Cougar Solution Chassis ReviewBluePanda - April 3, 2012
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Taking off the side panels we can get a good look at the insides and find out what is going to work and what is not. The pre-wiring is a bit messy, but I generally re-route a lot of the case wiring anyway so this doesn’t bother me. It looks like a normal mid-tower in size and is hungry for some hardware. If you take a closer look at where the wiring is going through, you’ll notice a lack of grommets. There aren’t any sharp edges here, but I generally like the looks of grommets to help hide things even more. I guess at this price you can’t have everything.
There is not much to talk about when looking at the back side of the case. There seems to be lots of routing locations for cables but not a ton of space back here for routing the wiring. The side panel does provide a little bit of space to allow you to add in extra cables and squeeze those annoying molex connectors into position.
The back included fan is a nice COUGAR fan with the ribbed blades. When I give it a spin, I notice that it feels like a solid fan. It makes me think they might have been able to include a few fans for the cost of this one, but it’s nice to see quality fans being included with cases. A glance at the motherboard tray and you’ll notice the brass pin to help you align your motherboard as well as some lifters to reduce the use of standoffs. The cut-out is quite large and perfect for dealing with that CPU back bracket that always seems to be hard to install.
The external and internal bays come with a couple of screwless mounts that are vivid orange. The plastic clamps have writing on them to show that the vertical position of the knob is "unlock[ed]" and the horizontal position is "locked". When in the locked position, the knob reads "COUGAR". On the right hand side the drive size is engraved as 5.25”. There are three external bays available, but COUGAR decided you can use screws for the last bay if you have three external mounts.
Looking at the lower bays for internal drives you’ll find a slightly different screwless mount at the top. It’s actually a 3.5” mount for floppy drives. Who still even has a floppy drive in their case? The top two bays here are designed to hold HDD or FDD. This screwless mount will go to waste in most builds unless you have some use for a floppy drive (in 2012?) or have some other odd 3.5” drive to mount. If you have an SSD you need to screw it to the bottom, as there’s only one mounting option that it makes it hard to hook up (see the final build pictures).
The usual install manual was included and looks just like the front of the box. All the instructions were fairly clear diagrams of how to put parts together or how to remove things. A bag of screws was inside that included a couple grommets for the water hole punch-outs. I pulled out the bottom fan filter that sits below the PSU for you to see. It seems like a lot of plastic, and perhaps they weren’t thinking because you actually would have to remove your PSU to take the filter out for cleaning (it’s on the inside of the case). It was sort of a pain to remove let alone to try to put back in place. I think I’d probably just take them out permanently in order to increase air flow if I were going to continue using the case. If it’s that difficult to clean, then it's not worth the hassle to me.
Getting hardware into this case proved to be just as difficult as when you are working with any mid-tower case, but with a few unique extras. The first trouble I had was mounting the rear I/O plate for the motherboard. I actually had to loosen the rear fan to install the plate because the clearances are so tight around the opening. This was surprising since anyone testing the case should have realized there was a clearance issue here.
Routing cables elegantly became impossible when the front audio port cables had no choice other than to drape right across the front of the motherboard (it’s the sort of rainbow looking cable there). I’m pretty sure this is also taut enough to be in the way of a crossfire setup if I did have one. If I installed more HDDs, you can see where the issue would arise next to my video card – there is not a lot of room, but I guess that’s why there are seven drive bays here.
I mentioned it earlier, but if you have an SSD the mounting option is screwing it into the very bottom of the case. You can barely see it under the HDD and all the cables, but this was honestly the best I could do. I had to use the end SATA power connector as the middle chain ones would not fit on but at least it worked. If it were up to me I’d say set your SSD on top of your HDD with some sticky tape or Velcro to keep it in place. Don’t bother with this Frankenstein fix.
In the end it’s a fairly nice looking case on the outside; however, the inside left me wanting more with the awkwardly short, pre-wired cables and painful HDD/SSD mounting arrangement. If you don’t care too much about the inside looks this is a decent case, and for the price you can’t really beat it. Working inside was difficult and pieces felt cheap and breakable. To me, this chassis isn’t enthusiast grade, but rather a "build it once and leave it alone" type of case.