Introduction

Introducing the Cooler Master HAF 500 mid-tower case, Cooler Master’s latest entry marks the return of the classic HAF (High Air Flow) series case. The HAF 500 is typified by a pair of 200mm ARGB intake fans, support for dual 360mm radiators, a 120mm GPU fan that can be tilted to account for various length GPUs and will be available in black and white. It features elements aimed to streamline the user experience and is designed for maximum airflow and peak performance.

The Cooler Master HAF 500 will have an MSRP of $149, making it not cheap, but also not the most expensive, it’s geared for the enthusiast market. It will have a 2-year warranty. There is even a flagship HAF product in the works called the Masterbox 500, price is to be determined on that one. Today we will be reviewing the Cooler Master HAF 500 black case.

Cooler Master HAF 500 Case Angled View Full System Installation Lit Up

The Cooler Master HAF 500 Case

Cooler Master has outfitted the HAF 500 with a three-sided, low-restriction mesh panel upfront that puts a bit of space between the two 200mm ARGB fans. This ‘breathing room’ is especially helpful for keeping noise in check when employing airflow-oriented case fans – most fans are fairly quiet on their own, but will produce noise when mounted to something restrictive, like a mesh grill or a heatsink.

The front fan mounts in the HAF 500 has provisions for three 120mm fans, two 140mm fans, and of course two 200mm, including fans of up to 30mm thick – such as Noctua’s  200mm x 30mm NF-A20 PWM, or Phantek’s 120mm x 30mm T30-120. The two MF200R ARGB fans that Cooler Master ships in the HAF 500 are 200mm x 25mm.

Also notable as a ‘high airflow’ case, the HAF 500 uses a mesh front panel design with large filtered intakes to promote high airflow, though there are no other dedicated dust filters on the front. There is a magnetic filter on the top fan positions. This is important for buyers to know, and not something that we hold for or against Cooler Master here – this is a HAF case, after all.

Cooler Master HAF 500 Case Top Panel
Cooler Master HAF 500 Case GPU Cooler Fan

Moving behind the front fans we find one of the more notable features of the HAF 500, which is a 120mm fan on a hinged mount. Affixed to the top of the dual 3.5” cage, this fan can be adjusted to direct airflow toward a graphics card, potentially reducing temperatures or noise

The particular fan used here is one of Cooler Master’s SickleFlow 120 fans, in this case, a PWM version that lacks any lighting. It is also a standard-sized 120mm fan which means that it can be replaced if desired, though probably won’t be necessary as it does manage to push a good amount of air without generating much in the way of noise.

Above the drive cage and tiltable fan, Cooler Master has placed a medal panel that obscures the three front-most cable routing cutouts. The panel is shaped to provide more room toward the top which helps route unwieldy ATX 24-pin leads and USB 3 cables to the motherboard while the bottom section is shaped so as to not block longer expansion cards. Directly behind the panel and the first column of cable routing cutouts is a second column of three cutouts that have rubber grommets, providing ample routing options for fully-featured motherboards.

Cooler Master HAF 500 Case Side View Inside Case

Cooler Master has provided a plastic removable PSU cover, as opposed to a fixed partition, which provides quick access to the power supply when needed. This shroud is long enough to cover PSUs of up to 180mm in length as well as a larger cable routing cutout in front of the PSU and strikes us as a good balance between aesthetics and ergonomics, as it provides a clean look while keeping access to the PSU and its many cables power leads accessible.

Cooler Master HAF 500 Case Side View Case Open

Motherboard support ranges from ITX to EATX boards of up to 12” by 12.2” in size, with the caveat that larger EATX boards will likely limit cable routing options somewhat. Cooler Master has stamped the motherboard tray with a legend as well as corresponding labels for the appropriate mounting points for various board sizes and has pre-installed standoffs for ATX.

Cooler Master HAF 500 Case Inside Back of Case

Cooler Master has used an RGB SickleFlow 120mm PWM fan for the rear exhaust, rounding out the seven total 120mm intake or exhaust fan positions, with the same combination of three 120mm or two 140mm or 200mm fan positions at the top.

Cooler Master HAF 500 Case ARGB Fan Hub

For air cooling, CPU coolers of up to 167mm or supported, easily fitting the beefy be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4, while the 410mm of GPU clearance makes the 305mm  ASUS ROG STRIX RX 5700 XT O8G GAMING look downright short. Cooler Master also claims 30mm of space behind the motherboard tray for cable routing and in our experience, this is definitely plenty of room to get various cables where they need to go.

Also behind the motherboard tray is a powered fan and ARGB distributor. Five ARGB headers and four DC or PWM fans can be attached, and for systems that do not feature an ARGB controller, the reset switch may be repurposed to control lighting.

Additionally, Cooler Master has used rubber grommets with narrow holes as 2.5” drive mounts. By installing the included knurled pegs into the bottom of up to two 2.5” drives, the drives can be mounted by pressing the pegs into the two sets of four grommets. This method of drive mounting is tool-less and strikes us as a fairly elegant solution – so long as you don’t lose track of those pegs if you don’t use them right away.

