Cooler Master HAF XM Chassis Review

BluePanda - 2012-04-05 16:15:44 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: BluePanda   
Reviewed on: April 23, 2012
Price: $129.99

Introduction:

As a huge fan of the HAF 932, I fell in love at CES this year with Cooler Master’s new addition to the HAF (High Air Flow) series. The HAF XM was released today as the essence of the HAF X in the form of a mid-tower enclosure. It is not just a shorter version of the HAF X, but much like the X looked like the 932, the XM follows right in line with the same battle ready appearance. To me, it pulls the appearance of being the product if the HAF 932 and HAF X were to have an offspring. It brings the best of both worlds into a smaller better HAF.

The HAF XM has full coverage fan filters protecting your hardware from kitty fur and dust. It has the ability to support up to four 200mm fans, with two already included. The front fan lights up in red like the other HAF cases and actually has an LED control button on the I/O panel to turn out the lights. After the X-Docking became a bit popular with the release of the CM Storm Trooper, the CM HAF has two semi-hidden X-Docks right up front for use. It has a lot to offer as a high-end tower designed for users that want full tower features in a compact enclosure. Let’s take a look at the new CM HAF XM (that’s a fun one to say ten times fast).

Closer Look:

From first glance at the box on my porch I was a little confused as why I would be getting another HAF 932. With two in the house already, I knew I didn’t order it, and that OCC had already reviewed it and the HAF X. Then it clicked – it was the XM I’d seen back in January at CES; to be honest I was quite excited. The front of the box shows the case front with simple “HAF XM” lettering. It’s labeled as an “enthusiast mid-tower” with support for 3-Way SLI/CF support. The back of the box keys in on a few features I’ve mentioned above and gives a quick peek inside the case. The sides of the box list the specifications and features as well as let you know what model has arrived. I’ve been sent the window-less version without a power supply (A windowed version will be available depending on regions).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening up the box I’m impatient to take these pictures for you. I just want to open it up, tear off the foam end caps and pull away the plastic to reveal it. I managed to grab a few shots before doing so and this is what you get. A standard packed case, a large plastic bag to protect it and massive foam end caps to handle the delivery abuse. Enough, it is on to the next page to satisfy my needs to see the case in person.

 

Closer Look:

The front of the case is nice and familiar with the only real difference to the HAF X being the three drive bays followed by the two X-docking bays rather than four followed by two. A quick sticker on the front gives a little reminder to remove the X-dock before pulling off the front panel. It’s a pretty sticky sticker that left me frazzled trying to clean off the sticky residue. Just make sure you pull off the sticker and clean it well so everything doesn’t stick to it. I was a little disappointed by this fact – but it’s not a flaw of the case – rather a flaw in planning reminders to the customer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With all that cleaned up the front of the case is very admirable. No it isn’t much of a change from the other HAF family members, but it isn’t supposed to be. It’s a release that shares the wealth of the full-tower packed into a smaller more manageable mid-tower for those with less space. The I/O panel has a little less clutter with the loss of the Firewire and e-SATA port that no one really uses. It’s left to a simple set of USB 2.0 ports on the left and a set of USB 3.0 ports to the right. A black headphone jack and black mic jack split the two sets apart. The power button, reset button, and LED button are left on the very top for quick access from above.

Looking at the back it looks a little “fat” and “squatty” after using a HAF 932 for so long. There are eight expansion slots, a 140mm mounted rear fan, two large grommet holes, a smaller grommet hole, and your standard bottom PSU mount. A thumb screw can be seen at the top center that holds the top panel of the case on. I’ll show you a peek underneath there in a little bit.

 

 

The first side panel is the most impressive to me. It has the easy release handle much like the Corsair 600T, but has the additional security of two thumb screws on the back side. I couldn’t really decide if I liked the thumb screws there but at least the panel is easy to take on and off. With the non-windowed side panel there is room for two fans of your desire. The other side doesn’t have much to brag about and the panel is the old school mounting style that takes a little more effort to take on and off. I’d rather have seen the quick swap panel on both sides here. Oh well…at least you can take another look at the little feet on the case again.

