As far as space for air or water cooling goes, Cooler Master designed the HAF XB to be able to accommodate a multitude of different cooling methods. With some ingenuity and zip ties, you can even go with some unplanned for cooling alternatives as we will go into below.
Cooler Master made the upper portion of the case larger to better accommodate add-in video cards and larger CPU air coolers. Using one of the larger CPU heat sinks at our disposal (the Noctua NH-D14), you can see that the case has not problem accommodating such a large air cooler. The side and top panels can be easily mounted without interfering with the heat sink with room to spare. The one issue you may run into when using a large CPU heat sink is when using a 200mm fan in the top panel. You may run into clearance issues between the heat sink and the fan in that scenario. By Cooler Master specs, the case is designed to house a CPU cooler with maximum height of 180mm, or 7.1 inches.
The HAF XB is designed to handle a minimum of two water cooling radiators on the top level – a 280mm radiator (2x140mm) or a 240mm radiator (2x120mm) in the front of the case behind the front fans and a 120mm radiator in the rear fan slot. With some creative placement, the front panel can be coerced into supporting even larger radiators.
Using a Corsair H100i 240mm radiator mounting in the front panel, the case can accommodate up to a quad fan configuration – the front two fans mounted in between the front bezel and front wall of the case and the back fans mounted to the radiator. The radiator itself is mounted via the hold down screws for the front panel fans. There are no space restrictions or tight areas even with the pictured E-ATX form factor board mounted in the case. The one concern with the front mounted radiator would be with assembly order. You will be better off if you get all the connections along the bottom edge of the board completed prior to setting up the radiator.
For the rear radiator space demonstration, we using a Corsair H80i 120mm radiator with dual fan configuration. The entire assembly with mounted inside the case with no space concerns whatsoever. There are more than adequate room along both side and the top of the cooler to allow for all panel placement and proper air flow over the motherboard. Even from the side view, you can see that the assembly is kept well above the motherboard surface and rear panel area.
The front part of the case is spacious enough to hold larger radiators, such as the 360mm XSPS RX360 radiator shown in the pictures. Using a larger radiator requires some creative assembly. In the case of the example, the radiator is held in place using zip ties going though the 140mm fan screw holes in the front panel. This radiator was used to illustrate just how much room Cooler Master designed into the front of this case, even when using a larger than normal motherboard. As long as the radiator is kept elevated as shown, there is more than enough space to accommodate the radiator and motherboard with no issues mounting the side panels. To use this configuration effectively though, you must mount the radiator after connecting all devices and power to the board. There is also adequate room between the motherboard tray side rails and the case panels to run water lines to the system pump and reservoir in the lower level of the case without running into interference.
System Sound Testing
Sound measurements of the system fans where taken with the sound meter placed 3 feet away from the system with all other devices in the room silenced and all system panels in place. The Sound Meter Pro applet on a Samsung Galaxy S3 mobile phone was used to measure decibel level.
In normal operation with the stock dual fan configuration (120mm front panel fans), the case fan noise was barely audible measured at 38dBA (decibels). You should not even notice the system fans running under normal conditions.