Table of Contents
|1. Introduction||5. A Look at the Case|
|2. Tech Specs||6. What This Case Brings to the Table|
|3. Features||7. Final Thoughts, Pros & Cons, & Awards|
In today’s review we’ll be taking a look at Cooler Master’s HAF XB EVO. Now, I tried to get Cooler Master to send me this case to review. I begged them! I filled out their “Review Request” about 15 million times, but I received no response.
Well, that’s fine Cooler Master! I took matters into my own hands! I asked for the HAF XB EVO for Christmas!
The HAF XB EVO is marketed as both a LAN box and a test bench. However, I plan on using it for a home theater PC build (yes I know it’s big for a HTPC, but I don’t care!)
The reality is that you can use the HAF XB EVO for any build you want to do. It’s roomy enough to fit a full high-end system, it’s got handles to make it a viable LAN box, and with its removable side/top panels, it can be used as a test bench as well.
Coming from the High Airflow series of cases from Cooler Master, we should expect a very solid design that maximizes airflow and cooling options. Does it deliver on this promise? You’ll have to read the review to find out!
|Motherboard||ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX|
|Build Material||Steel, Polymer, Mesh Front Bezel|
|Dimensions||L 423 x W 442 x H 330mm|
The HAF XB EVO comes packed tightly in a large cube-style box. Nothing too crazy, but the box is nice-looking.
There are two carrying handles on the box, which is nice for the UPS guy–and for the journey from your porch into your gaming room.
As previously mentioned, the case is marketed as a LAN box and a test bench. And, as stated on the box, this is the updated EVO edition of the HAF XB. The box also tells us that the case comes with two of Cooler Master’s Durable XtraFlo Fans, as well as front USB 3.0 ports, two X-Dock bays, and will support up to four 3.5″ drives.
This is the mesh top version of the case, but there is a windowed panel version as well (though they seem harder to find.) And, if you want to change to a windowed top in the future, you can always order the windowed panel straight from Cooler Master.
When we open up the box we can see that Cooler Master took time to protect the case. There are two large Styrofoam protectors on both sides of the case that keep it securely in place and give it a little cushion. The case is also covered in a plastic cover.
All-in-all the packaging is exactly what you’d expect from a solid case manufacturer.
I love Cooler Master’s HAF series of cases. In my main rig I’m using the HAF X Blue edition. I like their look and style and I appreciate how sturdy and well-built they are.
The same is true with the HAF XB EVO.
On the front of the case, there’s a large mesh grill and behind it are two 120mm fans. You do have the option to upgrade these fans to 140mm fans.
The drive bays slots pop out fairly easily (see the video) and the two X-Dock bays make it easy to swap hard drives in and out.
There’s also two USB 3.0 ports on the front, which is nice, and you have the standard power button, reset button, microphone jack, and headphone jack.
Both side panels of the case are removable and they both sport very sturdy handles and large ventilation areas.
The ventilation area is an especially nice feature to have on the expansion slot side of the case because it will help exhaust some of that heat coming off of your video card.
The other thing that should be pointed out with the side panels, is that by removing them and testing their strength, you get a chance to see how sturdy this case is.
Aside from the front panel, this case is all steel. And, it’s thick, too. While that does make it a little heavier for a LAN box, it also makes it a lot more durable if anything makes significant contact with it.
Heading to the back of the case, you can see that everything is pretty standard. There’s a few extra fan options, seven expansion slots, some ventilation, and space for the I/O panel.
Two things that stand out on the back of the case are the protruded power supply mounting bracket and the radiator knockouts.
Obviously, the radiator knockouts are nice because it means you can install a radiator!
The protruded power supply mounting bracket is nice because by having the power supply extend a little further out the back of the case, that gives you more room for cable management on the inside.
It’s a pretty cool feature and it’s one that I hope more case manufacturers adopt it.
Finishing up on the outside of the case, we get to check out the top. There’s really not a lot to cover on the top other than the fact that it, too, is removable and that you can install a large 200mm fan on the mesh grill.
However, it’s important to note that without a fan you are able to install a CPU cooler as tall as 180mm. With a fan installed you will be somewhat limited.