Overall, the Cooler Master HAF 500 is on the more spacious side for a mid-tower. A bit of extra space in the front and the top presents a wide range of air- and water-cooling possibilities while generous allowances for cable routing make the process of getting everything hooked up and then buttoned up fairly trivial.

Tempered Glass Panel

The full coverage tempered glass side panel uses a screwless and tool-free TG side panel design and looks quite nice. It did take more force than we’d have liked to remove the first time and can be a bit fiddly to replace – but most annoying was the protector film, which did not pull cleanly off as one edge was underneath one of the stamped metal trim pieces. While the panel did start to become easier to remove and reinstall, or perhaps we’d just gotten better after practice, having to scrape out the remaining film is a memory that sticks with us. Most people enjoy peeling off the protective film and having it get stuck on one side did kill that moment.

Top and Angled I/O Panel

Cooler Master has provided a modernized set of buttons and ports for the top I/O, with the typical power and reset buttons along with two USB 3.0 type-A ports, a USB 3.0 type-C port, and a combination headphone and microphone jack. We expect that most will appreciate the type-C USB port, but those that utilize the combined headset jack will need to make sure that they have the appropriate connector or adapter.

Case Front and Rear

The front panel of the HAF 500 is removable and has no connection to the rest of the case. There are three tabs on each side that must be pressed inward to release the panel and it seems that this is best-done bottom to top, as the top I/O ports stick through the panel. The panel is a bit difficult to remove the first time and replacing it involves lining up the I/O ports, but given how well the ports do line up the design is functional.

The front panel provides a generous cavity for the two 200mm fans, and once the panel is off these fans are completely exposed. For those that would like to move or replace these fans, Cooler Master’s design comes across as very DIY friendly.

One example of this flexibility would be to put a 360mm AIO in the front of the case and move the two 200mm fans to the top as exhaust, and the opposite will also work.

On the cooling front, we’d also like to note that the 200mm fans appear to be fairly restricted in terms of the inner steel panel. While the 200mm fans are still able to push plenty of air and do so without generating an objectionable level of noise, it would be nice to have seen the front of the case less restricted. The size and positioning of the cutouts look to be more optimized for three 120mm fans.

Cooler Master HAF 500 Specifications

ColorBlack, also available in white
MaterialsSteel, Plastic, Tempered Glass
Dimensions L x W x H (mm)516mm x 224mm x 510mm
Maximum CPU Cooler Height167mm
Maximum GPU Length410mm
Total Expansion Slots7
Motherboard Size SupportATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX
Input / Output Panel2 x USB 3.0 Type A, 1 x USB 3.0 Type C,  3.5mm audio combo jack
Power Supply SupportATX, up to 180mm
Internal 3.5″ / 2.5” MountsTwo with removable trays
Internal 2.5″ MountsTwo behind the motherboard tray
Included Fans2 x 200mm ARGB DC at front
1 x 120mm ARGB PWM at rear
1 x 120mm PWM on top of HDD cage
Front Fan Positions3 x 120mm / 2 x 140mm / 2 x 200mm
(200mm fans with 154×154 hole spacing, up to 30mm thick)
Top Fan Positions3 x 120mm / 2 x 140mm / 2 x 200mm
Radiator SupportTop: up to 280mm or 360mm
Front: up to 280mm or 360mm
FiltersBottom for PSU
Top covering all airflow cutouts
WarrantyTwo Years

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John Tharp

Long-time follower of computer gaming and computer assembly from the days of the i386, photographer, husband, and lover of gaming peripherals

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9 Comments

  1. Good review, thanks!

    I like this, I wonder if CM would introduce a non-rgb / non-glass version at some point.

    But if I was really into a blingy Diarrhea Christmas Lights sort of case, this would be it.

  2. [QUOTE=”Burticus, post: 47259, member: 297″]
    I like this, I wonder if CM would introduce a non-rgb / non-glass version at some point.
    [/QUOTE]
    They certainly could – they do have non-RGB versions of all of the fans used, and I’m sure a steel panel would be cheaper than the tempered glass.

    [QUOTE=”Burticus, post: 47259, member: 297″]
    But if I was really into a blingy Diarrhea Christmas Lights sort of case, this would be it.
    [/QUOTE]
    You can just turn the lights off 🙂

    Sort of defeats the purpose, but since the case actually does have pretty good airflow, that’s the real reason to pick it up. There’s no shortage of hyper-blinged cases on the market!

  3. I have always liked Cooler Masters stuff. My TR is stuffed into a HAF 932, my Regression build is in a NR200P. The NR200P is a very nice case, the 932 is just large, but it fits anything.

    Everything else I have is Antec or Corsair. The Corsair Carbide 240 is probably going to get liberated from storage for a cheap Intel build. I’d like to redo my Plex box.

    I’m in agreement about the RGB. The Regression box already looks like a poster PC for LGBQTSPlunge parade. It’s a simple thing to swap fans.
    Nice review

  4. The HAF cases were always great budget offerings in my opinion. Reasonable quality, good layouts and solid cooling performance. They aren’t my favorite in the looks department and aren’t as nice as more expensive options out there, but they fill a niche and do so very well.

