932 HAF Case Review

Overall Score

Christmas came a bit early at XCPUs.  Last week we had the opportunity to look at a new case from CoolerMaster, the ATCS 840, and we were thoroughly impressed with both the quality and design — words that have become staples in describing CoolerMaster products.  It would seem that with each generation the engineers improve upon concepts and ideas to deliver real innovation, which seems unlikely for computer cases but is, indeed, true.  Gone are the days of simple motherboard mounts, a few drive bays, and a couple of fans.  CoolerMaster aims to bring new features and flexibility to each case they release.

This review takes a look at the 932 HAF, which is a different class of full tower cases that we have seen the last few times.  While the Cosmos series  and the new ATCS 840 are built for quiet operation with detail to air flow, the 932 HAF is a full throated design aimed squarely at water cooling with the flexibility for a total air cooled setup.  If you are looking to setup a water cooled system and have been thinking about what case to use, then you should seriously consider the 932 HAF as there are numerous configuration options available designed specifically with water cooling in mind.
The overall case is slightly smaller than other full tower cases, though not by much.  It has plenty of hard drive bays for a well rounded system, as well as plenty of 5.25" bays, and as any full tower case should is very roomy — important for setting up water cooling system.  The full list of specifications include:

  • Available Colors: Black
  • Dimensions: 564 x 243 x 560 mm (DxHxW) or 22.2" x 9.6 " x 22.1"
  • Weight: 13.2 kg net or 29 lbs net
  • Motherboard: micro-ATX/ATX/E-ATX
  • Drive Bays: 6 x 5.25" (w/one conversion kit to 3.5"), 5 x 3.5" internal  (1 exposed converted from 5.25" bay)
  • Fans:  3x 230 x 30 mm LED 700 RPM @ 19 dBA   (front, side, and top), 140 x 25 mm standard 1200 RPM @ 17 dBA
  • I/O Panel:  4 x USB 2.0, 1 x IEEE 1394a FireWire, 1 x eSATA, mic and audio ports
  • PSU: Standard ATX PS2 / EPS 12V (option)

In terms of packaging, the 932 HAF is not terribly exciting, the case is not target at ultra high end so the box is illustrated but the case is packed with a standard plastic sleeve and molded Styrofoam ends for safety.  The accessories packed with the 932 HAF are not quite as extensive as other CoolerMaster cases, but you have all the necessities.  Standoffs, screws, tie wraps, a 3.5" conversion front plate, and coaster wheels which can be mounted on the bottom of the case.  As is usual, the instruction manual is extraordinarily clear in the illustrations and descriptions on the setup and construction of the case.

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Now, with the minor the short introductory spiel out of the way, some specs, and general rambling done, let’s look at the case.

 

The 932 HAF has enthusiast/gamer written all over it.  The grated front shows the bays, arrangement, and hidden behind the snazzy CoolerMaster logo is the 230 mm front fan.  The I/O panel is mount on the front, conveniently located at the top.  That front panel is removable and snaps right off, revealing the mounding options for the front fan.

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The side panels are nothing particularly special, the side panel over the motherboard tray provides the mount for the second of three 230 mm fans.  If you examine the panel more closely there are holes registered across capable of mounting a total of four 120 mm fans if one so chose to replace the 230 mm fan, and a clever modder could easily finesse a method to mount radiators as well.  Above the fan mounts is a Plexiglas window, which a necessity for the most hard core enthusiast as everyone likes to show off their mojo.

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The back panel cover the back side of the motherboard tray is a bit boring, it is noteworthy that the lower left has five raised bars, these are actually slotted which helps with breathing more air flow.  The other panel has the same feature.  The vent is conspicuously located over the 3.5" bays which help exhaust heat from the hard drives to the outside of the case rather than toward the interior. 

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The top of the case shows an interesting feature, CoolerMaster has provided a coolant fill port to have easy access to a reservoir that mounts inside a 5.25" bay.  The novelty is that it allows for quick and easy maintenance, however, remember you will be pouring liquid into the top of your case directly located above your hard drives … think twice pour once.   Also located on the top is another 230 mm fan, which can be removed and replaced with 3 120 mm fans.

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The back of the case is just as interesting.  Again, common with most all of CoolerMaster designs, there are two grommets for feeding water cooling tubing to the outside.  The grommet panel is detachable, and removing the top 230 mm fan allows one added flexibility to top mount a PSU, another testament to the many configuration options available with this case.

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Last is the bottom of the case,  which cannot be overlooked.  When we get to the innards of the case it will become more clear, however, there is room to mount two 120 mm fans if the PSU is relocated to the top mount rather than bottom mount.  A bottom mounted PSU will draw air from the bottom of the case and exhaust out toward the back.  But again, with the flexibility in configurations, a radiator could also easily be mounted as well.  The feet are made with materials specifically to avoid causing damage to surfaces, or they can be removed to install casters which would raise the case up a bit higher, as well as allow it to role around … a nice feature consider the weight.

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Side panels are easily removed by taking off thumb screws at the back of the case.  Removing the left side panel reveals the inside of the 932 HAF, with the general layout typical of many cases.  Drive bays toward the font, the motherboard tray, fans and such.  The entire case is made of SSEC stainless steel, which explains the weight — this is indeed a heavy case, not one to lug around to LAN parties.  With this material (and weigth), though, comes the rugged quality of the build.   Looking toward the top reveals the massive 230 mm fan mounted on top, while along the bottom is the mount for the PSU, and room for more 120 mm fans (optional).

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Another nice feature, which simply illustrates the extraordinary flexibility of the case,  is on the bottom PSU mount.  The brace that provides support for the PSU weight is both removable and expandable.  Removing the brace provides more fan mounting options, in which case the PSU would need to be relocated to the top spot.

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The drive bays are designed with standard CoolerMaster tooless designs.  The 5.25" bays have a simple push button release mechanism found in almost all mid/full tower cases in the higher end lineage.   As has been pointed in prior reviews, these push button releases can be removed and, for the purest, screws can be substituted.  The 3.5" drives have the standard CoolerMaster click and pull caddies making hard drive installation a snap.

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Finally, the panels themselves.  The two panels remove by taking out two thumb screws and swinging the panel out and lifting it off.  The inside of both the left and right panels are shown below.  A comment on the back (right) panel that covers the back of the motherboard tray is in order.  The panel has been form molded to be raised toward the outside a nifty design, but the functionality is much more than just good looks.  Molding this feature into the back panel leaves ample room for cable routing behind the bother board tray, in fact, cable management is superb throughout.

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The success of any case comes with the ease by which everything comes together.  A novice may take 2-3 hours, while an experienced system building will take 30-45 minutes.  The total build time, including cable management, was 38 minutes.  The accessibility inside this case was extraordinary, nowhere did it feel cramped.  The motherboard went in easily, the PSU fit snuggly, and when all was said and done a very clean, cable free build was completed with no hassles.

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Powering on the case has some added sex appeal, the front fan lights up red giving a nice glow behing the fan grating.  The window above the side panel (mentioned before) yields a nice peak at the CPU fan.

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Performance

Our testing methodology has been documented here, however, for this case review there are a couple of items different.  The base components are the same, an old Pentium 4 Prescott and ATI Radeon 1800 make up the major heat generators.  However, the CPU fan has been updated to a CoolerMaster V8.  We also changed stressing software, prior we used Everest 4.2 Stress Test but for this review we used OCCT 2.0, both packages are available on the net for download and free usage.  Both stress tests stress to roughly the same degree within a couple of Watts, so for the thermal performance should not make a major difference.

That said, the thermal performance for an air cooled system was simply excellent, with a delta between ambient and CPU region of 1-2 degrees C, this was even better than the ATCS case reviewed a few weeks ago, though the difference in HSF could be an explanation for this.  Nonetheless, just a degree or two difference means the case is a top notch performer.  A good air cooled design should not deviate more than 2-4 degrees from the outside world.

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Acoustically the case is quiet, but not the quietest we have tested.  The honor for quietest case goes to the CMX we reviewed several months ago.   We measured an average of 25 dBA above ambient for the front, side,  and back position of the sound meter.  The average ambient was around 35 dBA or so, and the 932 HAF would produce 58-62 dBA on average.  This means it is audible but would only be noticeable if you specifically concentrated on listening for the sound.
 

Shopping for a computer case is not much different that shopping for a new apartment or a new house.  The functionality is pretty much all the same, it simple settles down to one of personal tasted.  Last week we reviewed  the ATCS 840 and that case had both finesse and style.  It was very a professional  looking case which would fit in any setting.  It was quiet and performance was superb.  The 932 HAF is altogether different, yet is still superb in performance and as much quality as the 840.  The 932 HAF, though, has much more ‘bling’ factor to it, a LED front fan that glows read, and the unique sculpted front skins, makes this case much more of a gamer type case than one to be found in your typical dentist office.  Of course, this is exactly what CoolerMaster was intending when designing the case.

It is always a delight to pick through a new case, as mundane as a case sounds, because there are always new ideas, new features and new designs to explore and these  do indeed bring value added to a case.  The 932 is no different and the most defining quality of this case is flexibility.  From fan mounts to water cooling, the total number of different ways to utilize the 932 is almost endless and, since it is constructed from much sturdier materials, would make a great modding case.    If there were draw back to this case it is the weight, it is very heavy — the price to be paid for the rugged nature of the build.  However, it does not lack any features, and is built with the same quality workmanship that is characteristic of all CoolerMaster cases.
The case is priced in the 150-180 range, making much more of a mid-range price point with a high end feature set.  The value, for what can be had, is simply great.   As mentioned in the introduction, CoolerMaster was much more conscience  with regard to water cooling.  The accessibility for a reservoir fill from the top port is a clear example of this approach.

 
Pros

  • Extremely flexible with unique features especially geared for water cooling
  • Sturdy, quality construction
  • Outstanding cable management

Cons

  • Weight, it is indeed heavy

Overall

  • Quality: 8.5/10
  • Design: 9/10
  • Performance: 9/10
  • Value 10/10
  • Overall 9/10

Bottom line: Great gamer case with outstanding water cooling features.
 

Discuss this in our forums. and here for the complete gallery of photos taken for this review.

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