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Cooler Master HAF XM
Cooler Master has a variety of different kinds of cases. Ranging from beautifully designed cases meant to fit in any home to the core gaming cases. About three years ago, Cooler Master announced a new addition to their HAF series, namely the HAF X. It was welcomed with open arms by the hardware community and it quickly became a favorite under hardware enthusiasts. It featured the fierce design of the HAF series while offering a ton of cool features such as lots of room for cooling, hot-swappable hard drive cages, PSU partition to hide your cables and much more.
Today I will be looking at the smaller brother, the Cooler Master HAF XM. The HAF series and name stand for High Airflow, meaning these cases are meant to offer you a high airflow throughout your case, cooling all of your precious hardware. HAF XM is a midsize case while the HAF X is full tower case.
Does the HAF XM deliver? Does it bring all the great features of the HAF X? This and more we will together find out.
Below you will find the detailed specifications of the HAF XM as found on the Cooler Master website:
Packaging & contents
Upon receiving the box, I was a bit overwhelmed by how big the box is. Much bigger than the box the Cooler Master CM 690 II Advanced B&W Edition came in. The colored box features a picture of the case along the front while on the sides and back you can find the specifications and special features that are offered with this particular case.
As far as the extras delivered with this case, I was surprised by how little there was. No 5,25" to 3,5 inch bracket, no SSD bracket or so. Just the standard manual with all the required screws, motherboard speaker and lots of zipties. Never gotten that many zipties with a case before though.
Now that we've got the case out of the box, let's take a look at this bad boy.
There was a reason why the box was quite big, the case is really big as well. You wouldn't say it's midtower case right away.
The case is fully painted in matte black which I quite like. It has this rugged, military look about it. You can see that Cooler Master is trying to reach the enthusiast gamer with their HAF-series.
At the front there is mesh covering the big 200mm fan sitting behind it. You can replace the 200mm fan for either one 140mm fan or two 120mm fans.
Going up we see that Cooler Master added two hot-swappable bays just like the HAF X. They are slightly different though as they look similar and in use are similar to the normal hard drive brackets in the case itself. They just have the front mesh panel on them. With the HAF X this wasn't the case, as they use a different, more sturdy bracket in my opinion. Putting the drive brackets back into case I found was a hassle sometimes though. I just found that they didn't go in smoothly with or without a hard drive in the bracket. These brackets support 3,5" inch drives and also 2,5" inch drives with the exception being that they must be screwed onto the brackets.
Further up we find there are three 5,25" hard drive bays. On our front I/O panel we find (from left to right) two USB 2.0 ports, a headphone jack, a microphone jack and three USB 3.0 ports. The USB 3.0 ports are connected via motherboard header which is nice but if you don't have a USB 3.0 motherboard header you will need an adapter which isn't included.
Now at the top, we have at the front 3 buttons. On the left, you have a switch to turn the red LED of the front fan on or off, the big power button and a reset button. The reset button was a bit a too big for my liking. I'm always afraid of accidentally hitting the reset button, I would have made a tad bit smaller than the LED button. Luckily though it hasn't happened yet. The LED button also has a light above it indicating whether the LED of the fan is on or not. The reset button as well has an HDD indicator light above. Both of these shine red as well as the power indicator.
There's also a small bay with a rubber base where you can store a USB drive, keys, external hard drive and etc.
At the back of the top there's a large cover with mesh that can be removed by a single thumbscrew at the back. This uncovers a 200mm fan. This place gives you the option to install two 200mm/140mm/120mm fans. It also supports 240mm and 280mm radiator, depending on the thickness of the radiator though.
When you look at the sides of the case, you will notice that the side panels bulge out a bit. Right-side panel allows in this way more room for cable management. The left-side panel has a meshed airvent which can support two 140mm fans and one 200mm fan. The reasoning behind the bulged out panel on this side, is that the extra cooling options would not interfere with the hardware inside, for example a large CPU cooler.
The panels are secured with both 2 thumbscrews but the left-side panel also has a latch to hold the panel in place. The latch works without the use of the thumbscrews too which is nice if you have to open your case quite often.
At the back there are 3 watercooling holes with rubber grommets. Below that there is a 140mm fan exhaust with the motherboard I/O cutout along the side. There are 8 expansion slots available, as well as one extra along the side. Below that you have the PSU mounting, Cooler Master has given you the option to mount it either upside up or upside down.
Next up, let's take a look at the inside.
