Cooler Master HAF Stacker Case Review

hornybluecow - 2013-10-09 00:45:48 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: hornybluecow   
Reviewed on: October 16, 2013
Price: $169.99 / $69.99

Cooler Master HAF Stacker: Introduction

Today we take a look at the Cooler Master HAF Stacker(s), which is the newest product in the HAF lineup. Cooler Master is a Taiwan-based company formed in 1992 with many years of experience under its belt. Cooler Master's product lineup range from power supplies, CPU coolers, peripherals, and computer cases. The HAF Stacker currently only has two cases in its lineup, which are the 935 full tower and 915F Mini-ITX Chassis covered in this review. Cooler Master has been known to cater towards the modding and water cooling market, and this time is no different as it built these HAF Stackers from the ground up to take advantage of that fact. Cooler Master listened to what the modding community wanted and this chassis is the outcome from trial and error. So without further delay, let's look at the box.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker: HAF 935 Closer Look

It's important to remember not everyone has things shipped to their home or know exactly what they want. When it is shipped, it's often squashed and bounced around. This is why companies need to protect their product. If a customer is checking it out at the store, the company also should provide a good deal of information on the outside. So here we have it, a simple brown box with the brand and model number in giant letters. Unfortunately this is all the box as to offer and something Cooler Master may want to address in a revision if it wants to please the store consumer. The box itself is slightly less than three feet tall and weighs 39 pounds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the box is open we are able to take a peek at the packaging. The case is held in place with the standard Styrofoam blocks. In the past I tend to bring up weight issues when it comes to heavier chassis. This one is a bit heavier weighing in at 39 pounds (17.6kg) and a bit taller than usual. Cooler Master has taken a different approach by layering the Styrofoam rather than sticking it on the sides. Other than being extra tall, it came out smooth enough.

 

Cooler Master HAF Stacker: 935 Closer Look:

Once unwrapped, the HAF 935 comes in two parts. The first being an altered version of the 915F covered later in this review, and the main full tower chassis. The naming scheme is simple: F stands for front mounted power supply while R (the 915R is included with the 935) is rear mounted. The small chassis can be placed under or above the main chassis with the ability to house a full ITX computer or assortment of water cooling options. Looking at the front of the 915R, you have a single 5.25" bay without any USB or I/O buttons, but with a removable bezel for upgrades. Cooler Master has stated that the I/O can be replaced with new tech as it comes out and sold under accessories. In this case you would need to purchase it to allow the 915R to function like a Mini-ITX as nothing is included by default. It is interesting to note that on Cooler Master's website, the specification sheet lists the 915R to have a power button and USB ports. It is possible the included chassis with the 935 does not, while a 915R sold as standalone does. At the back you have have an optional top mounted power supply and ITX motherboard placement. Looking at both sides you can see the length is 22 inches (578mm) allowing for two triple radiators, one on each side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flip the chassis over and you will find a gap for cables and water tubes to connect between the cases. This is something I would have liked to see as a large removable cover to allow more freedom in wire management. Next, the top isn't vastly different than other chassis, in that the top mesh comes off. The difference here is that the mesh is held in place by the new rail system Cooler Master created for the Stacker series. Simply remove two screws from both sides and the panel sides out. Afterwards you can slide another Stacker chassis on top or slide the panel back on once the work is completed.

 

 

 

Removing the front panel was much easier than other cases, thanks to large clips on both sides. Other chassis' require plastic pins to push, which I've never liked much; this one came out on the first try. Once the front panel is removed you will see a small 92mm fan . This fan will most likely have little to no effect on airflow in such a  large vented chassis, but it's the thought that counts.