And, of course if you use this case for a test bench and have the top removed, you can install a CPU cooler that will reach your ceiling!
Moving to the inside, we’ll start on the power supply side of the case. Both the power supply platform and the case are raised. This is nice because if you install your PSU fan mounted downward it gives you a nice pocket to exhaust the heat from your PSU out of the case.
The PSU platform is also padded which aids in sounds reduction. There’s also a dust filter located underneath the power supply as well.
Also on this side, there are quite a few hooks that you can route cables through and it’s obvious that Cooler Master took their time to make the HAF XB EVO cable-management friendly. And, there are also two thumbscrews that hold the motherboard tray in place, but we’ll get more into that in just a second.
On the other side of the case you get to look at the 3.5″ drive bays, more cable management hooks, and the tool-less 5.25″ bays.
An interesting thing to point out is that in the previous edition of the HAF XB, the drive cage did not accommodate 3.5″ but instead catered to 2.5″ drives.
I’m not sure on why they did that because that virtually eliminated the option to install 3.5″ hard drives in the back of the case (you could have still used the X-Dock bays, though.) They seemed to find fault in that feature and in the EVO edition they have updated the drive cage to now hold 3.5″ drives, which, of course, can hold 2.5″ drives as well.
Also on this side are the other two thumbscrews that hold the motherboard tray in place.
Now looking at a top down view we can get a good feel of what can fit inside of this case. This case is very spacious and easy to work inside, which is something I really like.
As previously mentioned, the motherboard tray is removable. And, the motherboard tray has a very large cutout. This makes is very easy to add a CPU cooler with a large mounting back-plate in the future. One of the things that I didn’t like about my HAF X Blue edition was that the CPU cutout on the motherboard mounting area was tiny. This is not the case with the HAF XB EVO.
Also on the top, you can see the inside view of those 120mm fans. And, as mentioned above you do have the option to install 140mm fans in this area, and there is space to fit a large radiator. So, with this radiator mounting spot and that radiator mounting spot on the back panel, you can put a pretty advanced liquid cooling setup in this case.
Finally, if you want to take the front panel off of the HAF XB you’ll need to find the tabs that run along the front edges of the case. Be careful though, as these tabs are made out of plastic and are easy to break. I had an easy time getting the panel off, but when I tried to get the panel back in I broke the top plastic tab. It’s not really a big deal, but I would’ve preferred that my brand new case stayed pristine!
The HAF XB EVO combines Cooler Master’s High Airflow style with a rare cube-shaped body and the effect, in my opinion, is outstanding.
Also, this case is overloaded with functionality. First and foremost, the overall build quality is excellent.
While the front panel is made out of plastic, the rest of the case is all steel–and it’s extremely sturdy.
If you’re looking for a LAN box, you may want to consider other options. It’s not that this case can’t work as a LAN box, it’s just that 18 lbs. empty, this isn’t the lightest option on the market.
With that being said, the two handles are very reliable and if you’ve been hitting the gym lately, then you should be able to make this case work for your LAN setup. And, you can definitely go all out on your components with this case, which is something you can’t usually do with the smaller and more compact enclosures.
For those of you looking for a test bench, once again, the HAF XB EVO probably isn’t the best solution. It’s not as open as some of the other test benches on the market (like Lian Li’s PCT60B), but it still is open enough that it will serve the purpose.
Other than that, the case is ready to be used in just about any setup imaginable. Whether you’re looking to build a high-end triple SLI/CrossFire rig with an advanced liquid cooling setup, or you just want to build a more moderate system, this case is a great option. It really all comes down to whether or not you like the style, because the features and functionality are there.
Though there are better and more specifically designed LAN boxes and test benches out there, the Cooler Master HAF XB EVO can fit the bill for either need.
In my opinion, this case would’ve been better marketed as an “All-Purpose Case.” I’m really not sure if there’s such thing as an all-purpose case© –please notice that I copyrighted the slogan in case nobody else has come up with it–but if there is, the HAF XB EVO would be it.
The bottom line is that this case is well-built, has plenty of room to build an extreme system, caters to optimal cooling, and is extremely versatile. For those reasons, I give the HAF XB EVO our Beast Gaming Case and Innovation awards and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good all-around case.