Cooler Master HAF X Reviewjlqrb - May 25, 2010
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The interior of the HAF X is very well laid out and since the case is a full tower, there's plenty of room to install even the largest components. For motherboard installation, the HAF X uses the standard motherboard staff-offs that are positioned throughout the tray to fit specific motherboard sizes. The sizes supported are mATX, ATX and EATX, with Cooler Master stating that some non-standard motherboard types will be accommodated as well, such as at of the EVGA X58 Classified 4-Way SLI. This however, will not apply to all non-standard sizes. This large amount of internal room allows the HAF X to support graphics cards that are 13.46 inches in length. This give plenty of spacing for large graphics cards, including room for the largest of them all the HD5970. The additional room also applies to CPU heatsinks and with the HAF X supplying 6.88 inches, even the tallest CPU coolers will fit. Some of the additional features found on the motherboard tray are a CPU backplate access hole that is rather large and should fit well across multiple socket types and cable management holes that use rubber grommets to improve the ability to conceal cables. Also with .5 inches of spacing between the side panel and motherboard tray it should be a breeze to run all cables though the supplied space to keep the case clutter free.
After you remove the mesh cover on the 5.25" bay, you can can add an optical drive and secure it using the tool-free installation clip. This is the same design that was used by the HAF 932, so most people should be familiar with how it works. For those that aren't, I can say it is the easiest design you will probably ever use. All that is required is to slide a drive into the bay and simply press the button to lock the drive in place. The same rule is applied for removing the drive, so to do this you press the button to unlock the clip and the drive can then slide right out of the bay.
The HAF X holds hard drives by the same means as the HAF 932, as well as a few other cases made from Cooler Master. With this design, there are five tool-free HDD trays that are locked into place by pushing the front latch toward the HDD cage, which secures the locking mechanism to the cage itself. To unlock the tray, you pull the latch away from the cage, which releases the tray, and allow it to be slid out of the case. Once out you can place a 3.5" drive onto the tray by slightly bending on each side to create additional room for the drive to fit into. Once on the tray the hard drive is locked in place with four pins that fit into the screw holes on the sides. Each pin that connects to the drive has a rubber pad on the end that will reduce vibration while the drive is active which will as lower the noise level as a result. Found on the top tray is a 3.5" to 2.5/1.8" drive converter. This converter can secure up to two drives and works with both 2.5" and 1.8" varieties. With the five internal hard drive trays and two hot swap bays, the HAF X has a total hard drive capacity of seven 3.5" drives. Also, with the ability to install 2.5" and 1.8" drives in the hot swap bays, the HAF X can accommodate four SSD's with no modifications.
The bottom-mounted power supply area found in the HAF X has a large ventilation area for air to freely travel from under the case to the power supply. This helps reduce the power supply's operating temperature, which can improve the overall performance of your PSU. With the wheels lifting the case off the ground, the ventilation holes will allow ample airfllow, but without the wheels, it might be hard for the PSU to pull in enough air for proper cooling. To address this, Cooler Master supplied screw holes to allow the PSU to be installed with the fan facing down, toward the ventilation holes or facing up, so air can be drawn from within in the case.
One issue that is often found in this area, even with a case that has great cable management, is that there is really nowhere to hide the bulk of cables that project out of the power supply. To better hide these cables and create a cleaner looking case, Cooler Master includes a black cover that will not only hide the cables that are being routed behind the motherboard tray, but also blend into the black interior of the case.
The CPU backplate access area on the HAF X is quite big and should fit well with both AMD and Intel motherboards. The ASUS 890GX motherboard that I used during the review fit great into the opening, although it was very close to the left side of the hole.
The HAF X comes with four case fans throughout the chassis. The fans vary in size and speed, but all are setup to operate at low noise levels. All the fans are badged with the Cooler Master logo and I was able to find the specifications for all, but the front 220mm fan. The front intake fan is a clear 220mm fan with red LED lights that operates at 12V with 0.40A draw. The top exhaust and side intake fan are both 200mm fans that are the same model. These are 12V fans that operate at 700RPM with a noise level of 19dBA. The last fan is the rear 140mm exhaust fan, which is a 1000RPM fan that produces 60.9CFM at a very low noise level of 16dBA. The duct that is connected to the intake fan on the side panel works in combination with an nVidia cooling solution that we will be looking at shortly.
With so much room to work with, installation was a breeze and there were no issue to report. As you can see from the first image below the full tower size of the HAF X made the installed components look rather small in the chassis and even the HD5870 seemed a bit miniature in stature. Also, with the improved cable management options supplied by the HAF X the case was very clean and routing the cables was very easy. In fact, with the .5 inches provide behind the motherboard tray I didn't even have to zip tie any of the cables down to close the side panel. Once the case was turned on all the fans fired up, including the front LED fan, but even with so many large fans moving air, the noise level from the HAF X was very low.
Lastly, lets take a look at some of the extras that Cooler Master includes with the HAF X. The first of these is the Advanced GPU retention bracket. This tool secures to the back of the case and uses plastic attachments to support the weight of multiple graphics cards. This reduces the pressure that is applied to the motherboard's PCIe slots. The bracket works with many different vga configurations and with the vertical adjustment, can fit a GPU in any expansion slot.
The next tool is a cooling solution developed in cooperation with nVidia that is used to cool GTX480/GTX470 graphics cards when used in SLI. The way it works is by adding a high power fan to the duct that will attach to the case where it will fit behind the graphics cards. The fan will then supply air to the intakes holes on the graphics cards for additional cooling performance. For best results, nVidia recommends a fan with 150CFM and at least 120x38mm in size.
The last portion of this configuration is the duct that is found on the 200mm side intake fan. This duct is set up to blow air toward the installed graphics cards, adding to the effect of the installed nVidia bracket. This setup should cool even the hottest SLI setups. However, this will be at the expense of an increase in noise, especially if a 150CFM fan is used.