I know in a lot of my case reviews, I relate back to my Antec 900 quite a bit. This is because of a few reasons. First off, the Antec 900 offers great airflow at a reasonable price. Second being, because I spent about a year or so with the case and personally modded it to fit every last need I desired. Third, the case had good appeal aesthetically out of the box. While Antec saw their shortcomings, they made a total of four revisions to get the case in the same basic shape I had made my second revision to do. It's just that mine took a lot of planning as it was my first real case mad aside from just removing a set of drive bays to improve airflow.
With that in mind, as I say the Antec 900 did have its issues. The case with all those fans on high speed was almost intolerable to sit on a desktop. The wire management in the second version was non-existent, at least until I added my own with my Dremel tool. And lastly was the lack of airflow supplied under the PSU. The case was designed for a bottom mounted PSU, but offered no way to ventilate the PSU and have the wires at the rear of the case for a cleaner look. Again, at least until I added my own ventilation to better manage the wiring nest that usually accompanies 900 builds.
I'm sure at this point in time you have seen images or caught wind of just how good the HAF 933 from CoolerMaster is. Most times when I see people asking for a roomy case with good to great airflow, the HAF name is soon to follow as a great bang for the buck full tower chassis. While this case is in fact roomy and allows for endless mod possibilities, from what I gather it's a love hate relationship with the overall looks of the HAF 933. I personally don't mind the overall design but it has been referenced to a gas can in a few threads I read. Regardless of looks, the HAF covers all of my basic issues I faced with my previous cases.
Maybe the looks of the 933 aren't exactly what you desire. Maybe the 933 is a little large to fit your space requirements. Never fear, CoolerMaster has brought other solutions based on the HAF 933 case that is already available to the market. This Time CoolerMaster brings a slightly smaller version of the HAF 933 and is soon to release the officially named HAF 922, or "mini HAF" as it has also been referred to in articles up to this point. Enough of this talking about the HAF933 and HAF 922 comparisons, time to showcase the HAF 922 and see what this "mini HAF" has to offer.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The CoolerMaster HAF 922 is built much in the same fashion as its bigger brother. This is an all black steel chassis with a plastic top piece and front bezel. The front bezel, while edged in plastic, supports a mesh front cover to allow for superior air flow throughout the whole front of the 922. The HAF 922 measures in at 10" wide, a full inch wider, 19.7" tall, almost two inches shorter, and 22.2" deep, very similar to the depth of the 933. The 922 also weighs a considerable amount less than the 933 as well, the 922 comes in at 19.2 lbs, almost a full ten pounds less.
The HAF 922 features five exposed 5.25" bays, one of which can convert to an exposed 3.5" bay for card readers or a floppy drive access, and has five internal drive bays as well. The cooling system in the HAF 922 is not the same fans used in the HAF 933. While the 933 uses 230mm fans the HAF 922 uses a slightly smaller 200mm fan that uses 700 RPM with very little noise to keep the heat traveling up and out of the 922. In total there are two 200mm fans, one LED and one not, and a 120mm rear exhaust fan included with the 922. Lastly I don't want to forget about this "7+1" expansion slots. CoolerMaster has added a vertical slot to the rear of the case to add room for switches and fan controllers. Nice touch!
Availability of the HAF 922 is still non-existent in the US as well as other markets. I was told via e-mails, that the HAF 922 will soon hit shelves for those of you who are interested, but this isn't expected to happen until June 1st. This should give you plenty of time to get some extra money pooled together to be able to get the HAF 922 to house your components.
Speaking of saving up for the HAF 922, this won't be that much of a challenge. CoolerMaster has set a projected retail price at $129.99. This seems to be a magic number for case pricing these days, as I see there is a good amount of competition in this price range. I see a lot of Lian Li's, NZXT's, SilverStone's, as well as many others, but these cases are a bit more plain and don't have all the things that CoolerMaster packed into the HAF922. I think it's now time to get some images taken and start to assemble my goodies inside and see where we ends up with the HAF922 from CoolerMaster.
It looks to me that CoolerMaster's black box highlights the HAF922 image in what appears to be a red lit train tunnel. Whatever the reason behind this choice, it does highlight the case nicely, and attracts eyes to the box.
Spinning the HAF to the right shows another image of the 922 this time backed by a red stormy sky. Notice at the bottom right that CoolerMaster includes a check list for optional power supplies, although our sample, as you can see, does not have a PSU checked and one was not included.
