Cougar Evolution Case Review
By Gabriel Torres on July 11, 2011


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Golden Award

As you may know by now, Cougar is a brand that belongs to HEC/Compucase, and the Evolution is a mid-tower case with interesting features, such as a 3.5”/2.5” hot-swap docking station, a two-channel analog fan controller, and eight expansion slots, offered for USD 110 in the US. Let’s check it out.

Cougar Evolution case
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Figure 1: Cougar Evolution case

Cougar Evolution case
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Figure 2: Cougar Evolution case

The left panel of the Evolution has an L-shaped transparent window, plus a ventilation mesh that comes with an air filter installed, supporting a 140 mm fan that doesn’t come with the product.

Cougar Evolution case
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Figure 3: Left-side panel

The Front Panel

The front panel of the Cougar Evolution has six external 5.25” bays, all using meshed covers, but no air filters.

Cougar Evolution case
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Figure 4: Front panel

At the bottom part of the front panel, the Evolution comes with a 120 mm sleeve bearing fan (Power Logic PLA12025S12L-4, 1,500 rpm, 52.18 cfm, 28.2 dBA, which is commonly used in products from Xigmatek).

Cougar Evolution case
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Figure 5: Front fan

The Top Panel

The top panel of the Evolution can be seen in Figure 6. It has a mesh, supporting the installation of two 120 mm fans. Two of the highlights of the reviewed case are found on its top panel, its two-channel fan controller and its hot-swap docking bay.

Cougar Evolution case
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Figure 6: Top panel

The analog two-channel fan controller allows you to independently set the speed of two groups of fans. Each channel supports up to 1 A, which translates to 12 W at 12 V. The case comes with one adapter allowing you to connect up to three fans to a single channel, so you can control up to four fans (although three of them will run at the same speed). This controller uses three-pin fan power connectors.

The case also comes with two USB 3.0 ports, which are attached to a motherboard connector instead of regular USB plugs, so you won’t need to route the USB 3.0 cables to the outside of the case and install them on the USB 3.0 ports located at the motherboard rear panel. When buying this case, make sure to buy a motherboard that has at least one front panel header with two USB 3.0 ports available.

The Evolution also has two USB 2.0 ports and the traditional audio jacks.

Cougar Evolution case
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Figure 7: Buttons and connectors

The hot-swap docking bay is hidden by a lid with the manufacturer’s logo. By pushing this lid down, you can install a 3.5” or 2.5” storage device.

Cougar Evolution case
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Figure 8: Hot-swap docking bay

The Bottom and Rear Panels

The bottom panel has a big, removable air filter, covering the meshes available for the power supply fan and for an optional fan. This air filter is removed from the rear panel, so you don’t need to lift your case whenever you want to clean this filter.

Cougar Evolution case
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Figure 9: Bottom panel

Cougar Evolution case
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Figure 10: Air filter

The rear panel and the interior of the Evolution are painted black.

Another highlight of the Cougar Evolution is the presence of eight expansion slots. (Usually, cases have seven.) This allows you to install three or four video cards in your system, depending on your motherboard. The slot covers are vented.

There are two holes for hoses of liquid cooling solutions, but you have to break them if you want to use them. At least the case comes with two plastic rings to be installed in these holes.

The Evolution comes with a 120 mm fan identical to the one available on the front panel installed on its rear panel.

Cougar Evolution case
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Figure 11: Rear panel

The reviewed case comes with a loop for you to install a padlock or warranty seal, preventing unauthorized people from opening the computer.

Cougar Evolution case
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Figure 12: Loop for lock or warranty seal

Let’s now take a look inside the Cougar Evolution.

Inside the Cougar Evolution

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 a few metallic clips for you to fasten cables using cable ties.

Cougar Evolution case
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Figure 13: Overall look

Cougar Evolution case
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Figure 14: A view behind the motherboard tray

In Figure 15, you have another overall look inside the case. The Evolution supports video cards up to 12” (305 mm) long and CPU coolers up to 7.1” (180 mm) tall.

Cougar Evolution case
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Figure 15: Overall look

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.

The case comes with an adjustable bracket that you need to move to fit the power supply depth.

If you install a power supply up to 6.3” (160 mm) deep, you can install a 120 mm or 140 mm fan on the bottom panel. With a power supply up to 6.7” (170 mm) deep, you still can install a 120 mm fan. But if you have a power supply deeper than that, you won’t be able to install a fan on the bottom panel.

As shown before, the bottom panel has an air filter for the power supply fan and for this optional fan.

Cougar Evolution case
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Figure 16: Power supply compartment

The Disk Drive Bays

The Cougar Evolution has six 5.25” external bays and a hard drive cage that has four 3.5”/2.5” bays. All bays use tool-less installation mechanisms, except when you have 2.5” devices.

Cougar Evolution case
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Figure 17: Disk drive bays

You can remove the hard drive cage from the case. See Figure 18.

Cougar Evolution case
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Figure 18: Hard drive cage

Each 3.5”/2.5” bay is actually a small drawer, with rubber rings around its pegs to absorb vibrations and, thus, reduce noise.

Cougar Evolution case
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Figure 19: Drawer

Main Specifications

The main specifications for the Cougar Evolution case include:

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

Conclusions

The Cougar Evolution is an excellent option for the user looking for a fully-loaded mid-tower case, coming at the right price. Therefore, it deserves our Golden Award.

Strong Points

Weak Points

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Cougar-Evolution-Case-Review/1335


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