 

 

Overall, from the outside the case is very nice looking. Go figure a lover of the HAF 932 and HAF X might just like it. It might not look a whole lot different but it is much different in size and a fraction of the price gets cut off with that as well. It’s checking out to be a new mid-tower favorite, but how well does it compete on the inside? I want to show you that peek inside the top there, and then we’ll get a good look at the guts of the mid-tower beast.

 

When you remove that single screw from the top back of the case I showed you earlier that is all that holds the top on so be prepared to take it off. It doesn’t click on nor latch under something; with the screw out you can just pick it up. You will be impressed with the fan mounted underneath here and start wondering where you can find a second to place next to it. It is thicker than most fans you are probably used to seeing and looks like it will be moving a ton of air. The fans are available on the CM site if you do desire another to place up here in the perfectly cut hole just waiting for another.

After removing the X-Docks, like the little annoying sticker said to do, the front panel comes off smoothly. The case a little naked (though the side panels are on) looks a bit interesting from the front. I’m not exactly sure why I took a shot of this angle, but it sure is interesting to see underneath all that makes it pretty, it’s rather simple isn’t it?

 

Closer Look:

On to the important stuff, the insides; is there enough room for what you want it to hold? If you are used to mid-towers there is quite a bit of room when first opening this up. The only thing that seems to tighten things up is the little cable hider there at the bottom. This can be removed all together if you need the extra room or have no cables to hide (thanks to modular PSUs) or you can hide that usual mess of cables that you generally just don’t want to put effort into routing. Pros and cons of it are handled well.

The back side is pretty standard and about as difficult as my HAF 932 to smash cables down when putting on the side panel. Don’t try to use the little canal at the bottom edge there, the panel has a lip that needs to set there – you just need to be a little more creative; otherwise you might just be rethinking using the cable hider there on the front anyway. It isn’t horrible and I’ve dealt with a lot less space before. Considering it still as the child of the HAF family, it has the proper genetics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A closer look at the cable hider and perhaps you’ll be smarter than me to notice. There’s a neat little hole cut in the top to allow you to route cables out of it. If you take this out to route your cables, make sure you put it back in before you start plugging things in. If you don’t you’ll be like me and re-do all your front I/O cables over. Lesson learned, new smarts passed on. You should also notice that the screws holding it in are on a set of tracks almost. You can scoot this left or right to help hide whatever you need for whatever length of power supply you might have.

The lock switches for the external bays are pretty nifty and simple to use. With obvious labeling of locked versus open, it’s hard to get the two confused. They click open and click closed. No need for any more explanation.

 

 

Looking down at the HDD cages you can see you can remove one or both if you want as each cage holds three drives. They are simple tool-less mounts with the typical rubber pin mounting for the HDD and a nice centered layout for the SSD (you won’t lose the rubber pins!). The plastic is a little strong, but with a few uses or after getting your HDD in place it is not much an issue. They slide in place on their rails and sort of clip into place. You can wire it up as usual from the other side of the case.

 

 

The back of the case shows a proudly mounted 140mm fan ready for action. It comes equipped with a three pin to Molex connector to allow you to decide how and where you want it plugged in. A couple of brass standoffs are pre-set in the motherboard tray. They both have a raised edge to help you hold your motherboard in place while you screw it in. There are plenty of slots cut for zip-ties to hold cables in place on the backside and a huge cutout for your CPU backplate. It’s well planned and not an inch seems to be wasted.

 

An awkward shot to take and still a little rough around the eges is a look at the inside of the X-Docks. If you pull out the X-Dock bays you can see the little PCB at the back with SATA and power connectors for your HDD/SSD to be hot swapped. It’s aligned for an HDD so you will have to mount your SSD on the side (which has been accommodated for) so try not to lose your rubber pins!

Looking from inside the case you can see the other side of the PCB with the capacitors and cable connections you need to plug in. Remember to save a Molex end to plug in as well as leave out a couple extra SATA cables for future use. It is pretty self-explanatory.

 

 

Included with the case you always have your quick start guide to help you figure out what every little thing is and find those features you didn’t know you had. Along with that, some zip ties, screws and a mobo speaker have been included. You’ve got enough to get your build up and going while still looking fine.