The rear of the HAF 922 packaging continues the story scene, and also displays the Features CoolerMaster is most proud of.
Spinning the box once again reveals that UPS did me no favors on where they placed their labels. Some of the first few specifications are blocked, but I have already covered most of these already.
As with many cases, CoolerMaster also ships the HAF 922 with Styrofoam end caps surrounding a plastic liner. While I have seen better packing jobs, this is a very efficient way to ship a case, and does surprisingly well, even if the ends get a bit broken up in shipping, at securing the cases stability.
The CoolerMaster HAF 922 Mid Tower Case
After removing all the packing we are left with a striking case. The front is well ventilated with all mesh covers for the bays, and the surrounding plastic has a notched design to break up the long line of the side. While there is no actual window, the side door is ventilated with large holes and can be easy seen through. The top of the case has an odd shape to it, but there is a reason for this, but you will have to read on, as I will address this in a bit.
Looking at the front of the HAF 922 you can see a bit better how well ventilated the mesh bay covers are for the intake of airflow, and towards the bottom they have emblazoned the case with the CoolerMaster logo. No hidden panels here, they use a Front I/o panel that is placed high and in plain sight for easy use.
Getting a bit closer to the front I/O panel shows that there are two USB 2.0 slots flanking the audio and microphone ports, then to the right of these is the eSATA connection. Don't worry; I have a better image of the top coming up.
I know this is an awkward look but the face of the 922 is on the table in this image. At the very bottom is the control switches for power, reset, and the power of the LED light in the fan. As you move back across the top, the front panel tapers off to expose a well ventilated top. The top is pre-drilled to accept the 200mm fan included in the 922, but also to be able to mount a 2 X 120mm radiator at the top, internally or externally. Now you can see why the top is lower in the back, it allows for the radiator to sit nicely outside as well.
Not only is the front of the 922 different from its bigger brother, the 933, but the side takes on some changes as well. The HAF 922 has the HAF logo flowing downwards versus the upward angle of the 933. As I mentioned there is no window in the HAF 922, but it is very well ventilated and can accept the same fans at the top, both the 200mm and dual 120mm fans can be placed here. There has been a considerable sized bump-out added to the door. This matches the rear door as you will soon see.
The rear of the HAF 922 has everything most people look for in a case these days. Water tubing outlets that allow " tube with no problems are found at the very top of the 922. Dropping down a bit there is the hole for the rear I/O shield and next to that is the 120mm rear exhaust fan vent. Moving just below this is where things get a bit odd. I see that CoolerMaster has added the vertical +1 expansion slot next to the standard seven horizontal slots. This is for as I said, fan controllers, cold cathode switches, you name it. Then of course is the large hole at the bottom to accept the power supply.
The rear panel of the 922 was a tough nut to crack as far as getting a clear image. The textures and shaped of the door really wreaked havoc on my auto focus. The main reason I wanted to show this side was that the bump on the door is to allow thicker cables easier clearance behind the motherboard tray while wire managing the build.
Can't forget about the bottom of the 922 now can we? You can see that there is venting to mount a PSU fan down position, and another space next to it for the addition of another 120mm fan if you feel the need. The round rubber padded feet are nice to fight against sliding on the desk. If you plan to run this PC on the floor, on carpet possibly, the feet really aren't tall enough to allow good airflow into the PSU.
Inside the CoolerMaster HAF 922 Mid Tower Case
I had to remove the door to get the interior images, so I decided now's the time to get a look at it. The 922 door panels are both painted steel with the inside exposed. The panel is folded over on the edges to add strength. You can see the bump-out and that this door is ventilated, while the rear door isn't, that being the only major difference.
Removing the door panel allows me to get this shot of the interior. There is a paper template for motherboard compatibility covering the motherboard tray, as found in most CoolerMaster cases. Most of the wiring is tied neatly together, but the "goodie box" was left to float around inside during shipping.
Moving off to the left, we get a good look at the inside of the rear of the 922. Since the Radiator can mount up top, you can see how the holes up there make logical sense for placement now. There is the 120mm 17dBA fan that is included to help exhaust the rear of the case, which is powered with a 3-pin connector. The of course the expansion slots and the PSU mounting hole finish off the tour.
