Just in time for Christmas we have a mid-tower for you, this time from Cougar. The MX500 promises to be a case with a gaming centric design and the capability to handle just about any ATX/mATX setup you could want to throw at it with an array of possible drive setups. With the promise or flexibility and expandability the MX500 looks to target gamers and ever since we got our hands on their Vortex PWM fans we knew Cougar was capable of making quality products. Let’s see if they can continue to impress us.

Product Name: Cougar MX500

Review Sample provided by: Cougar

Review by: Debo

Pictures by: Debo

Specifications

Model Number

MX500

Case Type

Mid Tower

Case Material

SECC Steel

Case Dimensions

210(W)x 475(H)x 480(D)

Motherboard Compatibility

ATX / Micro ATX

Front Port Connections

USB3.0 x 2, USB2.0 x 2, HD Audio

Power Supply Mount

Standard ATX PS2, bottom mount

Expansion

External 5.25” Bays

3

External 3.5” Bays

None

Internal 3.5” Bays

7

Internal 2.5” Bays

3 + 4 (converted from 3.5''drive bays)

Expansion Slots

7


Packaging

Cougar has chosen to go with a pretty standard packaging for the MX500 and our first introduction to the case’s styling comes from the picture on the front of the box. Also included are the usual bullet points on features.

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The reverse is where we get to set a better layout of the cases features as well as the three internal options for those extra-long video cards. In practice, the MX500 is supposed to be able to handle cards up to 410mm (16 inches) in length meaning it can handle anything and everything on the market today. The full specifications are nestled on the side of the box.

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Inside we find the goodie box. Included with the MX500 are three 2.5” hands free brackets for your SSDs, the side fan filter, users’ guide, optional rear grommets, and case screws.

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The last thing in the box is, of course, the case.

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Outside

We’ll start our in-depth look at the MX500s outer shell starting at the front port connections. Here we find a pair of USB3.0 and 2.0 ports as well as the usual HD Audio jacks. The power button is LED lit and glows blue when in operation as does the HDD activity indicator on the reset button.

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Moving back a little bit further we find the top fan placements. The holes are laid out to accommodate up to two 120mm fans or a dual 120mm radiator. The filter is held in by pins and can be removed for cleaning.

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Moving on to the side panel, we find the side fan filter and 120mm fan placement. This filter is removable for easy cleaning as well but is secured to the case by four small magnets. While it does fit in place as intended I can’t help but think how easily this filter and guard would fall off under constant movement or even during a trip to a LAN. It would have been nice to see some way to permanently secure the guard to the case beyond the magnets.

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Now we take a look at the rear of the MX500. The motherboard connections, rear exhaust and expansions slots are all pretty par for the course. What is different; however are the optional knockouts for water cooling solutions. These are the holes the included grommets are meant for.

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The bottom of the case is our last stop. Here we see openings for the power supply fan as well as a place for another 120mm case fan should you so wish it.  These openings are covered by a dual fan filter, which like the side fan filter is easily removable and held to the case by small magnets. The same problems are here as well as with too much movement the filter will probably fall off so beware and handle gently.

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Inside

Now we blow the doors off at take a look at the MX500’s guts. Front cover removed, we see the front intake fan placement. Here there is room for a pair of 120mm fans as well as a place to easily route their power connectors back to the motherboard.

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The motherboard plate in the MX500 has a large opening for easy installation of aftermarket cooling solutions and four large open channels to route cabling. It would be nice to see these openings with rubber grommets like in other cases but the holes have no sharp edges so it is really more of an aesthetic thing.

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The MX500 has a deep well for your ATX/mATX motherboard and comes set in the A format seen on the outside of the box. In this set up there is room for up to seven standard 3.5’ HDDs or three SSDs and 4 HDDs. The external 5.25” bays are tool-free and easy to install any optical drives or fan controllers you may have.

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Installation and Performance

Now it’s time to put the MX500 through its paces with an actual install. For added stress we used a non-modular power supply to fully test the cases ability to rout cabling as well as the large radiator of the H80i CPU cooler to further complicate things space wise. All in all the system installation was as hassle free as it could be. The tool-free HDD rails are a breeze and secure the drive in place without much effort. It was nothing to mount the motherboards and CPU cooler and the expansion slots held the video card in tight.

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The true test of a case, at least for me, though are the little things. Cable management is a crucial part of case design and system builds and a place where some fall just short. To assist us behind the motherboard plate, Cougar has tilted the motherboard plate in ever so lightly to give us a rather large ¾ of an inch to work with. This may not seem like much but most cases usually give you less than ½ an inch to route cables back here. The all-important hole for the motherboard’s 8-pin power is also present making me happy and as you can see; even with a non-modular power supply the cable management out of sight isn’t quite the nightmare one would expect.

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Overall and Final Verdict

Cases are defined more by their price point than by anything else and the MX500’s MSRP puts it firmly on the cusp of mid-range amidst some stiff competition including the Chaser A31 I recently reviewed. While the MX500 does lack that certain eye-popping flash I will say the design is solid overall and very functional. The layout is flexible and even offers support for future growth which makes it perfect for those looking to the future.

This isn’t to say the MX500 is without its flaws. The magnetically held fan grills are nice in the sense that they are easily removed for cleaning but overall this leaves them feeling like cheap additions rather than a functioning part of the case. The rubber logo on the top part of the case and is completely unnecessary as it could have easily been replaces by raised metal logo like the top exhaust grill immediately behind it. The last issue I take is with the included stand offs in the case as there were only two. I was lucky and had plenty on standby as building systems is what I do but for the average, everyday consumer this could be a problem.

All in all the MX500 is a very functional case with its nice features and questionable design choices in equal parts. The case feels well put together and features a nice black powder coat inside and out but is overall more function that form. In the end, I am left feeling happy from a builders standpoint but a few things could be done to improve the design.

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Author Bio
William
Author: William
Review and Event Staff
William is the newest addition to both the Review and Event staff. Being in charge of power, hopefully you have to see very little of him during our lans. Outside of lans he can be found engaging in his unhealthy obsession with all things gaming in between writing the odd review and bothering Wes at all hours of the day. An avid gamer nearly all his life, it is common for the latest MMO release to cause him to drop off the face of the Earth for a week or two.

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Deb0's Avatar
Deb0 replied the topic: #33543 26 Dec 2013 01:14
Get some hardware for Christmas? Maybe Cougar has a place to put them.

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