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Cooler Master HAF XM review

Cooler Master HAF XM Review


Manufacturer: Cooler Master
UK Price (as reviewed): £104.30 inc. VAT
US Price (as reviewed): $129.99 ex. Tax

Cooler Master’s HAF series of cases have always prioritised one thing – excellent air cooling. They are some of the best air cooled cases we’ve ever tested, topping our benchmark results with impressive results, even if their looks are likely to divide opinions. The most popular HAF model was the X, a full tower chassis with more than enough room for a quad SLI system – it was such as hit with customers that Cooler Master have done the logical thing and tried to create the magic in a smaller form factor.

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Enter the HAF XM, a mid-tower sibling to the gigantic HAF X. It retains the same techno-industrial looks, red LED case fans and emphasis on cooling, but in a smaller size that’s more likely to fit under your desk. Cooler Master has also taken the opportunity to refine some of the features and smaller details, fix minor niggles and hopefully produce a better case. However, with only £25 separating the XM from its bigger brother, can it do enough to justify its place among the HAF line-up?

First impressions are mixed – fair play to Cooler Master for sticking with the industrial design, which is sure to delight some but put off others. It’s actually more restrained than previous HAF cases, although there’s still an awful lot of black plastic covering the top and front of the case. It is at least all reasonably sturdy and doesn’t flex under pressure. The entire front panel is removable, and there’s a good chance you’ll be doing so on a regular basis – the 5.25in drive bay covers are held in place with flimsy plastic clips, which are easily dislodged when picking up the case from the front. The only way to get them back in place is to remove the front panel, as well as the two hot-swap 3.5in drive caddies.

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The front-facing I/O panel has two USB2 ports and two faster USB3 ports. The USB3 cable uses a motherboard header, so you’ll save yourself two USB3 ports on your motherboard, but without an adaptor there’s no way to connect it to an older board that lacks USB3 headers.

Up top, the power and reset switches are joined by a button to disable the case fan LEDs, as well as a small tray that’s large enough to hold a smartphone. The rest of the roof is removable, taking just one thumbscrew to reveal the 200mm fan underneath. There’s room for a second 200mm fan, or you could remove the existing one and replace it with two 120mm or 140mm fans instead. For anyone considering water cooling, you have the option of placing fans on top with the radiator inside the case, or vice versa – there’s plenty of room between the roof of the case and the motherboard tray. Unfortunately you can’t fit a triple 120mm radiator without some surgery with a Dremel first.

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Around the back, an extra vertical expansion port has been added to the usual eight horizontal ones to make room for a third party fan controller or light switch, should you have one to install. The PSU mounts at the bottom of the case and there are three pre-drilled water cooling holes in the top, already fitted with rubber grommets.

Specifications

  • Dimensions (mm) 252 x 579 x 531 (W x D x H)
  • Material Steel, plastic
  • Available colours Black
  • Weight 10.5kg
  • Front panel Power, reset, 2 x USB 3, 2 x USB 2, stereo, microphone, fan control switch
  • Drive bays 3 x external 5.25in drive bays, 6 x internal 3.5in/2.5in drive bays, 2 external hot-swap 3.5in/2.5in drive bays
  • Form factor(s) E-ATX, ATX, Micro-ATX
  • Cooling 2 x 120mm or 1x 140mm or 1 x 200mm front mounts (1 x 200mm fan supplied), 1x 120mm/140mm rear fan mount (1 x 140mmfan supplied), 1 x 200mm roof fan mount and 2 x 120mm/140mm or 1 x 200mm roof fan mount, 1 x 200mm or 2 x 140mm side panel fan mounts (fans not supplied)
  • CPU cooler clearance 196mm
  • Maximum graphics card length 354mm with HDD cage, 463mm without
  • Extras Dust filters, hot-swap drive cages