 

Once you have removed the four screws from the rails, the top panel slides off. This will be the main way to install anything other than a radiator. Keep in mind though, without an I/O button included, the ability to use this chassis as an ITX setup requires some out of the box thinking.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker 935 Closer Look:

Looking at the main unit, you will notice the standardized look of the Cooler Master HAF series, with the beehive mesh and Cooler Master emblem low and center. Looking at the left panel is home to a large tinted side widow that shows 90% of the inside. The window itself has no fan mounting options and the right panel is solid, also without any fan mounts. Cooler Master did, however, state the ability to replace the window with other solutions like a 200mm side mounted fan. Next, looking at the top front from left to right, is the I/O power button, mic jack, headphone jack, one USB 2.0 port, two USB 3.0 ports, and one more USB 2.0. It's worth noting (and unfortunate) that Cooler Master chose not to include a reset button, as when the system locks up from an overclock, the power button tends not to work. This can cause some problems for overclocking enthusiasts, but for the rest the lack of a reset button might not be noticed at all. Cooler Master's response is as follows: "We decided to omit it to simplify cable management. In modern systems, a power switch can do the same task of both a reset and power switch."

Lastly, the back includes a 140mm fan, eight PCI expansion slots, and a space for a bottom mounted power supply.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The top of the main unit is a bit different. Normally you would have some sort of panel, but in this case, due to the unique stacking feature, the chassis does not come with a top cover. Have no fear, as the default setup is to have the 915R chassis slide into place allowing it to act as a top cover. The bottom has the same rail system but with raised bars to act as feet. If you are opposed to placing the 915R chassis on top, you can switch the bars around to allow it to be placed on the bottom. Next, you can also see the fan filter for a bottom mounted power supply with two rubber flaps allowing wires to flow once again between chassis if you have another 915R or 915F on the bottom.

 

 

Removing the front panel was fairly easy because of the clips. Once removed you see options for two 120 mm fans or, with the hard drive cages removed, a 240mm radiator. It is also worth noting that these chassis did not come with a front fan, which can be a concern because of low air flow. My thoughts are that Cooler Master assumes you will be adding a radiator that includes fans. The other option could be Cooler Master figures you will be replacing all the fans with your own preference so why include fans in the first place? Cooler Master's offical statement is what I guessed: "In a survey of our HAF users, most users immediately upgraded all the fans in their chassis and removed the standard ones. Out of the box, the HAF Stacker is configured for sufficient cooling for average PCs. Having a basic amount of standard fans enables our users to choose the fans they prefer, such as Jetflo fans."

Cooler Master HAF Stacker 935 Closer Look:

Here we have it: inside the 915R or top chassis. At the front, you can see three hard plastic 3.5" bays along with one metal external 5.25" bay. Both bays can be removed after a total of 14 screws. It was not difficult to remove or to put back together because all the screws are the same and order does not matter. The locking mechanism for the 5.25" bay is an improvement on most tool-less designs. The lock is spring loaded so all you have to do is pull it back, put the drive in, line up the screw holes, and it locks into place. Being tool-less has its advantages when done right. Cooler Master's 3.5" bays have four pins, two on each side. Simply push the drive into one side and bend the plastic to pop the other two pins into the screw holes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The back has the standard ITX setup to allow a power supply to be mounted right above the motherboard and two PCI expansion slots for a larger video card.. If you are like me and do not plan on using the chassis for an ITX setup, Cooler Master supplied back plates to close off the back to give the chassis a more complete feel.

 

Once the ITX motherboard and video card is installed, you can see the room left over. It's definitely spacy for an ITX chassis. After installing the power supply, you will see the clearance for the CPU cooler is only 80mm. This isn't much room to work with, but if you do not plan on overclocking or any heavy gaming, this will do just fine.

 

Cooler Master HAF Stacker 935 Closer Look:

Opening the main chassis was one of the easiest I've come across in the while. The side panels are held in place by two thumb screws. Once unscrewed they hang in place so you cannot misplace them. Afterwards, each panel has a handle that is lightly pulled to detach each one. Once inside you can see six 3.5" hard drive bays with support for SSD mounting via two hard drive cages. Above is three 5.25" bays and while it's a bit strange to only include three bays for a full size tower, my guess is because the hard drive cages are reusable across the Stacker series. The chassis itself supports all the way up to E-ATX motherboards, while the back has a single mount for an SSD drive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both bays are a repeat from the 915R chassis; each 5.25" uses a locking mechanism for a tool-less design. The lock is spring loaded so all you have to do is, once again, pull it back, put the drive in, line up the screw holes, and it locks into place. The 3.5" bays are the same too, with four pins (two on each side). Simply push the drive into one side and bend the plastic to pop the other two pins into the screw holes.