 

After I got everything in, it was a pretty sleek look. The cable hiding box really cleaned up a lot of the excess cabling. It even hides the wad that fits through to the back panel. The build just looks overly clean and to be honest I didn’t put that much effort in making it look that way. It’s a nice case and easy to work with. There wasn’t anything I really struggled with getting it all together. Usually there’s something outstanding when I’m all said and done, but this was just nice.

 

With it up and running I thought I might take a picture of the X-Dock in action. The drive mounts are the same as inside the case with the exception of the offset for the SSD. It’s quick to put in and a little rough to actually match up to the SATA and power connector – but it does work. You can see a glimpse of the red fan running there below it as well. It’s pretty subtle, even in a dark room.

The power button also is outlined in red with a red LED indicator and red HDD indicator symmetrically placed. The only flaw found in the button design is the fact that one day I will hit the reset when I’m intending to turn of the LEDs on the fan. It isn’t a major down fall but something to consider a closer look at and a reminder to not just go randomly pressing buttons.

 

 

Overall I’m rather impressed with the HAF XM. It’s a case I plan on keeping around for a bit. It won’t replace my HAF 932 as I have been attached to it for too long. It is the best “smaller” version of a case I’ve seen and it somehow truly holds up the credibility of the HAF 932 and HAF X in appearance and quality. There is almost the same amount of space to grow inside as its parent cases and has few issues to set it aside from the starting lineup.

Specifications:

Color:
Black
Material:
Outer body: coated steel mesh and synthetic compounds
Inner body: coated enforced steel alloy
Dimensions:
252.2(W) x 530.5(H) x 579.0(D) mm
Weight:
10.5 kg
MB Type
Micro-ATX, ATX, E-ATX
5.25” Bays
3
3.5” Bays
8 (hidden x 6, x-dock x2)
2.5” Bays
9 (converted x6, x-dock x2, behind mobo tray x1))
I/O Panel
USB 3.0 x2, USB 2.0 x2, Audio in/out x1, LED switch for front fan
Expansion Slots:
8+1
PSU Type:
Standard ATX PS2 / EPS
Max VGA:
354mm w/cage, 463mm w/o cage
Max CPU cooler:
196mm

 

 

Cooling:

 

 

Features:

 

Testing:

Testing the CM HAF XM required pushing my hardware to heat things up! Testing involved recording temperatures for the CPU, GPU, chipset, hard drives, and overall system during idle and load phases. Recently OCC has upgraded to the ForceGT 240GB SSD from Corsair and has removed the HDD temps from case reviews. HDTune is no longer a part of the Case benchmarking process.

Load was simulated by running Prime95’s small FFTs, and 3Dmark Vantage for one hour. The maximum temperatures were recorded using HW Monitor. It is important to note that each case is tested from its factory setup, including location of fans, unless otherwise noted.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Cases:

 

Results:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The idle temperatures were a bit disappointing. It was a bit warmer than most at idle but it did perform well under load. It is beginning to be more and more difficult to compare case thermal performance as it seems most companies have nailed down what works and what doesn’t. Only the outliers really stand out anymore and if it fits somewhere in between the lowest and highest it generally goes unnoticed. The HAF XM gets its moment in the spot light for the CPU load temperature. Showing up on the low end is rather impressive compared to the other cases listed. I’m happy to see this even if the chipset on the other hand is a little toasty. However, the only cases that aren’t a bit warm on this graph are those with fans included on the side. Perhaps adding a couple of fans would help? Overall, it’s all good.

Conclusion:

In the end I’m just impressed with the HAF XM. It might just be worthy of a BluePanda OCC Gold award, which undoubtedly is only the second one I’ve given since I joined the staff of OCC. Trust me it says a lot as I tend to be rather picky and it is well worth a look when I tack on the golden label. A predisposed bias torwards the HAF 932 actually leaves me a little more critical on the looks and workings of the new XM. I’m impressed. I failed to find any real flaws with it and couldn’t find a reason to dislike it no matter how hard I tried. Like I said before, it truly shows up as an offspring of the HAF 932 and HAF X; it’s the midget child of the two and can satisfy the needs for hardware as well as fix the lack of space issues some of you have. This is one “child” you might want to let in your house to stay.

 

 

 

Pros:

 

Cons: