Cooler Master HAF Stacker System Review

Conclusion

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 

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Most Recent Comments

11-01-2014, 05:38:11

tinytomlogan
http://www.overclock3d.net/gfx/artic...165410279l.jpg

A big case needs a big review. And boy is the HAF Stacker system from Cooler Master BIG


Continue Reading

11-01-2014, 06:25:51

Mullet
Nice review Tom. Personally, I think the case looks pretty dreadful and I'm not sure who CM are pitching at with their modular approach. Most of us like to change our case every few years and if this is driven by a change in mobo form factor or some other reason.... most would want a new case. This looks like a jack of all trades attempt at being everything to everyone.... and pays for it.

11-01-2014, 06:34:30

Rastalovich
It's not going to tickle many people's fancy with it's looks ..

.. but as someone who considers looks pretty far down on the scale of case requirements - looking mostly for adaptation, options, practicality, ease of build/'monkeying around inside' - this is one heck of a range.

(even tho I'm not a case-looks person, I know when something isn't going to appeal to others)

There's some corporate uses this stack could come in useful for, and I'm keeping that in mind for suggestions. Sometimes you see something reviewed and it has features that stick in your mind when people talk to you about if and how they can have things created for them.

Good stuff. (didn't consider the pricing at all tbh)

11-01-2014, 07:38:21

tinytomlogan
Is it just me that thinks not being able to use a 240mm AIO in the top of the main section is nuts?

HDD's or WC in the bottom AIO in the roof, then add the extra bit on the roof if you want even more water space? I still think there should be a roof panel for the main section and AIO support basically.

I think by trying to make it appeal to everyone they have actually made it a bit half arsed.

11-01-2014, 08:29:33

barnsley
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinytomlogan View Post
Is it just me that thinks not being able to use a 240mm AIO in the top of the main section is nuts?
.
Its to encourage you to buy more bits . Also, its probably because they want to make it for custom loopers, not people who use AIOs. Every other HAF case supports a 240 AIO in the roof/front(in the case of the XB ) I think.

11-01-2014, 08:31:16

tinytomlogan
Quote:
Originally Posted by barnsley View Post
Its to encourage you to buy more bits . Also, its probably because they want to make it for custom loopers, not people who use AIOs. Every other HAF case supports a 240 AIO in the roof/front(in the case of the X I think.
Yeah but a roof panel should be avail so you can use the lower case. With the 240mm AIO's being so common just seems retarded to not support them straight out of the box.

11-01-2014, 08:39:37

barnsley
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinytomlogan View Post
Yeah but a roof panel should be avail so you can use the lower case. With the 240mm AIO's being so common just seems retarded to not support them straight out of the box.
If enough people do a mod for it they'll release it as a panel to order. Its the same with my case, enough people wanted a window mod/did a window mod so you can now buy a windowed top on their site.

11-01-2014, 08:42:19

tinytomlogan
Quote:
Originally Posted by barnsley View Post
If enough people do a mod for it they'll release it as a panel to order. Its the same with my case, enough people wanted a window mod/did a window mod so you can now buy a windowed top on their site.
With all the other 'options' it should have been there from the start. Something like that not to be supported out of the box is actually a big thing to miss. If I had reviewed this Id have been a bit harsher on that aspect tbh.

11-01-2014, 08:50:14

barnsley
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinytomlogan View Post
With all the other 'options' it should have been there from the start. Something like that not to be supported out of the box is actually a big thing to miss. If I had reviewed this Id have been a bit harsher on that aspect tbh.
Yeah you are right, to be honest the way that they've marketed it I don't actually think I've seen one which didn't have a custom loop. It is a big shame tbh as the window is a lovely size on the main case. Its not like they don't do a 240 AIO either.

11-01-2014, 12:12:40

Davva2004
It's a case I considered before with two 360 rads in the small section below the main case, but now I'm seriously thinking it'll make a bloody good watercooled top end mini ITX build... Maximus VI Impact with full coverage block, 290X with a Kryographics block.... Mmmmmmm.

11-01-2014, 13:11:39

TheOuterOne
I don't really like the look of any HAF case, the mesh looks really cheap to me :/

Isn't there anything inbetween the front of a 350D and the front of a HAF case?

13-01-2014, 05:01:20

Warchild
Doesn't really deserve the name HAF anyway. If this case is intended for watercooling, why do they give it the "High Air Flow" series name.

But VERY ugly. I know you mentioned it already but it just seems like a company rip from the SR-2 stacker. The difference being here that the SR-2 is much more sleek (spelling?) and better designed. Then again most mod cases generally are.

I remember having the HAF932. The moment I switched from stock cooling to water cooling I felt limited with options for the case. Now this case is aimed at water cooling so give it a new name like HWF or WCP - watercooling performance.

13-01-2014, 06:13:51

ShaunB-91
Don't even know what to say about this case.

Really not a fan of any of the HAF series, it's just an ugly thing, but I do kind of think the design is kind of cool. The idea of having more than one build in one case, although I'm sure people have made better cases themselves to allow for this, kind of a strange one for me, yay and nay, shit hot but as two individual words does it best for me.

13-01-2014, 06:44:42

barnsley
I probably should add as someone who likes the HAF series, they've really ruined it now and should put the series to rest. the max airflow,max noise thing is kinda a bit dated as it is now. Don't get me wrong, I do really like my HAF but the whole original concept behind the HAF series is dead.

13-01-2014, 16:42:51

G-Dubs
We appreciate your thoughts on the HAF element of this case. What would you be thinking if this case was sleek and minimalist? In other words, is it the looks or the concept that's not lighting your fires?

13-01-2014, 17:30:29

barnsley
Quote:
Originally Posted by G-Dubs View Post
We appreciate your thoughts on the HAF element of this case. What would you be thinking if this case was sleek and minimalist? In other words, is it the looks or the concept that's not lighting your fires?
Its too much of a half way house between trying to go for the 'signature' HAF look (basically alot of mesh and big frontal fans) and trying to go towards a more sort of sleek look. What has happened hasn't really worked well I think. To be fair to them though I don't think they could elongate the "HAF look" much xD.

13-01-2014, 21:52:03

Dicehunter
I can see some people liking it but like their Corsair 540/hifi system ripoff, This is not for me.

13-01-2014, 23:10:15

Bartacus
Quote:
Originally Posted by barnsley View Post
Its too much of a half way house between trying to go for the 'signature' HAF look (basically alot of mesh and big frontal fans) and trying to go towards a more sort of sleek look. What has happened hasn't really worked well I think. To be fair to them though I don't think they could elongate the "HAF look" much xD.
I second this. Plus I'd like to add that if CM is adding all this expansion capability, they are presumably targeting water coolers. For those of us under water, mesh is actually a negative, not a positive. A mesh case generally means more noise, as there isn't enough "case blockage" to silence the multitude of fans that we run. Personally, I'd much rather a case that's more "plugged up". Heck, I have 15 fans in my Case Labs M8 now, and I'd be rather despondent if it had more holes than it already does. That noise isn't doing my tinnitus any good.

EDIT: that being said, I'd love to see a water build in ITX format with *just* the 2 expansion pieces, and to heck with the big "middle" piece.
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