Cooler Master HAF X Reviewjlqrb - May 25, 2010
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Right off you can see that Cooler Master did a good job maintaining the industrial/military feel of the HAF series with the HAF X. The case itself is a 30 pound, .8mm SGCC steel chassis, with plastic front and top bezels. It is with these and various other features that give the HAF X a very bold and almost tank like look, and this resemblance to a modern war machine was by no means a mistake. While in development, the HAF X designers drew inspiration from actual battle tanks. This is evident in the tread-like design that runs down each side of the front bezel and continues at the bottom of the case, on to the two mesh exhaust ports at the top. Also continuing on the rugged look, the HAF X has a large amount of mesh, that is found throughout the front and top bezels. This includes all six of the bay covers and extends down to the mesh cover that sits in front of the 220mm intake fan. The front I/O panel is actually part of the top bezel. It tilts over the top portion of the chassis to connect to the front bezel and it looks almost seamless.
Turning the case around to the back shows that the gray is gone and the whole chassis, inside and out is now painted black. This not only helps with the appearance, but it aids in cable management as well. Also on the back, are three large, pre-drilled holes that are used to route 5/8” ID tubing from a top-mounted water cooling radiator. The third hole can be used to allow cables or wiring to be passed though the back panel. One feature that really stands out on the rear of the case are the nine expansion covers. This is in place of the usual seven or eight and for those of you that aren't familiar with what this design is for, it's very simple. With nine expansion slots, the HAF X will allow for the installation of up to four, dual-slot graphics cards to be used simultaneously. This means that owners of the HAF X can use four HD5870 graphics cards in a Quad-CrossFireX setup or four GTX480's utilizing Nvidia's SLI technology, making this an exceptional case for hardcore enthusiasts. Getting a look at the sides of the case you can once again see the military-inspired design in action as each side panel has a look that is similar to that found on the door of a Humvee or possibly a military gas container. The side panel comes with a clear side window and a 200mm intake fan. That fan do a great job of keeping your components supplied with cool, fresh air.
The front panel on the HAF X comes with a few very interesting options. First, let's look at the top portion of the panel, which is where the power, reset and fan LED on/off buttons are found. Each of these buttons feels very secure and are all easily accessible, but what is interesting is how the HAF X uses a built in shutter that can slide back and forth. This protective panel will be useful to prevent any accidental damage or shut downs. Directly below these buttons is the front I/O panel. This panel comes with the standard ports, such as: e-SATA, FireWire, USB 2.0 and headphone/microphone audio, but what's different is the use of USB 3.0 ports. This makes the HAF X one of the first to utilize this technology on the front panel and does so by means of actual USB 3.0 cables that extend though the case from the top panel. These cables can then be routed out one of the water cooling holes in the back and plugged into the USB 3.0 ports on the motherboard. This option is a bit awkward, but since there are no other methods to achieve this at this time, it is a very nice addition to the case. Cooler Master is also aware of this and have stated that when a better method becomes available, they will supply HAF X owners with the means to use that new method. Behind the front panel on the top bezel, are two mesh ventilation areas that can house dual 200mm fans. Even with the ability to fit two fan in this area, Cooler Master has opted to only make one standard, with the other fan being optional. This top panel also as the ability to hold a 240, 360, or 280mm radiator with no modification needed. The radiator is simply added by removing the top 200mm fan(s) and then securing it in place using the pre-drilled screw holes.
The front and top bezels on the HAF X are ABS plastic with mesh covers that use a internal clipping system to lock the bezels to the chassis. Both are easily removed and once off, you have access to the top fan as well as the front I/O circuit board. The way Cooler Master setup the circuit board is very clean and instead of using a soldering method, they gave each cable a designated port to plug into on the board. This makes removing and replacing (if necessary) the cables very easy. Also since each cable can be removed, you can switch the blue USB 3.0 cables with the additional black USB 2.0 converter cables that are supplied with the case. This is nice because if your board does not support USB 3.0, or you prefer not the use the pass though method, you can change these ports to standard USB 2.0. Also, when using the USB 2.0 cable in place of the 3.0 ones, you no longer have to route them to the back of the case and they can instead be wired directly to one of the internal motherboard USB headers.
On the front bezel of the HAF X, there is room to install four 5.25" devices, with two hot swap bays below, making for a total of six removable bay covers on the front. Each bay cover comes off the same way and this is by pushing inward on the side clamps and pulling the cover out of the case. The covers on the inside have a very thin dust filter that will reduce the amount dust that enters the case.
The hot swap bays are found directly below the four empty 5.25" bay slots on the front bezel. The hot swap trays are removed the same way as the covers above, but instead of just being a cover, they have an additional tray where a 2.5" or 3.5" storage drive can be installed. The drives are secured to the tray by using the screws that run from under the tray and into the screw holes on the drive. After the drive is secure, it can be placed back into the bay where it plugs into a SATA power and data connector. Power to this area is supplied by means of a molex power connector that plugs into the back side of the circuit board and data travels though a SATA cable that is plugged into the back panel and then into the motherboard, making a direct connection with the SATA port. This means that there is no reduced performance when using a hard drive in the swap bays.
Below the 5.25" device bays is a 220mm clear intake fan with red LEDs that can be turned on or off by a button on the front panel. The fan sits behind a removable, filtered mesh cover that comes off easilly to allow the filter and fan to be cleaned of dust without having to remove the whole front bezel. To switch out the fan, the bezel does have to be removed. Once the fan is out it can be replaced with a 220mm, 140mm, or a 120mm fan.
The bottom panel of the HAF X comes with a large ventilation area that will improve airflow to the power supply, unlike the rest of the fan areas though, there is no filter included here. A filter would of course help reduce the amount of dust that is drawn into the power supply, but this will most likely not be a huge issue. Also on the bottom, there are four large rubber pads that will help stabilize the case. you can also use these points to attach wheels to the bottom of the chassis. These wheels secure to the base via screws that run though the bottom panel and slightly in to the case. With the wheels attached, the case the HAF X becomes much more portable and with the case weighing 30 pounds even before any hardware is installed, this is a very welcome feature. To ensure that the case does not accidentally move around when it is meant to be stationary, the wheels can be set to a locked position.