Cougar Challenger Case Review
By Gabriel Torres on September 21, 2012


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Golden Award

The Challenger is the latest mid-tower case from Cougar, featuring an external docking bay and an unbeatable price. Let’s see what the Challenger has to offer.

The reviewed case is black with three color options for the trim around the front panel, the fans, and the internal 3.5”/2.5” bays: white, black or orange. We reviewed the model with these parts in orange.

Cougar Challenger
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Figure 1: Cougar Challenger case

Cougar Challenger
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Figure 2: Cougar Challenger case

The case has a transparent window on its left panel. The left panel also has a magnetic plastic mesh that features an air filter. You can install a 120 mm or 140 mm fan on the left panel of this case.

Cougar Challenger
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Figure 3: Left panel

The Front Panel

The Cougar Challenger has three external 5.25” bays and one external 3.5” bay, all protected by meshed covers with air filters. The front panel comes with a 200 mm fan installed. This fan has a three-pin standard fan power connector and a standard peripheral power connector, and glows in red when turned on. No technical specifications for this fan are provided. You can remove the front 200 mm fan and install two 120 mm or two 140 mm fans instead.

Cougar Challenger
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Figure 4: Front panel

Cougar Challenger
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Figure 5: Front panel

On the front part of the top panel you will find two USB 3.0 ports and the traditional audio jacks. The USB 3.0 ports use an internal connector.

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Figure 6: Buttons and connectors

The Top, Bottom, and Rear Panels

The top panel of the Cougar Challenger case is meshed, supporting the installation of two 120 mm fans, two 140 mm fans, one 180 mm fan or one 200 mm fan. One of the highlights of this case is the presence of an external docking bay for SATA devices on its top panel. See Figure 8.

Cougar Challenger
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Figure 7: Top panel

Cougar Challenger
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Figure 8: Docking bay

The bottom panel has a big air filter, which covers the power supply fan and the optional bottom fan.

Cougar Challenger
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Figure 9: Bottom panel

The rear panel and the interior of the Cougar Challenger case are painted in black.

The case has seven expansion slots, using vented covers.

The rear panel comes with a 120 mm fan, which uses a standard three-pin fan power connector. No technical specifications for this fan are provided.

On the Cougar Challenger case, the power supply goes on the bottom part of the case.

There are three holes for hoses of liquid cooling solutions, which come closed with metallic lids. If you want to use these holes, you will need to break the lids and throw them away. However, the case comes with three rubber covers for these holes. These holes are 1.2” (30 mm) in diameter.

Cougar Challenger
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Figure 10: Rear panel

Let’s now take a look inside the Cougar Challenger case.

Inside the Cougar Challenger Case

Both panels are attached to the chassis using black thumbscrews. The motherboard tray has a huge hole for you to access the backplate of the CPU cooler without having to remove the motherboard from the case, several holes for you to route cables behind it, and several metallic clips for you to fasten cables behind the motherboard tray using cable ties.

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Figure 11: Overall look

Cougar Challenger
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Figure 12: A view behind the motherboard tray

Figure 13 gives you another overall look inside the case. Expansion cards are fastened using regular screws, but at least they are black. On its default configuration, the Cougar Challenger case supports video cards up to 11.4” (290 mm) long. You can, however, convert the top hard drive cage from 3.5” to 2.5” (more on this on the next page), allowing you to keep the top hard drive cage while supporting video cards up to 12.6” (320 mm) long. Or you can completely remove the top hard drive cage to fit video cards up to 16.1” (410 mm) long.

Cougar Challenger
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Figure 13: Overall look

As already explained, the power supply is installed at the bottom of the case. Note that it can be installed with either its bottom fan facing up or facing down, so you can decide if you want the fan of your power supply pulling air from inside the case or from outside of it. As already shown, there is an air filter for the power supply fan.

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Figure 14: Power supply compartment

The case supports the installation of one 120 mm or 140 mm fan on its bottom panel. When no fan is installed, you can install a power supply up to 11.8” (300 mm) deep. When a 120 mm fan is installed, you can install a power supply up to 7.1” (180 mm) deep. Finally, when a 140 mm fan is installed, you can install a power supply up to 6.3” (160 mm) deep.

The Disk Drive Bays

The Cougar Challenger case has three 5.25” external bays, one external 3.5” bay, seven 3.5”/2.5” internal bays, and one 3.5”/2.5” external docking bay. Except for the external 3.5” bay and internal 2.5” bays located inside the internal 3.5” bays, all devices can be installed without the use of tools or screws.

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Figure 15: Disk drive bays

The case has two hard drive cages. The upper one has three 3.5”/2.5” bays, and the bottom one has four 3.5”/2.5” bays. This case provides a very flexible configuration for its top hard drive cage. You can remove it if you want to improve airflow and/or install very long video cards. However, if you want to install video cards between 11.4” (290 mm) and 12.6” (320 mm), you have the option to convert the top hard drive cage from 3.5” to 2.5.” (The case comes with three 2.5” drawers to make this possible.)

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Figure 16: Top hard drive cage converted into 2.5”

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Figure 17: Case without the top hard drive cage

Each 3.5”/2.5” bay is a small drawer. See Figure 18.

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Figure 18: One of the 3.5”/2.5” bays and one of the 2.5” bays

Main Specifications

The main specifications for the Cougar Challenger case include:

* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.

Conclusions

The Cougar Challenger case provides a terrific value for the users who are looking for an affordable mid-tower case with features usually found only on more expensive models. The plastic parts and the metallic sheets are thinner than those used on more expensive cases, but at this price range we can’t complain at all.

Strong Points

Weak Points

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Cougar-Challenger-Case-Review/1638


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