Cooler Master HAF XB ReviewBluePanda -
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I'll hold out on you no longer; pictures you demand, pictures you receive. Plastic and foam removed, and it appears even smaller than I might have thought. She stands wider than tall but still has a bit of girth to her. A Cooler Master logo stands out as the first thing I notice on the front of the case in the mesh, hiding two fans. It reflects light nicely and creates quite the entrance. The HAF-esque look is still held up with the right and left edges carrying the ladder look. The bottom carries some symmetry with two external drive, mesh covers to the left and two X-Dock spots on the right. The front I/O panel breaks a line two thirds of the way down the case with a power, reset, audio ports, and two USB 3.0 ports.
The back of the case is a bit different to look at with it being a fatter case. The motherboard will actually lay flat in about the middle of the case with the power supply and wiring mess to be hidden below it. There are seven PCIe slots to fill, two 80mm fan options, a 120mm fan spot, and an extended PSU holder that hangs out a bit further (you can see just how far in the side profile shots). It seems like there's a lot going on back here, but in reality there's about the same as any case – just in a different direction.
Moving to the side profiles of the case you can see the extended PSU region I mentioned previously. It doesn't hang out too far on the back side; it only takes up about as much as any cables you may have plugged in. It helps add to the space inside as you will see later, and those of you with longer power supplies will be thankful to have it (mind you if you extend past 180mm on your PSU, this case will simply reject you).
The sides are essentially the same with only the direction of the panel being different between the two. There are a bunch of oblong hexagons cut out for ventilation and an awesomely large handle on each side to carry the little beast. Both panels are held on with two thumb screws each and hold on rather tight (not super easy to take off), to prevent any rattle noise from being produced.
The top of the case seems to act as really just another "side" panel to the case. It is also fastened in the same manner as a side panel in the fact that it slides on and is secured with two more thumb screws. If you weren't already counting, that is six case screws on the back side of the case. It seems like a lot to undo, but with them being thumb screws – it is quick and easy access to any of the three sides. It also adds to one of the nicest features allowing you to remove three sides of the case for some nice open air benching. Let the fires begin!!
Focusing on the front of the case again, I figured you'd like a little closer look at things. The front 5.25" bays are stacked on the left under the power switch with an easy remove/install panel to cover things up when you don't have a drive in. You can easily squeeze the left and right edge and the cover comes right off. There's a nice double mesh with large honeycomb covered by smaller mesh to allow for additional airflow in the front here.
The X-Dock system, something CM added back with the CM Storm Trooper or before, allows for a hot-swap on the HDDs. The two X-Dock locations support both 2.5" and 3.5" drives as you choose. The trays are built rather nice (picture ahead) and should take a lot of beating for time to come. On another note, you will later see there is no mounting space inside for anything but 2.5" drives, so if you have any HDDs, they will mount here or in the 5.25" bays with adapters (just a heads up).
The bottom of the case is where the one lone removable fan filter lives. It keeps all the "nasty" out of your power supply allowing you to keep it clean, as long as you remember to wash it once in awhile. It has a nice little handle to pull from beneath the PSU and slide back in with little effort (so DO IT).
Overall I'm quite impressed with the HAF XB so far (at least from the outside). It's quite a sturdy little booger, especially considering the $100 price tag. It's well built, it's of the usual CM quality (high, for those of you who haven't had the joys of trying it); I'm looking forward to getting my hardware in and seeing how it goes. This case not only looks like an awesome LAN build, but I think it will BE an awesome LAN build; too much fun.