Cooler Master HAF Stacker Mod-Tower Case Review

Author: Aaron Chen
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Monday, October 28th, 2013
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/cooler_master_haf_stacker/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

If we are looking for veteran manufacturers in the computer hardware field, Cooler Master should certainly count as one of them. Best known for its quality cases and coolers (as if their name didn't give that part away), the Taiwanese company has grown to focus not only on OEMs but enthusiasts and gamers. About a decade ago, Cooler Master introduced the Stacker series of cases. These were massive enthusiast-class cases, employing a weighty metal construction suitable for stacking and storage expandability almost unheard of in the consumer market at the time. Several years later, the gamer-centric HAF series was introduced and touted High Air Flow for heat-blasting graphics cards and overclocked processors. Since the debut of the HAF 932 full tower, the lineup has widely expanded to encompass mid-towers and even cube-shaped cases like the HAF XB. Unlike the Stacker series, HAF cases substitute all-aluminum designs for mesh, large fans, and more rugged looks. 

Today, we will be taking a look at the HAF Stacker, a merging of the expandability and stackable stature of the original Stacker with the industrial look and airflow potential of the HAF series. What's unique here is the innovative modularity in the HAF Stacker design. You see, the HAF Stacker is more of a series of cases than one specific enclosure. Currently, there are three version of the HAF Stacker: the mid-tower HAF Stacker 925, m-ITX HAF Stacker 915R, and m-ITX HAF Stacker 915F. The default HAF Stacker configuration ships with the first two cases above, which together are dubbed the full-tower HAF Stacker 935. Stacking an additional HAF Stacker 915 then forms the HAF Stacker 945 ultra-tower. Officially, Cooler Master touts the entire series as a "mod tower", allowing for virtually limitless storage and expandability options, assuming that money isn't an issue and the resulting tower doesn't fall over!

For all intents and purposes, this will be a large review (we are basically reviewing 3 cases) with a greater emphasis on the full-tower capabilities of the HAF Stacker 945 configuration. To see how the HAF Stacker 915 m-ITX cases fare on their own, please check out our standalone HAF Stacker 915 review. Without further ado, let's take a closer look at the HAF Stacker and see how it stacks up to other cases on the market (no pun intended).

Specifications:

HAF Stacker 935:

Model
HAF-935-KWN1
Color
Black
Materials
Bezel: Mesh/Polymer;
Case Body: Steel
SGCC-t0.7
Dimensions
235 x 719 x 578 mm /
9.25 x 28.8 x 22.75 inch
Net Weight
15.6 kg / 34.5 lbs
M/B Type
E-ATX, ATX, micro-ATX, Mini-ITX
5.25" Drive Bays
3 and 1 (915R)
3.5" Drive Bays
9 (3 x modular cage)
SSD Bays
9 (converted) + 1 (Behind M/B Tray)
I/O Panel
USB 3.0 x 2, USB 2.0 x 2, Audio
Expansion Slots
8 + 1 and 2 (915R)
Cooling Support (varies by stacking setup)
Top: 120mm x 3 / 140mm x 2
Front: 120mm x 2 and 92mm x 1 (915R, included)
Rear: 140mm (included) / 120mm x 1
Side: 120mm x 6 / 140mm x 4 (915R)
Radiators: 360mm x 2 / 280mm x 2 (915R, Side), 140mm / 120mm x 1 (915R, Rear)
Power Supply Type
Standard ATX PSU x 2, Rear / Bottom Mounted
Maximum Compatibility
VGA card length: 354mm / 13.9 inch
CPU cooler height: 180mm / 7 inch
Warranty
2 Years
UPC Code
884102025228

HAF Stacker 915R:

