Cooler Master HAF 500 Case Review

Conclusion & Video

Cooler Master HAF 500 Case Review

Conclusion - Mixed Feelings

We love the Cooler Master HAF series, because we feel that the series represents something that makes the custom PC market a great thing. The HAF "High Air Flow" series of cases has a simple design goal, and that goal is to deliver "High Air Flow". Simple, right? For that reason, we have mixed feelings about the Cooler Master HAF 500.

For starters, we will say that we love the HAF 500's design aesthetic. The HAF 500 is a great looking case, but that alone is not what makes a HAF series case a proper HAF series case. The HAF series needs airflow, and this is where the HAF 500 doesn't impress us. 

The good news with the HAF 500 is that the case only offers users a mesh front panel, eliminating the glass fronted options of prior generation to commit the HAF series fully to its High Air Flow legacy. Sadly, while Cooler Master made a good decision with the HAF 500's front panel, they did not fully consider what sits behind the HAF 500's large 200mm fans. Just look at the picture below and you will see what we are talking about. Most of the area of Cooler Master's large 200mm fans are covered by sheet metal!

When looking at the front panel of Cooler Master's HAF 500, the term "design flaw" comes to mind. While we can see that their front panel design allows users to mount large 360mm or 280mm liquid cooling radiators, what it also does is block the hardest working areas of Cooler Master's 200mm fans. As such, this design blocks much of the airflow that Cooler Master's dual 200mm fans are designed to deliver. If we were buying this case for our own use, we would get out our tools and cut some proper vents for Cooler Master's 200mm fans. As it stands, we don't think the HAF 500 is delivering the "High Air Flow" that it could. 

On top of Cooler Master's poor front panel design, we also feel that Cooler Master should have shipped this case with higher maximum fan speeds for its 200mm fans. While the 800 RPM max speeds that this case' fans offer offer ample airflow and are practically silent, higher speeds would offer "High Air Flow" enthusiasts some extra oomph. While we adore silent PC cases, we also feel that the HAF brand should stand for "High Air Flow".    

Cooler Master HAF 500 Case Review

Aside from he glaring flaw that we mentioned above, there are a lot of aspects of the HAF 500 that we do like. We love the fact that this case has plenty of room for a top mounted 360mm radiator, we like its external aesthetic and we like the amount of space that the case offers internally. From a modder's perspective, this cases gives us a lot of ideas, but for £139.99, we feel that this case has too many compromises for us to give it a strong recommendation. In all honestly, a lot of what we would "mod" on this case are things that we feel that Cooler Master should have offered from the factory. Proper ventilation for those 200mm fans for starters.

When testing Cooler Master's 120mm GPU airflow fan mount, we found that it didn't make any difference to our GPU temperatures. That said, we believe that the fan would have worked better on a graphics card with Axial fans. A cooling solution like this does not work optimally with blower-style heatsink designs. With GPU thermals rising, we feel that new ideas like this are important. That said, our results do not showcase significant GPU cooling benefits for HAF 500 users.  

Performance-wise, the HAF 500 does well in our performance charts. The case's included fans are quiet, and at low fan speeds it delivers strong cooling performance. That said, we expected better from a HAF series case. Those front 200mm fans could deliver much more airflow than they currently do, and that has turned what could have been a great case into something that we believe shouldn't had HAF series branding. The HAF 500 looks like a "High Air Flow" case, but some questionable design decisions have left us to conclude that it isn't. That makes us sad.

For the Cooler Master HAF 500, we have a case that we feel could have been a lot better. If you bought it, we wouldn't' say that you made a mistake, but we would recommend other cases before this one. 

You can join the discussion on Cooler Master's HAF 500 case on the OC3D Forums

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Most Recent Comments

20-01-2022, 14:21:25

WYP
This case could have been soo much better. It's a real shame.Quote

20-01-2022, 15:50:46

Deadtroopers
The phrase you were looking for is 'HAF... Arsed'. There seems to be something in the Cooler Master house ethos to get to a plateau of goodness and then fall off the mountain altogether. Rubbish? Not HAF! How the hell can you name a case as Hgh Air Flow and NOT design it around the fans that make it so? How can you name a case HAF and fail to deliver the aesthetic associated with the name? It would serve them right if Thermaltake ripped this off... and did it properly!

As I wrote, this appears to be a brand defect. I'm just in to disassembling to re-orientate a C700M and noticing build & execution quality problems that are just... I was going to write juvenile; but they would put a youngster to shame. Some of that comes from tacking obvious-when-you-get-close plastic aesthetic pieces on a metal box skeleton. The execution of the aesthetics was much, much, better on the Cosmos II. Sloppy seems to be CM's middle name aesthetics-wise, and needlessly letting form get in the way of function.

This HAF 500 looks to be a nadir of inexcusable god-awfulness. The depths have been reached when I can suggest Thermaltake could do better. CM seem to have no long-term corporate memory of their own errors and no long-term awareness of the rest of the market, their mistakes, and recovering from those mistakes. Nevermind an inability to recognise reviewer's constructive criticisms; and nevermind take them on-board.

Perfect case for sticking a RTX 3080 12GB or RX 6500 XT in though. 'Be The Steaming Pile Of Odure You Dream You Are' seems to be the motto de jour. Quote
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