Cooler Master HAF-X Case Review

Cooler Master is a well known company providing anything from case fans, power supplies, CPU heatsinks, and of course, cases. Today we will be looking at their flagship case named the HAF-X. It is a full tower case offering plenty of cooling options (HAF = High Air Flow) for both air and water cooled setups, USB3 ports on the front accessory panel, room for an XL-ATX standard motherboard, and plenty of cutouts with grommets for cable management that will be touched on later.

HAF-X

HAF-X

HAF-X Box Rear

HAF-X Box Rear

First Impressions

There is no doubt this is a full tower case. Measuring in at 9.1 x 21.7 x 23.2 inches, it is right up there with the likes of the (barely larger) Corsair Obsidian 800D. The styling out of the box hit me quite favorably. I don’t like a lot of “bling” or funky lines, and this case doesn’t have much of it aside from a red LED front fan which can be turned on/off with a switch easily accessible on the front accessory panel. That same panel holds two USB3 ports, two USB2 ports, ESATA, audio, microphone, and a 1394a FireWire port. The power and HDD activity lights are red. It has a large plexiglass side window to show off your internals. The paint inside the case is a nice matte black finish.

Side view.

Side View

Front view.

Front View

Front Panel.

Front Panel

Being from the HAF line, one would expect superior airflow especially with its included 230 mm front red LED intake, 200 mm side intake, top 200 mm exhaust, and 140 mm rear exhaust; and it delivers. It also comes with a couple of air ducts to direct the flow inside the case to cool warmer components like a GPU. One duct sits behind hard drive cages moving air towards the GPU, and the other is on the side fan angling towards the GPU and motherboard.

Combined with the rear and top fans, this creates optimal airflow in the case. It dropped my case temps about 2-3 °C and my idle GPU temps about 4 °C for the warm-running GTX470 when compared to the 800D. Load temps of both my CPU and GPU dropped about 3 °C as well since it’s getting cooler air through the radiator and GPU (note ambient temperature was within 1 °C between all measurements listed above).

Also note the VGA fan duct was not used or pictured with my installation and could lower temperatures to the GPU even more by directing more airflow to the video card. Below is a picture of the expected airflow from the Cooler Master website:

Ariflow (Picture from Coolermaster.com)

Ariflow Diagram (Courtesy Cooler Master)

Technical Information

Picture from Coolermaster.com

Specifications (Courtesy Cooler Master)

Installation

I installed the following inside the case:

  • Evga P55 FTW
  • i7 860
  • G.Skill Ripjaws
  • Galaxy GTX 470
  • Corsair 650TX
  • MCR320 Radiator
  • Dtek Fusion v1
  • Swiftech Microres
  • Three 120×38 mm Panaflo 114CFM
  • Lamptron FC-5 Fan Controller
  • DVD R/W drive

Installation was straight-forward for the overwhelming majority of parts. There were plenty of accessory screws and the like to go around, as well as plenty of room internally for everything to have its own place including the Swiftech MCR320 (3×120 mm) radiator up top.

Though, with that radiator I ran into a quandary. Do I mount the radiator ABOVE the frame, remove the 200 mm fan and mount the Panaflos below it, or do I mount it below the frame and add the Panaflos? The first option didn’t yield much space up top for the wires on the back of the accessory panel, but it did fit with a little elbow grease. I then noticed that the mounting for the fans would not be flush. This can be resolved by putting some foam around the fan and tightening down so no big deal. This method, though I don’t think the way Cooler Master intended, allows for a bit more room up top inside the case and will reclaim a 5.25″ bay just in case you need it.

I decided to mount it below the frame instead. I did lose a 5.25″ bay, but seeing as how there are four available if you are using the 2.5″ bays like I am (six otherwise), this wasn’t an issue for me with a single optical and fan controller. Also note, this case will fit a double depth radiator such as the Thermochill PA 120.3, but you will have to remove the 200mm fan(s) up top and mount the fans in a pull configuration otherwise the fans would likely cover too much of the motherboard and cover the 8 pin CPU power header.

