Description

Beginning

I had been mulling a new PC build for a while, when I saw Tom's Hardware review the HAF XB. I saw it and immediately wanted the case, not for LAN parties or as a test bench but a gaming, programming, rendering case for myself. I did try to look at alternatives like the Corsair Air 540 (even on its side) and the R4 Black Pearl and they were very tempting. But what won me over was that it was a true horizontal case - much easier to fiddle around in, something I do frequently. The second factor was that the intake fans were blowing right against the graphics card. One pet annoyance for me in other cases has always been that a hard drive cage often gets in the way of an intake fan from the actual PC components where cooling is more needed. I've never been a fan (heh) of this arrangement but always accepted it as a 'standard', which is why this feels new and different and I am willing to experiment.

Choosing

The case being decided, the parts were a simpler matter;

GTX 780 Ti - The graphics card needed to last a few years and play and render anything. The GTX 780Ti wasn't that much more expensive compared to the alternatives, so I decided to just go for it.

Asus Sabertooth Z97 - As for the motherboard, I've used Sabertooths in the past and I like the TUF armor combined with assist fans. There are debates regarding whether the TUF armor helps or not, in my experience it does lower temperatures as long as you use the assist fans. And further, it looks nice. It's the main thing I see when looking through the top mesh. It also comes with buttdust plugs for all the unused parts of the motherboard, even some RAM slots.

Intel i7 4790K - My development and VMs will be requiring/using an i7 quite heavily, and the 4790K had just come out.

The rest of the listed parts (H100i, 16GB RAM, SSD, PSU) I selected purely on popularity on PCPartPicker, I'm not even going to pretend to justify them. And, I've been watching PCPartPicker builds for a while and completely trust everyone here. Noctuas, though, are a force of habit - I like quiet.

As for the unlisted parts (more hard drives, operating systems, monitors) I already have them from previous builds so didn't add them here (should I have?). OS: Ubuntu 14.04 and Windows 8.1. No optical drive as I haven't used them in years. Monitor: A Dell U2412M + HannsG, with possibly another U2412M on the way.

On a side note, I paid for quite a few of these parts using Bitcoins, it's great to see so many retailers now accepting cryptocurrencies!

Building

The HAF XB Evo is the next incarnation of the HAF XB and is quite utilitarian and functional (rather than beautiful), though it's beautiful in its own way. It was a real joy working with it and having to think about wiring and layout, it's unlike any case I've ever worked with and getting the wiring right felt rewarding. I also noticed how flexible the case was; I removed the SSD cage at the bottom and decided to let the SSD hang. It was easy to move the motherboard in and out of the way when needed. Watching a few videos definitely helped. Splaying the cables out along the sides was quite important and doing a few 'mock' placements of the motherboard to see where the wires would go was useful. There are plenty of 'hooks' in the case to tie bundles of wires to, and I also got some rolls of velcro to bundle them together.

A few (possibly) unconventional things I've done: The rear bottom fans (2x80mm), I made them intake fans; the cool air coming in could help and there's nothing generating heat down there. The front of the case has the H100i radiator on it but is still an intake. The air it blows even under load is lukewarm though, and has not had a negative effect on the rest of the parts. I'll also be getting another 2 fans to make it a push-pull configuration. Just to be safe, there is a top 200mm fan blowing the hot air out; the 200mm isn't connected to any fan headers, it's going straight to the PSU as I want it on full all the time. If needed, I could have put it on the motherboard as the Z97 Sabertooth has plenty of fan headers.

Whining

The assist fans that come with the motherboard can get noisy. I have used Asus' AI Suite III software to only turn them on when the CPU gets hot. However, there is presently no pwmconfig on Linux, so the fans whir on and off a bit. Not too bad but I wish I could control it programmatically. Perhaps in a few months...

The Corsair H100i fans were noisy, although they performed well, I didn't like that they sounded like jet engines. The Noctuas that have replaced them are nice and quiet and work just as well.

The case does allow for a top fan and although I do not like the Megaflow 200mm fan (I don't like LEDs on fans), I couldn't find anything else, nor do I know if other fans will fit up there. I can't 'cut' the LEDs either as they form part of the circuitry, so the fan simply won't work. I saw a video of a Bitfenix 200mm on the top panel, but with only 2 screws. I'm not prepared to do that just yet.

Concluding

I am liking the concept of a horizontal cuboid case, and for now, I am very happy with the flexibility and accessibility of it. I am hoping to stick to similar configurations in the future, or until the next innovation occurs. I also hope that other manufacturers start doing this.

Games are smooth, programming is smooth, rendering works brilliantly. Let's see how the rest of the year pans out.

