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Cooler Master: HAF XB EVO

In this article I wish to present a computer that I have created using a test computer case:  Cooler Master: HAF XB EVO This computer case has no power supply and you can find it on-line for about $125.  I have used this computer case to create a small home server.

Video Presentation

In the next YouTube you can visualize a computer created with HAF XB EVO. Despite the high air flow the computer is quiet because I have used PWM power fans and special split cables to control the RPM from BIOS. To hear the sound you must turn your volume a little bit louder. The fans are turning very slow with < 1000 RPM so the computer is cool and quiet. This is a special AMD technology that is implemented in BIOS.

Two versions !!!

First thing you must know is this computer case has 2 versions. One version have fix internal cage for HDD and the other have removable internal HDD cage that can be changed from 2.5″ to 3.5″. In this cage you can install 4 internal HDD of the same size for RAID 6 or RAID 10.

It is very important to know the cheaper version has a fixed 2.5″ 4xHDD internal cage and you can’t install desktop 3.5″ HDD but only 2.5″ 4xHDD or 3xHDD and 1xSSD.

You can’t have a combination of  3.5″ 3xHDD and 1xSSD. However you can install 2xHDD in the external removable drawers and up to 4xSSD or any combination of 4 additional 2.5″ disks inside.

For me this was hard to accept after I have buy the HAF XB (not EVO). I wish I knew so that I could spend a little bit more money to be able to install 3.5″ 4xHDD inside for RAID 10. The 2.5″ HDD are slower and not so reliable as the 3.5″ HDD.

This is a test bench!

Second thing you have to know is that this is a test bench not a real computer case. I have not pay attention to this difference when I bought the case but I found this later at home when I had the time to study the case more careful.

This computer case has a special design: It has a double deck construction so that you can install Power Supply HDD, CD-ROM or Tape drive in the lower deck and the motherboard plus video cards and other extension cards on the upper deck.

Generous Air Flow

This computer case has very good air flow. It has 2 front fans included. You must know these fans are intake fans with 3 wires. If you wish to put 4 wired fans to control RPM then the entire plastic face has to be removed before you can replace the fans and this is very hard to do.

In the back you can install 1x120mm fan and 2 small 80mm fans. On top you can install a special 200mm fan. The top fan can be installed if you buy the version with mash. There is another version that has a Plexiglas window on top.

This single fan is an additional cost of $20 and is a very slow and quiet fan at 700RPM. This fan can be installed as an intake fan to invert the pressure inside the computer case. Having positive pressure will reduce the dust.

Front 5″ mounting system

This computer case has screw-less 2×5″ bay that you can use to install a CD-ROM and tape drive or drawers for other 2 disks. Usually a tape drive is long and will not fit if you use 3.5″ HDD cage. Some HDD drawers are using the case rigidity to reduce the vibrations. You must be careful to chose a rigid HDD drawer. The flexible drawers can’t be installed due to lack of screws.

The power supply mounting system

The power supply is installed behind the HDD drawers. It has a removable cage mounted with screws. Under the computer case there is an air filter for the power supply that you can easy access to remove and wash.

The space between the power supply and the HDD drawers is very limited. So you can’t install a very large power supply but I have manage to install a regular 650W power supply.

The two 3.5″ HDD external drawers

In the front on the right side there are included two external drowers for plug and play SATA HDD. These drawers are screw-less from plastic with ruber washers. It is very easy to change the 3.5″ HDD so you can create RAID1 mirror array.

I found the electronics behind the drawer very fragile. The SATA connectors are facing the power supply cables and you can easy break the SATA connectors like I did.

Computer build using this case

Using this computer case you can build a home server PC or a gaming PC with high air flow. However the number of HDD you can install is limited to 6. You can chose between 6 x 3.5″ disks or 4×2.5″ and 2×3.5″ disks. For this computer I have installed a CD-ROM and a drawer for an additional root disk using the front 5″ drive bay. In the next picture you can see the 4 red SATA wires connected to the small 2.5″ HDD in the internal cage.

 

Cable Routing

This computer has a difficult layout. It is not obvious how to route the cables. However if you use zip-ties you can manage the cables easy. In the next picture you can see sata cables connected to small HDD. The cables are very close to the side of the computer.

Conclusion: This compter case is not for everyone. It is exclusive for computer enthusiasts who wish to test a motherboard or to test a video card. It is very easy to change the extension cards. The motherboard is difficult to change. Also the power supply is difficult to change.