Cooler Master is an experienced case maker. Their High AirFlow (HAF) lineup is a classic that focuses on extreme air circulation. We have seen some great cases in the lineup. These include the HAF 912, a value-for-money king, and the cubical HAF X.
After quite some time of being silent, the company has rebooted its classic series with two new cases. This includes the more budget-oriented HAF 500 and the more extreme HAF 700 Evo. Today we have the black variant of the HAF 500 for review with us. Many thanks to Cooler Master for sending a review unit over.Available ColorsWhite, BlackMotherboard SupportE-ATX up to 12”x14.1”, SSI-CEB, ATX, M-ATX, Mini ITXDrive Bays0x 5.25”, 2x 2.5”/3.5”, 2x 2.5”Front I/O 1x Power Button, 1x Reset/ARGB button. 2x USB 3.2 5Gbps, 1x 3.2 10Gbps Type-C, 1x hybrid 3.5mm audio jackPre-included Fans2x 200mm 800RPM ARGB fans (front) 1x SickleFlow ARGB PWM fan (rear) 1x SickleFlow PWM fan (HDD cage)Fan Support3x 120mm/2x 140mm/2x 200mm (front) 3x 120mm/2x 140mm/2x 200mm (top) 1x 120mm (rear) 1x 120mm (HDD cage)Radiator SupportUp to 360mm (front)Up to 360mm (top)120mm (rear)CPU Cooler ClearanceUp to 167mm or 6.5”Graphics Card ClearanceUp to 410mm or 16.1”PSU ClearanceUp to 180mm or 7.1”Dust FiltersTop, bottom
The packaging of the case was pretty standard. The case was packed inside a Cooler Master HAF 500 branded carton, and inside, the case is protected in some nice polystyrene brackets.
The specific unit which Cooler Master sent out to us did not include a dedicated accessories box. This is going to make working with the case a bit difficult, but we have no other choice.
Overall, the unboxing experience was not special. It is quite basic.
Colours: Cooler Master sells their HAF 500 in both black and white. The white version looks much easier on camera.
Cage Fan: The hard drive cage fan is the chief marketing feature of this case. It looks old school. Some really old cases used to do this, and now it is back in the HAF. We don’t know why Cooler Master had to do this, but this does make the case look a bit old school.
Front Panel: Cooler Master has modernized the front panel to quite an extent. All of the ports are USB 3.0. The case does come with a USB C port, and the other buttons are for power and reset. The power button is rim-lit, like any other Cooler Master case. The reset button can be repurposed for controlling the RGB in case your motherboard does not have RGB headers.
Side Panels and Design: The front panel is a single-layer metal mesh with some sharp cuts. This ensures enough airflow, and cleaning this single-panel mesh is also quite easy. The front panel also has a HAF logo embedded in the plastic.
On the sides, it has a single tempered glass panel which is secured by two clips and can optionally be secured by another thumbscrew.
The other side panel is held by two captive screws. The panel slides off in a quirky way. Although this mounting mechanism might seem fine, if you have a large cable clutter in the back, it will become a problem.
The rear panel is a direct carryover from the H500. This case does borrow a lot of “inspiration” from the H500. And this is where the age factor comes in.
Looks and Inspiration: The HAF 500 is a robust-looking case. For people looking for a functional-looking setup, this case might be it. The slightly aged-out frame adds to this vibe overall.
Build Quality: The HAF 500 does not feel badly built. It is quite chunky, and almost all metal-built. The black version of the case, which we reviewed, had no color or material inconsistencies. Cooler Master has put a lot of attention into making this case look premium, and the result has lived up to the company’s vision.
PSU Shroud: The case comes up with a completely removable PSU shroud. Users can even use the case without this shroud without any problem. But, this shroud is made out of plastic, and although that does not cause an issue, it does not match up with the other metal elements in this case.
Hard Drive Cage: Right beside the PSU shroud is the hard drive cage. This cage comes with a fan on top of it. It can hold up to 2 hard drives, which is decent. And, the cage is quite easy to use. The hard drive caddies are held with a single tab and they come off quite easily. Users also can completely remove this cage in case they don’t need it and make room for a liquid reservoir if they are rocking a custom liquid-cooled system.
Top Panel: The top panel has a metal mesh. You can take it off, mount your radiator, and place it back in. It has a magnetic dust filter on the top which can be used in case you are setting your top fans as a system intake.
Fans: This case has two big 200mm fans. These fans add a very unique look to the case, and it helps to differentiate this thing from other offerings in the market. However, Cooler Master’s implementation of these 200mm fans is off. A third of the large fans are blocked off by the front panel metal plate. This kills the advantage of having 200mm fans and makes installing three 120mm fans there a better idea.
The 200mm implementation is a carryover from the H500. Judging from the design of the case, mounting these fans in the top panel is a better idea. This is because it supports two 200mm fans. A third of the airflow won’t be lost that way, and the front panel, which is already built for 120mm fans, will also function optimally.
Both of the 200mm fans are controlled by 3-pin ARGB headers, so users have full control over the LEDs, but they are connected by 3-pin PWM headers. So, the speeds cannot be controlled from within the BIOS. They do full speed (800 RPM) all the time.
Cooler Master also includes a 120mm fan in the rear, which is their Sickleflow 120 ARGB fan. This is a high-quality fan, and we have no complaints regarding it.
