Cooler Master HAF XB Review
Currently, the enclosure market is filled with similar chassis which have very few unique distinguishing features so when a potentially innovative product comes along, we sit up and take notice. This time it is Cooler Master pushing the boundaries with a unique spin on the typical ATX case which literally turns everyday design convention on its head. Dubbed the HAF-XM, it is dubbed a "LAN Box" and uses a cube-like approach that puts nearly every installation element right at your fingertips.
Coming in with a price of just $99, the HAF XB aims to incorporate all of the features normally found on Cooler Master’s enthusiast-oriented HAF lineup into a slightly more compact 13” high form that can be tucked into nearly any corner of a desk. Other manufacturers have tried this type of design and most have failed but the XB may just be a winner.
As with all of the other HAF (or High Airflow Series) products, the XB uses a highly industrial look that will prompt either “love it” or “hate it” reactions from most enthusiasts. We like the rugged approach Cooler Master has taken here with a large front-mounted venting area that can be equipped with two 120mm fans. There is also a pair of hot-swap drive bays for quick storage device change-outs.
The top of Cooler Master’s HAF XB looks very much like the sides of most other ATX cases with a large meshed-in area that can receive a 200mm fan which hasn’t been included. Unfortunately, it wasn’t designed for anything smaller so buyers will have limited options.
Moving over to the XB’s sides, each incorporates a well placed carrying handle. There aren’t any window panels on this version but supposedly Cooler Master will allow them to be bought separately once the case is released.
The rear area of most cases doesn’t typically hold anything of interest but this time around we have to remember that Cooler Master is doing things a bit differently with the XB. It uses a stacked layout that would feel right at home on a Mountain Mods chassis. With a pair of 80mm fan mounts (these were used in order to ensure space could be given to the I/O brackets) and a bottom mounted power supply, it seems the design team was certainly thinking outside of the typical “box”.
Naturally, there have been some sacrifices here. Due to internal space constraints, the power supply’s mounting bracket protrudes from the rear, causing an unsightly blemish on an otherwise clean design. In addition, only a single 120mm fan mount is located here which could limit airflow if the 80mm mounts aren’t populated.
Once the HAF XB’s side and top panels are removed, we are presented with a cavernous interior that’s split into two sections. The topmost area incorporates a removable motherboard tray that slides out to reveal the lower portion with its multiple drive mounts and cable tie notches. For those of you keeping score at home, the XB is compatible with most tower-style heatsinks and there are some possible locations for water cooling setups so component cooling shouldn’t be an issue.
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