Model
HAF-915R-KKN1
Color
Black
Materials
Bezel: Mesh/Polymer;
Case Body: Steel
SGCC-t0.7
Dimensions
228 x 248 x 578 mm /
8.97 x 9.76 x 22.75 inch
Net Weight
5.5 kg / 12.12 lbs
M/B Type
Mini-ITX
5.25" Drive Bays
1
3.5" Drive Bays
3 (1 x modular cage)
SSD Bays
3 (converted)
Expansion Slots
2
Cooling Support (varies by stacking setup)
Front: 92mm x 1 (included)
Side: 120mm x 6, 140mm x 4
Radiators: 360mm x 2 / 280mm x 2 (Side)
Power Supply Type
Standard ATX PSU, Rear / Top Mounted
Maximum Compatibility
VGA card length: 360mm / 14.17 inch
CPU cooler height: 80mm / 3.15 inch
Warranty
2 Years
UPC Code
884102025259

HAF Stacker 915F:

Model
HAF-915F-KKN1
Color
Black
Materials
Bezel: Mesh/Polymer;
Case Body: Steel
SGCC-t0.7
Dimensions
228 x 248 x 578 mm /
8.97 x 9.76 x 22.75 inch
Net Weight
5.1 kg / 10.8 lbs
M/B Type
Mini-ITX
5.25" Drive Bays
1
3.5" Drive Bays
3
SSD Bays
1 (MB tray) + 1 (Side plate) + 1 (Below 5.25" bay)
I/O Panel
USB 3.0 x 2, Audio
Expansion Slots
2
Cooling Support (varies by stacking setup)
Rear: 120mm x 1 (included)
Side: 120mm x 6, 140mm x 4
Radiators: 360mm x 2 / 280mm x 2 (Side) / 120mm (Rear)
Power Supply Type
Standard ATX PSU, Front / Bottom Mounted
Maximum Compatibility
VGA card length: 360mm / 14.17 inch
CPU cooler height: 170mm / 6.7 inch
Warranty
2 Years
UPC Code
884102025266

Information courtesy of Cooler Master @ http://coolermaster-usa.com/microsite/hafstacker/

The HAF Stacker we have on review today is a pre-release version, so the box and accessories you see here may vary from what is stocked at the store. At the current time (until more versions are released), the HAF Stacker ships in one of three SKUs: the HAF Stacker 935 (925 + 915R), the standalone HAF Stacker 915R, or the standalone HAF Stacker 915F. Our review sample came in two boxes: one for the HAF Stacker 935 and another for the HAF Stacker 915F.

Both cases arrive in standard cardboard boxes with the respective case name and branding on all sides of each. There isn't any specification information to be found, though I wouldn't be surprised to see this changed for the retail packaging. The HAF Stacker 935 box is perhaps one of the largest I have seen, due to the fact that it houses both the 925 and 915R inside.

What we find upon opening the massive HAF Stacker 935 box is essentially a tower of foam. Three large blocks of open cell foam sandwich the two cases, which are also wrapped in a nice foam bag to protect against any scratches. Despite not offering much in the way of documentation, a sheet of paper detailing "How to Stack" is included in the package. The HAF Stacker 915F is packaged similarly to the HAF 935, hard foam and all. Because the 915F comes as a standalone product, it comes with its own "How to Stack" foldout.

With everything unboxed, let's take a closer look at each of the HAF Stacker cases in detail before putting them all together.

The HAF Stacker 925 serves as the main body of the HAF Stacker series, and is basically a mid-tower case despite supporting motherboards up to E-ATX in form factor. Like many of Cooler Master's other HAF cases, the 925 is made from a sturdy steel frame, complemented with a plastic front panel comprised of a mostly unrestrictive mesh design. Three 5.25" bays are found on the front, with a row of I/O ports near the top: two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, microphone and headphone jacks, and a small power button. The power button exhibits a nice click, though the lack of a reset button is a bit of a disappointment. Technically, you could wire up the power button of another Stacker case to serve as a reset switch, but as we will see, the included HAF Stacker 915R has no front I/O to fulfill that purpose.

The front panel is removable via four clips on the inside of case, revealing space for two 120mm fans. Each of the 5.25" covers can also be removed via two clips of their own. By removing the two internal hard drive cages, a 240mm radiator can be installed on the front. The back of the panel itself features a large fan filter, though it is not removable so cleaning it out requires running the entire front panel under some water. It's somewhat of a hassle, especially since removing the panel requires taking off both side panels just to access the four clips attaching it to the rest of the case.

