[First Build] CM HAF XB EVO

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Ariolander    0



Been a member of the CM forums for years and I think its about time I posted.


Why not do so with a bang as I chronicle my first build in my new favorite Cooler Master case?


This is actually my first build in 10 years. Granted, its not my first build EVER, as my computer enthusiast dad gave my my first computer on my 12th birthday but only as components, I (with a little help) was expected to build it myself. Since that fateful day that got me into computers all those years ago most of my other rigs were either hand-me-downs from said dad, or part of a string of upgrades I have done to my Dell XPS 630i before its CPU a (Core 2 Quad Q9550) got so old I finally now am ready upgrade.


So while not really my first build it is definitely first SOLO one and I will be posting updates on its progress on this thread. As this is a [First Build] thread I will be focusing on the build and its components, maybe after everything is in fine working order and I got more cash available to bling it out I might try my hand at case modding with maybe some water cooling, a paintjob, and window mod. I am going to mod any case it will be my LAN box so I can show it off when I drag my rig around with me. That of course is down the road and still left in my pipe-dreams.




I must say since I saw this case's first prototypes in focus group testing I knew instantly this was the one.


Though I never go to many LANs maybe with a case that was 'portable' I could actually bring my rig to gaming events that I keep getting invited to at my local college and amongst friends. My current rig is backbreaking to move and my 'gaming' laptop is an shamefully tiny and quite old Alienware M11R2 that is starting to struggle with modern games despite its discrete (mobile) graphics card.


Beyond that I LOVE the compartmentalized components, simple front to back airflow, and while there are other imitators and 'cube cases' none have the horizontal motherboard placement that makes the HAF XB so unique. Plus it has handles which is a definite positive for the LAN reasons stated above. If I could retire my M11R2 for 'schoolwork' and use one rig for home and LANs then this was the case for me.


Plus did I mention my car is a Scion xB? Cube case to drag around in my cube car. They were made for each other!


The Build Log

Links to the various update posts and photo galleries that are part of this log.


Components List


 Case: Cooler Master HAF XB EVO
 Mobo: ASUS Sabertooth X79
 CPU: Intel Core i7-3930k
 GPU: Gigabyte HD7970 OC 3GB
 RAM: 32GB Corsair DDR3 (4x 8GB 2133 Cas-10)
 SSD: 256GB Samsung 840 Pro
 SSD: 32GB Kingston SSDNow S50
 HDD: 3TB Toshiba Desktop 7200RPM
 HDD: 1TB Western Digital Caviar Black
 PSU: 850W XFX PRO Black Edition
 Cooler: Corsair H80i AIO Water Cooler Kit
   Misc Parts & Accessories
Chenbro 5.25 Bay to Slim ODD + 3.5" Bay
Panasonic UJ240 Slim Blu-ray Burner
Rosewill 3.5" Internal Card Reader + USB
CM Storm QuickFire Rapid (CHERRY MX Blue)
APC BN600G Battery Backup-UPS

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Ariolander    0

Components & Pre-Build Group Photo 

So the components that make this build are a parts that I have gotten from a variety of sources over the course of the last year or so. I do sub-contract work for a tech company and our end of project 'bonus' are often PC parts. Sometimes I trade/sell the stuff I don't need but the best stuff I keep for myself anticipating that eventually I will gather enough parts or cash in my 'slush fund' that I would be able to do a full build with minimal ($500 budget) personal investment. So if some of the hardware I am using seems strange, old, or less than ideal I probably got it as a hardware based bonus from my boss!


Components Pictured:
Cooler Master HAF XB EVO
Intel Core i7-3930k
Gigabyte HD7970 OC 3GB
ASUS Sabertooth X79 Motherboard
32GB RAM - Corsair DDR3
256GB SSD - Samsung 840 Pro
850W PSU - XFX PRO Black Edition
Corsair H80i AIO Water Cooler Kit
Chenbro 5.25 Bay to Slim ODD + 3.5" Bay
Panasonic UJ240 Slim Blu-ray Burner
Rosewill 3.5" Internal Card Reader + USB
APC BN600G Battery Back-UPS
CM Storm QuickFire Rapid (CHERRY MX Blue)

Only thing not in the picture is the Toshiba Desktop 7200 3.0TB HDD I just ordered off Newegg. I had it on my wishlist for a while and got an email notification from Newegg that a $30 off coupon was available. Needless to say I took advantage of the offer. I am probably going to be recycling my old monitor and mouse into this build.
I don't see any reason to replace my old Dell S2409W 24" Monitor just yet. As nice (and expensive) as a 27/30" IPS display would be I don't think either of those would fit on my desk. As for mouse I am thinking of a Logitech G602. As much as I like my Razer Naga its starting to get long in tooth and isn't as responsive as it used to be.
Not the best components mind you, I hate the Gigabyte GFX Card and probably wouldn't have chosen the H80i over a H110 or Nepton 280L, but I got those two components for 'free' so I can't complain too much.
I updated my first post with the current hardware on-hand and on its way. Lets go Newegg/Shoprunner free 2-day shipping!

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Nice starting point, also the 27" IPS 2560x1440 are getting pretty cheap now if you stay away from the big brand names, I saw some for $350, not cheap per say compared to "normal" monitors, but a whole lot less than the say, dell $800 versions of that. Also 4k is dropping fast, (like from $3500 to around $800, still not cheap, but a big price difference that may make it affordable if it continues the cards needed to effectively have it perform however might be a problem heh)

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Ariolander    0

Build Day 1: Component Install & Test Fitting



I did what I am going to call a going to call a 'test fitting'. I had planned to do the full build today having set all of Martin Luther King day aside for it but after fitting most of the components in I found I am missing some cables.


Specifically, all the SATA cables my motherboard came had 90 degree tips and were unusable in my HAF XB. The SATA bends go in the wrong direction and I was unable to connect the X-Dock bays and BRD Drive. Since I was ordering cables I decided to replace them all so they match and ended up ordering 8x SATA 6Gbps Cable w/Locking Latch - UV Blue from Monoprice (PID: 8787) for just under $5 for the lot. I don't plan on adding a UV lamp just yet, but if I do a window mod in the future glowing SATA cables might be cool.



The 2.5" to 3.5" Tray Requires Some Serious Cable Acrobatics


So unable to complete my build today but I was able to get everything into the case see how they fit together and asses my future needs. First and foremost I am glad I got a shorter, fully modular PSU. Cable routing was a breeze for the most part with the exception of the HDD cage which gave me some serious problems. Mainly because the 3.5" to 2.5" SSD adapter was being a pain in the :). I like that a single tray allowed you to mount 2x 2.5" SSDs but one is upside down and in such tight confines the SATA power had to do quite a bit of twisting and cable acrobatics.


Tough cabling side I do like the fact I was able to fit both my 256GB Samsung 840 Pro SSD along with a 32GB Kingston S50 SSD on the same tray. Below that I mounted my 3TB Toshiba Desktop 7200 in the middle set of rail. I actually found the 32GB in one of my junk parts bins while looking for SATA cables. I found out that my Asus Sabertooth X79 supports SSD caching and after reading the manual I went out to fetch it. Figured even if my OS is on the 256GB SSD my 'storage' drive certainly couldn't hurt from additional cache. Better than the SSD just collecting dust, as tiny capacity as it is it may yet still prove to be useful.


By Combining a Slim ODD BRD Burner & Front Panel USB / SD Reader I saved a 5.25" Bay


One of the limitations of the HAF XB EVO was the hard limit of 2x 5.25" drive bays where sometimes sacrifices might be made. I am still not sure what I want to do with the 2nd 5.25" bay but I did know that I still needed an optical drive and as a photography hobbyist (my photos give me away?) I needed easily accessible Compact Flash / SD / microSD slots. By using a Chenbro ODD Bay to Slim ODD Bay and 3.5-Inch HDD/FDD Bay Cage I was able to combine a Panasonic UJ240 Slim Blu-ray Burner with a Rosewill RCR-IC002 3.5" Internal Card Reader w/ USB Port into a single drive bay.


I had previously planned to use the second 5.25" for a fan controller but with my motherboard having 6(!) PWM ports and some pretty decent thermal aware software I figured I was best leaving it to my Asus Sabertooth X79 motherboard. Its not a cheap piece of hardware and one of its advertised features was its "Thermal Radar" so I figured it was best leaving the fan controls to the mobo/H80i smart interface until my needs proved otherwise.


Other possible applications I considered included a front-audio like the Sound Blaster Fatal1ty Champion series but that line seems to be discontinued and Tek Syndicate's recent video on Gaming Audio Myths: Avoid The BS & Save Your Audio Life has turned me off on 'gaming' sound cards and possibly redirecting money saved on a good DAC and headphone pair. I will probably leave the 2nd 5.25" bay open until I think of some other cool application for it.



The H80i is Front Mounted as Intake and 32GB RAM Slotted Into the Motherboard


With the bottom half of my case in order I was finally able to mount the motherboard onto its tray and get the first look at the top half of my HAF XB. I loaded the RAM into their proper DIMMs and prepped the motherboard removing the stickers, mounted the AUX fans that would cool the heatpipes running through the mobo, and read the manual for the fancy new features I didn't quite understand. It was here I learned about the SSD Caching, found the SSD in my junk bin, removed the tray, and did the above cable acrobatics to fit the 2nd SSD in.


Motherboard tray having been added and removed several times (once more to plug more modular cables into my PSU) I finally got around to mounting the H80i. The radiator is surprisingly wide and has a lot of heft. With fans in push-pull (push fans on outside) I wonder how close it will get to my graphics card. By this point I knew I was missing SATA cables so I didn't want to ount the 2nd set of fans when I knew I had to pull it all out to replace the cabling below with the new SATA cables I had already ordered.


HAF XB Musings


I am wondering how I want to manage my cooling. I love the way the Cooler Master JetFlo 120mm look and the fact they are responsive to PWM unlike the stock fans. Downside is they have been known to fry the H80i's fan controller but that is easily addressed by a powered PWM fan splitter. The real question is if I used UV reactive fans on the inside as 'pull' for my radiator (I like the idea of a UV reactive inside over LEDs) and mix/matched different fan models would it adversely affect cooling performance?


Lastly I want to put at least 1x 80mm fan on the bottom half of the case if only to keep things fresh down there but I should I put it as an intake or outtake fan? I know you want to have positive air pressure in the case to prevent dust from setting and it should be easy enough to rig up/by a fan filter if I do decide to use it as intake.


Down the road when/if I decide to do a case mod I definitely want to do a paint job, maybe silver or white in color. How do other case painter manage the grilles and front bezels? Uniform color, maybe a highlight shade, leave it black maybe?


Concerning monitors I am definitely waiting for 'the one' with the right combination of price-performance. If I wait long enough it may be a 4K display, who knows but for now I am in no rush to upgrade... unless it is a tablet display monitor with pressure sensitive pen input. That might make me more productive in my graphic design work.

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Ariolander    0

Really cool I'm interested in this case. I do wonder if a 690 or titan could survive in this case.  




The case has great front->back airflow and is basically a full sized case chopped in half, stacked, then turned 90 degrees.


The only issues you should run into are if you want to push-pull water cool AND use an extra long graphics card.


Will need to measure twice and double check if you can fit that rad/extra pair of fans with your card length.

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pdwe    0

I was thinking air cooled with a CM 212 evo. Probably stick a GTX 690 in it. Going to Hotswap my Boot Drive. Probably add 1 storage drive. This is why I'm glad your posting your rig here to see progress thanks alot.

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Ariolander    0

Build Day 2: Cable Routing, Water Cooling & Forgetting Basics


200x400px-LL-330c789b_2j5kwi.jpeg kakq.jpg c1tg.jpg
Monoprice Order of SATA, HDMI, Micro USB, and Audio Cables Arrived Quickly via Overnight Express
With a new package from Monoprice in hand thanks to speedy delivery by Norco Overngiht Express courier I was ready to do my first build. The first challenge of which was tacking wiring. While the modular power supply made wiring power to the top and bottom halves of the HAF XB easy figuring out how I was going to mount and wire 3x HDDs, 2x SDD, 1x ODD, and a Multi-function reader was a challenge in and of itself, not the least of which because the HDD cage only had room for 2x 3.5 drives and the SSD/HDD that I was planning to X79 cache together needed to be in specific ports ruling out either of them as Xdock candidates. In the end I settled on the following layout:
HDD Cage:
3.5" to 2x 2.5" Mounting Bracket
- 256GB Samsung 840 Pro (Main Disk)
- 32GB Kingston SSDNow S50 (Cache Disk)
1TB WD Caviar Black (Cache Disk)
Xdock Bays:
3TB Toshiba Desktop 7200RPM (Storage Disk)
500GB WD Caviar Blue (Temporary Disk)
The following drive layout was ideal as it allowed my OS disk, as well as HDD+SSD application/game cached pair a permanent place within the case. A convenient 3.5" to 2x 2.5" Mounting Bracket allowed me to mount 5 disks into 4 disks worth of bays. The 500GB WD Blue would be a temporary addition to my build as it is actually the primary disk from my old rig. Taking advantage of the ease of access to the Xdock HDDs I would plug it in after initial setup and directly copy my old AppData and Documents folders to my new OS and leave it in for a bit during the 'settling' period to make sure I didn't miss backing up anything. Another plus is with my large capacity Storage/Archive disk in the Xdock, if I ever needed to pass files around the easy access Xdock bay makes it a breeze to pull out and plug in. I think I am gonna dedicate a future 5.25 bay to a hot swap bay in all my future builds thanks to this.
Not liking the way things looked, I rewired the inside several times
With the disk drive situation sorted out I finally wired everything up and got my first look at what a completed top and bottom XB half was like. Not liking the way things looked, I rewired the inside several times with one of my earliest attempts pictured above. The large mass of SATA cables along the left edge of the case was not only ugly, but blocked the side panel from mounting on properly. I had to remove the graphics card, pull everything out, and was a bit more conscious about where I put my cables in my later attempts. Instead of going around the side of the case I would route directly under the mother board tray and 'pop out' right next to the mobo SATA ports... conveniently located next to a pair of tie down points above the 5.25" drive bay. One thing I love about the HAF XB is how mindful Cooler Master was of cable routing providing a lot of placed to tie things down for smart cable routing.
Cable situation sorted I was finally able to mount the entire push-pull configuration onto the H80i with the push fans being mounted outside the HAF XB and the pull fans on the other side of the extra large 38mm radiator. It is with the 2nd set of fans that I began to appreciate that the rad was a 120mm over a 240mm. Had it been any longer than it already was I wouldn't have had enough space to mount my HD7970. A 30mm rad + 25mm fan would be a tight fit, if it fit at all with the 285mm length of the gfx card, but a 38mm rad is simply out of the question, at least not in a push-pull configuration. I really wonder, would a 285mm gfx card + 30mm rad + 25mm fan really work in a HAF XB? That is certainly something to ask on the HAF XB club later on.



With the H80i dominating one half of the case, the HD7970 looks pretty lonely...


Radiator fully mounted I finally mounted up the graphics card and got my first look at the completed top half of the case. With the H80i dominating one half of the case, the lone HD7970 looks pretty lonely without any other PCI cards near it. I might have to get a 2nd one and Crossfire it just so that half of the case stopped looking so damn sad. My brother has the 7970s matching twin. I am thinking I can pick him up a R9 280X and trade it to him for my card's brother. A 2nd 7970 would definately make things less lonely on that half of the case.
All the hardware mounted in, ready to screw the H80i block onto my 3930K I realized I missed something, something basic and computing 101 but something that totally slipped my mind. I forgot to buy thermal compound! Normally a H80i would come with thermal past already pre-applied to the CPU block but as I had gotten mine for 'free' second hand from a friend, one of the first things I did was clean the CPU block to its bare copper and I had forgotten to get new thermal paste.
Thus ended build day 2 of my HAF XB rig. Stonewalled by my own shortsightedness and a $3 tube of thermal paste that I forgot to buy.
Back to basics man, back to basics. You can definitely tell its been +10 years since I built a computer last. I had forgotten about the thermal compound.

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Great build, I have one 80mm fan below.  The bottom area gets hot even with the 200mm fan (cooler master) pushing down from the top.  I think that the PSU and drives would benefit from it.

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