 

 

Hidden behind the motherboard tray is a SSD mount for those who do not want to waste a 3.5" bay. Installation was a bit strange as one side have hooks that latch on and then you use two screws on the other side. The SSD is never fully secure and rattles a bit.

n

 

The back has a Cooler Master 140mm fan, which is the only form of airflow in this chassis by default. This isn't Cooler Master's best idea as a single fan is not going to cut it. As explained before Cooler Master choose not to include a front fan as it believes it will be instantly replaced.

 

Looking at the front from left to right is the I/O power button, mic jack, headphone jack, one USB 2.0 port, two USB 3.0 ports, and another USB 2.0 port. Once again, no reset button is present due to Cooler Master's customer feedback. If you are curious about the light for the power button, it glows a light red; nothing to write home about, but it does its job. If you are willing to get creative you can always wire the power light to act as a hard drive activity light by changing which connector on the motherboard is used.

 

 

If you are like me and worry about cable management, Cooler Master has you covered. The chassis has a clear of half an inch (13mm), which is enough if you do not plan on overlapping the cables. I was able to push all the cables to the back with just enough room to spare.

 

 

Inside the chassis comes a brown box with all the screws and accessories. Included is: a SATA extension cable, zip ties, and of course lots of screws. Cooler Master went a bit further to include back plates to cover up the unused power supply and motherboard spaces in the 915R. It however did not include a manual at all and the only piece of information is a sheet with a diagram for stacking the chassis. Below that is a QR code and a link to Cooler Master's YouTube channel. This is a huge let down! With so many different configurations, I would expect, no scratch that, demand a manual! Not everyone has Internet on hand or wants to find the correct playlist. If Cooler Master insists on sending customers to the Web, at least send them to the company website with a digital manual.

 

 

Here you have it: completely assembled! As explained before, wire management was a breeze and all the wires managed to reach. I would suggest anyone wanting to use the 915R/F for the power supply to buy cable extensions, especially if the power supply is mounted on the bottom.

 

Cooler Master HAF Stacker 915F Closer Look:

Here is the 915F, not to be confused with the 915R included with the 935 full tower. Not to repeat myself much, but the 915F also suffers from the same flaws as its big brother. The lack of information is unappealing but that could be overlooked if Cooler Master included a manual.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The similarities continue; once the box is open you can see Cooler Master's different approach to packaging. The Styrofoam is layered rather than placed on the sides for better protection.  Not much to talk about that hasn't been said already so let's move on.

 

Cooler Master HAF Stacker 915F Closer Look:

If you missed it before, let me repeat the major difference between both 915 chassis. First is the naming scheme: F stands for front mounted and R for rear mounted. Second are I/O buttons, which are installed with the 915F. Not to be confused with the 915R included with the 935. The R version does not include any I/O buttons. The standalone chassis priced at $69.99 is the 915F, which could be considered an ITX chassis outside the Stacker series. Looking at the front you have the now standard USB 3.0 ports along with a power button and audio jacks. To recap the reason for Cooler Master not to include a reset button is the belief the power button can do the same and lowers wire management. As for the rest of the chassis, you can see at the rear is an 120mm fan installed along with a PSU power outlet. The cable itself runs to the front of the chassis where the power supply will be mounted. Each side panel has the Cooler Master bee hive mesh with the ability to install up to either three 120mm fans or a 360mm radiator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the top is a mesh held on by Cooler Master's new rail system created for the Stacker series. Simply remove two screws from both sides and the panel slides out. Afterwards you can slide another Stacker chassis on top or slide the panel back on once the work is completed. Flip the chassis over and you will find a rubber flap for cables and water tubes to connect between cases. As explained before, this is something I think Cooler Master could improve on and maybe have an option for a completely removable bottom panel.