Editing

Added more photos and preowned parts to the list

July 2015

Replaced the graphics card with an EVGA 980 Ti Hybrid. Removed the rear fan, since the two hottest components (CPU/GPU) were now under closed loop coolers. Added photos.

April 2019

5 years on and I'm still using this build. The 980 Ti has been replaced by a GTX 1080 Ti. Both SSDs have been replaced with 2x1 TB SSDs. All other parts are still performing well and I'm still able to get ~70-90 fps on demanding games with an ASUS PG279Q (2560x1440) G Sync monitor.

Comments

  • 64 months ago
  • 5 points

Great cable management, great description and quality components. +1

  • 64 months ago
  • 2 points

not bad +1

  • 64 months ago
  • 2 points

nice build +1 As for the parts you already had, list them but change the prices to 0

  • 64 months ago
  • 2 points

Good idea thanks, I have done that now.

  • 64 months ago
  • 2 points

Awesome build. I love the detailed pictures and description. The only thing I'd say negative is that the SSD's not being the same size is really bothering me, but that's just my OCD :P. I give you all the +1's I have.

  • 64 months ago
  • 2 points

That's one hell of a box, and I love how you kept it clean and simple.

  • 64 months ago
  • 1 point

just in the future, its not big or anything but put the cpu and ram in the mobo before putting it in the case it makes things a little easier

  • 64 months ago
  • 1 point

nice build man +1 from me. just wondering, i got my 4790k last sat. i bumped mine up to 4.7 GHZ its nice and cool at idle (30 degrees) but under load with cinebench it spikes to the mid 80's. have you had any heat issues with yours. i bought some new IC DIAMOND thermal paste and gunna reapply. your cooler is a little better than mine also. you should check mine out if you get a sec.

  • 64 months ago
  • 1 point

Yes, I'm seeing the same temperatures, by that I mean under prime95 load it goes to the mid 80s. See this, towards the bottom of the page you will find this chart. Under gaming load it doesn't go too high though.

I did some searching and some people say that cleaning and reapplying thermal paste (not the stock paste) would make a difference. I haven't done that.

  • 64 months ago
  • 1 point

thanks a ton that makes me feel a lil better.yea i havn't done much gaming on it yet just benchmarking to get it all set up

  • 64 months ago
  • 1 point

Are you using the rear fan from the motherboard (50mm I think)? Is it intake or outtake?

Great build!

  • 64 months ago
  • 1 point

I am using that rear fan as an intake. There is a dust shield that comes with it, so no fear of contamination inside and intake seemed like a natural choice. I wanted both the 50mm as well as the other (45mm, facing down) blowing strongly underneath the armor.

One thing to mention though, the two little fans can get a bit whiny/noisy. It's not bad most of the time, only apparent under very heavy load and during startup/shutdown.

  • 64 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you for your answer! I did not know there was a dust shield for the rear one.

I have heard they can be noisy but I will probably use a PWM controller for them.

  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

How's your rig been holding up?

I used to diss those Sabertooth motherboards, but your pics of that armor plating has hot me thinking otherwise. It's pretty cool. You mention not liking the LEDs on fans, but that light would seem to bounce beautifully from the armor.

Did you get Linux to set a fan profile for adjusting their RPM yet?? :)

I'm about to build a similar PC in the same case, so just been lurking around, necro'ing old threads. Cheers! :)

  • 36 months ago
  • 2 points

Sorry for late reply, never got notified of this message!

A few things changed since posting that - I got a GTX 980 Ti Hybrid, images towards the end. Its pipes go all the way to the top and the top LED fan wasn't needed any more, so that 'problem' went away.

I never solved the Linux profile, I adjusted it in the UEFI, I guess I've just gotten used to it.

In this new setup, with both CPU and GPU under all-in-one water loops, I've noticed a lot less dust collecting. I barely have to clean the insides any more.

  • 36 months ago
  • 1 point

Good to hear. Thanks for the reply!

  • 8 months ago
  • 1 point

i wish every build had this many pictures. beautiful cable management overall a great build. just bought this case, still trying to figure out my fan configuration. this was very helpful.

  • 64 months ago
  • 0 points

How is the case i want to build it

  • 64 months ago
  • -2 points

Not a fan or the HAF series, i personally would have gone for a Air 540 instead, however, great build and +1.

[comment deleted]
[comment deleted by staff]
  • 64 months ago
  • 2 points

They should ban you from these forums.

  • 64 months ago
  • 2 points

Why?What did he say?

  • 64 months ago
  • 1 point

There was a guy that posted a link begging for money.

As you can see the comment or post was deleted by staff.

Keep up the good work Mod's..

  • 64 months ago
  • 1 point

Ah,I see.

  • 64 months ago
  • 1 point

I would give dude but im waiting for my check