Accessories

Accessories

Top of case removed to show mounting for radiators.

Top of case removed to show mounting for radiators

MCR320 mounted with 120x38mm Panaflos.

MCR320 mounted with 120x38 mm Panaflos

The good part about mounting below the frame is that you keep the 200 mm top fan to aid the radiator in exhausting out of the case and still have enough room for 120x38mm high speed fans pushing from below. The not-so-good part is that if you don’t have another 200 mm fan, there is a decent sized gap between the top side of the radiator and the top panel of the case, preventing that slightly warmer air from exiting directly out of the case as quickly as it would with a fan on top. That is nitpicking however and I cant imagine it would affect temperatures more than negligibly.

Gap between frame and radiator.

Gap between frame and radiator

This case also has two hot swappable hard drive bays, a very nice feature. You can securely mount a 3.5″ or 2.5″ HDD (think SSD these days) to these trays as well. The other 5.25″ bays have a tool-less feature that locks any items in place with the click of a button. The other HDD trays slide in from the side of the case. I ended up removing three of them for easy placement of my pump which still left room for my Raptor and Caviar Black drives.

OCZ Vertex in HOt Swappable HDD tray.

OCZ Vertex in Hot Swappable HDD tray

Hot Swappable HDD tray partially open.

Hot Swappable HDD tray partially open

Tooless 5 1/4" bays.

Tool-less 5.25" bays

Lower HDD cage with drive.

Lower HDD cage with drive

Along with the air duct for the GPU, Cooler Master has included an “advanced GPU holder to reinforce heavy GPU cards.” While my card certainly didn’t need it in its stock form, it will most certainly require it with the EK470 GPU block on it. It mounts securely to the back of the case and holds it up about in the middle of my GTX 470. With it being adjustable, any other card will be supported by this item as well. There is no sag on the card while using this tool and it appears you can use this with two cards as well.

GPU Support.

GPU Support

Another great value-add for this case was the inclusion of a power supply cable partition. This nifty little item sits on an adjustable track on the bottom of the case (is removable) and covers up any unsightly leftover wires, which keeps the case very clean looking when proper wire management is done. Also note the motherboard tray has a nice sized cutout for easy removal and installing of any CPU heat sinks with back plates.

Below, you will see a before and after picture of the interior of the case and the power supply cable partition in action:

Motherboard tray cutout for easy heat sink/back plate access.

Motherboard tray cutout for easy heatsink/back-plate access

Empty Case.

Empty Case

Case with Full internals.

Case with Full Iinternals

Front Powered on.

Front Powered On

Rear.

Rear

Conclusion

I really have to admit I wasn’t jumping for joy after I remembered what a bear it can be sometimes to swap all your stuff out into another case. Now, my problem is which case do I use, the 800D and Cooler Master HAF-X? What a terrible decision to have to make, right? A true toss up if you ask me as both cases certainly have good arguments for their use. This case uses dust filters, however they are on the exhaust as well. Personally I would remove those to allow more air to escape the case, but this is hardly a problem if left in place.

Another great feature is that one can easily remove the front cover for the 230 mm intake fan and pop off the metal mesh in order to get at the dust filter. I did run into one concern, however it could be from a bit of carelessness on my end. The protrusion/plastic part which keeps the top part of the case on snug managed to break off in a matter of minutes and I really was not torquing on the piece at all. In its broken form, it will still stay nice and tight with no pressure on it, no problems; but if you decide to mount the radiator above the frame and it breaks, it wont hold with any pressure against it and will appear lopsided. So long as the tabs are not broken, this wouldn’t be an issue, so just be careful.

I really like the addition of the front panel USB3 ports as well as ESATA (something the 800D which costs ~50% more does not have). The large fans keep the air moving through the case and keep all your components cool and do so quietly. The noisiest fans on the case were the Panaflos by far. The adjustable GPU support is another great value-add for heavy GPUs or one with an aftermarket cooler/block on it keep it level and secure.