 

Cooler Master HAF Stacker 915F Closer Look:

After taking a tour of the outside of this chassis, we now get to take a peek inside. Overall it looks very similar to the 915R, and in fact it's the same frame just with different front and back plates. By default a single 5.25" bay is included with mounting for two hard drives either in the middle or the side. If that does not work for you, Cooler Master has stated that many accessories will be available, including hard drive cages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside the chassis is a brown box with all the necessary screws. Unfortunately, like stated for the 935, this did not come with any sort of manual, only a sheet with a QR code and YouTube channel link. The sheet itself explains the stacking feature, but more or less it's something you can figure out easily enough.

 

Removing the front panel was much easier than other cases, thanks to large clips on both sides. Once the front panel is removed you will see the space for a front mounted power supply and a single 5.25" bay. The I/O connectors above the bay hang over and just do not help with wire management. I do not think this is something that can be solved, so just be aware of all the cables.

 

 

Once you have removed the four screws from the rails the top panel slides off. This will be the main way to install anything other than a radiator. You have a lot of space to play with because of the total 22" length. Just be aware of potential wire issues if you are not using a modular power supply. In the middle of the chassis is support for either a traditional 3.5" hard drive or an SSD. The mounting system is based off rubber grips that slide into place. Afterwards you screw the drive into place.

 

 

 

Here you have it: an ugly mess of cables. Without a modular power supply, all the cables have nowhere to hide. It ultimately did not affect airflow as this chassis has a rear fan, unlike the 915R.

.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker Closer Look:

Cooler Master highlights the major selling point of the HAF Stacker as the ability to stack chassis to suit your needs. By default the 935 is set up with the 915R on top. You can, however, remove the rails and swap it around if needed. The rail system is a unique and easy design that Cooler Master should be proud of. Sliding the chassis together was very easy and just as simple to remove them. Once in place you will need to use the four included screws to secure the chassis from slipping off during moving. I did not have an issue leaving it unscrewed, but if you have stuff in the top chassis, it's a good idea to be safe rather than sorry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The name scheme honestly is a bit odd so let me explain it the best I can. From my understanding Cooler Master wanted to use the 9 as the main base and add up the leftovers to make the model. The problem is, it didn't really work. The ITX chassis are 915s and together they do not have a official name, while stacking a 935 and a 915 gets you an "Ultra Tower (945)". I can't imagine finding myself needing an "Ultra Tower" or two 915s stacked, but Cooler Master has you covered if you need it.

 

Cooler Master HAF Stacker:

Normally a chassis does not require a page dedicated to all its extra features, but this time I felt it was necessary. The HAF Stacker's major selling point is the assortment of water cooling and fan support. First let's start with the basics, which are the removable hard drive cages. Removing the top cage was bit of work. Each bay has four screws on front and at least two on the side. Once all the screws are removed, just push down on the plastic latch and pull to remove. These cages can only be installed one way, which is a bit of a let down. The bottom cage requires you to move four screws from under the chassis. This isn't something you want to do often, as flipping the chassis over on its side can be cumbersome with its height.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Installing a 360mm radiator wasn't that bad, in fact this is the only chassis I've used that can support a thick 360mm and have room to spare for a push/pull configuration.

 

After searching for the water cooling parts for the Fractal Design review, I decided to go a bit further but ran out of time. Ultimately I wanted to install some loops to give a better idea of a fully installed system. Even so, you can see potential ways to set up your own water cooling with the pump sitting on top of the bottom hard drive cage or inside a 5.25" bay. I did, however, find the height of the cages to be a problem, as it was a bit too high to properly install the pump. If your heart is set one this, then you must give up both hard drive cages or have a reservoir / pump combo.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker: Specifications

 

HAF Stacker 935:

Case Type
Full Tower
Dimension
235(W) X 719(H) X 578(D) mm (9.25 x 28.8 x 22.75 inch)
Side Panel
Transparent Window
Color
Exterior & Interior : Black
Cooling System
Front (intake) :
2 x 120 mm Fan (optional) 1x 92mm (915R Included)
Side (intake / exhaust) :
None (optional replacement window with 200mm Fan)
Back (exhaust) :
1x 140 mm (included) or 1 x 120mm
Top (exhaust) :
2 x 120mm (optional)
Bottom (intake) :
None
Net Weight
15.6 kg / 34.5lbs
Material
Bezel: Mesh/Polymer; Case body: Steel SGCC-t0.7
5.25" Drive Bays
3 + 1 (915R)
3.5" Drive Bays
9 (3 x modular cage)
Expansion Slots
8 + 1 and 2 (915R)
Motherboards
EATX, ATX, Micro ATX, Mini-ITX (915R)
I/O Ports
2 X USB3.0 / 2 X USB2.0 / 2 x AUDIO
PSU
Standard ATX PSU (optional)
LCS Compatibly
2 x 360mm / 2x 280mm (915R)
1 x 140mm / 120mm Rear
1x 240mm (with HDD cages removed)
Other
CPU cooler height limitation: 180mm
VGA length limitation: 354mm

 

HAF Stacker 915 R / F:

Case Type
Full Tower
Dimension
228(W) X 248(H) X 578(D) mm (9.25 x 9.76 x 22.75 inch)
Side Panel
Mesh
Color
Exterior & Interior : Black
Cooling System
Rear (exhaust) :
915F: 1x 120 mm (included)
Font (exhaust) :
915R: 1x 92 mm (included)
Net Weight
5.5 kg / 12.12lbs
Material
Bezel: Mesh/Polymer; Case body: Steel SGCC-t0.7
5.25" Drive Bays
1
3.5" Drive Bays
3 (1 x modular cage) Up to 3 x
Expansion Slots
2
Motherboards
Mini-ITX
I/O Ports
2 X USB3.0 / 1 x AUDIO
PSU
915F: Front mounted PSU (optional)
915R: Rear mounted PSU (optional)
LCS Compatibly
2 x 360mm / 2x 280mm Radiators
Other
CPU cooler height limitation: 170mm  (915F) 80mm (915R)
VGA length limitation: (330mm)

Cooler Master HAF Stacker: Features

 

Information provided by: http://coolermaster-usa.com/microsite/hafstacker/

Cooler Master HAF Stacker 935:

Testing a chassis requires the computer to stay at idle and load for one hour. Doing so will give you an idea of what your computer may be like under stress. Normally your computer will not be running this hot, but we do not all live in cold weather or do similar things. Therefore, a full stress test can give people the idea of what it can handle and whether or not heat gets trapped over time. The case is left with stock features to give you an idea of the temperatures without the need for extra fans. It's almost guaranteed to have a slight drop in temperature when more fans are added, but that will not be covered unless noted. I will be using Prime95 "small FFTs" for the CPU load and 3Dmark Vantage "Extreme preset" for GPU for one hour. After an hour the temperatures are recorded using HWMonitor in Celsius (°C).

Setup:

Compared Cases:

 

 

It is hard not to notice the temperatures for the HAF 935 are not very good; it's like having an elephant in the room and no one wants to say a word. The reasons for the high temps all around is because of the lack of fans. Cooler Master already stated that it believes customers will outright replace the fans before even giving the pre-installed ones a try. While this has some truth to it, I do not see why it didn't at least include another cheap fan in front. I did a little test on my own and found using a front fan dropped the temps about 3-5 °C overall. This chassis is very large and needs more than just two fans. Lastly, looking at idle temperatures, those are a little high but not much of a problem.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker 915F:

Testing a chassis requires the computer to stay at idle and load for one hour. Doing so will give you an idea of what your computer may be like under stress. Normally your computer will not be running this hot, but we do not all live in cold weather or do similar things. Therefore, a full stress test can give people the idea of what it can handle and whether or not heat gets trapped over time. The case is left with stock features to give you an idea of the temperatures without the need for extra fans. It's almost guaranteed to have a slight drop in temperature when more fans are added, but that will not be covered unless noted. I will be using Prime95 "small FFTs" for the CPU load and 3Dmark Vantage "Extreme preset" for GPU for one hour. After an hour the temperatures are recorded using HWMonitor in Celsius (°C).

