Cooler Master HAF 912 Review

airman - 2010-08-23 15:14:17 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: airman   
Reviewed on: September 8, 2010
Price: $59.99

Introduction:

Anyone in the custom computing scene is sure to have heard of Cooler Master. Cooler Master introduced themselves into the computer accessory market about a decade ago, and has continued their rise to success every year that they operate. As per their mission statement, "Cooler Master is absolutely committed to delivering solutions that precisely meet customer requirements for features, performance, and quality." Most individuals who have owned a Cooler Master product can agree with this quote, as Cooler Master offers high quality products that are well designed and well built. Since their debut, Cooler Master has developed cases, heatsinks, power supplies, and other cooling accessories that are widely used across the world and accepted as one of the most popular brands internationally.

Since Cooler Master is a very popular brand, they are recognized by most computer enthusiasts who keep up with custom computer products. More specifically, individuals may even recognize or at least know of the HAF breed of cases in Cooler Master's line up, and acknowledge them as their higher-end mid and full tower cases with loads of features and a high level of cooling capacity. Introduced this Tuesday, the HAF 912 is the latest case in Cooler Master's product line. It is a mid tower case that houses up to seven 3.5" hard drives, two 2.5" SSDs, three or four external 5.25" devices, dependent upon whether or not the 3.5" device bay is used. For a mid tower case, this certainly is a large amount of capacity! This review will completely explore the HAF 912 from unboxing, exterior and interior features, specifications, and most importantly, testing and comparing the temperatures produced by the HAF 912 against some of the other latest cases on the market.

 

Closer Look:

The Cooler Master HAF 912 is packaged in a plain brown cardboard box with black printing of the Cooler Master logo, a picture of the case, specifications and features, as well as some attractive designs on the front that improve the look of the plain brown cardboard. For being monochrome, the packaging is not really unattractive and I feel is a good presentation of the case while not requiring a lot of resources to produce. More specifically, the rear of the case contains specific features the case offers, with individual specifications such as the dimensions and capacity on the sides.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The HAF 912 is secured in the box between two blocks of fitted styroam and wrapped in a plastic bag. The user's manual can be found underneath the case, and a box of accessories secured to the inside rear of the case with a large twist tie. The accessories included are: all mounting hardware such as motherboard standoffs, motherboard screws, expansion slot screws, 6 pairs of toolless hard drive rails, a numerous amount of zip ties, a 5.25" to 3.5" adapter bracket, and a short PC speaker. I like that Cooler Master supplied the zip ties, and about 15 of them at that, which can really help clean up the interior of a case and improve further upon the already built-in wire management features.

 

 

With the HAF 912 out of the bag, it is ready to have an evaluation of its exterior on the next page. So far, this case looks like it could be a solid performer with lots of room and plenty of extra features.

Closer Look:

The Cooler Master HAF 912 has inherited a lot of the same physical features as the other HAF cases in Cooler Master's lineup. The front of the case has a very similar design and layout to the others, with the notched front bezel and the aggressive metal mesh and dust filters, only on a slightly smaller scale from the full tower HAF cases. The I/O ports and power/reset buttons are located at the top, which can be easily accessed. The Cooler Master badge is attached in the center of the bottom section and adds a nice accent to the front bezel. The left side of the case features the familiar glossy "HAF" lettering on top of the durable flat black paint job, with room for a 120mm fan beside the video card(s) and a light design stamped into the panel which frames this section nicely.

The rear of the case displays the true relative width of the case if compared to its height. The case is quite wide, which increases the interior volume much more than by making the case taller. This means more room for wire management, and less constrictive airflow if a lot of components are being used. An included 120mm exhaust fan is found at the top rear, above the grommets for an external water cooling loop. The rear of the box that the case arrives in has a picture of a radiator mounted to the top of the case with the lines run through these holes. Mounting a radiator externally can free up a lot of room in the computer case rather than trying to mount one internally, which also helps keep heat from building up around it. Underneath the water cooling grommets are the seven "plus one" expansion slots. There is a vertically mounted expansion slot to the right that can hold any non-direct interface (i.e. uses a plug to interface with the motherboard instead of an actual PCI interface) such as extra USB ports or a switch for lighting, etc. This way, all of the motherboard slots can be used and not have to sacrifice one to use an "accessory" expansion device. The right side of the case is plain and does not have any markings or designs on it. I did find that this panel is not held on by thumbscrews, so a screwdriver is necessary to remove the panel. This was a little bit odd, as most cases now have thumbscrews on both panels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The top of the case can support two 120mm fans (specifically for a 2x120mm radiator) or one 200mm fan - neither are included. Towards the front is a "platform" that Cooler Master uses to place an iPhone on in one of their promotional videos for the HAF 912. A stack of CDs/DVDs can also fit here as well, as well as other personal belongings. Underneath the case, four plastic feet can be found as well as a filtered intake for the power supply unit. The dust filter here is removable, so it can be removed and cleaned if necessary. The power supply bracket allows for the power supply to be mounted upwards or downwards, so if the intake fan on the power supply is facing upwards, the filter underneath it will probably never get dirty enough to require a cleaning if there is no air flowing through it. In the middle of the underside of the case, an inward pressed section can be seen. This is for the internal 2.5"/1.8" hard drive mounting cage, which will be explored later in this review.