On the inside of the floor CoolerMaster has added rubber coated rails to support and isolate the PSU. As I mentioned the PSU can be installed in either the fan up or fan down position, due to the venting that is also included. Next to this is the extra venting and mounting for use of additional fans if deemed necessary.
Moving further right under the pop in, pop out, tool-less 5.25" drive clips are the five internal 3.5" bays. CoolerMaster uses slide in trays that latch into place to secure the HDD's in place. These are set right up behind the front 200mm, red, LED fan that acts as the major source of cool air into the 922.
I removed the rear panel so that the motherboard tray was a bit more distinguishable without all the extra steel behind the holes. CoolerMaster includes two large wire management holes as well as an easy access hole for CPU cooler back plates. The right of the tray is open and allows wires to pop out from the back where ever they are needed. They also include eight places to pass a ties strap through for additional support for management of the wires.
Looking at the inside of the top shows the included 200mm fan, this time with no LED's but all the same specs as the LED version used in the front. This fan is 3-pin powered as well, but the top and front fans included adapters to use 4-pin molex connectors if needed. Once this fan is removed you also have access to mount a 2 X 120mm radiator in here as well, as long as motherboard clearance isn't an issue.
Unbundling the wires, I found CoolerMaster includes plenty of length to allow for any type of routing you see needed to get them to your motherboard.
Looking a little closer at these wires shows all the basic assortment of wiring. There is the eSATA to the far left, followed by the reset, power, power LED, and HDD activity connections. CoolerMaster also includes a USB 2.0 connection, HD audio and AC'97 connections. Lastly is a close look at the fan power adapters included on the front and top mounted fans.
Accessories and Documentation
Inside of the HAF 922 there is a baggie containing a fold out variety of installation guide. This guide is very easy to follow and has very good images if the simple text doesn't quite get the point across at first. In front of the instruction manual in this image is the included hardware boxed well inside this cardboard box. As I mentioned, it was floating free during shipping, and seems to have faired well with nothing getting damaged or lost.
Opening up the box of hardware reveals quite a bit of kit. There are two metal plates at the top that are used for converting a 5.25" bay to an external 3.5" bay for floppy drives or card readers. Below and to the left it the bag with all the mounting screws for drives and the PSU and so on. The bag to the right contains all the risers and motherboard mounting screws you will need. These bags both flank the thirteen tie straps included to help easy wire management. Last by not least is an included motherboard speaker.
Starting off simple, you can see the DFI Blood Iron is in place, and there is still a bunch of room to play around, even if this was a full ATX board I see no real clearance problems. I also did some basic management of the front panel wires at this point to get them tidy and out of my way to continue the build. And might i add there is plenty of room for most 120mm coolers, there was no issues at all with my version of the S1283.
Turning the case around, to show you that there is plenty of slack in the wires, even after a bit of rerouting. I was even able to rid myself of the AC' 97 plug as it slid nicely into the hole left from the PSU hold down tab.
CoolerMaster took the time to add an easy access hole to the back of the motherboard by cutting a large hole into the tray. With the motherboard I chose, it was close but not quite. I realize this isn't the norm in socket placement, but with this case supporting both mATX and full ATX motherboards, I wish it was just a bit bigger.
Getting ready to install the HDD, I removed one of the trays so I could mount the drive inside it. In the side of the tray are these white rubber coated pins that as you can see push into the HDD screw holes and are slid into the tray.
As you can see the try has key ways that accept the slotted rubber on the pins in the previous image. Although you cannot use two on each side, as the key ways run in opposite directions. While the drive isn't going anywhere with the rubber holding the drive in place, it is a bunch more secure once I added the supplied screw into the side.
As you can see, everything is in place awaiting the installation of the PSU. My 9800 GTX+ has plenty of room to spare inside the 922, allowing plenty of room for it to breathe well. At this point I am impressed how easy it's been to get these parts into place. Even the DVD drive installation was simple. I just reached in from the inside and released the two front bay cover latches, removed the cover and slid in the drive. Once the drive is aligned correctly you just push the button in and it clicks the drive into a locked position.
Here is after about twenty minutes of installing four screws to mount the PSU to the 922, and route and manage the wires as I went. Considering I spent little time and still was able to get pleasing results says something for the design and layout of the interior of the HAF 922.
The Build - Continued
Getting a little closer you can see that the wires are easily routed to where they need to be, and the optional ways of routing. I could easily get the 24-pin around the back but since my 8-pin was too short I chose to strap it to the tray using the supplied tie down spots. The top fan wire was easily slid into the cut out for the fan so it gets out of the way cleanly. The rear fan is powered of the motherboard and just tied up for cleanliness.
