Cooler Master HAF 922 Mid Tower Case Review

Overall Score

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Cooler Master has recently launched their versatile Storm series chassis (Sniper review and Scout review), geared toward gamers with a mix of functionality and style. On the same end of the spectrum but on a different wavelength come the cases we would call the "enthusiast" cases geared toward modders and overclockers. We put the HAF 932 into this category because since the launch of the HAF (High Air Flow) series with the 932, the case has become one of the most sought after cases for internal water cooling or high end air cooling setups. There are surprisingly few cases on the market that accomodate multiple options for fully internal water cooling without requiring modification, two of which comprise the newly expanded HAF series.

Without sounding like a broken record and restating what has been written in other reviews of Cooler Master cases, we would like to acknowledge Cooler Master’s attention to the end-user. With focus groups, pre-release beta testers (picked from on-line survey responders and members of their forums) and user feedback, they stand in the upper echelon of customer relations in an industry riddled by inattentive manufacturers. We (XCPU’s review staff) were first introduced to just how much user feedback goes into product design at CES in January of 2009. Talking with engineers and designers turned out to be more like an interview for "what do you want in a case or cooler or power supply" rather than small talk. At this point, the HAF 922 was an early prototype and referred to simply, and only in passing, as the "HAF Mini." The early beta case has been refined and the final version is now being launched at an MSRP of $129.99. As the current economy flounders, we wouldn’t be surprised to find it available very soon at less than the launch price from large e-tailers, as this often happens.

 

Specifications:

  • Model: RC-922M-KKN1-GP
  • Available Colors: Black
  • Material: Steel + Plastic and Mesh Bezel
  • Dimension (W/H/D): 10.0 x 19.7 x 22.2 inches
  • Weight: 19.2 lbs
  • M/B Type: ATX / Micro-ATX
  • 5.25" Drive Bay: 5 Exposed (one could convert to 3.5" drive bay)
  • 3.5" Drive Bay: 5 Hidden, 1 Exposed (fom converted 5.25" bay)
  • I/O Panel: USB 2.0 x 2, MIC x 1, eSATA x1, Audio x 1 (Support HD / AC97 Audio)
  • Expansion Slots: 7 + 1
  • Cooling System: Front: 200mm fan x 1, Red LEDs (with on/off switch) x 1,700 RPM (Can be swapped for 120/140mm x 1 of your choice)
  • Top: 200mm fan x 1, 700 RPM (Can be swapped for 120mm x 2 of your choice)
  • Rear: 120mm fan x 1, 1200 RPM
  • Bottom: 120 / 140mm fan x 1 (optional, not included)
  • Side: 200mm fan x 1 (optional available from CM, not included, can be swapped for 120mm x 2 of your choice)
  • Power Supply: ATX PS2 / EPS 12v (optional, not included)

 

As you can see in the specifications, Cooler Master has included enough fans to keep many users happy and your components cool, which is certainly not the case with every chassis on the market. Also, judging from the specifications, you can make an educated guess that, by using a pair of giant 200mm fans at a low 700 RPM, the HAF 922 doesn’t make "High Air Flow" synonymous with "High Decibel Level." Weighing in at a hefty 19.2 lbs empty, one can rest assured that when you purchase a steel HAF 922, you are purchasing a substantial piece of hardware that is quite sturdy. While aluminum may be seen as more "classy," the use of steel in cases such as the HAF series, keeps the cost down and the overall rigidity up. Being strong and sturdy is a boon to a case ready to be water cooled and the large amount of holes (for fans and venting) in this case are probably better supported by thick steel as opposed to aluminum.

Lets move on to the pictures…

 

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The box exterior is fairly standard, with full color pictures of the case and a list of specifications and features. You will notice the red glow from the case and the red lighted theme that is present in other Cooler Master cases. As you might have seen in the specifications on the first page, the red LED’s on the front 200mm fan can be switched on or off by a toggle switch at the top of the case (shown later.)

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Inside the box, we see the standard foam inserts surrounding the plastic covered chassis. The case arrived undamaged, shipped simply in the retail box. Included are a pack of zip ties, a speaker, plenty of brass standoffs, vandal proof locking loop, motherboard screws and a set of rails to use with 1.8" or 2.5" SSD’s or laptop hard drives.

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The exterior shots give you a basic view of exactly what the case is, a smaller version of the popular HAF 932. Similarly lined and comparably shaped, the HAF 922 weighs in as a mid-tower chassis, and in our opinion comes across as less aggressively styled than the 932. The side panel has a convex section which enables the case to support large air coolers such as the infamous TRUE, the Tuniq Tower and even the Cooler Master V10. You can see the side vented mesh that also acts as a window and supports a single 200mm fan, or dual 120mm fans or even a radiator if one so chooses. From the front you can see the similarity with the 932 as well as the mesh panel and bezel. There is a thin foam insert behind the mesh, that will act as an air filter, but it should be noted that the foam is not easily removable, and to be cleaned will have to be serviced from the inside with compressed air. We would have liked to see a removable filter but space limitations become a key player in such endeavours, especially in a water-ready mid-tower.

The backside of the case sports the same convex side panel as the front side minus the mesh window. For those of you that like wire routing and convenient places to stash unused cables, room between the side panel and motherboard tray is a welcome sight.

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Moving to the rear of the case you will notice water cooling holes at the top for tubing, in case you cannot fit your full setup within the case itself and need to attach a radiator to the back or top of the case. The rear exhaust supports a single 120mm (included) or 92mm or 80mm exhaust fan. Looking through the bottom mounted PSU hole you can see that the PSU can be situated to intake from underneath the case and exhaust out the rear or flipped over to intake from within the case and exhaust out the rear.

Up top we see the giant 200mm exhaust fan that spins at a quiet 700 RPM while still moving a considerable amount of air due to its large size and relatively small center hub. You’ll notice that the 200mm stock fan can be removed and replaced by a pair of 120mm fans or a dual 120mm radiator without modification. We note that the plastic top bezel is quite removable and a short amount of time with a Dremel could result in the case supporting a triple 120mm radiator up top, not a common theme in the mid-tower market.

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On the front of the top panel you can see the oversized power switch as well as a relatively large reset switch on one side and the LED toggle for the 200mm intake fan on the other. Activity LED’s and the Cooler Master text complete the top of the case.

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The exterior finish up close reveals a powder coat type matte finish that doesn’t fingerprint too easily, but due to the black color, prints are inevitable during handling.

 

 

 

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With the side panel off you can see that Cooler Master chose to leave the interior as unpainted steel, unlike the mid-tower Storm Scout which has a black interior. You can also see the 140mm (or 120mm) bottom fan that would also support a single 120mm radiator assuming you have a standard length PSU. Some radiators may not fit, but thin tanked single pass type radiators will surely be accomodated thanks to the side mounted hard drive rack.

Moving around to the backside with the panel removed you can see a plethora of wire routing assistance including tie down points and multiple cut and rounded holes in the motherboard tray at generally convenient locations. We really like the hole up top that enables an easy hidden route for the usual 8 pin CPU connector that is often the most difficult cable to route. Also visible is the new Cooler Master standard CPU cooler cutout of the motherboard tray enabling users to switch out any type of air cooler or water block without having to dismantle the entire system.

 

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Both side panels remove and replace easily and, as seen from the outside, have a bulge leaving more room inside the case for tall coolers or wiring on the backside. You can also see the variety of fan options available on the front meshed side.

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From the bottom we can see the exhaust/intake hole and a bit better view of the top exhaust fan. The feet on the case are actually screwed through the bottom of the case and feel high quality. Some cases simply have rubberized feet glued to the bottom of the case and they often come off if you attempt to slide your fully loaded computer across a desk or other surface.

The power supply bay shows that your PSU will be protected from scratches and is mounted on rubberized rails.

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The hard drive cage consists of rubberized caddies that simply click into place. One portion of the computer case market that seems to have infinite ways of getting the job done is mounting 3.5" drives, and this case brings to the table another effective method. Easy to use, fast and sound dampening, the rubberized rails work very well.

Included with the case is a set of rails to be used with 3.5" drives in a 5 1/4" drive bay.

Expansion slots took the most secure route and use a simple thumb screw for each slot. Tool-less cases are one thing, but relying on some hard-to-secure plastic clip to hold your GTX 295 or HD 4870 X2 with a 2 lb copper water block secure during the car ride to the next LAN seems a little insane.

 

It seems that Cooler Master has succeeded in bringing another excellent choice to the mid-tower chassis market, worthy of its place. Differentiating itself from the similarly priced Storm Scout, the HAF 922 brings to the table a water cooling heritage and the raw rugged look of the HAF series. While it seems the HAF 922 is less refined than some of the other Cooler Master cases, it also seems that Cooler Master had the market in mind when creating a case to fill the mid-tower demand at a relatively low price point. MSRP of the HAF 922 is $129.99 and accessories (such as a third 200mm fan if you so desire) can be found at the Cooler Master store. Similar to eVGA’s "B-Stock", Cooler Master has a refurb section with some great deals, so keep an eye on that to pick up an inexpensive power supply or cooler.

While some users may not appreciate the appearance of the HAF 922, many others will and the approach to modability as well as the built in ability to be customized in terms of cooling capability are sure to be a hit if the case stays at or slides under the targeted price point.

Pros:

  • Superb airflow
  • Fans included
  • Room for water, internally
  • Modability
  • Cable management cutouts and tie downs
  • Strong and sturdy
  • Styling?

Cons:

  • Unpainted interior
  • No removable air filter
  • Styling?

Please feel free to discuss or ask questions here in our forums. If you need measurements to determine the fit of a radiator or anything else, please request them in the discussion thread or email casey@xcpus.com!

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