Having a 2 1/2 year old in the house, the power button protection feature (a panel that slides left and right covering the switches) was also nice to have so those sticky little hands can’t easily power down the system in the middle of capturing a flag in Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (yes, that happened, in a match no less!).

Fitting all of my components was never an issue. Cable management was easy and effective due to the gratuitous use of the cable management holes with grommets and included zip ties. So, as nice as the exterior looks, the interior can look just as clean with a little bit of effort (and no dremel needed).

Overall, the case has certainly done its job well with some great features and what I would call value-adds at its price point. The Cooler Master HAF-X can be found at newegg.com for $199.

A special thanks goes out to Cooler Master for providing Overclockers.com with the review sample.

- Earthdog

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Discussion
  1. I will certainly check the alignment carefully, prescrew-down. I am planning on the ASUS Rampage IV Extreme and was looking for a specific dimension of the nearest MOB standoff screw from the closest card cutout. Like standoff center 2.30mm up and 8.45mm forward from the top edge of the third card opening from the top...something like that. But I'm guessing no body has that kind of data if there rigs are already assembled and working. All the rest have already done an RMA. Well when mine comes in I'll pass along my numbers an a pic or two to help keep this lively.

    Thanks.
    Vrwings
    I just received my HAFX and ran across this discussion on a MOB Fit issue. The alignment of the mounts do not allow the cards to lineup correctly with the case slots)

    http://forum.coolermaster.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=15143

    I have not ordered my MOB yet and am wondering if anyone has run into this problem? If so is there a known mod to correct the mounts? If I find I have the problem I can figure out mob, but i though I would check-in with you first.

    Thanks.


    Eeehh, yeeeaa.. My HafX does do this, but not to the extreme that the pics you linked show. My case does it very slightly where i need to push the back-plate little to screw it in, but it doesn't unseat the card from the PCI slots. Ive had alot of cases do that so i really didn't give it a second thought.

    As a reference, the pic you linked showed the place completely covering the screw hole, mine on the other hand (mind you i only have a single 'dual slot' video card installed) only covers about 1/4, maaybe 1/2 of the hole, so it didnt take much to get it into place.

    The other thing i notice about those pics, is the Motherboard doesnt look like its secured to the back (ie its not screwed in). Not sure why hes installing PCI cards on an unsecured mobo, but that may (or may not) have something to do with the misalignment.

    But, if you have a mobo and card you can use to test it, id install them and see if your case has this problem, and how bad if so.
    I just received my HAFX and ran across this discussion on a MOB Fit issue. The alignment of the mounts do not allow the cards to lineup correctly with the case slots)

    http://forum.coolermaster.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=15143

    I have not ordered my MOB yet and am wondering if anyone has run into this problem? If so is there a known mod to correct the mounts? If I find I have the problem I can figure out mob, but i though I would check-in with you first.

    Thanks.
    Just purchased this case for my build after reading comments and getting recommendations from here for the HAF series. I have to say its a very nice case. I was impressed with the amount of room inside and how easy it was to install everything. The PSU i got barely managed to reach the CPU power connector, tho im glad CM included an extension for that.

    I do want to post a more updated info. The HAF-x I got came with INTERNAL USB 3.0 headers, with a conversion cable to external. So apparently CM has updated the case an it no longer uses the external pass-though as a default. This was a Very nice surprise when i got my case, as i had purchased a converter to use with it, and didn't need it. Kudos to CM for updating the line.

    My only single (minor) issue with this case.. I was aware of its possibility. The CPU cutout for my mother board is a little too small. Though i put an aftermarket on to start with so hopefully i wont have to change the rear bracket from now on. But its something to be aware of.

    I love the mat black finish on both inside and out. The Red LED isnt too bright, which is fine for me and id like to find a way to use the LED switch to control All the case lights eventually.

    Overall, im very happy with this case. :)
    maxfly
    thanks for that :thup: i actually checked frozencpu but only saw the 200mm listing.

    my 25mm 120.3 wont fit period. so im going to go with a xspc rx360 and try to find a way to integrate the tc later on.