 

 

The front bezel of the HAF 912 pops off easily, but will require the removable of both side panels to access the retention tabs on the inside. There are six plastic tabs that lock the front bezel into place, and can be released by pulling them outwards from the case. Once each of the retention tabs are released, the front bezel pulls off with nothing attached to the rear. Not having the buttons or a fan attached to the inside of the front bezel completely removes the possibility of breaking any wires or damaging any of the components, which can be a headache to repair if damage did occur. A lot of cases are moving towards this design, though not all manufacturers have completely adopted this idea yet. Soon, I believe that all front bezels on every case will be completely independent from fans, switches, and other wiring.

 

 

With the exterior of the case evaluated, my impressions on the HAF 912 are in good standings. The next page of this review will consist of a more in-depth view of the interior of the case, along with an explanation of the interior features and my thoughts about them.

Closer Look:

Taking the side panels off of the HAF 912 will expose the large amount of real estate that is packaged with it. Cooler Master managed to fit room for six 3.5" hard drives, two 2.5" hard drives and up to four 5.25" devices while maintaining plenty of room for the rest of the computer components and loads of wire management capabilities. As I check with every case, I judge the CPU retention hole size and position to see if it might fit the MSI X58 Platinum motherboard that will be used in every review, and for the first time EVER, it looks like the HAF 912 may be the case to actually have an appropriately sized hole to leave all four corners of the heatsink mounting area accessible with enough room around them to take advantage of this feature. Hopefully, it will and I will be sure to praise Cooler Master heavily for this once I find out for sure once the motherboard is in place. Looking at the other side of the case will show the rear of the motherboard tray and the wire management cutouts that improve the routing of cables inside of the case. Though it can't be clearly seen in this picture, there is over a half of an inch of room between the motherboard tray and the side panel, which is loads of room and should not cause any clearance issues if a large bundle of wires is stashed there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at the bottom rear of the HAF 912 shows a clearer picture of the PSU mounting bracket, the 7+1 expansion slots and the removable 2.5/1.8" hard drive cage. The additional vertical expansion slot cover is secured with a thumb screw, while the typical horizontal covers are secured by regular screws. I like to see thumbscrews on these covers, which hastens installation, and though they aren't completely necessary they are still very common. Turning to the upper rear of the case will show the included 120mm exhaust fan, the external water cooling outlets, the CPU retention cutout, and the top mounting area for the 1x200mm or 2x120mm fans.

The top side of the front of the HAF 912 shows the four external 5.25" device bays, along with one toolless mounting clip. There is only one of these clips included, but it can be easily removed and placed on any of the other three 5.25" bays. I don't understand why Cooler Master only included one of these clips, as these clips are simple and can be made cheaply, and not only for optical drives, but fan controllers, light switch boxes, displays, and other devices as well. Operating the toolless 5.25" clip is simple, as there is a small lever that is flipped to the "OPEN" position to insert the device, and then to "LOCK" to secure the device. The bottom end of the front houses the hard drive area. The 4x3.5" hard drive cage is removable after the four screws behind it are removed, though the 2x3.5" hard drive cage beneath it is not. I will show this up closer momentarily.

 

 

 

The 4x3.5" hard drive cage can be removed by removing the four screws that attach it to the frame. Once removed, the two black plastic tabs can be compressed towards each other and will allow the drive cage to slide out. This can help with installing the drives as well as clear enough room for an extra large video card if necessary. As a forward, I was able to fit an HD5870 in the case without having to remove this cage, but since the power connects face towards the front of the case, the cables had to be turned quite far to clear fit through and around the hard drive cage itself. It required a lot of maneuvering to make it work, so I don't recommend it.

 

 

I wanted to provide a closer look at the toolless clip that is found on the top 5.25" bay. As I said, it is simple, removable device that can be placed on any of the other 5.25" bays. There is a small lobe on the back of the clip, attached to the outer lever, that pushes the clip and securing barbs outwards which release the drive.

 

 

The HAF 912 only comes with two included fans. This is my only disappointment so far (before testing, obviously), as there is a lot of room for other fans that will be unused for testing. The two low RPM fans are one 120mm front intake and one 120mm rear exhaust. This may severely hinder chipset and GPU temperatures, though I never try to make assumptions before testing the case as I have been proved wrong before. The two fans are rated at 12V and 0.16A, rotating at a speed of 1700RPM at a silent 17dBA. They have an attached 3pin header and includes a 3pin to 4pin molex adapter that is already attached.

 

 

 

Installing the motherboard and other components into the case was not too difficult. Only two motherboard standoffs are in place from the factory, so 7 more will have to be installed for standard ATX motherboards. Installing the hard drives are done by snapping in two of the rails on either side and sliding it in to the cage until it locks into position. As I said earlier, the top hard drive cage may need to be removed to comfortably fit a large video card in the HAF 912. I was able to twist the video card in position while having the power wires routed through the hard drive cage, but I wouldn't recommend this for large video cards because there is will be a significant amount of bending in the in the power cables which could damage them or the sockets on the video card. I am happy to report that the CPU retention hole DOES indeed provide total access to the CPU retention bracket holes on the back of the MSI X58 motherboard. This is the FIRST case that I have reviewed to actually accomplish this, and I applaud Cooler Master for getting this right. It may just be the MSI X58 motherboard has an odd placement of the CPU, but there is no reason why case manufacturers cannot just make these holes large enough to accommodate most every common motherboard manufacturer's CPU placement. Anyways, with the components in the case and ready to go, it is now time to stress test these components and compare the results to the other latest cases on the market today.

 

As far as this evaluation goes, there wasn't really much more to talk about. The HAF 912 is the entry level case to the HAF lineup and does not offer a load of features, though has the styling of the upper end HAF cases that Cooler Master offers. The removable hard drive cages are a plus and I can appreciate that since it cleans up the interior of the HAF912 and allows for more room if required. On the next page, I will show the case's specifications as well as the listed features as published from Cooler Master.

Specifications:

Color
Black
Dimensions
230 x 480 x 496mm / 9.1 x 18.9 x 19.5 inches
Net Weight
17.8lbs
Material
SECC Steel / ABS Plastic
Motherboard Type
ATX / mATX
5.25" Drive Bays
4 Exposed
3.5" Drive bays
1 Exposed (converted from 5.25" bay), 6 hidden
2.5" Drive bays
2 Hidden + 2 (converted from 5.25" bay)
I/O Panel
USB 2.0 x 2, Audio x 1, Speakers x 1
Cooling System
Top: 120 mm fan x 2 or 200mm fan x 1 (optional)
Front: 120 mm fan x 2, 1200RPM, 17dBA or 1 x 200 mm fan (only one 120mm included)
Side: 120/140 mm fan x 1 (optional)
Rear: 120 mm fan x 1, 1200RPM, 17dBA
Expansion Slot
7+1
Power Supply
ATX PS2 / EPS 12V (optional)

 

Features:

 

Information provided courtesy of Cooler Master @ http://www.coolermaster.com

Testing:

To test the Cooler Master HAF 912, temperatures will be recorded for the CPU, GPU, chipset, hard drives, and the overall system temperature during load and idle phases. Load will be simulated by Prime95 small FFTs and HD Tune for one hour with maximum temperatures recorded by RealTemp. The GPU load will be the maximum value recorded by Catalyst Control Center after five loops of 3DMark06’s Canyon Flight test. Each case is tested as is from the factory, including the fan configuration. As stated earlier, the fan configuration for the HAF 912 is 1x120mm front intake and 1 x120mm rear exhaust.

Testing Setup:

Comparison Cases:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's clear by these results that only including two fans in the HAF 912 certainly hinders its performance. The CPU temperature got to nearly 80°C in 25°C ambient air under load, as did the chipset temperature. The HAF 912 falls behind in every test and performs only "acceptably", as I will say. I strongly feel that with the addition of two or three more fans, the temperatures can drop drastically and the case will perform much better. Unfortunately, with only two fans, there is not enough flow of air through the case to adequately cool all of the components. Even the 120mm intake fan has trouble bringing the HDD temperature down to a similar level of the other cases. These are only some quick thoughts, and I will wrap up this review in the conclusion on the next page.

Conclusion:

As I stated in my thoughts on the last page, the addition of two or three more fans to the HAF 912 would certainly improve the case's performance. This case definitely has potential for being a solid performer, it just lacks airflow out of the box from Cooler Master. A side intake fan would help out the GPU and chipset temperatures, while one or two top exhausts would help with the CPU temperature. All of these combined would drop the overall temperature of the case, and therefore drop the hard drive temperature. So the bottom line with the HAF 912 is for solid performance, adding a few extra fans is almost 100% necessary.

As far as quality of the case and features, the case is very well built and put together. The HAF 912 is sturdy, has a good paint job, and is clean on the inside and outside. It features a toolless 5.25" bay, a removable hard drive cage, an extra expansion slot for non slot-interface devices, a platform on the top for personal belongings, water cooling outlets, and room for a 2x120mm radiator to be mounted on the outside. Cooler Master definitely put a lot of thought into the HAF 912 though I wish they threw at least a top exhaust fan in along with the case as that one fan would noticeably improve performance of the case. Overall, I like the case, the price is right for entry level buyers, the CPU retention bracket access hole actually works for this motherboard, and has the potential to be a solid performer if enough fans are used. The included fans are very quiet and operate at low RPM, which is a good and a bad thing. The good side is that it is very quiet, almost silent, but the bad thing is that quiet 120mm fans mean low RPM, which move little air.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: