Date: August 12, 2011
Author(s): Ryan Perry
Cooler Master’s HAF series of cases have long been favored by many enthusiasts thanks to their sturdy construction and feature-rich likeness. This was especially true with the HAF 932 released three years ago. For that reason it has been updated to an ‘Advanced’ edition, bringing a refreshed look and some worthwhile new features.
‘Cooler Master’ and ‘HAF’ have become well-known names in enthusiast circles, and for good reason. The company has been a major player in the case, CPU cooler and power supply market for as long as I can remember, with its HAF series of cases often proving to be some of the best enthusiast / gamer options out there.
The HAF name stands for ‘High Air Flow’, so the goal of the series is clear. But, HAF cases are also designed to look good, catering to gamers, and provide a huge amount of features and no limitation on building the best PC possible.
At the bottom of the chain is the mid-tower HAF 912, at around $60, and at the top is the ultra-popular HAF X – which happens to be the model we use for our graphics card testing machine. Just under the HAF X is this one, the HAF 932 Advanced. It builds upon the original, released almost three full years ago, improving both functionality and looks.
This full-tower behemoth is constructed from steel with plastic accents and can handle micro-ATX, ATX and extended-ATX motherboards. The front panel shows off a good range of connectivity at the top with two sets of USB 2.0 ports on either side of an IEEE 1394.
To the right is an eSATA port, 3.5mm microphone and headphone connections and the blue power and hard drive activity LEDs on the far right. Below the front I/O area are six 5.25″ mesh-covered drive bays. The second bay from the bottom is taken up by two USB 3.0 ports, and is the first improvement. These ports are connected directly to a header on the motherboard instead of the rear I/O area as found on many other cases.
The rest of the front panel is taken up by the vents for a huge 230mm red LED fan. Since HAF stands for ‘High Air Flow’ as mentioned above, this choice of fan seems fitting. According to the specifications on Cooler Master’s website, it spins at only 700 revolutions per minute (RPM) while making a whisper quiet 19 A-weighted decibels (dBA), but there is no mention of how much cubic feet of air per minute (CFM) it can push.
A good portion of the left panel is taken up by a large mesh area where a second 230mm fan is found. This fan is not lit by LEDs but has the same specifications as the one at the front and can be swapped out in favour of up to four 120mm fans. To the right of this area are vents to allow some extra air into the system near the hard drives. Up at the top towards the rear half of the panel is long, rectangular window that allows for a sneak peek of the interior and finally, towards the front is the typical HAF lettering that is visible thanks to a difference in paint texture.
The back of the 932 Advanced has a power supply opening at the top and bottom. From the factory, the top opening is capped by a cover with two rubber grommet-lined holes to run hoses for water cooling. Two power supplies can be installed should the system be especially power hungry, or one can be installed in either area depending on the layout the user would like.
Below the top power supply area, from left to right, are the motherboard I/O opening and a 140mm non-LED fan. This one runs at 1,200RPM while still being nearly silent at 17 dBA and can be swapped out for a 120mm fan if needed. The rest of the rear panel is taken up by the seven vented PCI slot covers and an extra vented area to the right. In between the covers and the vented area are plastic tabs that make up part of the retention system for expansion cards that will be looked at later on.
There isn’t much to look at on the right side with the exception of vents at the bottom front similar to those on the right side. The rest of the panel has a raised area that breaks up an otherwise plain surface. This should help provide a little extra room to tuck some cables behind the motherboard tray while adding strength and reduce flexing. Both side panels are held on with black thumb screws and simply swing out to be removed.
Moving up top to the front of the case finds a large rectangular power button to the left and a round reset button to the right. Behind it is a rubber mat that can hold various bits and pieces of connected devices, but it also has a surprise. Before that is looked into, the rest of the top panel is taken up by the mesh area where air can be exhausted by a final 230mm fan. Another non-LED fan, this one has the same specifications as the other two and can be replaced with up to three 120mm fans or a radiator measuring up to 360mm in length.
