Computer Cases Hardware Reviews

Cooler Master HAF Stacker 935 Case – Review

HAF Stacker 935 Review

As typical computers are getting smaller and smaller, high-end gaming machines are only getting bigger. The proof? Take a look at Cooler Master’s latest lineup of what they are calling their first “mod-tower” computer chassis, the HAF Stacker 935 (HAF-935-KWN). This chassis lives up to it’s name. The HAF 935, which we will looking at in depth in this review, comes with two completely independent computer cases which can be mounted onto each other. The HAF 935 is a two unit system which includes the main unit and the HAF 915 R/F.

The main unit is a full tower EATX case with plenty of room for high end gaming components. The HAF 915 has several uses, all of which we will be going into in-depth later on in this review. Both cases are able to be mounted to each other with either one on the top or bottom depending on its intended use. This is by far the most unique, let alone complex case configuration we have yet had the pleasure of reviewing, so without too much of an introduction, lets take a closer look at the case’s features and specs!


 

Features and Specifications

Did somebody say features? The Stacker HAF 935 has features all right, so lets try to briefly cover them all. As, we mentioned on the previous page, the HAF 935 is two independently configurable cases which can be mounted together in order to produce a very large, very expandable computer system.

Although the HAF 935 is one complete system, lets take a look at the specs individually for simplicity’s sake.

For further info regarding this case, be sure to take a look at Cooler Master’s microsite for the HAF 935.

HAF 915

First, lets look at the HAF 915’s specs. The 915 comes in two different configurations. The HAF 915R and 915F. Both chassis are physically the same on the outside, and dimensions. The 915R has a rear mounted PSU which is ideal for better HDD support, and better GPU cooling. The 915F has a front mount PSU which is optimized for tower coolers and optimized for better CPU cooling. In this review we will be going over the 915R.

Below is a table showing a breakdown between the 915R and the 915F

HAF 915R
HAF915F
PSU LOCATION13″13″
GPU SUPPORT
ATXATX
TOWER COOLING SUPPORTNoYes
HDD CAGE SUPPORT
YesYes
TOTAL HDD IN EXPANSION
Up to 9 x 3.5Up to 9 x 3.5
LIQUID COOLING SUPPORT
Up to 2 x 360mmUp to 2 x 360mm

 

Available ColorBlack / Black
MaterialsBezel: Mesh/Polymer; Case Body: Steel SGCC-t0.7
Dimensions
(L x H x D)
228 x 248 x 578mm
Net Weight5.5 kg / 12.12 LBS
Motherboard TypeMini-ITX
5.25″ Drive Bays1
3.5″ Drive Bays3 (1 x modular cage)
SSD Bays3 (converted)
I/O PanelUSB 3.0 x 2 (No reset button) / Audio
Expansion Slots2
Cooling Support
(Varies by stacking setup)
Front: 92mm x 1 (included)
Side: 6 x 120mm or 4 x 140mm
Radiators: 360mm x 2 / 280mm x 2 (side)

The HAF 915 is a highly configurable case with a wide range of usage options. A micro ATX computer can be built directly into it allowing users to run two complete systems within a single chassis. Users may also chose to use to support a large liquid cooling setup. The 915 has mounts for two 360mm radiators with room to spare! Lastly, users can utilize the 915 to support a large hard drive array as the 915 is capable of supporting up to nine 3.5″ hard drives.

HAF 935

Just to reiterate, the HAF 935 is a combination of both the main unit (larger) and the HAF 915 (smaller). Below are the detailed specifications provided by Cooler Master:

 

Available ColorBlack / Black
MaterialsBezel: Mesh/Polymer; Case Body: Steel SGCC-t0.7
Dimensions
(L x H x D)
235 x 719 x 578mm
Net Weight15.6 kg / 34.5 LBS
Motherboard TypeEATX, ATX, microATX, Mini-ITX (915R)
5.25″ Drive Bays3 + 1 (915R)
3.5″ Drive Bays9 (3 x modular cage)
SSD Bays9 (converted), 1 (MB tray) + 3 (915R)
I/O PanelUSB 3.0 x 2, USB x 2 / Audio
Expansion Slots8 + 1 and 2 (915R)
Cooling Support
(Varies by stacking setup)
Top: 120mm x 2
Front: 120mm x 2 / 92mm x 1 (included)
Rear: 140mm (included) / 120mm x 1
Radiators: 360mm x 2 / 280mm x 2 (side) 140mm / 120mm x 1 (rear)

One of the many benefits of the Stacker HAF 935 are its extended upgrade options. When an additional HAF 915 is added to a 935 if becomes a HAF 945 which gives users even more configuration possibilities. Want more? How about stacking three HAF 915s into a triple computer system or massive hard drive array.

As you can see, the possibilities go on and on. In the next few pages we will be looking at the HAF 935 in a two-in-one computer system. A typical, high-end gaming system on the bottom, with a smaller Mini-ITX system stacked on top.


 

A Closer Look – Packaging & Exterior

Packaging

The HAF 935 arrived in a huge box packaged similar to most other cases. The 915 and main unit were both secured in custom Styrofoam molds within the box. Both cases were individually wrapped inside a cushion foam bag for added protection. Overall, CM did a great job with the packaging of this unit.

Exterior

First, lets focus on the the overall appearance of the HAF Stacker 935. It’s design is similar to recent HAF series cases such as the HAF XM. The front bezel of the case is metal mesh, with plastic construction. It’s highly optimized for airflow though the bottom fan-intake area along with ventilation though the drive bays. The The rest of the case is steel making the case VERY heavy weighing in at 34lbs. However, with the added weight of steel, comes a much more solid construction. As the HAF 935 is likely not the best LAN party case anyways, mobility and weight should not be a considerable factor for most people.

The first image below is a picture of the unit just out of the box with the 915 on top and the main unit on the bottom. The first thing we did was see how easily configurable this thing was. To test, we simply moved the 915 from the top to the bottom. Cooler Master’s Included instructions were simple enough. The top and bottom units latch onto each other in a system of rails where each unit interlocks with the other. All in all, it took probably 3 minutes to perform the procedure.

Notice something interesting about the front IO panel? That’s right, no reset button! I didn’t realize this until I had the system completely installed. So be warned. This may be the overclocker’s worst nightmare… Besides the lack of reset button, the HAF 935 sports two USB 3.0, two USB 2 ports, and audio mic and headphone jacks.

Here is an image of the front bezel removed. I was surprised that with being such a high end case that Cooler Master decided not to include any front mounted 120mm fans. They did, however, provide nice long mounting screws, but if you want hard drive cooling, you’ll need to buy your own fans.

Below we have the left side of the case. Both panels are removed in the same fashion by unscrewing each rear screw and sliding the panel out.

The rear of the 935 sports lots of options. As you can see, each case has a spot for a power supply and motherboard I/O panel. As far as expansion goes, the 915 has two ports, and the main unit has 8+1. Just above the rear 140mm fan you have your grommeted Liquid cooling ports. Though in this tower configuration, I doubt you’ll need them.

On the left side of the main unit you can see the very large tinted window. Normally I prefer the sleek look of the enclosed, non-windowed case. However, because Cooler Master made the wise decision to tint the window, it looks much better than a solid clear window. At an angle, it appears black, until you look directly through it. The window keeps the sleekness of the case intact while giving you the option to subtly show off your components. The left side of the main unit is identical to its right (though in reverse =P ).

The rail mount system used to attach the two cases together, as we mentioned before, is quite easy. Simply align the top and bottom rails and then slide to lock it in place. It can then be screwed in once the build is complete. The top mesh cover installed on the 915, and the foot-pads installed on the bottom of the main unit both slide out in a similar fashion. This allows you to slide another HAF Stacker in its place.

All of the mesh grills on the front and top of the HAF 935 contains a dust filter layer directly behind it. Because of this, be sure that you adjust your cooling so that air is sucking in from the top and front.

So there we have the exterior! Let’s head on over to the next page for a detailed look at the 935’s interior.


 

A Closer Look – Interior

For simplicity’s sake, we are going to be taking a look at the main unit and 915 separately, although together they are a single unit. Starting with the main unit, below is an image the inside of the case’s left side as it arrived in the mail. As you can see, the HAF is a nice open dark interior with all the bells and whistles: a motherboard tray with rear CPU access, cable management support, and bottom-mount PSU mount with bottom intake and dust cover just to name a few. The box strapped to the drive bays contains all the screws, and other mounting hardware included with the HAF 935.

The rear fan (and only included fan mounted to the main unit) is 140mm. When we installed a complete system into this unit, the fan ran very quietly and was capable of moving a good amount of air.

Below the rear exhaust fan, we’ve got the rear expansion ports. All are ventilated for better airflow, and are attached via thumb screw for convenience. The case comes equipped with 8 expansion slots plus an additional vertical slot for mounting miscellaneous items such as fan speed controllers, COMM ports, etc.

Moving back up to the top, there are the three 5.25″ drive bays. Each allows for tool-less installation and removal. To install a drive, simply flip the lever into the “OPEN” position, slide in the drive, then flip it back to “LOCK”.

The 3.5″ HDD bays also feature a tool-less installation and removal system. The hard drive simply locks in between the rubber mounts on each side of the removable tray. Overall, an extremely effective and efficient system. The rubber mounts keep the hard drive “floating” rather than bolted directly to the case. This system reduces noise and vibration.

