The Cougar Challenger is a decent mid-range case that incorporates some unique and useful features.
Cougar has styled the Challenger to appeal to a gaming-orientated market. The angular front panel, sharp side panel window and enjoyable ‘pilot missile unlock' power button allow gamers to choose a chassis that is fun to use on a daily basis. Subtle hints of orange and the front fan's red LEDs also help to promote the sense of a gamer-intended case.
Overall, cooling capabilities of the Challenger are no better than mediocre. A single 120mm exhaust simply lacks the might to eject the heat created by a power-hungry graphics card and processor. The 200mm intake fan does its best to force cool air into the chassis, but this is of little use if the hot air isn't being ousted.
On the positive side of cooling, Cougar equips the Challenger with a vast quantity of fan mounts, giving users the freedom to upgrade the case's heat-removing potential, as they desire.
Expansion is a very good aspect for the Challenger. Plenty of HDD/SSD mounts and the freedom to install large hardware means that a powerful system can be built inside this case, provided you make good use of its internal capacity. An external 3.5″ drive bay is a less common feature amongst today's cases, but one that this editor is overjoyed to see. Not everybody has migrated away from 3.5″ card readers, USB hubs or fan controllers. The hot-swap drive bay is another convenient and time-saving attribute.
A good degree of component clearance gives users the flexibility to regularly change their hardware without having to worry about dimension constraints. Graphics card up to 410mm in length and 169mm CPU coolers are right at home in the Cougar Challenger.
Due to the limited amount of clearance behind the Challenger's motherboard tray and 3.5″ HDD cage, cable management can be rather difficult. For a basic system consisting of a modular power supply, graphics card and single storage drive, the cable management space is adequate.
To a mid-range target audience that is likely to use more than a single storage drive, a power-hungry graphics card and a large power supply, space constrictions quickly become an aggravating problem.
The Cougar Challenger is priced at $65.99 at Newegg. Given the case's limited cable management, mediocre cooling abilities and current lack of (realistically priced) availability in the UK and Europe, it is impossible to make the Challenger an unambiguous recommendation. Good expansion options, a unique gaming style and some exclusive features have saved the Cougar Challenger from eluding an award completely, making it worthy of consideration.
- Amusing missile-style power button.
- Hot-swap HDD tray.
- External 3.5″ bay.
- Good expansion options.
- Plenty of fan mounts.
- Large CPU cooler backplate cut-out.
- Non-existent availability in the UK and Europe.
- Limited cable management clearance.
- Appearance is an acquired taste.
- No fan controller.
KitGuru says: If you are looking for a gamer-styled case that offers good expansion options, the Cougar Challenger is worthy of consideration.