Introducing the Cougar Challenger

It's fun to review the big enthusiast-class cases like the NZXT Phantom 820 and the Mini-ITX and Micro-ATX custom marvels like the BitFenix Prodigy and SilverStone SG09, but the fact is that cases like those aren't doing the grunt work on the market. That job is usually handled by standard ATX cases in the sub-$100 bracket, where bang for the buck matters most. Hovering around the $80 price point there are often good deals to be had, and that appears to be true again with the Cougar Challenger we have on hand today.

Selling for $86 on NewEgg, the Cougar Challenger is capable of offering a pretty healthy performance profile along with a couple of added perks like the hotswap SATA tray on the top of the case. But what was sacrificed to reach the sub-$100 price point, and might you still be better off spending up a bit on a different mainstream enclosure?

Cougar got in touch with us to see if we'd be interested in reviewing the Challenger; they're a fairly young company based out of Germany, and I have a very soft spot for underdogs and startups. I championed BitFenix pretty hardcore and still do, because these smaller companies are often very hungry for your business and are typically willing to take risks. The result is that oftentimes you can find diamonds in the rough and bring to light a product that people might otherwise miss.

Cougar Challenger Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor Micro ATX, ATX
Drive Bays External 3x 5.25”, 1x 3.5"
Internal 7x 2.5"/3.5"
Cooling Front 1x 200mm intake fan; supports 2x 120mm/140mm
Rear 1x 120mm exhaust fan
Top 2x 120mm/140mm fan mounts (or 1x 180mm/200mm)
Side 1x 120mm/140mm fan mount
Bottom 1x 120mm/140mm fan mount
Expansion Slots 7
I/O Port 2x USB 3.0, 1x Headphone, 1x Mic, SATA hotswap bay
Power Supply Size Standard ATX
Clearances HSF 170mm
PSU 220mm
GPU 16" / 410mm
Dimensions 10.6" x 20.2" x 20.6"
268mm x 514mm x 523mm
Special Features USB 3.0 connectivity via internal headers
Toolless 5.25" drive bays and 3.5" drive sleds
Integrated SATA hotswap tray
Removable drive cage
Price $86

Feature-wise the Cougar Challenger is fairly strong, particularly thanks to the SATA tray. Stock cooling is also healthy, with a 200mm red LED intake fan and a 120mm exhaust fan, allowing for a basic positive pressure design. For all intents and purposes, this is a modern ATX enclosure. So why am I feeling kind of underwhelmed by it?

In and Around the Cougar Challenger
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  • geniekid - Monday, October 29, 2012 - link

    If they were targeting the younger market, they should have at least been consistent. The front and the main body look like they're from two different cases. They should've at least made gratuitous use of non-right angles, plastic, and jagged edges on the main body if they were selling this to young children building their own rigs.
  • Geraldo8022 - Monday, October 29, 2012 - link

    I like the looks of it and I might buy one. After all I almost bought a Pontiac Aztek.
  • piroroadkill - Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - link

    Don't knock the Aztek! The ideal vehicle for the budding meth cook..
  • just4U - Monday, October 29, 2012 - link

    Perhaps it's time to start sharing with these companies what are views are on a perfect case.

    For me I'd like something smaller along the lines of Silverstone's Temjin TJ08 but with a window to show off the build. Must have dust filters.. a removable motherboard tray would be nice (like the older lian-li's) Antec's usage (and coolermaster's) hard drive mounting system) generous space behind the motherboard for hiding wires.. Looks wise? should be more refined and tastefull. I like lighted fans but their something I prefer to put in myself if the build warrants it.

    Hits in the past for me were:
    Lianli PC60A
    Antec Super lanBoy (original not those horrors they released last year)
    Antec Sonata 1/2/3 (no .. it wasn't silent)
    CoolerMaster Storm Scout
    Corsair Carbite 600T
  • just4U - Monday, October 29, 2012 - link

    oh btw.. it doesn't have to have alot of fans.. front back top make them easily accessable to.
  • piroroadkill - Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - link

    So get a Fractal Design Define R4 with the windowed side panel. Done.
  • piroroadkill - Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - link

    Here, even did the work to find it on newegg for you.
  • just4U - Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - link

    lol.. there was no need. I am aware of Fractal Design's cases. We just started getting them here. The R4 is a nice case and priced fairly well but it has the door which is a star off in my opinion. I do however like their mini. It's very much on par with the Temjin from Silverstone. Both lack windows and while the silverstone does have a removable mb tray it's not really up to what some might be used to with older Lian-Li designs.
  • eBob - Monday, October 29, 2012 - link

    I can only come up with one word for my reaction to this case. I didn't even bother to read the rest of the review. I can't see anyone over the age of 14 wanting this.
  • Telset - Monday, October 29, 2012 - link

    Seriously are these the same people that made the cool cougar evolution case?
    I have the cougar evolution its awesome. But this is kinda ugly but probably looks better with 2 fans on the top to make it more uniform.

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