Motherboard Support: The case supports up to “E-ATX” motherboards up to 12×14.1 inches. But, the E-ATX support comes with a compromise. Users might need to take the hard drive cage fan or the cable management cover out depending on the clearance they get.
This is a bit weird because Cooler Master has to give up on its chief marketing feature to fit larger motherboards.
Cable Management: The case has a 3cm wide gap to manage and tuck all of your cables. It also includes a cable management cover in the front to hide all the cables that are coming out of your motherboard to give an even cleaner look.
Cable Clutter: This case has a fair amount of cable clutter. It comes with three pre-included fans, so there will be quite a few cables. But, it is still acceptable. The USB 3 cables have been bundled into one and the USB-C port has its cable, and nothing other than the necessary ones are included.
SSD Support: Just behind the motherboard lie two SSD bays. The mounting mechanism for SSDs is not fancy. But the method is quite simple.
Included Accessories: And talking about accessories, the case does include a PWN cum RGB controller hub, and that is dope. This controller can control a total of 4 fan headers and 4 RGB headers and is powered by a SATA connection. The SATA connector is quite long, and cable managing the connection will be not a problem.
This case does miss out on a lot of points, and it does look a bit old school. But, you will have to admit that Cooler Master is an experienced case maker, so the overall quality is not absolute garbage.
The HAF 500 was one of the easiest cases to build in. It is a huge box, so you have ample space to work with. This simplifies the building experience by a huge margin. Plus, the insane modularity of this thing adds brownie points to the experience.
But, there are a few down points. If you have a bigger motherboard (10.5+ inches), this hard drive cage fan will block your board. Cooler Master then requires you to remove this cage, which is fine. But, that exposes the PSU shroud and all the cable clutter. If you have color-coordinated PSU cables, black with black or white with white, you probably are going to be fine, but if that’s not the case, it’s game over.
The case doesn’t have a wall that separates the PSU cabin from the rest of the case, and this is extremely weird. Also, there is just one cable hole in this shroud. So, in case you try to open this shroud after assembling your PC, it’s going to become quite a headache.
The cable clearance in the rear of the hard drive cage is very small. It is a carry-over from the H500. And the clearing is too small to safely plugin almost 4 cables.
It seems like every carry-over feature from the H500 is making this case a bit worse.
But, these problems are not big. You can walk past them, but at almost ₹10,000 such mess-ups are not expected from a product. Building in this case was still a great experience.
This case does have a robust look to it. It is not your daily sauce that the industry follows these days. And, we don’t think it looks bad. For everyone looking to build a functional-looking setup, this might be the case. And the old-school-looking frame just adds up to the overall theme.
But, the front panel cables have not been carefully routed. And, they just hang behind the lit-up portion of the front fans. It kind of steals the look, but you can use some brute force to line them up. Just be careful to not damage any of the headers.
Other than that, this is a pretty solid-looking case, and we love its functional vibe of it.
I have high hopes for the thermal performance of this case. These dual 200mm fans, and the fact that it has High AirFlow right in its name, must suggest that case has something special in it when it comes to airflow.
And, the results reflect in the test. With the cage fan in the horizontal position, the temperatures do not look shabby when you compare them to the open-air numbers. When you flip the fan up by 45 degrees, which is how Cooler Master marketed this case, the GPU temps fall significantly. Now, although the CPU temps are slightly affected, the results are within their margin of error. If you, however, decide to air-cool your CPU, the results may be noticeable.
Now, when we pushed the cage fan up as much as possible without knocking the card over, well the results almost had no change. The difference is almost negligible.
However, if you take the hard drive cage completely out, the temperatures do fall by a noticeable margin. This is because most of the air the dual 200mm fans pull in isn’t getting blocked by this cage anymore.
Now, taking the front panel off to further increase this airflow gives even better results, and taking the side panel off while keeping the front panel on brings the graphics card temperatures to their lowest.
But, all of these differences aren’t very far apart, and when you compare them to our control, the open-air results, are very much acceptable.
The thermal performance is overly good. This is one of the best cases in the market in terms of thermal performance, and it does live up to its name.
This brings us to the value-for-money aspect of this product. This case sells for around ₹9500 for the black version and the white variant for around ₹9900 rupees here.
At this price point, the best cases are Antec’s P120 Crystal, Lian Li’s Lancool 2 Mesh, the Lian Li O11 Mini, Corsair’s 4000X, and Fractal’s Meshify C. Now, all of these cases are simply awesome, and the HAF has some points to lose. The most apparent point is that this case just does not look as sleek as these other modern competitors.
The pricing has become much better. The case was selling for much higher even a few weeks back, but at a price tag of less than 10,000, I think we can give some justification to it. But, to make us recommend this to someone, Cooler Master has to bring this case at around 7,000 to 8,000 rupees. This case was originally designed to be sold at that price. But, Cooler Master gave up on that decision.
Now, this is not a bad case, don’t get me wrong. But, the pricing is way off the case’s worth.
We are glad to present this case with our silver award. This case did impress us in as many aspects as it disappointed us. It is a great case, but we cannot recommend it due to the pricing. If you have already bought it, you are probably going to be fine, but if you are asking for recommendations before buying one, look at other offerings in the market.