Cooler Master introduced the HAF (High Air Flow) series PC cases in 2008. The key feature of these cabinets, as the name suggests, was the provision of multiple large fans for excellent airflow. So, no matter how hot the hardware inside the box runs, an HAF series case should keep everything cool. The first model in the lineup was the HAF-932, followed by the HAF-922 which was smaller. The flagship of the series, the HAF X, came later, with innovative features such as a bracket to support graphics cards, GPU cooling duct, Super Speed USB 3.0 ports on the front panel and two hot-swappable drive bays on the front bezel. The latest by Cooler Master is HAF XM – a smaller and more affordable version of the enthusiast-class HAF X. Let’s find out whether the HAF XM hits the sweet spot.
A mid-tower PC case with excellent cooling
Features and Design
If viewed from front, the Cooler Master HAF XM looks similar to the HAF X. The blocky design along the sides, meshed grille for the drive bay covers and front fan are all borrowed from HAF X. You won’t find any buttons on the front since they are placed on the top. The first button toggles the fan LEDs, and the big hexagonal one is the power button. The hexagonal design goes well with the honeycomb mesh on the front bezel and the top panel. The I/O panel right at the top is a cut-down version of the one found on the HAF X, sans Firewire and eSATA ports. Here, you pair each USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports on either side of the headphone and mic jacks.
USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports and audio jacks on the I/O panel
Next up are the three 5.25-inch drive bays followed by two 3.5-inch bays which have trays that slide out. As you might have guessed, the 3.5-inch bays are hot-swappable making it very convenient to add or remove hard drives without having to open the case. This comes in very handy in the case of a RAID 1 setup, or simply if you want to use internal 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch hard drives temporarily (for data transfer or backup). Right at the bottom is a large grille through which you can see the red 200 mm LED fan. To remove the 5.25-inch bay covers, you have to pull out the front bezel by unfastening the plastic pegs around the sides that hold it in place. If you closely observe the area behind the fan grille and the mesh, you’ll find Cooler Master has added thin foam filters to prevent dust from getting sucked inside.
On top, nothing is visible until you lift a panel. The panel is fastened by just a thumbscrew on the rear. Lift it gently and you’ll be greeted by two large 200 mm exhaust fans. So, a total of three 200 mm fans largely contribute to the excellent air flow. The smallest fan is the 140 mm one fitted on the rear. Again, the grille on the top panel is lined with a thin layer of foam.
Provision for cable management and plenty of room
The side panel doesn’t slide out horizontally towards the rear, which is usually the case. Here, you have to pull a big lever and gently move the panel outwards. There are no fans fitted on the side panel, but you have the option to fit either a 200 mm fan or up to two 140 mm fans.
The interior of the HAF XM is spacious and very well designed. Installing even the longest graphics cards in the market shouldn’t be a problem. With the hard drive cage fitted, the case can accommodate up to 13.9-inch graphics cards and if that’s too little for you, remove the cage and you’ll able to fit even an 18.2-inch graphics card (if such a thing is ever created!). You get a total of nine expansion slots and six internal 3.5-inch hard drive bays. The hard drives have to be mounted in plastic trays that slide out. The red 200 mm LED fan in the front is large enough to cool the entire stack of 3.5-inch drives.
A single 200 mm fan cools all the hard drive bays
Well managed cables and unobstructed spaces facilitate air flow. Cooler Master has provided grommets on the right side to keep cable clutter at bay. There’s also a removable enclosure on the floor of the cabinet to hide the cluster of cables that come out from the power supply.
The overall construction of the HAF XM is excellent. What we didn’t like were the flimsy mounting trays for 3.5-inch bays – they should have been sturdier.
Verdict and Price in India
The serious cooling that the HAF XM offers along with hot-swappable bays is ideal for high-end gaming PCs and servers. This PC case is priced at Rs. 10,900 which is at par with the Corsair Graphite CC600DT, Bitfenix Colossus and Antec P183.
Consider this cabinet if you have multiple hard drives and a high-end multi-GPU setup, or if you want to run your hardware at highly overclocked settings—any scenario that leads to a lot of heat build-up.
Updated 26 May, 2013, 12:15 pm IST
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