  5. [QUOTE=”Dogsofjune, post: 47271, member: 168″]
    The NR200P is a very nice case
    [/QUOTE]
    Wouldn’t mind reviewing one of these, but I’d actually considered it for my wife’s system.

    Main complaint?

    They don’t have matching panels all around on the pink version 😎

    [QUOTE=”Dogsofjune, post: 47271, member: 168″]
    It’s a simple thing to swap fans.
    [/QUOTE]
    Definitely. Personally – and this is personal, so I didn’t put it in the review – I’d be moving the 200mm fans to the top and putting in a 360mm AIO in the front.

    [QUOTE=”Dogsofjune, post: 47271, member: 168″]
    Nice review
    [/QUOTE]
    Thanks!

    [QUOTE=”Dan_D, post: 47273, member: 6″]
    The HAF cases were always great budget offerings in my opinion. Reasonable quality, good layouts and solid cooling performance. They aren’t my favorite in the looks department and aren’t as nice as more expensive options out there, but they fill a niche and do so very well.
    [/QUOTE]
    I’ll say that I was somewhat surprised at just how solid the case felt, including the plastic – it really is built better than it looks. I also noted in Wendell’s review at Level1Techs that they found the motherboard tray to be a bit flexible. I didn’t notice that, but I also didn’t try pulling on it – and once the motherboard was in, whatever issue it could be, it no longer was.

    The fans are also pretty nice. I called them ‘above average’, and I think fan manufacturers are really paying attention to folks not wanting objectionably loud or annoying fans regardless of target RPM. The RGB on the fans isn’t the best, but they do move air relatively quietly.

    Along with the removable top… for an inexpensive case with great out of the box airflow – our Lian Li O11 Dynamic XLs were over US$200 and came with no fans! – that’s this easy to work in, it’s a pretty straightforward recommendation.

    …if you can get past all the shiny 😎

  6. [QUOTE=”LazyGamer, post: 47275, member: 1367″]
    Wouldn’t mind reviewing one of these, but I’d actually considered it for my wife’s system.

    Main complaint?

    They don’t have matching panels all around on the pink version 😎

    Definitely. Personally – and this is personal, so I didn’t put it in the review – I’d be moving the 200mm fans to the top and putting in a 360mm AIO in the front.

    Thanks!

    [/QUOTE]
    Not a lot to complain about, but…. It requires a small SFX or SFX-L power supply. I had a 650 watt Corsair already, second thing is, there is not a lot of “Drive Bays” space. One could use some ingenuity and get an SSD or two in there easy enough. HD though? It’d look ugly to me if it’s 3.5″.
    2.5″ HD is doable.

    I like the options for mounting the GPU, however if you do mount it vertically you are restricted on a heatsink fan combo. You do have to really dissect it to install the mobo and such as well, but that isn’t a biggie.

    It’s a sturdy case. There are certain Matx boards that fit in it as well. Which I thought was a plus.
    The Asus ROG Strix RX 480 is a fair sized GPU. It fits with no issue. I got both the glass and vented side panel with mine. I was unsure of the glass side, but it stays cool enough, and isn’t that horrible as a fingerprint magnet.

    The GPU has RGB, the ram is RGB, and it has the AMD Wraith Prism on a Gigabyte B450 with RGB. I had to go glass side to be LGBQT parade like.
    Not good for sleeping around tho… Bright.

    Case is solid, cool and easy to install stuff in. When completed it’s a decent looker, Watch the fan speeds. It can get noisy.

  7. [QUOTE=”LazyGamer, post: 47265, member: 1367″]
    They certainly could – they do have non-RGB versions of all of the fans used, and I’m sure a steel panel would be cheaper than the tempered glass.

    You can just turn the lights off 🙂

    Sort of defeats the purpose, but since the case actually does have pretty good airflow, that’s the real reason to pick it up. There’s no shortage of hyper-blinged cases on the market!
    [/QUOTE]

    Yeah I mean we are paying for the RGB fans and the glass. Why pay extra for stuff I don’t want. My tower sits under my desk and is rarely seen (Antec P100, one of the last great big black boxes with good airflow, silent running, and not an RGB to be found. Oh, and an optical bay).

    If it was sitting on my desk, and I was into the light show, this would be cool. But glass irks me, fingerprint magnets. And I’m lucky to take my rig apart and blow it out once a year (I do clean the filters fairly regular)… can you imagine what kind of dust storm the HAF 500 would be like with those 2 giant 200mm fans sucking in dust and cat hair… all for the world to see bc of glass panel.

  8. Nice review. I find that fan above the hard drive cage a bit odd/gimmicky, but other than that it looks like a solid case.

  9. [QUOTE=”Niner51, post: 47335, member: 106″]
    Nice review. I find that fan above the hard drive cage a bit odd/gimmicky, but other than that it looks like a solid case.
    [/QUOTE]
    It’s not going to help every GPU, but it did seem to help the ASUS 5700XT we’re using. Main advantage where it helps isn’t so much in terms of temperatures, but rather in relieving some of the cooling that the louder GPU fans have to do. As I noted in the review, the GPU fans are by far the loudest component of our test system, so anything that lets them spin a bit slower generally also lowers the noise ceiling.

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