Is the Cooler Master HAF XB Evo Open Air Chasis Open Enough?

The Cooler Master HAF XB Evo Open Air Chasis bills itself as a high airflow computer case that can also be used as a test bench by simply removing it’s top and side panels. The large mesh vent on the top of the case gives the impression that it might be good for fanless convection cooling as well even with all panels on. Here, I do a quick test to see how much temperatures rise with the side and top panels on compared to an open air test bench setup (i.e., removing the top and side panels.

Cooler Master HAF XB Evo Box

The Test

My test setup consisted of an Intel Core i7-4770k cooled by a Nofan CR-95C along with an EVGA GTX 780 cooled by a Prolimatech MK-26 with dual Noiseblocker M12-S1 fans as detailed in this post. The HAF XB Evo case was outfitted with a single Noiseblocker M12-S1 fan running at 500-600rpm (which is effectively silent at a few feet away). Running Furmark gave the following results (all temps in degrees celsius):

  • All panels On – GPU: 90+, CPU: 67
  • Top Panel Off – GPU: 87, CPU: 64
  • Top and GPU/All Panels Off – GPU: 83, CPU: 60-61

From these results, it appears that the HAF XB Evo with panels on is not quite capable enough at evacuating the air without decent airflow (the single low rpm fan was not sufficient). The side panels, despite being vented as well, also prevent cool air from coming in to cool the GPU and warm air from escaping the case. I stopped the all panels on test prematurely as the GPU temps were getting above 90 degrees, and I didn’t want to risk it getting any higher.

Thus, it is not really great at convection cooling compared to just using an open air test bench, although depending on the parts used (such as low wattage CPUs and/or GPUs), it may be sufficient at keeping acceptable temperatures.

Unfortunately, getting that airflow would involve running higher rpm fans, which would have more potential for noise, defeating the purpose of wanting fewer fans in the first place.

Power Supply Issues

Also not optimal is the location of the power supply, which is sandwiched underneath the motherboard. While this may be fine for a PSU with a fan rotating all the time, I found that hybrid PSUs (which keep the fan off until a certain temperature is reached) spin up quite loudly after some time under load. This is unsurprising as the PSU’s hot air is trapped underneath the motherboard tray. I think it would not be suitable for a fanless PSU either, and I didn’t now try to run one due to the potential danger.

Summary

Overall, I decided to not use the Cooler Master HAF XB Evo case, as keeping the panels on raised temperatures too high. While it could be used with the panel off, it is not better and in fact worse than most test benches as the PSU is being suffocated. It also is very large and takes up quite a lot of room compared to many test benches, though you do get a strong frame to carry it around with as well as the front panel of a regular case.

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