Well we made it, part two of the Cooler Master HAF XM review. Here we will be taking an in-depth look at the interior of the HAF XM for starters.
INTERIOR (Rated G)
Starting off on the backside of the HAF XM, there is a gigantic cutout for installing the retention plate for your CPU cooler, four visible rubber grommeted holes for cable management (there is a fifth up in the top corner for the CPU 4/8-pin cable), a mounting slot for a single SSD drive right below the CPU cutout, and last but not least about 20 different cable tie-down punch-outs. Oh yeah, there is roughly an inch and a half of clearance for all of your power supply cables, that comes in handy, especially when you factor in the large push-out on the side-panel as well. I had no problems routing all of my cables around the back, tying them down, and them sliding the side panel right back on.
Moving to the left side, this is where all the good stuff is. From left to right we have; a removable dust filter for the Power Supply (that is not accessible once you get your PSU installed), eight ventilated expansion slots (all with black thumb screws), the exhaust 140mm fan, the power supply cover, hard drive cage, and hot swap bays (more on those in a moment), plus to top it all off we have the ODD bays, using Cooler Master’s own tool-less locking system (which I found worked well, but I still felt the need to secure my DVD drive on the right side with a single screw). For those who missed it the first time, there is 13.9″ of clearance for video cards with the HDD cage installed and no side fans, with side fans there is 12.7″, and 18.2″ if you remove both the fan and the cage.
Let’s get into a bit more detail about the above features. Firstly we have the power supply cover. This puppy is sweet, and I strongly feel that this should become an industry standard. Basically you remove it with two screws that are screwed into the motherboard tray, once removed the cover simply slides towards the back of the case and comes off (it is a bit stiff at first). Once removed, install your power supply and run all of your cables out the back (or the ones that need to be) and then re-install the cover over the back-end of your power supply. Not only does it remove wire clutter, it also allows you to keep a very clean looking case.
Next up we have the hard drive cage(s) for the HAF XM. Cooler Master has arguably created the simplest mounting system I have ever used for hard drives. For those of you who have never used the mounting system in a Cooler Master case — you simply unlatch the mount, slide it out, place your hard drive in the mount (while slightly bending the mount to get the locking ‘screws’ in place, once locked in (click each one if necessary) simply slide the drive back and and close it. This mounting procedure is of course for 3.5″ drives, for those of you who want to install 2.5″ drives it’s a bit more work. Take the drive, place it over the correct mounting holes, and then screw the included screws into the bottom of the rail and voila, you have a perfectly secure SSD or HDD. There is also two more cool features that the hard drive cage supports. The first is that you can remove the screws on the side of the cage and split it into two drive cages (though the top half cannot be installed next to the bottom half like some cases). So instead of having a six-bay hard drive cage, you can split this into two three-bay hard drive cages. Reasoning behind this is if you have less than three hard drives to install (obviously) and want to improve the airflow provided by the front 200mm fan. And the second thing you can do with the hard drive cage is install two 120mm fans on the side of it (this is the route I chose), not only will this improve airflow across your hard drives — it will also improve the airflow in general inside your case. Cooler Master does provide the necessary mounting screws for installing the two 120mm fans on your hard drive cage.
Finally we have the hot swap bays that I mentioned earlier. These bays use the same mounting system as the regular internal hard drive cage. Once you install your drive of choice, simply slide the cage back in, make a firm connection with the necessary ports, and then make sure you install the Molex and two SATA cables needed to power the hot swap bays. After thoroughly testing the included bays, I have come to the conclusion that they are amazing. Many companies include one or two hot-swap bays these days, and most of them work just fine. The thing that I feel sets the x-dock bays apart from the competition is the way they are so well integrated into the front of the case (a system similar to the one used by Corsair). The only thing that could possibly make this system any better would be a plastic little shroud that slid over the power board on the interior of the case. This would keep the inside of the case all black, and blend in seamlessly.
THE GOODIES (No not the Goonies…)
Whew, we survived the interior of the HAF XM, now, let’s move onto the included goodies. In the box for the HAF XM, you will find the user manual, and inside the case itself, you will find the box of included screws, cable ties, etc.. The User Manual covers everything you could possibly need to know about the HAF XM. In fact, it is one of the more thorough manuals I have seen recently.