The case is all black on the inside as it is on the outside. As this is a fairly large midsize tower, there is a large amount of room for all your hardware.
The first thing to catch your eye is the PSU cable cover. This is not something you see in every case. If you want to cover up all your cabling coming out of your PSU, Cooler Master has a solution for this problem. Cable management enthusiasts will be quite pleased with this.
The PSU is to be mounted at the bottom of the case and you can have your PSU either pull air from within the case or from the outside. The PSU sits on two strips of rubber to protect it from vibrations. There is a dustfilter included at the bottom but this is where I find that Cooler Master didn't think this through. The dustfilter is just a meshed sheet that sits at the bottom of the case under the PSU. Once your PSU is mounted you can't get at it. So if you wanted to clean the dustfilter you need to first unmount your PSU before you can reach it. Most other manufacturers are adding easily removable dustfilters to their cases, I don't understand why Cooler Master couldn't add this to the HAF XM as this would save you the extra hassle.
There are six hard drive bays in total which support 3,5" inch and 2,5" inch hard drives, not including the 2 X-dock (hot-swappable) hard drive bays. They are equipped with the typical tool-less designed hard drive brackets which we are used to from Cooler Master. To mount 2,5" inch drives though, you will need the use of a few screws.
As already stated in this review, the HAF XM offers three 5,25" inch drives with also a tool-less design. Just insert the drive and lock the drive with a latch. The only gripe I have is that as the lock is only on 1 side, this makes that some drives might sit a bit loosely in the drive bays. This is a minor issue but something I did notice.
Cooler Master has included 9 expansion slots including one that is vertically aligned. All of which are easily removable via thumbscrews. Above that the 140mm fan I earlier mentioned. Another thing that is important to look at, is the maximum length your graphics card can be in a case. With the top HDD cage installed, the maximum length that your graphics card can be is about 35-36 centimeters. With the HDD cage removed, keep in mind though you lose 3 hard drive bays, you have about 47 centimeters in width for your graphics card. Enough room as you can see for even the largest of graphics cards.
The HAF XM has an excess of options for cable management. There are several holes with rubber grommets which make it easy to hide away your cables. This case supports Micro-ATX, ATX and E-ATX. There is a large CPU cutout at the back which should make it easy for you to disassemble and remove your aftermarket cooler without having to bother taking out the motherboard entirely.
Cooler Master also integrated a 2,5 inch backmount on this case so you can install your SSD at the back of your case which negates the need for a SSD bracket. This allows for easy installation and it frees up an extra hard drive bay.
The hot-swappable bays come with a PCB backplate which has two SATA data connections and one Molex for powering the hard drives.
Testing & Installation
Next up was installing my system in this new case. This went fairly easy. Installing a DVD-drive requires you to remove the front bezel. Remember though to remove the hotswappable bays or you might break them as was almost the case with me. I did not remember Cooler Master's sticker warning which was on the front bays.
When everything is installed and the cables are hidden, I can't help myself asking myself, is this truly a midtower case? There is just so much room in this case, that you could mistake it for a full tower case instead of a mid tower.
Cable management was a breeze. There are lots of holes for the cables. At the back there are also plenty of places to tie your zipties to. The added PSU cover is a nice touch as it does hide all your cables nicely away. Remember though to put this back in place before you start to put your case front I/O ports onto your motherboard and such, otherwise you might have to start over.
Installing the SSD at the back was easy as it only required 2 screws while 2 pins plug into the other mounting holes. Though I still prefer installing my SSD in a hard drive bay. I found though that the amount of spacing at the back for cables was a bit tight. Luckily though the bulge in the side of the case made up for this.
The specifications of the system installed can be found below.
To conclude this review, Cooler Master has delivered on the high expectations of the little brother of the HAF X. It brings all of the features we loved on the HAF X in a mid-sized tower. This is a solid addition to the already beloved HAF X series.
At a price of about 100 euros, it is definitely bang for your buck. If you are in the market for a midtower, you should unquestionably have a look at the HAF XM. It is jampacked with features including the two hotswap bays, PSU cover, lots of cable management options and much more. It has lots of space inside which made it breeze to install our testsytem.
The only remarks I have, are about the PSU dustfilter which you have to remove the PSU to actually be able to clean it and the oversized reset button.
Now to summarize this is a beautifully designed case. It has all the features an enthusiast would be looking for in a midtower case at a reasonable price point.
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