    EDIT:the tc 140.3 will not fit, its to long by a inch or so :(


    What, are you sure? Are you HAF X is 589mm long, the PA140.3 is only 480mm. Where did the 109 mm go?

    Edit: Never mind, it fits physically but the mounting holes don't line up. Plus some cutting would be required for the ends of the radiator to breathe. I'm a lawyer not a machinist so guess I'm going with a 120.3.
    It threw me off a bit about the size saying 200X230 until I took my 932 apart and realized that even though they call them 230mm fans they are actually the 200X230mm fans installed in the case. I had to remove the screws on the front fan then role it 90 degree's so it was 200mm tall and 230mm wide in order to slide it out so I could paint the inside of my case.


    thanks for that :thup: i actually checked frozencpu but only saw the 200mm listing.

    my 25mm 120.3 wont fit period. so im going to go with a xspc rx360 and try to find a way to integrate the tc later on.

    EDIT:the tc 140.3 will not fit, its to long by a inch or so :(
    maxfly
    Im wondering the same thing^^^ ive searched everywhere to find someone thats top mounted the thermochill pa140.3 but no luck.im not sure if the rad will mount along with the fans or not. hopefully someone will respond before i have to order a rad next week. im also wondering if anyone knows where to get a blue led 230mm fan to replace the front fan?


    I guess one could take the dimensions of the radiator + fans and see if it ''fits'' that way, but just like you, I would prefer to see someone who has already done it...
    Im wondering the same thing^^^ ive searched everywhere to find someone thats top mounted the thermochill pa140.3 but no luck.im not sure if the rad will mount along with the fans or not. hopefully someone will respond before i have to order a rad next week. im also wondering if anyone knows where to get a blue led 230mm fan to replace the front fan?
    Jolly-Swagman
    The only FAULT I have seen with the HAF-X is that the rear CPU cut-out needs to be slightly larger / wider, more towards the Ram as some Mobo's the CPU area is nearly half covered, thus you would have to take the Mobo out to mount a Back-plate for Atermarket cooler or WC

    Prime example is the EVGA Classified Mobo


    Agreed, I have the HAF 932 with the Biostar mb and when I went to mount the Noctua D-14 I had to remove the board just to put the back plate in. The wife has the Antec 1200 and is running a Asus P6X58D Prem. board and it barely let me put the back plate in when I put a D-14 on hers also.
    The only FAULT I have seen with the HAF-X is that the rear CPU cut-out needs to be slightly larger / wider, more towards the Ram as some Mobo's the CPU area is nearly half covered, thus you would have to take the Mobo out to mount a Back-plate for Atermarket cooler or WC

    Prime example is the EVGA Classified Mobo
    The people that say there no USB3 benchmarks, Look at the new NEC uPD720200 on Asus and Gigabyte Motherboards(MB). I have a Gigabyte GA-890FXA-UD5 and it has the pin header right on MB for two USB3 connection. When I contacted Coolermaster about HAF X lose 3 feet of USB3 in the case, they tell you there is no standards yet. That's dumb. Hey, there are now Mb that have it, MSI, Asus, Gigabyte, and the rest.
    Sean W.
    the HAF X is an awesome case, i love mine, the only other case i would suggest soemone take a look at if they are thinking about getting the HAF X is the coolermaster 800D. i ulitmatly went with the HAF X because of the price difference.
    Corsair Obsidian 800D. :santa:

    But yeah $200 vs $289, the 800D while built a little better (feels more solid, hot swap cages slide better for example) doesnt have much more to offer.
    the HAF X is an awesome case, i love mine, the only other case i would suggest soemone take a look at if they are thinking about getting the HAF X is the coolermaster 800D. i ulitmatly went with the HAF X because of the price difference.
    One of the editors can likely answer that better but its more or less just about relationship building with the companies, and having a forum with a lot of visibility for exposure to their products.

    I have bought some stuff on my own, but I cant say that is was SPECIFICALLY for review. It was a want/need and I put up a review on it (like my Obsidian 800d review and the 470 review for example).