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Cougar Panzer EVO RGB Chassis: Big and Bold

By Gareth Harmer on June 16, 2018 | Hardware Reviews | Comments

Cougar Panzer EVO RGB Chassis: Big and Bold

Big and bold, the Panzer EVO RGB certainly makes a statement. Hot on the heels of Cougar’s earlier tempered glass models, this full-tower case adds remote control RGB fans for a distinctive desktop look. Throw in the PSU shroud and flexible storage options, and the result is a clean-looking build with low stress. But is it worthy of the title ‘RGB Crystalline Titan’, as Cougar has named it? We’ll be taking a closer look in this, our full review.

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With an RRP of $219, those disco light fans come in at an extra $60 over the more mundane model, but that also includes a smart Cougar Core control box to wire up even more lights, plus a remote control to quickly set the mood. The new model also introduces a USB 3.1 Type C connector on the front panel to hook up more recent accessories.

Even if you’re not a rainbow magpie, this case does come with a number of useful features, although many are common throughout the Panzer range. But is the Panzer EVO RGB a strong choice for the general purpose gamer, and can it meet the specialist needs of the MMORPG crowd?

Enter the Rainbow

When looking at PC cases, there’s been an emerging trend in the last year for huge quantities of tempered glass and a liberal coat of RGB lighting. Although it’s not a preference shared by all gamers, manufacturers have been falling over themselves to meet this demand with innovative and fresh designs. As the first RGB case from Cougar, the Panzer EVO RGB certainly meets the criteria; tinted tempered glass gives real pop to those lights, while also helping to minimise any cable mess

Even so, as part of our assessment, the box still needs to meet the needs of the MMO gamer. Large glass panels look great, but good airflow and air filtration need to be possible without cranking those RGB fans up to a deafening roar. Likewise, the rig needs to provide ample storage options for all those games without breaking the bank by loading up on SSDs. And ultimately, the design needs to be flexible and durable enough to last, even though we might replace the internals several times over.


Freshly unboxed and empty

The great news is that Panzer EVO RGB fulfils all of these needs. Glass panels on the front and roof are mounted on standoffs and have slight cut-outs to promote good airflow through the included magnetic air filters. A pair of removable carry handles are securely bolted to the roof, supporting builds up to 35kg without smearing the glass. And two removable 3.5” drive bays are located on the back provide space for traditional hard drives, even though the four SSD slots feel a little excessive. There’s even an adjustable hook for hanging your headset between sessions.

That said, there are some compromises. Optical media has been dying for a while now, and the Panzer EVO RGB doesn’t support any of those larger drives. Also, by shifting all storage onto the rear of the motherboard tray, cable management can get a little tight. Those magnetic air filters might also become problematic, should you want to mount a radiator and fans on the same metal plate.

Stats

  • Case Form Factor: Full-Tower
  • Motherboard Type: Mini ITX / Micro ATX / ATX / CEB / E-ATX (E-ATX upto 12"x11")
  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 266 x 612 x 556 (mm), 10.47 x 24.09 x 21.88 (in)
  • 3.5" Drive Bay: 2 (removable)
  • 2.5" Drive Bay: 4+2 (converted from 3.5" drive bays) (all removable)
    Expansion Slots: 8
  • Cooling system
    • Front: 120mm x 3 / 140mm x 3
      120mm x 3 COUGAR VORTEX RGB fan pre-installed
    • Top: 120mm x 3 / 140mm x 2
    • Rear: 120mm x 1 COUGAR VORTEX RGB fan pre-installed
    • Bottom : 120mm x1 / 140mm x 1
    • Maximum Number of Fans: 8 Max.
  • I/O Panel:
    • USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C
      USB 3.0 x 2 / USB2.0 x 1
      Mic x 1 / Audio x 1 (3.5mm / 0.125in socket)
      Fan Controller (3 speed settings)
  • Water Cooling Support:
    • Front: 360mm / 280mm / 240mm / 140mm / 120mm
    • Top: 360mm / 280mm / 240mm / 140mm / 120mm
    • Rear: 120mm
    • Bottom: 140mm / 120mm
  • Max. Graphics Card Length: 390mm / 15.35in
  • Max. CPU Cooler Height: 170mm / 6.69in
  • Max. PSU Length: 220mm / 8.66in
  • PSU: Standard ATX PS2
  • Cable Management:Yes

