Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review Page: 1

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

Introduction

The HAF Stacker from Cooler Master is a modular system made up from three components each of which can be brought together in varying combinations depending on the breadth of your needs and the depth of your pockets.  In simple terms what we have is the Stacker 935 which is a standard tower chassis combined and sold with a smaller modular ITX chassis in the form of the 915R.  Should you so desire to place a truly megalithic slab of summit seeking prolific PC on your desk you can go the full trotter and create your very own Stacker 945 which if you haven't guessed is the 935 described above combined with a further ITX module in the shape of either the 915R or the 915F.  As you might imagine, the more you add the taller your PC becomes and the higher the price climbs.  The price at the top of the page reflects that of the extended system, however the base 935 which includes a slightly modified 915R can be bought for £152.99, should you wish to add a 915F then you'll have to part with another £56.50, or £66.38 for the 915R model as a standalone unit.  Being a modular system it of course entirely possible to pair up two or even 3 of the 915 modules to create a smaller system that best suits your needs

In bringing this review together we will show you the merits of each of the individual modules in their own right and then look at the system as a whole at the end.  If you're the sort who tends to skip forward then you're going to miss an awful lot of detail in doing so, so it's worth making your way methodically through this review.

Before we move on to the technical Specification section we do need to get something off our chests.  Cooler Master have claimed to have come up with the idea of a Stacker system when one of their number hit on the concept in a break between brain storming sessions.  This may well be true, and we would never begin to doubt his artistic integrity of said individual, that said, the HAF Stacker does bear more than a passing resemblance both in form and function to a certain SR-2 Stacker build by Coolmiester, AKA Paul who also happens to be a good friend of ours here at OC3D.  Just saying, that’s all.

 

Technical Specification

As there's more than one module here we're going to cover all three technical specifications.

935 (which includes the 915R)

 Model Number HAF-935-KWN1
 Colour Midnight Black
 Material Bezel:  Mesh Polymer, Case body SGCC 0.7T Steel
 Dimensions 235x719x578mm (WxHxD)
 Net Weight 15.6kg
 Motherboard EATX, ATX, Micro ATX (915R, Mini-ITX)
 5.25" 3+1 (915R)
 3.5" 6+3 (915R), 3x modular drive bays
 2.5" 9+1 behind Motherboard tray
 I/O Panel 2xUSB3.0, 2xUSB2.0, Audio IN/OUT
 Expansion Slots       8+1 (+2 with 915R)
 Air Cooling 

Top: 120mm fan x 2 (optional)
Front: 92mm fan x 1 (installed),120mm fan x 2 (optional)
Rear: 140mm fan x 1 (installed), or 120mm fan x 1 (optional)
Side: 120mm fan x 6 / 140mm fan x 4 (optional)

 Water Cooling 

Front: 240mm x 1 (requires an optional adapter, with the HDD cage removed)
Rear: 120/140mm x 1 (optional)
Side: 280/360mm x 2 (optional)

 PSU type Standard ATX
 Compatibility 

VGA card length: 354mm / 13.9 inch
360mm / 14.17 inch (915R, the 2nd PC)
CPU cooler height: 180mm / 7.1 inch
80mm / 3.1 inch (915R, the 2nd PC)

 

 

915R

 Model Number HAF-915R-KKN1
 Colour Midnight Black
 Material Bezel:  Mesh Polymer, Case body SGCC 0.7T Steel
 Dimensions 228x248x578mm (WxHxD)
 Net Weight 5.7kg
 Motherboard Mini-ITX
 5.25" 1
 3.5" 3
 2.5" 3
 I/O Panel 2xUSB3.0, 2xUSB2.0, Audio IN/OUT
 Expansion Slots 2
 Air Cooling 

Front 92mm fan x1 installed

Side 6x120mm or 4x140mm

 Water Cooling Side: 120,140,240,280,360 x 2 (optional)
 PSU type Standard ATX
 Compatibility 

VGA card length: 360mm, 14.2"
CPU cooler height: 80mm / 3.1 inch

 

 

915F

 Model Number HAF-915F-KKN1
 Colour Midnight Black
 Material Bezel:  Mesh Polymer, Case body SGCC 0.7T Steel
 Dimensions 228x248x578mm (WxHxD)
 Net Weight 5.2kg
 Motherboard Mini-ITX
 5.25" 1
 3.5" 3 (1 from ODD bay)
 2.5" 3 (1 from ODD bay
 I/O Panel 2xUSB3.0, 2xUSB2.0, Audio IN/OUT
 Expansion Slots        2
 Air Cooling 

 Rear: 120mm fan x 1 (installed)
 Side: 120mm fan x 6 / 140mm fan x 4 (optional)

 Water Cooling Individual mode: 120mm x 1 (optional) - rear
 Stacking mode: 120/140/240/280/360mm x 2 (optional) side panel
 PSU type Standard ATX
 Compatibility 

 VGA card length: 360mm, 14.2"
 CPU cooler height: 170mm / 6.7"



Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review Page: 2

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

Up Close:  Main Case Exterior

We've referred to this part of the HAF stacker as the "main case", although following Cooler Master's own nomenclature we could just have easily called it the HAF925.  To do so would be something of a misnomer as it's not actually available on its own as a standalone case.  The sample we have for review has a splendid full size slightly tinted window, but should you choose to make your case look ugly It is also available with a fan mount and grill in the window. 

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

The front is split into upper and lower sections with all being covered in a mesh design over a plastic hex back ground.  The looks might not be to the taste of those who yearn for sleek and sexy, but then sleek and sexy doesn't usually walk hand in hand with High Air Flow, and this is a HAF after all.  The Front I/O which comprises of 2xUSB3.0, 2xUSB2.0 along with audio in and out and the usual power rese button is a part common to all the HAF stacker cases, and as we'll see later can be easily removed and swapped to other cases in the series.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

As the main section of the case is designed to be paired with one or more of the smaller 915s it does not come with a top panel.  Cooler Master assume that you're going to mount the 915R supplied on top of the main unit but should you wish to swap things around it's a moments work to whip the top off the 915 and place it on top of the main unit.  In preparation for this Cooler Master have made the roof section ready to accept up to three 120mm fans or two 140mm units.  The holes for the 120s are slotted, but as you'll see when we move inside it's unlikely you'll be putting a rad in the roof. 

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

Whichever sections you choose to mount above or below, the mounting system remains the same and is universal to all the cases in the HAF stacker series allowing for truly modular assembly.  Cooler Master have likened their proprietary linking method to the Picatinny rail system used on contemporary Automatic weapons.  We're not convinced ourselves of this rather tenuous link to such a manly method, but either way it's certainly simple and secure which is all it needs to be and is a plus in our books.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review  

 

Round the back things are fairly standard.  A 140mm fan does extract duty with mounts for a 120mm should you wish to decrease the cases cooling ability.  Below this we find 8 vented PCI clot covers along with a single cover off to the side for non mobo mounted PCI devices.  At the very bottom of the case lies the PSU cut out. 

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

Tipping the case over affords us a better view of the underside.  The case is mounted on four extended rubber feet, each pair of which is adhered to a long rail which is removable being secured in the same way as the case top allowing for cases to be linked together.  The PSU vent, although filtered is not wide, but should suffice as it extends quite far anteriorly.  And yes, those are rubber grommets on the base of the case.  Why?  Well unless you haven't been concentrating up to this point you'll already know the cases are designed to be stacked and as such the grommets allow wiring and tubing to pass from one unit to the other.

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Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review Page: 3

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

Up Close:  Main Case Interior

As you might imagine with the main case designed to accept EATX as well as standard ATX the interior is larger than your average tower.  A huge CPU cut out dominates the upper left section of the motherboard tray with a good distribution of grommeted cable management holes.  We're particularly pleased with the oversized hole adjacent to the PSU and the small grommeted hole above the PSU area which will make routing Audio header cables and perhaps USB cables much easier and tidier.  If you plan to go down the air cooling route then any CPU cooler up to 180mm will fit in here just fine.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

The main case has room for three 5.25" devices, If like us you find the ODD more and more redundant, at least satisfy yourself that this means there's room for a double bay pump res combo.  If you're the sort who likes to adjust his fan speed on the fly then you may well want to put a fan controller in the remaining tool free slot as none of the HAF stackers have fan controlle functionality.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

Internal storage is split into two banks of 3 bays each, with each of them able to accept both 3.5" or 2.5" drives.  Although it's quite a laborious task, involving the undoing of what feels like a few thousand screws each of the banks can be removed.  Doing so will extend the available max GPU length from a more than acceptable 354mm up to a quite ridiculous 480mm.  Removing the bays will also enable you to put a 240mm rad in this position, however Cooler Master state that an additional adapter will be required to enable this.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

There's not fan mount in the base of the case (thank Bob), there are however the two rubber grommets we saw when we looked the underside.  Posterior to them we find the PSU mount, which as we remarked when we peered underneath although long does seem to be on the narrow side.  Not a problem of course if you mount your PSU with the fan facing upwards.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review  

 

Climbing the rear of the case we again see the 8+1 vented PCI slots and the 140mm black OEM fan sitting on extract duty.  There's also a set of 3 tube routing holes at the very top, should you wish to age your PC 10 years and fit an external water cooling system.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

The reverse of the case is well laid out, and with 14 cable tie points there's no excuse for shoddy cable management.  There's also a mount for a single 2.5" drive back here, a feature we're starting to see more and more frequently and something we like very much.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

A nice deep trough a the base of the case is always welcomed as it provides a convenient route along the base of the case and is also the perfect stash point for all those unwanted cable lengths.  Although there are sections of the rear that are slightly deeper, the real working space provided back here is actually 18mm.  Not as much as we were expecting but still plenty to work with.

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Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review Page: 4

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

Up Close:  915R Exterior

The 915R we're looking at here comes packaged with the main case to make up the HAF 935.  Unlike the 915R which can be purchased separately the 915R supplied as part of the 935 package does not have a front I/O.  It does though clearly share the lines of the main case and has readily identifiable HAF lineage.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

Large vented panels down each side of the case do more than hint a the 915Rs ability to receive substantial radiators.  In fact, should you wish you can put 2x360mm or 2x280mm rads in here, with one on either side and even set up a through flow push/pull configuration.  As with the other cases, both the top and base of the 915R are removable and will interlink to form a larger unit as we'll see later. 

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

There's so much perforation that you can actually see right through the case.  We suspect that it won't be too long though before we see windowed side panels available for those not keen to get wet but who want to show off their interior better.  Failing that there's always the dremel.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

If you've been wondering why i's called the 915R then wonder no more.  It's because the PSU is located at the rear.  Designed to take Mini-ITX boards the location of the PSU above the rear mounted Mini-ITX board severely limits the max cooler height to 80mm.  Do bear in mind though that this case does not have a front I/O and as such no power button.  The PSU mount is made available so that should you wish to swap the I/O from the main case, or perhaps purchase an extra to form a self contained case you can.  The point though of this 915R as we'll see later is storage or water cooling, making the rear PSU mount largely unnecessary.  Still, it's nice to have the option.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review  

 

Underneath the case we again find both grommeted and un grommeted cable and tubing routing holes along with four screws that will enable us to remove the internal HDD rack

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Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

Up Close:  915R interior

Both the roof and sides of the 915R are easily removed to allow unparalleled access to the interior.  In the image below right you can easily see the mounting holes for fans or rads on the inside of the side panels. 

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We weren't joking when we said there was a lot of access!  To help orientate, here we're looking at the rear of the case  where the motherboard and PSU would be located.  It might seem off to have a large rubber grommeted area under the motherboard area, but remember this case can take on an alternate role, doubling as either a home for rads or a HDD storage area, so these management holes will be perfect for routing cables or tubes up from the main case below

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

Turning the case round we're now looking at the front where there's room for three 3.5" or 2.5" drives.  Above this lies a single 5.25" bay.  All of these drive caddies can be removed if desired, with additional sets of screw holes on the case floor allowing for the relocation of HDD caddies from the main case as we'll see when we start the build section.  If you're wondering about cooling, there's actually a small 92mm fan buried in the front, but we'll get a better look at that when we strip things down.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review  



Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review Page: 6

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

Up Close:  915F Exterior

Although the 915F doesn't come with the 935 assembly, which consists of the main case and a modified 915R, we have been supplied with one in order to demonstrate the breadth of flexibility of the range.  Externally the two cases are identical with the exception of the rear panel and the 915F model having its own discrete front I/O meaning it can more easily be used to house a stand alone system.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

As with the 915R the 915F has a metal mesh  front panel with space for a single 5.25" device.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

And although it's less likely that you're going to be housing a radiator set up in here the functionality is still there with each of the side panels able to take up to 360 or 280mm rads

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

Round the back things are slightly different, with a single 120mm fan positioned above the rear I/O panel.  Although the PSU is located up front, he IEC mains lead power connection is back here situated as it is above a pair of ventilated PCI covers.

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The underside of the 915F shares the cable and tubing routing holes with the R model, but has a few additions in the form of a meshed and filtered PSU intake, along with some HDD mounts allowing longitudinal or transverse mounting of a drive in the floor of the case.

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Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review Page: 7

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

Up Close:  915F interior

Although as we've seen there are minimal external differences between the two 915 models, on the inside it's a different story altogether.  To get things going we've already stripped off the roof and side panels as you saw when we delved into the 915Rs interior. 

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

The first thing you'll notice aside from the PSU living up front is the absence of the 3 bay HDD rack.  It is possible to centrally mount one of the racks from the main case or the 915R in here, but failing that The 915F is able to accept a 3.5" drive on the floor or laterally mounted on the internal perforated panel.  The bay for the 5.25" device still remains though, and even this has additional mounts for 3.5" drives.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

Turning to look at the front of the case in more detail we can see the 3.5" drive mounts in the floor of the 5.25" bay.  we would assume that it is intended that you mount your drive internally, but we think if you wish to preserve the 5.25" bay it's entirely feasible to sling the HDD under the 5.25" floor as there's plenty of clearance before you reach the top of the PSU.  The cable you can see in the images below is the link cable between the rear of your PSU and the IEC socket at the rear of the case, there's plenty of slack, and access holes on both sides so you can mount your PSU either way up without having to worry about the cable reaching.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

And so to the rear of the 915F.  A single 120mm fan is positioned above the rear I/O and with no PSU to worry about coolers up to 170mm can be fitted in just fine.  The position of the rear 120mm fan also makes it a doddle to fit an 120mm rad AIO solution.  The pair of PCI covers also means that the 915F can take a dual slot GPU up to a maximum length of 360mm, and with plenty of ventilation down each of the side panels there shouldn't be the same sort of cooling issues we've seen in some M-ITX cases recently.

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Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

Up Close:  915R and 915F comparison

To make it easier to directly compare the 915F and 915F we thought we'd stack them together so you can see them in their natural habitat.  In all the pictures below the 915R is he upper case and the 915F he lower.

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Stacking them like this immediately got our creative juices flowing, with thoughts of a high end M-ITX build in the lower case with a huge GPU naturally.  Up top in the 915R we're thinking keep the storage and lob in a couple of fat 280mm rads with fans in push pull.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

If that's not your thing then how about a mini server, again a M-ITX board below, this time coupled with a 120mm AIO or tower cooler and no less than 14 HDDs distributed throughout the enclosure.

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Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review Page: 9

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

Up Close:  HAF Stacker 935 assembled

Having reviewed each of the individual components that make up the stacker system in their own rights it's time to start bringing things together.  What we have below is he HAF Stacker 935, which comprises of the main case and the 915R we looked at on pages two and three.  The 935 is sold as a single unit and arrives in one box but as separated cases.

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The two sections are attached to each other using the very simple Picatinny inspired system we described earlier.  Linking the two cases together is simple in the extreme and although it might not look secure let us assure you that there's no danger of them coming apart what-so-ever.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

We often bemoan some of the tinted acrylic covered letterbox apertures that some case manufactures think pass as windows (we're looking at you NZXT) so it's nice to have a large full width window in a case.  The side panel is also available with a fan mount and mesh cut into the window, but we have a sneaking suspicion that this won't be quite as popular, mainly because it's fugly as hell.  What doesn't sit quite so well is the miss match that the vented side panels of the 915R above create.  Still it's clear that with the HAF series Style must sometime take a back seat to substance.

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If you think the 935 looks imposing, just wait until you see the 945 we're going to build.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review 

 

Popping the side panels off affords us our fist look inside the assembled 935.  Don't forget that there is open access internally between the two cases allowing both cables and tubing to move freely from one case to the other.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review  



Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review Page: 10

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

Up Close:  HAF Stacker 945 assembled

The HAF stacker 945 isn't actually sold as a single item, but Cooler Master recognise that adding an additional 915 to a 935 system by definition makes a 945.  Of course you don't have to put things together as we have, the system as you know by now is fully modular and widely reconfigurable (did we just make that word up?).  We've chosen to have the main case sandwiched between the 915F below and the 915R above.  When you get to the build section you'll see why.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

Fully assembled the 945 stands 938mm tall, shame it's not another 7mm taller really but hey ho.  It also weighs in a smidge over 26kg, and that's before you've built into it.  A LAN box it ain't, not without the help of Pickford's anyway.  We can't help wondering how Cooler Master got this past the burocrats in the EU who had they seen it would surely have muttered the four worst words in the English Language... "Health and F***ing Safety"  How this has got through without a large sticker warning of the danger of crushing should you climb on it or pull on it is beyond us.  Think we're joking, if you've you bought a large screen TV recently you'll know they come with just such a warning and in some instances a lanyard to secure them to a wall.

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Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

HAF System Stripped

Having assembled the full 945 Stacker by adding a 915F to the 935 system we thought we'd strip off all the panels and see how it looks in the nip.  The side panels come away very easily and actually have captive thumb bolts so no more losing them and having to use mobo screws instead.  All of the front panels are secured in the same way and come off with relative ease and without the worry that you're about to break them as has been the case with some we've looked at recently.  What surprised us most on removing the front panel from the main case was the total absence of any fans up front.  Is this a HAF case or not?  OK, you can put your own 120mm units in here but to be honest we did expect to find at least one, if not two fans included as standard.  Cooler Master did actually supply a few of their excellent Jetflo 120s along with the case but as they aren't supplied as standard we've chosen no to represent them less you should mistakenly think looking at the pictures that the case came with fans up front as standard.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

The 915R seen below left, and identifiable by its lack of a front I/O does come with a front mounted 92mm fan.  The 915F seen below right has no such fan as the front of the case is surrendered to the PSU and 5.25" bay.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

We've already talked about the modular nature of the HAF stacker system, but let us expend by pointing out that the front I/O fittings are common between cases, meaning that should you wish to build a system within the 915R you can swap out a front I/O from either of the other cases.  Two screws is all it takes and Robert's your Mother's Brother

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

The 3.5" drive bay racks of the main case can also be removed and/or reconfigured to suite your needs.  We think the 354mm of GPU card length available is already more than generous, but should you feel the need to extend all you have to do is whip out a couple of thousand screws and slide the drive bays out.  OK, so it's not a couple of thousand, it's more like eight, but it feels like more, especially as you have to take the front panel off to access some of them. 

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review  

 

Four more screws from the underside of the case release the final part of the bay area clearing the way for a monster front 240mm radiator.  Unfortunately because Cooler Master have recessed the screw holes that are used to secure the drive cages the dimples left internally mean that you're going to need to purchase an adapter from Cooler Master to make this a reality, either that or fabricate your own.

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Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

Stripped Continued

Turning our attention towards the 915 modules we're hoping to give you a better idea of how they can be set up to suite your needs.  In the images below we've transferred the two drive bays from the main case up into the roof mounted 915R to join the drive bay already up there making for 9 in total.  As there are plenty of access holes between the cases running cables through will be a doddle.  If you're thinking that this negates any serious water cooling in the system then remember that the front of the main case is now free and able to accept seriously thick rads with a push pull fan set up.  

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

What we really want to know though is what can we fit up here in the way of rads.  Well Cooler Master say that 2x360 and 2x280s are possible.  Having stripped out the contents of the 915R (the front fan is also easily removed) you can see that you've got a complete blank canvas of a mini barn to play with.  In total there's just over 520mm of length on offer here, which theoretically, with most triple 140 rads coming in well under 500mm long should be enough to mount a 420.  However, looking at the spacing of the screw holes on the outer panels and the way the mesh has been placed centrally we can see why only 360s and 280s can be used.  If you were absolutely determined to use a 420 we think it would fit, but you would need to mod the side panels to permit mounting and ventilation.  Shame Cooler Master didn't make it with the mesh and mounting extending the full length. 

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

Never mind the length, feel the width, or so they say.  So how thick a Rad can you fi in here?  There's a total of 220mm of internal width so two 60mm fans coupled with a push pull on both sets should be a possibility but i's going to be tight.  Dropping your rad thickness down a notch would most likely be a better option affording less disrupted airflow through the case.  Basically you're not going to be stuck for water cooling solutions up here, and again as there's plenty of routing holes getting the tubing through to the main case won't be an issue.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

Those of you who are paying attention and who have some experience of water cooling may well be concerned about the gaping great holes at the back of the case which are there for the PSU and rear I/O.  Fear not, as Cooler Master have it covered, quite literally in fact, as they supply with the kit a set of blanking plates to seal these holes off.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review  

 

The 915F positioned at the base of the case doesn't escape the attentions of the screw driver either.  As with the 915R the internals are fully removable, so we decided to whip out the 5.25" drive bay.  Although it's more likely that you'll use this case for a second system set up it carries the same screw hole layout as the 915R so theoretically  should you nab yourself some additional drive cages you'd be up to a grand total of 18HDDS, and with 3TB drives readily available that makes for a mahoosive  54 TB of storage.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review  



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Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

HAF 945 Fully Stripped

Cooler Master have made the HAF system remarkably easy to strip down.  Minimal use of rivets means that nearly all the major internal structures can be removed, and with cases across the range sharing identical screw hole layout said components can be re distributed so as to suite the builders needs

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

Ok, so you will get more than a little familiar with your favourite screw driver (be honest, you do have a favourite don't you), and you'd best get yourself a handy dandy pot to stop you losing all the screws, but we'd rather have it this way than any other.  Had Cooler Master opted for rives we'd have been gutted.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

With everything off and piled up you get an excellent idea of just how modular this system is.  And if you're the sort like us that just can't help think about modding a case then knowing you can get I apart easily sure gets the juices flowing

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Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

The Build

All three cases comes with the usual stand-offs, screws, cable ties and instructions you might expect, the 935 however comes with a  three outlet SATA power extension along with the blanking plates we looked at earlier in the review.  The instructions are extensive as is usually the case with Cooler Master, but yet again the diagrams are way too small.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

Depending on how you're planning to configure your build you can choose to assemble each of the cases separately and bring them together at the end or build into the assembly as a whole, or for that matter a bit of both.  We're planning to build our main PC into the main section of the case and have a smaller PC, perhaps for use as a small server or guest PC built into the 915F positioned at the base of the Stacker.  To do this we will of course need two PSUs, and have chosen to show the build with a Cooler Master V1000 modular PSU in the main section and a smaller Cooler Master B600 in the 915F.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review  

 

Being able to take both the sides and the roof off the 915s gives unparalleled levels of access, and although with the Mother board mounted flat in the rear of the base there's no rear of motherboard area as such, there are plenty of cable toe points about the place to enable you to produce a tidy interior.  We've chosen to route our 24pin cable up along the upper longitudinal cross member and the 8pin CPU power cable down and under the case utilising two of the many apertures in the base.  At 140mm deep the B600 is by no means big, but as you can see space is already getting tight behind it.  We think 150mm would be fine but you wouldn't want to go much bigger, especially without modular cables.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

With everything into the 915F, including a central rack of 3 HDDs borrowed from the 915R you can see there's actually quite a lot of room to spare.  In truth the case is quite big for an M-ITX chassis but as it forms part of the stacker line up it has to share the same depth and width dimensions.  Don't forge that you could quite easily couple this unit with a 915R above it either holding more HDDs or supporting a water cooling set up.  We think that even with a non modular PSU it's still possible to achieve a tidy loom.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review  

 

There's a good 170mm of had room above the motherboard for coolers  as demonstrated by our old faithful NZXT Havik 120.  We would recommend fitting the cooler before you connect the top section of the case though as it's damn near impossible otherwise. 

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Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

The Build continued

The build into the main section of the case goes smoothly thanks to the bags of space on offer and the ample and well distributed cable management holes.  We've taken the HDDs bays out to show you just how much room you have if you're thinking of putting a rad in here.  Simply put, with 180mm of space between the mount and the anterior edge of the grommets there's not a 240 rad on the market that won't fit with fans in push pull. 

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Up in the roof it's a different story, with only 30mm of space even a thin AIO is out of the question.  As the main section is designed to be used with at least one 915 and comes packaged with a 915R we don't really see this as an issue.

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The huge grommeted management hole next to the PSU takes all the cables you could need with room to spare, with the smaller hole above the PSU allowing for auxiliary cables such as audio and USB to be brought through closer to their destinations.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review      

 

Even with the drive bays back in there's still plenty of room for manoeuvre, as you might expect from a case that's able to take the EATX motherboard.  Below right we've shown how the routing holes line up from the top of one case to another 

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Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

The Build continued

With all the kit in the various elements of the HAF Stacker system the front panels are clipped back on with ease.  In the images below we've filled the top 915R with 9HDD bays, whist at the same time building a standalone M-ITX based case into the lower 915F  in total the whole system has rack space for 12 3.5/2.5" drives in the racks with another 2.5" drive mount posterior to the motherboard.  There are 5x5.25" bays, which if you chose can also double up as 3.5" bays  

Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review     Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

 

Of course just because the drive bays are there doesn't mean you have to use them.  If you're planning a water ccoling build with epic radiator capacity all you have to do is whip them out to make room for your rads.  Below we've relocated the cages back into the main section to leave the upper 915R free and empty.

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Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

Conclusion

We don't think we've ever had a case review run to seventeen pages before, however doing so recognises the sheer size and level of flexibility of offer with the Cooler Master HAF Stacker system.  A truly modular range of cases that can be assembled in many and varied combinations to suit the needs of the builder. 

At the heart of the HAF Stacker system lies the HAF Stacker 935, in simple terms a large EATX capable case with clear HAF lineage.  This base ATX sized case comes boxed with a smaller 915R case which can be attached to main case either above or below by means of a simple yet sturdy rail mount system.  Cooler Master claim the rail system mimics the Picatinny rail system utilised on modern combat weapons, whether you buy into the macho military themed rail mount system or not, there's no denying it does the job extremely well.  Bringing the two cases together opens up a plethora of opportunities for both water cooling and storage alike, with the insides of both cases having interchangeable parts allowing, for example, for you to house 9x3.5" drives in the upper section whilst basing the actual PC and water cooling loop in the main case.  The absence of the drive cases from the front of the main case opens up this area and enables the market's thickest radiators to be mounted, albeit by means of an adapter plate.  Alternatively the upper 915R case can be harvested of all its internals freeing up the interior to accept 2x360mm or 2x280mm rads.  Theoretically there's enough room across the case for 2x60mm thick units each in push pull, but in reality we think it would be more than a bit of a squeeze, with slightly thinner rads or fewer fans being the solution.  One thing's for sure though, you're not going to be short of rad space.

That isn't though where the story ends as there's yet another member of the HAF stacker family to add into the mix.  From the outside a least the 915F which can be purchased separately for £56 looks the same as the 915R that comes as part of the 935 assembly.  Those that have taken the time to read the full review will know though that these cases differ substantially inside, the main variance being the site of the power supply, with the R or F suffix informing of its location.  The 915F, more than the 915R is aimed at enabling the assembly of a second M-ITX based PC within the HAF stacker assembly, that's not to say a PC can't be built into the 915R, but the unit that comes bundled with the 935, although having all a PSU and rear I/O cut out, does not in fact have a front I/O (the 915R when purchased separately does have a front I/O).  The 915Fs front PSU location also gives much greater CPU cooler headroom as the PSU is no longer located directly over the Motherboard as it is with the R model, so anything up to 170mm should be fine.

Build quality and assembly of the components is as we've come to expect from Cooler Master, but never taken for granted.  We do sometimes catch out top end case manufacturers letting something through that they shouldn't.  Not so with the HAF Stacker.  Paint finish is excellent as are all shut lines.  Extensive use of screws as opposed to rivets  means that the vast majority of each of the case’s interiors can be removed, but not only that, as the fittings for hard drive cages for example are universal across the range it's entirely possible to move components from one case to another.

Building a system, or systems into the HAF Stacker is a joy.  The main case having plenty of space to work in both in front of and behind the motherboard, with plentiful and well distributed rubber grommeted management holes and cable tie points helping ensure a tidy loom is within everyone's reach.  The smaller 915 models with their fully removable side and roof panels also make building a system or a water cooling loop into them pleasurable, but of course all this would be for nothing if it weren't for the pass through holes that Cooler Master have built into the system that will allow for both cabling and tubing to pass freely and tidily from one part of the system to the other.

In reviewing a case, or any other item of kit, we, as reviewers, always strive to be objective in so far as we want to give you the facts without mixing it with too much of our opinion as this would lean us too far down the road of subjectivity.  However, when it comes to aesthetics, aside from describing an item and presenting you with images so you can make your own mind up there is no other way for us to comment other than by giving our subjective opinion.  The HAF is a difficult one for us to call.  So let us try to put it this way.  On one hand there will be those who are impressed by the sheer physical presence of the fully combined Stacker system, whilst perhaps at the same time wondering how extensive the needs is for a triple case, two or three system assembly that stands nearly a metre tall.  But then they might remember that you can pick and choose the components that suite their needs, even down to just having a simple 915F housing a M-ITX build.  On the other hand though, although recognising the looks of the HAF Stacker system reflect its clear "HAF" lineage others will perhaps find themselves feeling it's maybe a little too much, a bit too aggressive, and dare we say although beginning to look a little dated now lacking a certain maturity.  Perhaps we've all been overly influenced by the clean cut lines of Coolmiesters SR-2 Stacker and feel let down that the HAF Stacker didn't share these aesthetic traits.

So what of the competition?  Well there's little out there that can match the modular versatility of the full HAF Stacker system, but there are cases that can bring to the party much of what the base 935 is able to offer.  The Nanoxia DS6 we looked at a little while back offers storage for 13 HDDs with simultaneous water-cooling support, granted not on quite the same scale as the 935 with its twin 360s but water cooling none the less.  At £154 the 935 is also a good £45 cheaper than the DS6s eye watering £200.  You might also want to consider the Xilence Intercepter Pro (we looked at the standard version back in July 2012).  I does have to be said that the 935 does look remarkably similar to the Pro, with the Pro preceding it to market by a good year and a half.  Admittedly although the Pro has a "top box" in which a separate PC can be built it does not offer the modular functionality of the 935 or stacker system as a whole, however as it's unlikely you're going to buy the HAF 935 and not stack it we think it's a viable comparison.  If it's modular functionality you're after then there's always the boys at Cubitek with their Magicube system.  Undeniably sleeker and sexier than the HAF system and with excellent build quality to boot.  Maybe, just maybe he HAF stacker system isn't quite as innovative as you might think?

Ignoring for a moment the sheer mass of the fully assembled three case HAF stacker 945 system and putting to one side the Marmite aesthetics, we do think that the HAF Stacker system has a lot to offer the builder who is looking to assemble multiple systems in the same chassis or who wants the versatility that the system offers.  With M-ITX boards becoming ever more popular we also quite like the idea of combining a 915F with a 915R to produce a smaller than ATX sized case able to take massive GPUs, with ample storage while at the same time offering up the ability to house a truly awesome water-cooling set up.

As you can no doubt tell we're in two minds about the HAF Stacker.  We think as a whole the fully assembled 945 is way over the top, but at the same time we're rather taken with the modular concept and the versatility it offers, and as this is a review of the system as opposed to the fully assembled 945 it's on those grounds that we're going to score it.

   

Thanks to Coolermaster for sending in the HAF Stacker, you can discuss your thoughts in the OC3D Forums