The back of the case is pretty standard fare; there are 8 vented horizontal expansion slots plus a vertical one for fan knobs or extra USB ports. A rear 140mm fan (model A14025-12CB-3BN-F1, 1200RPM) is preinstalled, with mounting holes allowing for a 120mm replacement. Back here, we also find thumb screws that secure the two side panels. These screws do not actually come off once loosened – one less thing to lose when working with the case! Like most other gamer cases, the power supply sits near the bottom. As such, a removable dust filter is found on the bottom of the case.

We don't find much else at the bottom of the case other than two grommeted holes through which to run cables when the case is stacked atop another. Two angular lengths of plastic elevate the case about an inch, supplemented by four long strips of rubber that act as feet. Despite the feet being fairly thin and the stands themselves made of plastic, they provide decent grip while complementing the appearance of the case. To stack the case, both legs must be removed via two screws on each.

Because the HAF Stacker 925 comes configured with the HAF Stacker 915R out of the box, much of the top is hollow to allow for easy access to a top-stacked 915. If the 925 is intended as the top-most case, the top panel from the 915 can be installed here. Up to two 140mm or three 120mm fans are supported, though the awkward hole spacing for the latter means the two fans closer to the rear sits closer together than the third.

The right side panel is left plain, while the left panel features a massive tinted window. You can see just about everything inside the case including hard drive and optical drive bays. The window itself is slightly elevated outwards, which means more clearance for large CPU coolers but a greater chance of scratches on the exterior surface.

Despite taking up most of the side panel, the acrylic window exhibits a very solid construction because it is actually screwed into the metal panel. There are no rattling "thunder" sounds that can otherwise be heard from cheaper side panels.

Inside the case, we find a large brown box housing a variety of screws and covers for unused I/O shield and PSU openings. This is presumably meant for the 915R when it is stacked together with the 925. As a nice touch, Cooler Master has also included some zip ties and a flat SATA power extension cable that splits one connector into three.

The inside of the HAF Stacker 925 is quite roomy despite sporting the dimensions of a mid-tower. It supports motherboards from m-ITX to E-ATX, with numerous grommeted cable management holes surrounding the motherboard tray. I especially like the one on the bottom left, near where front audio or USB headers usually sit on a motherboard. Neither CPU back-plate nor graphics card length should pose problems here, as evident in the massive CPU cut-out and approximately 14 inches of clearance from the PCI brackets to the hard drive cages.

The front panel connectors are all nicely sleeved in black, offering a USB 2.0 header, USB 3.0 header, front panel audio (AC '97 and HD Audio), and power. There is no USB 3.0-to-2.0 converter unfortunately, so if you still own a motherboard without a USB 3.0 header, the corresponding ports become useless.

Near the back, we spot another view of the single preinstalled 3-pin 140mm fan. And yes, this is the only fan included with the HAF Stacker 925 – according to Cooler Master, users would most likely replace the stock fans anyway even if more were included. It's definitely not the first time we've seen this line of thinking in a Cooler Master case anyway (see the Storm Scout 2). There are also 8+1 expansion slots, all vented for some extra airflow.

Hard drives are installed in the two drive cages toward the front of the case. Each cage supports up to three drives, using tool-less sleds that slide width-wise for inserting 3.5" drives. The smaller 2.5" drives can also be installed using four screws on the bottom of each sled. For those looking to install an ultra long graphics card (up to 20 inches in length) or front radiator, each cage can be individually removed with two screws on the left and four on the right.

Up to three 5.25" devices are supported on the HAF Stacker 925. Using familiar latches found on many other Cooler Master cases, optical drives are secured by simply flipping the switch to Unlock, inserting the device and flipping it back to Lock.

From the back, we spot another view of the giant CPU cut-out hole, as well as cable management grommets scattered around the motherboard tray. Installing an E-ATX motherboard will cover up these grommets, so Cooler Master has also left the edge of the motherboard tray open for cable management purposes. It goes to show their attention to detail, especially because it will make optical drive cables easier to manage as well.

There is also an additional SSD mount here – especially useful when both hard drive cages are removed. The actual amount of space behind the motherboard tray is limited to about 3/4 inches, with slightly deeper indents around the bottom grommet and hard drive bays.

With the HAF Stacker series, the HAF Stacker 925 is only part of the story. By default, it comes packaged with the HAF Stacker 915R m-ITX case, so let's take a greater in-depth look at that.

The HAF Stacker 915R is one of two m-ITX variants in the HAF Stacker series of cases. By default, it arrives with the HAF Stacker 935 retail configuration, meaning it is meant to sit atop or below the HAF Stacker 925 itself. Like the mid-tower HAF Stacker 925, the 915R is constructed from steel frame complemented by plastic mesh-dominated panels on the top and front. Rather than the three front bay covers on the 925, the 915R supports only one. Because this case is meant to be a supplement to the entire HAF Stacker 935 package, there is no front panel I/O or power button here. Thankfully, the empty block that would otherwise house the I/O can be removed via two screws and replaced with the I/O panel from the HAF Stacker 925.

The front of the case is mostly filtered mesh that also hides a 3-pin 92mm fan (A9225-12CB-3BN-F1, 1200RPM). The entire front panel is removable via four clips on the inside. Like the HAF Stacker 925, the fan filter is not removable so cleaning it will require washing the entire front panel. Thankfully it's much smaller this time.

The back of the case features an opening for the motherboard I/O shield and another for rear-mounted power supply. Two expansion slots also make their way here, nicely secured by thumbscrews. This means support for dual-slot graphics cards, despite m-ITX motherboards only featuring only one PCIe expansion slot.

Without a power supply, the bottom of the case finds one large grommeted and four smaller ungrommeted holes through which to run cables or water cooling tubes when the case is stacked.  Cooler Master intends for you to stack this atop the HAF Stacker 925 (though it can go underneath too), so there are no feet installed. Fortunately, the feet from the HAF Stacker 925 are compatible with the 915R.

Unlike the HAF Stacker 925, the top of the HAF Stacker 915R features a plastic mesh panel. For those looking to stack another HAF Stacker on top, the panel can be removed via two screws on each side, and its interchangeable with another 915 or 925. There are no holes for fan installation underneath, though the wide open space should make installation and cable management a breeze.

The two sides of the case are identical and significantly accented by large filtered honeycomb mesh. They each have installation holes for up to three 120mm or two 140mm fans, both spaced for radiator support. If there is nothing in the case, that means the potential to install up to two 360mm radiators or one large 360mm radiator with thickness spanning the entire width of the case. Unfortunately, the only way to remove the fan filters is via four screws on the exterior of the panel, which means having to remove everything on the panels to clean them. Like the HAF Stacker 925, the side panel thumb screws do not come off once loosened.

Given that the HAF Stacker 915R measures almost 23-inches in length, I was not surprised to see the tremendously spacious internal layout. In traditional m-ITX style, the motherboard would sit horizontally near the rear of the case. Because of the missing front I/O, we find a lack of cable clutter. Instead, the front is mostly taken up by a hard drive cage identical to the ones found on the HAF Stacker 925. That means it supports up to three 3.5"/2.5" drives, using simple tool-less sleds.

For those wishing for expanded storage when the case is stacked, up to three of these drive cages can be installed (such as the two found on the HAF Stacker 925), each secured by four screws on the bottom. This provides support for a total of up to twelve hard drives in this case alone.

A single 5.25" device is handled by a familiar lock design above the front hard drive bay.

The 915R is what arrives default in the HAF Stacker 935 package, but Cooler Master also has another version of the m-ITX case dubbed the 915F. The difference is that much of the layout is rearranged to allow for the power supply to sit at the front of the case. Let's take a look on the next page.

Unlike the HAF Stacker 925 and 915R, the 915F came as a separate package in our review sample. At the current time, there has been no announcement to include the 915F in a HAF Stacker 935-like configuration, which otherwise includes both a 925 and 915R. The 915F features identical external dimensions, build materials, and m-ITX motherboard support as the 915R, so the main difference at first lies in the position of where you will install your power supply, which sits closer to the front instead of the rear of the case. It sports the same plastic mesh front panel as the 915R, though the standalone 915F here features its own front panel I/O. What we find are two USB 3.0 ports, microphone/headphone jacks, and a power button. Again, I would have really liked to see a reset button - unlike the HAF Stacker 925, there is at least room for one here. In keeping with the modular theme of the HAF Stacker series, the panel can be removed and installed on other HAF Stacker cases.

Releasing the front panel with four clips, we find a large opening with holes to install a power supply. This means the front mesh acts as an exhaust rather than intake. To maintain the ease of a rear AC power plug, a power extension cable is provided that links up the power input on the back of your power supply (facing the front of the case) with the female AC power input on the back of the case.

Speaking of the rear, the huge opening for the power supply from the 915R is replaced with an included 120mm fan (A12025-12CB-3EN-F1, 1200RPM). Two expansion slots are also found here, allowing for the installation of dual slot graphics cards.

Being a standalone case, two rows of angular legs elevate the case about an inch, supplemented by two strips of rubber feet on each. It's identical to those found on the HAF Stacker 925 which means these can be removed and interchanged on other HAF Stacker cases. Otherwise, the bottom layout is identical to the one found on the HAF 915R with exception to a filtered honeycomb opening near the front for power supply intake.

The top and sides are completely identical to the HAF 915R, meaning a large mesh panel up top and side panels with difficult-to-remove filters. Again, the latter supports either three 120mm or two 140mm fans, spaced ideally for radiator support.

Opening up the case, we find a small brown box containing case accessories. Inside is the usual myriad of screws, but like the HAF Stacker 925, Cooler Master has also included an I/O cover and several zip ties for cable management.

The inside of the HAF Stacker 915F is where the case significantly differentiates itself from the 915R. As come to be expected, the inside is quite roomy though even more so considering the lack of a hard drive cage taking up most of the front. Instead, this is where a power supply would sit, which explains the four rubber nubs for feet and square intake fan filter. Unfortunately, the only way to remove the filter is to remove all four nubs, which in turns requires removing any installed power supply. It's quite a strange oversight – why Cooler Master couldn't have implemented a pull-out filter like on the HAF Stacker 925 is beyond me.

Due to the lack of a dedicated hard drive cage, Cooler Master had to be innovative with regards to storage capabilities. A maximum of three 2.5" or 3.5" drives can now be installed, fairly scattered throughout the case: one on the floor of the case, another on a vertical side plate near the right side panel, and a third under and above the 5.25" bay. Each is secured by four screws mounted through rubber stoppers. There are holes for a 3.5" device in the third location, though attempts to install a traditional hard drive were met with the lack of clearance by the front of the case before the screw holes could align. It's important to note that straight-angled SATA connectors are required for all three spots, the exception being the vertical plate when a 3.5" drive is installed.

Technically, it is also possible to install a single 2.5" drive on the panel-facing side of the vertical plate, but there is simply not enough clearance to insert a SATA cable. For those installing a radiator or fans onto the right side panel, the plate must be removed via several screws.

For those seeking more storage capability, up to three drive cages from the HAF Stacker 915R and 925 can be installed in this case, in the same locations as we saw on the HAF 915R. This allows support for up to twelve 3.5" or 2.5" drives, though it also means almost nothing else can be installed in the case except fans and an optical drive.

The front panel headers nicely blend with the black styling of the case that has a nice black sleeving of its own. What we find is a USB 3.0 header, front panel audio, and a power switch. Again, no USB 3.0-to-2.0 adapter.

Like the HAF Stacker 915R, installed m-ITX boards sit horizontally towards the back of the case, this time below the included 3-pin 120mm cooling fan.

The main draw of the Cooler Master HAF Stacker series is the promise that when stacked together, the cases become more than the sum of its parts. So we will be reviewing all the stacking capabilities on the HAF Stacker.

The HAF Stacker series didn't earn its name for no reason; as we've been seeing with all three cases so far, the top and bottom panels of each have removable mesh panels or legs, respectively, which reveal plastic rails for different stacking combinations. To put the cases together, simply line up the rails, slide the top case forward, and secure them with four screws.

For those who only want a mid-tower (a strange decision if you bought the entire 935 package), the top mesh from the HAF Stacker 915 can be installed onto the HAF Stacker 925 to form a case that is actually quite attractive and relatively minimalistic in design.

When installing another HAF Stacker, the choice is primarily whether you prefer it on top or bottom. This is where the large openings on the top and bottom of the cases really come in handy for cable management, as you are now free to install side-mounted radiators or additional hard drive cages. Cooler Master calls this whole configuration the HAF Stacker 935.

We start heading into the realm of ridiculousness when adding a third HAF Stacker case. Despite Cooler Master displaying a configuration with a 925 sandwiched between two 915s in majority of its demonstrations and documentation (a configuration dubbed the HAF Stacker 945), it is also possible to place two 915s on top or two on the bottom of the 925. Admittedly, the former is relatively more attractive in appearance.

There's no doubt about it, this is definitely one of the most customizable cases I have ever come across. The stacking process is so modular that, in theory, you could install cases until the tower can no longer stand stably on its own. To be honest, I would have liked some metal reinforcement to the stacking rails because I was definitely experiencing more and more creaking as I was installing the third case. With a fully loaded system that involves massive heatsinks and radiators, it's difficult to say how much strain the entire mechanism can really support. Moving around the case was also awkward, given the tall stature of the cases when stacked. I would have greatly appreciated some included case wheels here. Appearance-wise, I can see a polarizing reception to the beauty (or lack thereof) of the HAF Stacker. It keeps to the aggressive theme of the HAF series, which divided opinions in itself, but it would have been nice to see a more streamlined appearance once stacked. As of now, it still looks like separate cases aggressively hacked together. I mean, do we really need three separate Cooler Master logos up front?

With the Cooler Master HAF Stacker series, the number of installation configurations is unlike much else we see on the market. This makes a review of the installation a bit more difficult – you may end up buying only a 925, two 925s, or the full 945 combo. Because Cooler Master has graciously sent us all three HAF Stacker cases for review, we will stick to a configuration that has commonly been shown to the public and press; a HAF 925 in the middle, sandwiched between two 915s, otherwise known as the HAF Stacker 945. To test the limits of cable management, the HAF Stacker 915R will be installed on the bottom and HAF Stacker 915F up top.

First thing that went in was the motherboard and CPU cooler. Cooler Master touts the HAF 925 as having about 170mm of CPU cooler clearance so we decided to stick a huge Noctua NH-D14 in there - it did indeed fit with about an inch to spare. There were no issues with the CPU cut-out hole on the back either, considering it spans almost the entire width of the ATX motherboard.

For those looking for water cooling, there are plenty of options here with the full 945 configuration. The most obvious is the top of the 925, which has support for a 240mm radiator. It is important to note that clearance only permits either a push or pull setup, assuming that VRM heatsinks don't get in the way. And despite the 140mm fan holes offering perfect spacing for a single 280mm radiator, they lie closer to the motherboard tray hence interfering with the RAM slots. The second location is at the front of the case, supporting a thick 240mm radiator upon removing the two drive cages and the stand underneath. The third option is fitting either a 280mm or 360mm radiator onto the side panels of the 915s. This requires the removal of all hard drive and optical drive bays in the case. The compromise permits support for a total of four radiators in both 915s. Unfortunately, the only option for closed-loop liquid cooling (such with the Corsair H100) is the top of the 925, as none of the other radiator mounts are close enough for tubing to reach the CPU area.

Installation of hard drives and optical drives was where we began to see shortcomings to the gigantic case. The mechanisms to install them were fine, especially the tool-less sleds and bays. It is when you begin wiring up SATA cables that the massive height of the HAF Stacker 945 starts posing a problem. Connecting drives in the 925 itself was unsurprisingly a breeze, due to the fact that it maintains mid-tower dimensions. Running SATA cables into the 915s however was when we began wishing for something longer than our standard 18 inch cables. Either we experienced little cable slack or connections that don't even reach. It's not really Cooler Master's fault, but it is something important to note for those looking to install drives outside the main compartment. And for what it's worth, we do recommend installing hard drives in the 915s as it means isolation from the main heat generators, i.e. graphics cards and CPUs. Unfortunately, the issues spill over to the front panel headers – connecting the HAF Stacker 925 headers were again no problem, but the I/O cables from the top 915 could not reach the corresponding motherboard pins at all. Front panel I/O on a bottom-stacked 915 was not a problem, but that configuration meant useless ports if those from the 925 were already plugged.  Most motherboards only have a single USB 3.0 header, a single audio header, and a single set of power pins so it becomes a game of which set of front panel I/O you want to use. Cooler Master definitely needs to include some cable splitters and a USB 3.0-to-2.0 converter in the package.

The bright side of the roomy interior is in graphics card installation. Our Radeon HD 7970 measured 10.6 inches long, yet there was still more than 3 inches of space between it and the hard drive cages. With the cages removed, you could probably install a card whose length is equivalent to two 7970s back to back.

For the power supply, we had three installation options: in the 925 or in either of the 915s. Installation in the HAF Stacker 925 was probably the least challenging of the bunch – all cables were long enough to reach both the top and bottom cases, with exception to the 8-pin EPS cable that needed an extension (that is more a norm than anomaly). It was when the power supply is installed in either of the 915s did we see issues with cable length – cables from one 915 were simply not long enough to reach the other 915. Technically, it is possible to install more than one power supply at a time, but Cooler Master provides no sort of a 24-pin or 8-pin power splitter, meaning no easy way to turn them all on or off simultaneously. There is also an issue that I truly urge Cooler Master to address immediately on the 915R. The rear power supply installation means the unit hangs over where the m-ITX motherboard would rest. The problem is that the power supply is only supported by the four standard screws in the rear and a small lip near the exhaust opening. As seen in the photo below, this resulted in pretty significant flexing on my unit. There's no doubt in my mind that a huge strain ends up being placed on the top two power supply screws – something I'm not fond of given that m-ITX cases are meant for portability. I would not feel secure carrying a fully loaded 915R knowing the power supply might give at any time.

Cable management itself was quite enjoyable on the HAF Stacker. Having components in compartments other than the main motherboard area meant that some cables did not need to be hidden behind the mother tray at all. The huge openings between each case were also a big help when running cables through them. Space-wise, I would have liked another quarter inch behind the motherboard tray. It would give the rear-mounted SSD more room to breathe and allow at least a bit of cable overlap. Having an additional grommet hole closer to the top right edge of the motherboard would also be nice, allowing for cables to cleanly exit the 925 and into the top 915.

With everything is set up, the final build actually looks quite nice. The massive window does a lot to show off the hardware inside. But how they fair in thermal performance is what we will be testing next.

To fully test the Cooler Master HAF Stacker, we will be benchmarking our test setup and comparing temperature readings to other gaming cases on the market. Idle and load temperatures will be recorded on the CPU, GPU, chipset using HWMonitor. The testing methodology will proceed as follows: run Furmark Burn Test and Prime95 Large-FFTs simultaneously for 45 minutes, record the highest load CPU package, GPU, and chipset temperatures, let the computer idle for 45 minutes, record the lowest idle CPU package, GPU, and chipset temperatures. To simulate default GPU fan curves, the GPU fan will be manually set to 50% at load and 25% when idle. Our ambient room temperature was kept at 22 degrees Celsius throughout all testing.

