAF XB to be able to accommodate a multitude of different cooling methods. With some ingenuity and zip ties, you can even go with some unplanned for cooling alternatives as we will go into below.

Air Coolers

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Cooler Master made the upper portion of the case larger to better accommodate add-in video cards and larger CPU air coolers. Using one of the larger CPU heat sinks at our disposal (the Noctua NH-D14), you can see that the case has not problem accommodating such a large air cooler. The side and top panels can be easily mounted without interfering with the heat sink with room to spare. The one issue you may run into when using a large CPU heat sink is when using a 200mm fan in the top panel. You may run into clearance issues between the heat sink and the fan in that scenario. By Cooler Master specs, the case is designed to house a CPU cooler with maximum height of 180mm, or 7.1 inches.

Water Cooling

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The HAF XB is designed to handle a minimum of two water cooling radiators on the top level - a 280mm radiator (2x140mm) or a 240mm radiator (2x120mm) in the front of the case behind the front fans and a 120mm radiator in the rear fan slot. With some creative placement, the front panel can be coerced into supporting even larger radiators.

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Using a Corsair H100i 240mm radiator mounting in the front panel, the case can accommodate up to a quad fan configuration - the front two fans mounted in between the front bezel and front wall of the case and the back fans mounted to the radiator. The radiator itself is mounted via the hold down screws for the front panel fans. There are no space restrictions or tight areas even with the pictured E-ATX form factor board mounted in the case. The one concern with the front mounted radiator would be with assembly order. You will be better off if you get all the connections along the bottom edge of the board completed prior to setting up the radiator.

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For the rear radiator space demonstration, we using a Corsair H80i 120mm radiator with dual fan configuration. The entire assembly with mounted inside the case with no space concerns whatsoever. There are more than adequate room along both side and the top of the cooler to allow for all panel placement and proper air flow over the motherboard. Even from the side view, you can see that the assembly is kept well above the motherboard surface and rear panel area.

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The front part of the case is spacious enough to hold larger radiators, such as the 360mm XSPS RX360 radiator shown in the pictures. Using a larger radiator requires some creative assembly. In the case of the example, the radiator is held in place using zip ties going though the 140mm fan screw holes in the front panel. This radiator was used to illustrate just how much room Cooler Master designed into the front of this case, even when using a larger than normal motherboard. As long as the radiator is kept elevated as shown, there is more than enough space to accommodate the radiator and motherboard with no issues mounting the side panels. To use this configuration effectively though, you must mount the radiator after connecting all devices and power to the board. There is also adequate room between the motherboard tray side rails and the case panels to run water lines to the system pump and reservoir in the lower level of the case without running into interference.

System Sound Testing

Sound measurements of the system fans where taken with the sound meter placed 3 feet away from the system with all other devices in the room silenced and all system panels in place. The Sound Meter Pro applet on a Samsung Galaxy S3 mobile phone was used to measure decibel level.

In normal operation with the stock dual fan configuration (120mm front panel fans), the case fan noise was barely audible measured at 38dBA (decibels). You should not even notice the system fans running under normal conditions.

August 2, 2013 | 11:07 AM - 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 | 11:28 AM - Posted by ArcRendition

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

August 2, 2013 | 12:59 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 | 12:04 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 | 12:56 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 | 12:55 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 | 01:28 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 | 01:41 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 | 03:15 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 | 07:08 AM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

Thanks for pointing that out...

November 23, 2013 | 10:28 PM - 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 | 09:14 AM - 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.

May 5, 2014 | 10:03 PM - Posted by C909 (not verified)

There are 2 x 120mm fans in the front, 1 x 200mm fan on the top, 2 x 80mm fans in the rear and a 120mm fan in the rear.

August 13, 2013 | 08:59 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 | 12:06 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...

May 5, 2014 | 10:01 PM - Posted by C909 (not verified)

Front to back airflow design - The Cooler Master HAF XB case is designed for front to rear airflow and if implemented correctly with the horizontal MB placement, favors excellent temp control. By the same count, the same design used improperly, can lead to stagnant hot air remaining in the case immobile.

Positive air pressure vs. Negative air pressure - Many of us have our rigs setup in areas where dust and airborne pollutants are always there to infiltrate our systems. Like hospital rooms use to prevent exterior impurities from entering the room using "Positive Air Pressure" relative to the hallway, Really nice magnetic air intake filters are available made to measure for the HAF XB (and many many other cases) through various online retailers, by DEMCiFlex (I don;t have any association to them) http://www.demcifilter.com/p0335/HAF-XB-Dust-Filter-Kit.aspx which will go a long way toward helping with dust accumulation in your case.

September 18, 2013 | 02:25 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

May 5, 2014 | 09:58 PM - Posted by C909 (not verified)

Ben,

The Thermaltake Water 2.0 Extreme Radiator is a 270mm Radiator, the HAF XB has holes for 240mm and 280mm radiators/fans in the front, so you want to check that.

As for re-purposing fans in the system, both of the stock fans on the Thermaltake Water 2.0 Extreme are 120mm fans which you can either mount outside the case under the grill to create a push-pull config or you can use one of them for your rear 120mm exhaust fan and keep the other one as a spare.

January 10, 2014 | 03:30 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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