Once inside the ominous (not really) brown box, we find two little plastic baggies, as well as one big plastic baggy. I’m not going to discuss every type of screw included, just a quick run-through. We have a handful of cable ties, a speaker, long mounting screws for the 120mm fans for the HDD cage, even longer screws for the top 200mm fan, motherboard stand-offs, a screw driver adapter for tightening and loosening motherboard standoffs (this came in real handy), black motherboard screws, SSD screws, ODD screws, and plenty of other assorted black screws. Cooler Master covered all of their bases when it came to screws, making sure that no matter what kind of setup you choose to run — you will have the correct screw for the job.
One last picture showcasing the testing rig fully installed within the chassis.
Testing System: AMD Phenom II X4 955 3.2Ghz / 4GB’s DDR2-1200Mhz Memory
HIS Radeon HD 6870 IceQ 1GB / Seagate 320GB 7200RPM Hard Drive
Raidmax RX-850AE Power Supply / Thermaltake DuoOrb CPU Cooler
I used the same testing methods for the Cooler Master HAF XM, that I have also used for the Lian Li PC-100 mid-tower case I reviewed some months ago. My testing process is simple but effective. You run a four threaded Prime95 test to get the CPU, Motherboard, and RAM all heated up, and then throw in a Far Cry 2 test with every graphical setting maxed out at 1360×768, ran through on the long benchmark three times. I choose Far Cry 2 not for it’s graphics (which feel a bit dated by today’s standards) but rather for the technology that lies beneath the surface. The engine crafted by Ubisoft for Far Cry 2 is quite a marvel — though on the surface it seems aged, underneath is an engine that still has so much more headroom (something that will hopefully be exposed in Far Cry 3).
So with the testing parameters out of the way, let’s get on with the graphs!
First off we have the Cooler Master HAF XM with the stock fans simply idling at the desktop for thirty minutes. We then have in the green the full load temperatures. For comparison sake only, I will also include the graph from my test on the PC-100 and Thermaltake V9 Black Edition.
And finally with four extra fans. (two 140mm fans on the side panel, and two 120mm fans on the HDD cage. Sadly I don’t have any extra 200mm fans laying around, Cooler Master help a brother out?)
I was pleasantly surprised by how well the HAF XM really performs with the stock fans. Though adding four extra fans really didn’t do that much for temperatures, in the end it doesn’t really matter because the temperatures that I gathered were already quite low for air cooling. Anybody running a moderate setup such as I am will have absolutely no problem keeping every component of their case cool with the stock settings. (and still have a multitude of upgrade options later down the road). When you factor in that the PC-100 is a $200 mid-tower and the HAF XM is a $130, you are getting a lot of performance for a lot less money (albeit without all that aluminum).
Overall, the Cooler Master HAF XM is the best “not mid-tower” I have ever used. Being able to fit any size video card or CPU Cooler inside the case is just icing on what is already a freaking delicious cake. And with how cheap this case is compared to its’ best competitor, you may actually be able to afford a cake as well!
The design quality, implemented features, styling choices, they are all of the highest quality. In fact, Cooler Master may be careful, making a case this good may actually hurt the sales of their more expensive products.
A quick explanation of the award system. We have the main award category with three awards; Bronze (Good Overall Product), Silver (Great Overall Product), and Gold (Excellent/Near Perfect Overall Product) as the highest. Then we have two different Sub-Categories, Internal Hardware Awards for performance; Yellow (Low-End Performer), Orange (Mid-Range Performer), and Red (High-End Performer) as the highest. The third and final Sub-Category is for both Internal Hardware and External Peripherals; Black (Enthusiast/Gamer Qualities), Blue (Exceptional Build and Design), Green (Terrific Dollar To Performance Ratio), White (Innovative But Flawed)
- Easily Big Enough For Any And All Builds
- Fans Cool Quite Well + Plenty Of Extra Mounting Spots
- Tons Of Space For Cable Management
- Great Price
- Machine Tightened Thumb Screws Were A Pain To Get Loosened For Expansion Slots
- Dust Filters Aren’t Removable Once Fans Are Installed, But The Pieces Are Easily Removed To Blow Them Out (Except For the Power Supply Dust Filter, You’re Screwed There)
- Is Extremely Large For A Mid-Tower (Not Personally A Con, But It Could Affect Those With Smaller Desks)
If you would like to purchase yourself your very own gigantic Mid-Tower, please feel free to do so here. Thank you.