Unboxing & Construction

It sounds obvious, but the first thing you notice about the Panzer EVO RGB is the size. Clocking in at roughly 22” square (the removable handles add an extra 2” of height) and nearly 11” wide, this case is designed to handle almost any rig you could choose to build, including 4-way SLI and double-radiator watercooling. 

A significant chunk of those bulky dimensions is taken up by plastic and mock carbon-fibre moulding that extends out an additional 2”. On the front and roof, this additional space is used to house fans and provide cooling clearance, while underneath it provides ample space from carpet if floor-based. These plastic parts can be unbolted and removed, as can the handles, to support spray painting and modding for that complete custom look.


Steel & plastic cornering extends nearly 2” from the case body; glass sheet standoffs on the roof provide 1.5” clearance for installing fans; approx. 2” of space for storage drives and cable management

The four tempered glass panels come coated in a peel-off protective film, and are held in place by thick and easy to grip thumbscrews. But the most striking feature is the subtle tint to the sheets, which gives significant pop to any internal lighting, while also helping to hide any clutter behind the motherboard tray and minimise the appearance when the rig isn’t powered on. It’s an effect that I’d not seen in a PC case before, but which definitely makes a difference.

One feature I wasn’t expecting to use, but which has instead been surprisingly useful, is the headset hook. The front of the case has four different mounting points for this hefty plastic triangle, but it can stay in the box if you don’t want to disrupt those clean lines. For me, it’s become an invaluable desk tidy.

Getting inside, and there are further pleasing points. Rubber grommets for cable holes are pretty standard these days, but the black plastic PSU shroud is a welcome addition that helps hide a nest of cables. Likewise, the black air intake helps to keep SSDs cool while masking the various mounting bolts and brackets.


Empty, glass removed, right side


Empty, glass removed, front

The Panzer EVO RGB is supposed to support a range of motherboards, including ITX, mATX, ATX and even some EATX. That said, using mATX (as in our test build) will require using additional standoffs to support the lower edge. It’s also clear that ATX is the sweet-spot for this case, as stepping up to a 12” x 11” EATX board will cause some of the cable holes to be obscured, further complicating the build.

For a standard ATX build, clearance and space isn’t an issue on the motherboard side, with support for 8.6” PSUs, 15.3” GPUs, and 6.6” CPU coolers. On the reverse, the recessed motherboard tray provides roughly 2 inches of space for running cables and mounting drives, though things can get a little cramped if all the optional drive bays are filled. The open design means that there’s plenty of holes to thread cables through around the top of the motherboard, and down from the roof, and the tinted glass means that most of these cable runs will not be visible.

However, I’m not a fan of using dimples or domes to mount motherboards, generally preferring brass standoffs instead. Grumbles aside, the holes lined up perfectly, indicating how precisely the case had been machined.


Limited space between the Corsair H100i V2 (roof) and motherboard means that fans cannot be mounted below. Also note the redundant cutouts next to the radiator hoses

Installing a closed loop cooler was a bit of a challenge, however. Using the Corsair H100i as an example, the default configuration of mounting the radiator in the roof with the fans beneath wasn’t possible, as the motherboard VRM heatsinks would get in the way. It’s a similar story on the front of the case, as the removable plastic air guide also limits space. In the end, I mounted the radiator fans between the roof and glass sheet to pull air through, but it means that a push-pull setup will need compromises.

Looking around to the rear, and it’s clear that Cougar has crammed in plenty of storage options. That’s not always a good thing, however, as I found that loading it up with a full set of drives would make cable management difficult. Thumbscrews have been used to make all of these drive bays removable, but the confined space can mean that going ‘tool-free’ isn’t an option. I’d also have liked more tie points or loops on the rear for attaching cable ties.

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