Cougar Evolution Chassis ReviewBluePanda -
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Alright, so the outside has my approval, but what does it matter if the innards aren’t worth while? Let’s take a look inside and see if this chassis still gets my liking after getting some hardware in and cooking up the temperatures. Cable work and cooling are two key features that no case can do without, no matter how good it may look.
Inside, you’ve got a 120 mm tiger-orange fan mounted at the rear. Although you can’t see it in these shots, another 120 mm orange fan is mounted up in front of the HDD bays. The typical arrangement of external and internal bays is in order and if you so desire to, you can even remove the HDD cage completely. A hodge-podge of cables is tied up in the external bay area, waiting for some hardware to plug into. There is an extra SATA and Molex connector to power the front docking station – a couple extra cables that shouldn’t be an issue (especially for the added bonus of the docking station).
There doesn’t look to be a lot of room on the backside for cable management, though it’s important to remember the side panel has a nice little convex region to accommodate some extra bulge. Otherwise, there are not a ton of places to be hiding things, other than down by the HDD carrier unless you have 4 drives already mounted there. For me, it involved some typical panel squeezing skill and quick thumbs to get the panel on. Overall, it is no different than your average side panel of cables. I will note, however, that there are no water cooling grommets on the cable pass-through holes. The edges aren’t rough, but it was odd not seeing grommets as they’ve become so standard in cases these days.
The external bay drives are held in with the typical plastic clips that seem common to every modern case. I haven’t run an optical drive in a long time nor have I had the need to mount any HDDs in this area in the last few years, but it’s nice to see a somewhat effective standard between companies.
The drive trays for HDDs and SSDs are the best design I’ve come across in some time. A lot of these are made of stiff plastic that involve popping out the metal nubs designed to hold your drive in and even snapping the trays in half. The super flexible ones seem to be too weak and cheap-feeling. There just hasn’t been a happy medium I’ve found…until now. The part with the nub actually slides out, allowing you to set your drive in place and simply pop the nubs in; no more fighting to keep them in place as you try to get the other half of your drive in place. The SSD mounting option is centered so you don’t have to pull out nubs to mount your SSD. (I always seem to lose the nubs once I remove them). Enough said; these are AWESOME!
Looking at the back of the case from the inside, you can see a closer look at the 120 mm COUGAR fan. If you’ve never seen one before, it’s pretty nifty looking with ribs on the fins and a COUGAR logo in the center. They look like some pretty quality fans; perhaps, this adds to the cost of the case a little, but they may also add to cooling. I guess we shall see if they do.
If you take a look at the motherboard tray from this angle, you will see a little brass pin in the center for holding your board in place. I was pretty happy to see that it wasn’t plastic, like many cases in the past; you’ll find solid brass mounts here. If you also look around at the mounting positions where you might usually screw in risers, you’ll see some raised bumps. With the excessive number of standoffs you are given, don’t let it trick you into thinking you need to screw them into these bumps. Instead they are already the right height to line up with the brass peg. You’ll only actually need a couple of the standoffs; why they give so many, I’m still not sure. If you use them on the bumps your board will be torqued wrong – just think level and you should be good.
If you look down by the PSU mount, you’ll see what looks a bit like a small handle. Pull on this and you will find a nice removable fan filter from the bottom of the case. This makes it quick and easy to get rid of any cat hair or other build-ups that your PSU has helped collect down there. These also seem to be becoming standard on cases, but it’s nice to have found one with a nice removing method that isn’t awkward to pull out.
Looking at the back side still, you might have not noticed before, but there is a raised portion on both the back and the left side panel. It’s a place to lock your closed case and keep people out – though to be honest, if they were going to steal your stuff, they’d probably just take the whole rig. I’ve never been a fan of locks, but I guess it’d be a good way of keeping your parents out of your or even their own case; it keeps them from unplugging things they shouldn’t (though this causes issues for cleaning). I don’t know many people who use locks, but the option is there.
The usual case manual is packed in a bag with extra screws and two 3-way splitters for the fan controller. However the controller only supports 1 amp for each of the two channels, which gives you a total of 12 W to work with – probably best for case fan cooling (just something to consider when hooking things up). A few zip ties are included to help you route cables and a couple of hard plastic grommets are there to put in the back for water tube routing.
Getting everything in wasn’t much of a hassle; you just have to be a little careful with cable routing, just as with many smaller cases. If you are used to larger full tower cases like the HAF 932 or CM Storm Trooper, then you might be a little disappointed with the space you have to work with. I wouldn’t really call the Evolution a full tower case; it might accomplish the dimensions to be called a full tower, but I think it really should be considered a mid-tower. Size is something to consider when you are looking to buy this one – it’s quite a bit smaller than most full tower caliber chassis.
While I had it plugged in, I grabbed a couple shots of the fan controller to give you an idea of how it works out. If you press the power button and turn on your rig, the lighting around the button lights up in blue. It stays blue unless you change fan speeds. In that case, pressing the left button for group A fans changes the color to green. The color dims or brightens with reduced or increased fan speeds respectively. As an infinite nob that spins with no stops, the light will flash when you reach either minimum or maximum fan speeds. Leaving it alone when you are done making adjustments and it will go back to its standby blue color in about 5 seconds. The group B control works the same, though with green lighting. It’s a pretty nifty little thing; just be careful not to accidentally power down your rig with the big power button in the center.