Setup:

Compared Cases:

 

 

With nothing to compare the 915F to, the charts above are only a reference to what you may see when running an ITX setup yourself. Interestingly enough, the video card did better in this than the 935. That is because the video card has an infinite amount of fresh air less than an inch away. The reference GeForce GTX 770 is using a blower style in which air is pulled from the back and pushed out the chassis, which gives it the lower temperatures displayed above. The rest isn't as surprising, as trying to cool an i7 4770K using Intel's stock cooler is nothing to be proud of. Without some much needed aid and just the provided 120mm fan, I do not think the CPU would be any lower without an aftermarket cooler.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker: Conclusion

Let us recap my reasoning and scoring method before diving into the my final words. First I look at what the company is saying it offers. For example, say the company states the case supports large / long graphic cards or ten quiet fans. In this example, I examine what is advertised versus what is actually offered. Most of this becomes uncovered as I take pictures to document the product. If the company does not stay true to its word, then it loses points because no one ever wants to be sold on false advertisement. Next I look at what the product is marketed for and put it into perspective. An example of this could be trying to overclock a CPU in a Mini-ITX case and expecting a low temperature. This would contradict its target market and something I try to catch so it does not affect the score. The last bit is my own interjection. What could the case offer in its price range, and what do other companies offer. This category may include an extra fan, cable management, different color paint, or support for larger video cards. This list is endless so let's move on to the conclusion.

Cooler Master has put a great deal of thought into the Stacker series and it shows. It reached out to the modding community and asked what was needed that no one else has provided. So before my final words let me recap the reasons behind the pros and cons. Starting with the negative: Cooler Master has let me down in many small ways. One of my concerns is the lack of care put into the 915R being a standalone ITX chassis. It does not have any I/O buttons or a good fan system. To make it a bit more confusing, Cooler Master's website lists the 915R as having the same front bezel with power and USB ports as the 915F. It's possible this is only for the standalone version and not the included chassis with th 935.

Next up is my own personal problem: lack of a reset button. I know most of you may not find this a big deal, but If you are overclocking, I've found when the system locks up the power button doesn't do anything. Maybe it's just my luck of every computer I've owned having this problem, but If I have it, someone else out there does, too.

The next one is not much of a big deal, but Cooler Master simply forgot about the middle guy; I'm talking about closed loop coolers. On top of the 935 chassis are mounting holes for two 120mm fans, but if you try to install the H100, or any radiator, it will hit the VRM heatsinks because the spacing is lower than normal. This is great for fans but causes problems for everything else.

Last up on my negative rant is the price mixed in with the lack of fans. Cooler Master stated the lack of extra fans is because they will be replaced anyways. While I do agree with this, adding a cheap fan will cost Cooler Master practically nothing and make me happier. The price also has to do with how it handles accessories. Cooler Master plans on releasing window kits for 200mm fan installations, along with replacement I/O buttons and more hard drive cages. I simply do not understand why the 915R included with the 935 lacks a power button.

Onto the pros! When Cooler Master decides to do something, it seems to go big or go home, and that is exactly what it did with the cooling. Can I say wow? I have never seen a chassis supporting a thick 360mm radiator, and the fact you can fit two of them! If you just pretend the 915R isn't an ITX chassis, it opens up many doors for water cooling options and that is the biggest selling point Cooler Master has to offer. The chassis itself has what I consider the standard asking price of $170, and I am very pleased with how modular the chassis is. Most if not all the bays use the same screws, which makes swapping things around really easy for someone like me, who constantly can't remember where I set down the screws.

With everything said and done, my negative gripes about the HAF Stacker can have no weight. Many of the problems I have will never affect the majority of the consumer base. Nonetheless I have my reasons and explained it above. So let me leave you with my final thoughts. If you plan on creating a full custom water cooled computer, you cannot go wrong with this chassis. It has everything one can dream of and more. The reason I am giving this chassis a sliver award is because I do not feel Cooler Master has fully fleshed out the 915R and the price of the 915F is a bit high for an ITX chassis.

If you add up all the minor issues, it falls a little short of stardom. Like I said, If you are looking for a truly unique chassis with advanced water cooling, look no further. If you just need a good full tower with some water cooling support, you can do better for much cheaper.

 

Pros:

Cons: