Installing 2.5/3.5″ drives into the sturdy trays was a straightforward process. Each method is tool-less, with the exception of installing a 2.5″ drive into the 3.5″ tray, and perfectly secure.
Building a system in the Cougar Challenger was very easy, ignoring the form-factor-related constrictions. A centralised ‘guidance’ stand-off helped us position the motherboard over the correct area. Cougar uses an excellent tool-less 5.25″ drive installation method which was simple to operate and resulted in a secure mount.
With 44mm of clearance above the motherboard’s upper edge, 240mm radiators such as the Corsair H100 will fit perfectly in the roof. If you prefer the high-end air cooler route, an enthusiast-friendly 169mm of clearance can be used to house the market’s largest coolers such as Noctua’s NH-D14 and Phanteks’ PH-TC14PE.
In terms of our build’s cable tidiness, we had to settle for mediocrity. 22mm of clearance behind the motherboard tray and only 25mm of space behind 3.5″ drives made routing cables a difficult task. The omission of tie-down points didn’t help our efforts of securing a routed cable in place, meaning that, as soon as we stopped holding it, the lead would fall and disturb its neighbouring wire.
Granted, part of the issue can be put down to our 670W power supply’s thick cables, but their diameter is no greater than that of your average mid-range PSU’s leads. The fact of the matter is, Cougar simply overlooked the cable clearance requirements for a mid-range system comprised of a power-hungry graphics card and multiple storage drives.
Large power supplies up to 160mm in length can be installed in conjunction with a bottom-mounted 140mm fan. If a 120mm fan is used, the PSU’s length can extend to 180mm without any problems being caused.
Black front panel cables are easily camouflaged against the Challenger’s dark interior.
It’s worth noting that the obscenely large USB 3.0/2.0 header caused issues during our installation procedure. Due to its immense thickness, a pair of neighbouring fan headers was rendered inaccessible, forcing us to route 3-pin cables to a less-than-ideal location. If your motherboard’s internal USB 3.0 header is in a different location to that of our Asus P8Z77-V board, make sure that interference issues aren’t going to be encountered.
The recessed PCI and motherboard IO areas eliminate any issues that may arise due to protruding cables.
An optical drive which utilises a black bezel is highly recommended to maintain effective colour-coordination.
The 200mm front fan’s red LEDs emit a warming glow when in use. Subtleness is a key factor that ensures LED-lovers will find the intensity of glow sufficient, whereas LED-haters won’t condemn it for being too overpowering.