Power supply installation is similar to what we saw on Cooler Master's behemoth of a case, the Cosmos II. We liked it then, and it's even more handy in a small build like this. Remove the power supply mounting bracket, secure the four screws as usual, slide the power supply in, and attach to the case via 4 thumb screws. Easy. Cooler Master also wanted this to be a capable test bench/torture rack, so they added a removable motherboard tray. The tray is held in place by four easy-to-access thumb screws, and it slides away and up from the back panel. This makes installing the motherboard onto the tray, and the cooler onto the processor, very easy. Cooler Master will also offer additional motherboard trays in the near future for those who are testing multiple motherboards/systems at once. As a reviewer, that has my interest thoroughly piqued.
I'm pleased to say that the HAF Xb is actually fun to build in. Small form factor builds can be fun in anticipation of the end result, but the process can be tricky and borderline frustrating. The HAF Xb, though, is small but it was still super easy to build in. There is tons of room to hide extra cable in unused bays or in-between the drive racks themselves. Cooler Master has also left space and a couple strategically-placed holes to allow you to keep those cables hidden. Additionally, the cable tie points run along various points of the chassis so that logical and clean cable management is really very easy. My result seen above is with no tie-downs, no planning at all, and it is just painless. With the motherboard tray out, you have easy access to install anything you need, roughly route the cables and hide the ones you don't need, then lay the motherboard in. Attach the motherboard tray with four thumb screws, and you've basically already got a super clean and compact build.
The HAF Xb doesn't sacrifice on the components you choose, either. It's got plenty of ventilation, and all the clearance of a full-sized case as far as graphics cards and CPU coolers are concerned, so you're really not held back. Tri-SLI/Crossfire and full-sized tower coolers about as likely to fit as most other cases on the market. And the good news for your motherboard is that heavy coolers won't strain your motherboard nearly as much when the motherboard is laying flat to the ground. The HAF Xb is also a perfect candidate for an All-in-One watercooling solution, like Cooler Master's recently-released Seidon 120M. Want even more watercooling capacity? The front will allow the accommodation of a 120 or 240 mm full-sized radiator for full-on watercooling. Pretty awesome for a LAN box.
|CPU||Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge @ 4.0 GHz|
|GPU||ASUS GTX 560 Ti 448 Core|
|Motherboard||ASUS P67 Sabertooth|
|Memory||Kingston HyperX Red 8 GB DDR3 1600 MHz|
|PSU||Cooler Master GX 750|
|SSD||OCZ Vertex 4 256GB|
|HDD||Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200RPM|
|Optical Drive||LG GH22NS90 Super Multi - DVD±RW|
The HAF Xb really uses every bit as good as larger traditional cases. The front fans both move quite a bit of air, and they're also very quiet since they only operate at 1800 RPM. They're more than adequate to paint the relatively-small motherboard chamber with cool, fresh air. Even without adding any exhaust fans, the heavily vented side and top panels kept the case from becoming a heat box and we saw cooling performance that was only marginally worse than when mounted in larger cases. With a rear exhaust fan added, the processor temperatures matched those of the Trooper or Cosmso II.
Although the out-of-the-box acoustics are great, as it's a pretty quiet little box with the two stock fans and a push-pull CPU cooler, keep in mind that this case is still fairly open even with all of the side panels on. It's thoroughly vented, so if you put a high-RPM and noisy fan in the case, don't expect to to be muffled too much. The same can be said about the fan system on your graphics card, so be aware of that if acoustics are a bit concern for you. This is particularly relevant because it's more likely that the HAF Xb will be placed on a desktop a few feet from earshot.