Okay, we’re total converts: Cougar Evolution review

Sometimes we look at the specifications of products before we get them in our Labs and think “ok looks good” but when the product hits the bench we become converts. The Cougar Evolution gaming case is one of those products. On paper and no doubt in this review the features we describe show the case as sounding pretty good – and I can tell you the reality is even better. It’s a strange one too as a well-designed PC chassis is a great thing but it rarely drives anyone to begin evangelising.

The Evolution is a fairly normal mid-sized tower case with a couple of great features. Internally it resembles most high-end PC cases with clean neat rolled edges and a pleasant design with intelligently placed cable runs. There are four 3.5in hard disk drive bays using a tool-less plastic caddy method and one of the caddies can have a 2.5in drive (think SSD) installed directly. The Evolution also sports a two-zone built-in fan controller system which is nice if not a tad overenthusiastic.

The features that set this case apart aren’t necessarily unique but have been well-designed and integrated into the unit so it’s better than what we’ve seen before. Here’s an example. The dust filter under the bottom air intakes is easily removable. You grab a little tab at the back of the case and pull and it comes out for cleaning simply and easily. Doesn’t sound like much on paper but if you’ve had to lift or tip your case to unclip a filter while trying not to let it fall over or as we saw in one design unscrew your PSU to get the filter out then it’s an impressive if not obvious design win.

The second nifty trick is the SATA drive bay in the top of the case. It’s a rubberised indentation that drops down exposing a SATA port you can connect to a spare port on your motherboard. It lets you move data around using naked hard disk drives. And that means no USB 2.0 speeds but full SATA throughput. The drive sits in there safely and securely and when you’re done it pops back up to protect the port from dust. Neat tidy and clever.

Available from Cougar retailing for $165.
APC rating: 9/10 (Editor’s Choice)