After the success of the 2008 HAF 932 chassis, Cooler Master wasted no time adapting its high air flow design to various other form factors and price points – many of which we covered in depth. Along with the larger options, the company offers three center towers: $ 50 HAF 912, $ 100 HAF 922, and $ 130 HAF XM.
While the cost of these cases varies significantly, they are all quite similar in stature as their tall, rectangular profile resembles most other central towers. Cooler Master's newest midsize case messing things up breaks the traditional shape with more boxy dimensions – in fact, the company describes it as a "LAN box".
Given the cube-shaped figure of the HAF XB, it's no surprise that Cooler Master is pushing the LAN-friendly angle that is becoming increasingly common among case makers. While this may not be the first chassis to stand out for its portability, its shape seems to have an inherent advantage over products like the Storm Scout 2.
While the Storm Scout 2 and similar designs have a handle built into a standard housing at the top in the center of the tower, the HAF XB has handles built into each side. That may sound trivial, but the difference between a one-hand side grip and a two-hand front grip is noticeable when you transport more than 30 kg of hardware.
Cooler Master is not only aimed at LAN visitors, but also sets up the HAF XB as an ideal test bench – similar to the Antec Skeleton, only that the HAF XB is more of a complete product. Given our mixed experience with unconventional chassis designs, we're not sure what to make of the HAF XB, but there is a surefire way to find out …
HAF XB External functions
We really liked the aggressive look of the HAF 932, but we imagine the more subtle design of the HAF X will appeal to more people. So we are not surprised that Cooler Master decided on this aesthetic design of the HAF XB.
As you would expect, the dimensions of the HAF XB are unusual for a medium-sized ATX case with a width of 17.4 inches, a length of 16.7 inches and a height of 44.2 x 33.0 x 42.3 cm. Compared to the HAF X with a full tower, the XB is unusual – 91% wider, but 29% shorter in depth and 40% in height.
It is made from SECC (steel, electro-galvanized, cold rolled, coil) – a type of metal known for its low cost and high thermal conductivity, ideal for computer cases. A lot of plastic is also used, but it is tastefully implemented. Overall, the HAF XB weighs 8.2 kg and is therefore significantly lighter than the HAF X, which weighs 14.35 kg.
From the front, the HAF XB looks very similar to the HAF X when it was placed in a compressor and saved at the last minute. In the upper part of the front facade there is a large grill that hides a pair of 120 mm intake fans. This is the most dominant feature on the front of the HAF XB.
Below the grill is an I / O plate that is integrated into a raised strip in the middle of the facade. The design is simple and blends in well. There's a large rectangular power button followed by the smaller rectangular reset button, two audio jacks, and two USB 3.0 ports.
The I / O control panel is followed by two external 5.25-inch drive bays and two hot-swappable external 3.5-inch bays. Since the HAF XB only supports two 3.5-inch drives, we are pleased that Cooler Master has made them accessible from the outside using a hot-swap design.
If you go to the top of the HAF XB you will find a raised field with a plexiglass window. Apparently there are two versions of this case, one that we have with the window and another with a mesh panel that supports a 200mm fan. As much as we like the window, the extra airflow is probably the way to go for high-end systems.
As in most cases, the HAF XB has left and right doors that can be removed individually. However, the top can also be opened. Both side doors are identical and have a large indented handle followed by a large vent. The doors are 16.7 "long and 13" high and are secured with a pair of thumbscrews.
Behind the HAF XB is an unusual setup in which the power supply unit is mounted in the lower left corner of the housing. The power supply also protrudes an inch from the case, saving space inside and supporting particularly long units.
Opposite the power supply bracket is a pair of unoccupied 80mm grills that can be used to improve circulation around the hard drives. Above them are the motherboard's I / O panel and seven expansion slots. Finally, there is room for an optional 120mm exhaust fan and we are disappointed that a fan is not standard here.