As mentioned above, the PSU mounts to the bottom corner of the case with its cooling fan pointed down. The HAF features a grill and dust filter to allow the PSU access to clean, cool air from outside the case. The dust tray can be easily removed by sliding it out from the back of the case. Also on the bottom of the case are two very large grommets for running wires, or liquid cooling hoses two and from the HAF 915 should you choose to have it mounted below the main unit.

Next, lets draw your attention to the 915R’s guts. Judging from the side-view image below, the first thing that you’ll notice is that it has all the features of a typical computer case in a much more compact size. The 915R is fully capable of mounting not only a full Micro-ITX build, but it is the ONLY Micro-ITX case which can support 360MM radiators, let alone two of them! It’s long profile also allows users to install modern high end graphics cards as well.

The singly 5.25″ drive bay and the three 3.5″ HDD bay are identical to that of the main unit which were completely tool-less.

The bottom of the inside of the 915 has your mounts for the ITX-motherboard and another large grommet for liquid cooling tubes or cables.

The removal of the 915’s front plastic bezel reveals the 92mm cooling fan. This fan was also very silent during operation and moved a decent amount of air. Definitely enough to keep your hard drives running nice and cool.

Regardless of the task you put the 915R to, I can safely say that it should perform well. As you can see, even with minimal cooling, an entire ITX system should stay relatively cool. Both sides and the top are mesh allowing minimal airflow to passively keep components cool.


 

Installation and Conclusion

The configuration selected for testing the HAF 935 was a double computer configuration with a full E-ATX computer in the main unit and a Micro-ITX system built into the 915. Installing all of the necessary hardware in to both units was very simple and straightforward.

The components chosen for this build were the following:

Main Unit:

  • Motherboard: EVGA Z77 FTW
  • CPU: Intel i7 3770k
  • RAM: Corsair Vengance 16GB
  • GPU: EVGA GTX 580
  • PSU: OCZ ZX 850W
  • HDD: 4x 3.5″, 1x SSD 2.5″

HAF 915

  • Motherboard: Foxconn H61S Mini-ITX
  • CPU: Intel Celeron G1610
  • RAM: Kingston HyperX 4GB
  • PSU: Cooler Master V850
  • HDD 1x 1TB 3.5″

 

Cable management was also a breeze thanks to the many holes in the motherboard tray. There was also a good amount of distance between the back of the motherboard tray and the right side panel which allowed for additional room to stuff your many not-to-be-seen cables.

However, I do have one major gripe which caused a lot of stress. The CPU cooler I was using in the lower main unit build was a Cooler Master Seidon 240 which includes a 240mm radiator. The top of the main unit has nice radiator mounts in which the radiator screwed to perfectly. The problems came when trying to install the radiator fans. I simply could not mount the fans to the radiator inside of the case because my RAM or my motherboard’s MOSFET cooler would get in the way. The fans would not mount on the reverse side because the top removable cover was too thin. Well, I thought that since the 915 was made for mounting radiators, I’ll just mount it there. No luck. The AIO liquid cooler did not have long enough tubing. So the only solution I could come up with was the zip-tie the fans to the radiator all awkwardly. Needless to say, if you plan on running an AIO liquid CPU cooler inside the main unit case, make sure you have LOTS of motherboard clearance or it will simply not fit.

Conclusion

The Cooler Master HAF Stacker 935 was an incredibly fun case to work with. It’s vast array of unique features will for sure be the inspiration for many high end custom builds and mods for years to come. It’s solid construction, and expandability was another reason why I enjoyed working with this case so much. We are seeing a trend where users today demand more and more options, thankfully HAF 935 has them. Lots of them.

The Breakdown

  • Appearance 20/20 – Cooler Master did an outstanding job on both the outside and inside of the HAF 935. Its look is familiar to the rest of the HAF lineup which I was glad to see.
  • Construction 20/20 – Another perfect score for the HAF 935. While handling, and installing components into this case, I could not find any parts that I wished could have been stronger, or parts that felt cheap.
  • Performance 18/20 – Given the versatile configuration options of the HAF 935, obviously cooling performance will vary. The HAF 935 has a host of cooling related features, but the one thing I thing Cooler Master could have done better was to include a few more fans. I was extremely surprised to see that there were not front mounted fans on the main unit, and that the only fan was the one located in the rear.
  • Functionality 17/20 – The HAF Stacker 935 was by far the most functional case we’ve seen to date for many obvious reasons. However the one major flaw with the case was it’s inability to mount a 240 radiator from an AIO CPU cooler. an easy fix to this would have been to make the top case cover thicker, or allow the motherboard to sit a tad lower.
  • Value 20/20 – MSRP for the HAF 930 is $169.95 which is an excellent price for this size, and type of case. Especially considering you are really getting two cases in one, I’d have to say Cooler Master was spot on with the chosen MSRP.



Overall: 95/100

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