Keep in mind that the following results are representative of a pre-defined test case. Actual temperatures may vary depending on your ambient temperatures and hardware configuration.

Testing Setup:

Comparison Cases:

CPU/GPU Temperature Testing:

     

Chipset Temperature Testing:

There was no doubt about it; the relatively lackluster fan configuration on the HAF Stacker definitely had a difficult time keeping up with our airflow-centric comparison cases. Sure, our HAF Stacker 945 configuration technically features 3 fans for cooling, but only one of them lie in the main 925 compartment where the CPU, GPU, and chipset are all located. This is a far cry from the three in our comparison Cooler Master cases and six in the Antec. Again, the reason for this is because Cooler Master expects HAF Stacker owners to use their own fans or replace the stock one anyway. The compromise, as we see, is fairly average cooling performance out of the box. I would definitely recommend purchasing at least some front fans if you're looking to pick up this case. Thankfully, the noise is kept in check here, considering all three fans spin at a modest 1200RPM. The loudest component in the system was undoubtedly the GPU in our testing.

When I first heard about the HAF Stacker, I was honestly caught by surprise. In no way did I expect Cooler Master to approach a new HAF design by taking cues from the long discontinued Stacker design. Thankfully for the most part, the HAF Stacker maintains the same high quality construction expected from the case veteran. The metal frame is nice and sturdy, while the plastic panels allow for easy installation and removal. However, I would have liked seeing some steel reinforcement on the stacker rails. The abundant cable management holes and spacious interior also mean no issues with clearance limitations.

It is also through this overcompensation in size that we begin to find faults with the HAF Stacker. The ability to modularly stack more Stacker cases on top or below the main compartment is highly innovative and executed well, but I never thought once that it was truly necessary, at least for my use. I can see the need for the HAF Stacker 935 package, as the 915 allows full support for thick radiators or hard drives that the main 925 unit could not simply handle on its own. If anything, Cooler Master could have combined the two into one streamlined case because installing the second 915 was leaving the impression that I was putting hardware into it for the sheer fact that it would be a waste not to. In doing so meant headaches to ensure all the cables had enough slack to reach where they were intended, or playing the game of "choose which I/O panel actually functions". It didn't help that I was not a big fan of the aggressive physical appearance of the full stacked tower, despite actually liking the industrial design of previous HAF cases.

The HAF Stacker is an enthusiast's case, as demonstrated by Cooler Master's assumption that the target audience will likely purchases case fans of its own. It's the same users who will pay the extra money to grab cable extensions (personalized ones even) to overcome whatever shortcomings in cable length they may have. And for those enthusiasts, the HAF Stacker offers an almost-endless list of possibilities. You can place radiators everywhere, install quad-GPU configurations, and still have enough room to host a home server in the same case. It's a niche case and Cooler Master doesn't hold back.

The way I see it, the HAF Stacker is more of a proof of concept than anything else. The ability to add compartments and features to the case holds great potential for Cooler Master's future case lineup. Imagine having add-ons for case handles or a compartment specifically for hard drives or another solely with expansion slots, packaged alongside an assortment of PCIe ribbon cables. I understand there are case modders and niche computer stores that already provide this, but what's exciting is Cooler Master has the resources to push out such products at a much larger scale. Simply put, Cooler Master needs to take this idea and keep innovating for future iterations. As it stands, the current configuration looks a little hacked together versus a polished package that actually appeals as more than the sum of its parts.

The HAF Stacker 935 and HAF Stacker 915R retail for $169.99 and $69.99, respectively. For the price you pay, what you receive is a unique case build experience. There are flaws to the cases but taken as a whole, the HAF Stacker series provides a unique product unlike much else, with enough attention to detail that's come to be expected from a veteran like Cooler Master. I wouldn't quite recommend the HAF Stacker to many outside the enthusiast crowd but nonetheless, I definitely commend Cooler Master for being innovative in a market that rarely sees this kind of shakeup.

»Neoseeker.com

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