Cougar is quickly becoming one of my go-to manufacturers in the PC hardware world. They not quite as well known as the heaviest hitters out there, but that may not be the case for long. Cougar is making a name for themselves by offering high quality components and peripherals for lower prices than the competition. We’ve reviewed two of their peripherals in the past, and have spent time with several others, and in every case have been impressed. The same is true today as we turn our attention to the Cougar Panzer S dual sided tempered glass case. For a mere $99, this easy to build in case is one of the best values in PC building today.
Here are the specs:
- Case Type: Mid-Tower
- Dimensions: 208x565x520 mm
- Motherboard Support: Mini ITX/Micro ITX/ATX/CEB
- Drive Bays: 2 x 3.5”/ 4 + 2 x 2.5” (+2 converted from 3.5”)
- I/O Panel: 2 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0 /Headphone/Microphone
Total Fans: 8 maximum
- Front: 3x120mm, 2x140mm (3 Red LED pre-installed)
- Top: 3x120mm, 2x140mm
- Rear: 1x120mm
- Bottom: 1x120mm
- Front: 360/280/240/140/120mm
- Top: 360/280/240/140/120mm
- Rear: 1x120mm
- Bottom: 1x120mm
- Expansion Slots: 7
- Max GPU Length: 425mm (with frontal fans)
- Max CPU Height: 160mm
Tempered glass is the hottest trend in cases today (that and RGB). It offers a great, usually complete, side window into to inner workings of your machine. Glass is also unlikely to scratch, a problem which is rampant among the soft plastic windows in non TG cases. Most sub-$150 chassis that include a glass window limit themselves to one side or sacrifice functions and ease to make the price point. Not so with the Cougar Panzer S.
The S (differentiated from the standard Panzer by its three included LED fans) is clearly one of the best value tempered glass cases on the market today. It’s big and spacious with lots of radiator support. There is some basic built-in cable management with well spaced routing holes and clips on the rear for securing cable ties. It features plate-based hard drive mounting, attached by thumb screw for easy installations. Put simply, this is just a very easy case to build in regardless of your preference for air or water, and one that can look fantastic with even a little bit of effort.
See us build in the Cougar Panzer S case and the final product!
The front and top panels of the case feature a porous grill, arrayed in a series of angles the company says is military inspired. The Cougar logo is emblazoned in gold and even the blue USB 3.0 ports (two 3.0, two 2.0) look good against the gunmetal finish. The whole package frankly looks great. It’s an understated stylization and one I appreciate when so many cases are opting for odd futuristic contours or, conversely, boring black boxes. I don’t need my PC to look like a spaceship, but I would like it to have at least a little flair, and Cougar nails it. More importantly, these grills are extremely breatheable, allowing for great airflow and cooling potential.
When I built our recent Ryzen system, I was impressed at how easy it was to channel all of the wires. From behind the PSU shroud (another nice aesthetic feature), your power cables route out the back through a large cutout. Other cutouts are directly lined up with all of your major connections - SATA, 8-Pin, 24-Pin, the works - to minimize the amount of visible wiring in the case and keep clean channels for airflow. There were no long pulls to make connections, just route, connect, and pull the slack out the back. With a full length graphics card installed, there is some obstruction, but since you should be connecting your SATA drives before a GPU in most builds, this shouldn’t be an issue.
Disassembling the case is very easy. Like most cases, the top and front grills pop right off, though the top comes off a bit too easy. The side panels are attached by thumb screws. Be careful! The downside to tempered glass is that it can break and become extremely dangerous when it does. On each glass pane is a non-removable sticker warning you of this fact, but more than once I tried to remove the side panel without angling it far enough and risked breaking the pane entirely.
I’m a big fan of the Panzer’s hard drive mounting system. Before building in it, I’d only used hard drive trays for my HDD storage. Connecting the power and SATA cables was always a chore and worse if you were replacing a hard drive once everything was together. Here, you screw the HDD onto its plate, connect your cabling, and fix it in place with a single screw. Everything is easier to access, and getting those drives out of the main chamber means one less obstruction to airflow. It also allows the use full-length or even extra length graphics cards since there’s no cage to get in the way.
I was also pleased that Cougar thought to include dust filters. While we should all be opting for neutral or positive case pressure to prevent dust build up, sometimes this just doesn’t work out and the filters are a good safeguard for cleanliness. They will need to be cleaned regularly, but that’s a small price to pay for a dust free system.
There are two limitations new system builders should know, though the first is more like a PSA. 5.25” drives are going the way of the dodo and like many modern cases, the Panzer S leaves them out entirely. If you rely on a disc drive, you’ll have to invest in an external solution or swap to USB media. Second, is that despite being an excellent case for air cooling, the 160mm height limitation may impede some of the larger air coolers on the market, including the popular Noctua D-15. It’s also worth noting that, though the S version features three LED fans in the front, there are none in the top or rear, so it will need at least one additional fan for exhaust.
Overall, though, what you’re getting for $99 is a steal. The Panzer S is a gorgeous case that makes building in it a breeze. The airflow is great and there’s lots of room for your choice of radiator configurations. If you have a monster CPU cooler, you may be out of luck, but for the rest of us, it’s just a fantastic option at this price point.
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.