So let’s go back to the rubber mat that lines the tray behind the power and reset buttons. A quick tug upward on the tab at the front reveals a fill port for an optional reservoir that can be installed in the top 5.25″ bays. This allows users to top up the coolant in a water cooling setup without opening the case.
Flipping this giant over is an awkward experience simply due to its size, but once it has been, there are four stereo-style case feet with rubber bases to lift the HAF off the ground for extra ventilation, absorb vibration and stop slipping. Most of the underside of the case is taken up by the mounting area for the power supply or, if a top mounted power supply is being used, two optional 120mm or 140mm fans. If the power supply will be mounted at the bottom, only one fan can be installed depending on the size of the power supply itself.
With the exception of the USB 3.0 connections on the front panel, the Advanced version of the HAF 932 looks very much like the original, so it’s time to rip off the panels and see what has been updated on the inside.
Removing the side panels is easy thanks to the thumbscrews, and the 5.25″ bay covers are removed by pushing the tabs in on either side that are accessible from outside of the case while the vent for the front fan pulls away easily with a gentle tug. Neither the bay covers or the fan vent have additional filters on the inside to help keep dust out.
Before moving on, I want to mention the inside of the left panel. The 230mm fan installed in this location features a grill to ensure that nothing makes contact with the blades.
As expected, the interior of the case shows off an all black paint job instead of grey as found in the original. This not only looks good but helps to keep the interior looking as clean as possible once cables are routed.
At the bottom front are five side-mounted hard drive bays that can each accept 3.5″ and 2.5″ drives. The drives are secured to the trays and they then slide into the hard drive cage.
Behind the hard drive cage is a plastic bracket where an optional 120mm fan can be mounted to pull air from the hard drive cage and push it directly to the GPU. This bracket is held on with thumbscrews and can be moved up or down depending on where the GPU sits.
Above are the five tool-less 5.25″ drive bays along with the typical Cooler Master button locking mechanism that is as simple as any that I have ever seen. There are six bays in total but as mentioned before, the second one from the bottom holds the front panel USB 3.0 connections. The bottom bay has a 5.25″ to 3.5″ converter installed for those who still need a floppy drive, small fan controller, card reader or other device.
Down on the bottom is the adjustable, vented brace where the power supply will rest if one is installed here. The forward end of the brace can be slid out and locked into position with a thumbscrew to support today’s monster high wattage power supplies, but will extend over the area where the optional 120 or 140mm fan can be installed. This brace can be completely removed if two 120 or 140mm fans are needed with the power supply mounted at the top.
The motherboard tray features enough cable management options for just about all users with two large openings down the right side for power and data leads, one in front of each power supply area and two smaller openings at the top for the 12V and fan power leads if a power supply is not installed. There is also a large cutout in the motherboard tray to help with installation and removal of CPU coolers with back plates which has been trimmed with plastic to keep fingers happy.
As promised, the tool-less retention mechanism for the expansion cards is laid out in all of its glory on the rear interior. There is also another view of the slot covers and a better look at the 140mm fan.
Finally, there is the top 230mm fan. The mounting points for two 120mm fans can be clearly seen but the third is kind of strange. It mounts towards the front but will be partially covered by the tray/fill port area on the top of the case, in turn using up part of the top 5.25″ drive bay.
On the backside of the motherboard tray there is about 3/4 of an inch, or less than 2 centimeters of room. The loops in the motherboard tray where zip ties can be used to hold power and data leads in place will no doubt be a welcomed inclusion even with the extra space afforded by the raised area on the right panel.
For bits and pieces, Cooler Master has thrown in the usual brass motherboard standoffs, screws to secure the motherboard, power supply, 3.5″ and 2.5″ hard drives, any devices that may be installed in the 5.25″ bays and yet more screws to secure the casters that can replace the case feet if needed.
There is also the drive bay cover for those using the 5.25″ to 3.5″ converter, a speaker, some zip ties and a manual, but what is nice to see are some bells and whistles thrown in as well. To start with, there are some black adhesive pads that can be applied to the sides of any device installed into the 5.25″ bays to cover up the typical grey casing and help preserve the overall black external theme. There is also an 8-pin 12V extension cable but I’ll save my favorite little part for the build.
Looks and features are all well and good but they can only carry a product so far. The build and temperature testing is up next to see just what might make the HAF 932 so ‘advanced’.
Installation was as easy as a high school phys-ed exam. No problems were found due to the design of the case but I’ll still touch on some of the finer points as well as a few features that may cause problems depending on the system being built.
The power supply slid into place with the extendable brace in the original location seeing how our test PSU is quite compact. All of the necessary cables were run through the large opening just in front of it with tons of room to spare, but larger PSUs will cover part of this opening.
As promised, my favorite piece included with the bag of hardware is the little tiny socket driver to help with tightening down motherboard standoffs. It seems silly, but far too often I have run into instances where the holes were either not drilled large enough or the paint caused them to be to small. Ironically, all of the standoffs in the HAF could be completely tightened down by hand. Better to have it and not need it than the other way around.
Once the standoffs were in place, the motherboard lined up and installed easily, but our little micro-ATX board looks absolutely puny once inside.
Oh no… I feel faint. I think I need to sit down, because a company finally got this style of tool-less expansion card retention right! After reviewing two cases that used a similar method but would not lock cards in place, the HAF does it just right and makes everything feel very secure while doing so. Pressing in on the rounded section disengages the lock and it swings away. Once an expansion card is in place the lock is moved and pressed down with a click.
Hard drive installation finds a unique method, at least seeing how this is my first chance to tinker with a Cooler Master case. The hard drive tray comes in two pieces; an outer and inner tray. The inner tray simply pops out and the 3.5″ drives go in to be held in place with metal pegs surrounded by rubber washers that will help absorb vibration.
2.5″ drives are installed on the inner tray once it has been removed. Four screws through the holes in the top keep it in place and then the inner tray pops into the outer tray just like a 3.5″ drive. Once the drives are in the tray, they simply slide into the bay with the latch open, and when the latch closes it locks the drives in place securely by catching on part of the metal hard drive cage.
We sure have come a long way from the days of securing everything with screws. 5.25″ devices install with the push of a button. One push disengages the metal pegs in the bay so the drive can be installed and another push engages them to keep the device locked in place.
Visible in the shot below is the grey exterior of the optical drive and this is where the black adhesive pads come in handy. They can be positioned in the exact place on the side of the drive that will show through the holes left when the 5.25″ bay covers are removed, so the overall black theme remains constant. With the drive locked into place, simply trace around the opening with a pencil and that will give the exact place where the pads should be applied.
The bracket where an additional fan can be installed to help supply air to the GPU is removed by thumbscrews and the fan secured. It then goes back in the same way but can be moved up or down based on the location of the GPU since motherboards use different spacing. We always try each feature of a case if possible depending on the components of our test system to ensure it works as intended, but will not use a fan in this location during official temperature testing.
Swapping out the feet in favour of the casters was easy as well. A screw through each foot is all that needs to be removed. Each caster is then attached using the included screws and the case is able to slide across the floor. These casters have a lock on each one so users do not have to worry about the case sliding about.
Without spending a whole lot of time on cable management, here’s what users can expect to see once the system has been built.
The back of the motherboard tray is a bit of a mess but the side panel goes on easily with only slight bending thanks to the raised area. If it weren’t for that, it would have been nearly impossible to route cables, but I do suspect that those using a higher-end system with multiple GPUs may run into a problem.
All of our testing is performed in a near steady 20°C ambient environment with readings taken before and after with a standard room thermometer. AIDA64 Extreme Engineer is used for monitoring and recording all system temperatures throughout the testing process.
Windows is allowed to sit idle for 10 minutes after startup to ensure all services are loaded before recording the idle CPU and GPU temperatures. CPU load temperatures are generated by performing a 20 minute run of OCCT LINPACK using 90% of the available memory, while GPU load temperatures are generated by OCCT’s built in test, also for 20 minutes.
Stock CPU settings were obtained by setting the AI Tweaker option with the BIOS to Auto and the maximum stable overclock frequency of 4.0GHz was obtained after extensive testing to ensure stability. The final clocks for the GPU are 760MHz on the core and 1000MHz QDR (4000MHz relative) for the memory with the voltage increased to 1.087V using MSI’s Afterburner overclocking utility. As with the CPU overclock, testing was done prior to ensure full stability.
The components used for testing are:
Techgage Test System
Intel Core i5-661 – Dual-Core (3.33GHz)
ASUS P7H55D-M EVO mATX – H55-based
Corsair Dominator 2x2GB DDR3-1600 7-8-7-20-2T
EVGA GeForce GTX 470
Western Digital 2TB Green
Antec TP-750 Blue
Cooler Master HAF 932 Advanced
Corsair Obsidian 650D
Corsair SE White 600T
Silverstone Raven RV03
Thermaltake Level 10 GT
Corsair H60 (Exhaust Configuration)
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
This one came down to the wire after the HAF either tied or bested all of the cases in our database during load testing except for the Level 10 GT that costs $100 more. CPU and GPU load temperatures when overclocked were only a single degree higher, although with such a huge fan blowing directly on the GPU, I expected the HAF to at least match the leader.
All of our cases are tested using only the included fans in the stock configuration, so readers will know where each one stands out of the box. But just for fun, a Coolink SWiF2 120mm fan was installed in the bracket to supply the GPU with extra air. It managed to reduce the fan from 89% of maximum speed to 84%, but because the fan is left on auto during testing, temperature still reached 94 degrees seeing how a rise in temperature is what causes the fan to spin up. This may not necessarily mean lower temperatures in scenarios such as this, but the potential is there for less overall system noise.
Speaking of which, the HAF is slightly louder than I thought it would be given the size and specifications of the fans. While running the temperature tests, it sat directly behind me and could be heard over my personal system, but it’s not what I could call disruptive.
So Cooler Master has given us a refreshed version of the original HAF 932. Should those who own the original 932 be running to the stores? I really don’t think so. Should those who have been eying the original for some time be running to the stores? Read on.
When taking everything on the previous pages into account, the only thing I can think of that would keep someone from buying the HAF 932 Advanced would be the looks. Personally, I think the HAF series looks great. Even the low-end 912 looks very rugged and ready for war, but to each their own.
Where looks are subjective, let’s go over the facts. The case is built very well with no flexing in the frame and only what is expected in the right panel given the size of it, all of the parts installed cleanly and are held securely in place regardless of the method, and cooling is top notch.
There are a couple of things that I would like to see changed though. For instance, in order for a top mounted power supply to be used, the 230mm fan in this area needs to be removed. Sacrificing cooling performance because a top mounted power supply is either preferred or needed, or a dual power supply system is to be run, could make prospective buyers look elsewhere. Tacking on the extra height, at least in this area, isn’t too much to ask.
Also, there are no air filters behind the front panel or on the underside of the case. There are cases that sell for half the price that include these, so I was surprised to find them missing.
As mentioned before, the front panel USB 3.0 ports are connected directly to the header on a motherboard, so those with older or lower-end systems will not be able to make use of them without an internal expansion card that runs off of an open PCIe slot – but this is an FYI, not a complaint.
One of the biggest selling points of the HAF 932 Advanced is the price when compared to other full-tower cases. $150 seems to be about what most online retailers have it selling for, with very few other models that can match its functionality for less money.
Again, there is no reason for owners of the original HAF 932 to beat a path to their favorite store seeing how very little has changed aside from adding USB 3.0 support and a black interior. For those who have been eying the 932, this is the time to jump head first into one.
If you need a big case with big features and big cooling, this is the one for you.
Cooler Master HAF 932 Advanced
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