Looking at the main wire management hole for getting all the cables behind the tray to begin with, you can see there is quite a bundle there. With the large hole and the bump out on the rear door, there is no issue with getting even the fattest cables hidden and where you want them. With the option to lay my PSU in the fan down position I was able to keep the wires close to the board and relatively clutter free.
One last look at the simple wiring that the HAF 922 allows for, just get the wires in a basic layout, and use the supplied tie straps and tie down locations to keep thing secure and in place.
Even if the PSU you choose has a few extra leads that aren't in use, I found the bottom of the HDD racks to be a handy place to stuff the extra SATA power leads and the 12 V rail I didn't need to use, except to power the front LED fan.
Fit and Finish
All buttoned up and ready to add some power! Taking a look at the front again, this time with the optical drive installed. While it doesn't keep the same angled profile of the rest of the drives, it doesn't look that out of place in the top slot.
As I mentioned there is no window, but with the large venting holes in the door, it is very easy to keep an eye on the hardware inside, as there is no supplied fan to obstruct the view.
The rear of the 922 is as you would expect it to look with all the hardware installed. The real bummer is I don't have any fan controllers or lights to utilize the +1 vertical expansion slot.
Since this is about the finished product, the inset of the pay left a bit to be desired, I must have fat fingers, because I found it to be a bit restrictive to getting my finger around the rear of the case and into the indent to try to flick a switch. Dials may not be such an issue as they are usually tall and large, making them a bit easier to use in this instance.
Taking one last look at the back panel, this time you can see how well the bump out plays into the design. This allows for all the wires I bundled together to have extra space while the door is in place. I can't tell you how many cases I have tried to wire behind the tray, and it ends up taking two people just to get the door bent into a locked position. Nice planning on the part of CoolerMaster here.
The front power panel and indicator lights are very plain on the HAF 922, but they still serve a purpose and do them well. To the left is the power switch for the red LED lights on the front fan, you have the option to run with or without the light. In the center is the main system power button; to the right is the reset button to complete the set. It's hard to see with the light, but both indicator lights are on in this image and are both red as well. With the lights dimmed, there is no issue seeing these lights from across the room.
Here we have the last look at the HAF 922 running and in full flow. The red glow at the front is mostly only visible head on which is nice, as the whole room doesn't get flooded by it. One last thing to reiterate, notice how low the case sits on the table. If you installed the PSU in the fan down position the 922 will have to be raised to provide an adequate amount of airflow to the fan.
I would like to say at this point it has been a real pleasure working inside the HAF 922. There are no sharp edges to worry about, there is an abundance of included user friendly features, and the HAF 922 does provide very adequate airflow as CoolerMaster ships it and there is no real need for extra fans in my opinion. The HAF 922 also has a love it or hate it look, as does the 933; but I personally find this 922 to be a tad less industrial looking, yet still offering most of the benefits of the HAF 922's bigger brother.
The fans in the 922 are rated to be less that 19 dBA under full operation. I can attest to this, as the HAF 922 is a whole different league of the noise my Antec 900 brought. The equipment for this build was my secondary rig that my girl uses daily. I had done some basic testing inside the old Sigma case I used to house these parts in, and the temperatures have dropped three degrees from the sigma, both in CPU and GPU temperatures. The Sigma case was heavily fanned and modded for better air flow. Not a huge surprise that the temperatures dropped, though; placing my hand inside the case, it was easy to see the HAF 922 offers much better cooling potential.
I really only have two complaints about the HAF 922, and these are just personal feelings towards the overall feel of the HAF. I would have liked to see an all black interior versus the exposed metal, even if simply painted. The second is I would have liked the top fan to include red LED's as well, as it would flood the area above the case and the guts in a nice red glow. Since the HAF 922 doesn't have a window per se, the venting allows for a view of the glow I am missing.
With a projected price of $129.99 at retail shops near you, I feel CoolerMaster definitely offers quite the bang for the buck, with a ton of standard features, as well as a couple new ones. Being my complaints are more of personal desire to see something versus the actual quality and build design that the HAF 922 offers, I can't fault the case in one aspect. For what the CoolerMaster HAF 922 has to offer in a compact package, I don't think they could do very much more to improve on the design or the layout.
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