If you’re putting together a gaming PC build on a budget, the order of expenses from highest to lowest usually goes something like this:
- Video Card(s)
- Power Supply
That’s usually the case when working with a tight budget – most of the expense should go to the GPU and the highest quality motherboard you can afford. CPUs don’t affect performance nearly as much as the GPU, and even lower end models like the Haswell Core i3 can have games running at near peak performance.
For most people, it’s hard to justify spending as much on the chassis as they do on any other part, so it’s usually at the bottom of the list. Luckily, gaming oriented cases have not only gotten cheaper over the years, the designs have improved as well. Cougar is one of the many PC hardware manufacturers that offer gaming chassis for a decent price. Today we’re looking at the Cougar MX500 case, which retails for around $70.
That leaves the power supply, and if you need a lot of juice, you are often looking in the $200+ range or more for a modular unit. Today we’ll also look at the CMX v3 power supply from Cougar, a 1000W unit that is 80 Plus Bronze certified, semi modular, and sells for around $150.
Cougar CMX v3 Power Supply Overview
The Cougar CMX v3 is available in wattages from 550W all the way up to 1200W. The unit we have here is 1000W, which is suitable for high end dual and triple graphics builds.
The Cougar CMX v3 is a semi-modular PSU, with the 24-pin ATX, dual 4/8-pin CPU, and a pair of 6/8 PCI-E power adapters permanently attached. In addition to that, there are four more PCI-E 6/8 power outputs split across two 12V rails. This gives the unit support for up to 6 PCI-E outputs in total, which would be needed for a triple graphics setup.
The permanently attached cables use standard sleeves. They are installed tightly, but in my experience this type of sleeving almost always becomes loose after a while, and can be a bit of a hassle.
The main 24 pin ATX cable is 54cm long (21 inches), the PCI-E is 50cm to the first connector, and 11.5cm to the second (20 + 4.5 inches) and the 8 pin ATX/EPS is 62.5cm to the first connector, and another 30cm to the second (24+12 inches). Unlike power supplies designed when most cases placed the PSU at the top, these cables are sufficiently long to reach their ports, even when routed behind the motherboard tray.
In addition to these permanent cables, there are eight modular cables included in the CMX v3 1000W:
As you can see, Cougar is using flat rubberized sleeves on all their modular cables. This is probably a personal preference thing more than anything, as some people may prefer a more flexible cable. To me, I really liked working with these. They were flat and pliable, making routing them easy. Of course if you spend enough time, you can make any cabling system look clean. By default, these will work well for most people.
I also like that they include options for 4 port or 3 port SATA cables. In many cases, this will allow builders to get away with using just one modular cable for all their drives, keeping things clean with little effort.
One thing that is missing (but not missed) are floppy power adapters. It’s good to see these things finally go away, as they do nothing other than get in the way any more.
As for how the CMX v3 performs, we’re just including it as an overview as part of this Cougar MX500 case review. Trusted power supply review site Jonny Guru has reviewed the 850W version, and found that it is capable of being labeled an 80 Plus Silver PSU instead of the Bronze that it is certified for. That is to say, it’s a pretty efficient unit with little ripple or noise. I think this 1000W version can be trusted for a high end dual GPU or even a triple GPU setup for most people. The lower price will allow you to put more money towards a better GPU or faster storage, which is what will give you the most benefit. From there, you can trust that the PSU will run things reliably for years to come.
Cougar MX500 Case Review
With that, we can move onto the Cougar MX500 mid-tower case. This case is almost identical to the Cougar Challenger we reviewed a while back, so we kind of know what to expect.
In fact the front fascia is essentially the only major place where the two cases differ. The Cougar MX500 has a more understated look than the Challenger, with no brightly coloured accents or anything crazy like the flip-top power switch protector. It’s just a standard, rather nice looking case.
Cougar MX500 Specs
|Max CPU Cooler Height||165 mm / 6.5 "|
|Max Video Card Length||300 mm / 11.8" (with 7 x 3.5" drive bays)
330 mm / 13" (with 4 x 3.5" & 3 x 2.5" drive bays)
410 mm / 16" (with 4 x 3.5" drive bays)
|Case Dimensions (HxWxD)||475 x 210 x 480 mm
18.7 x 8.27 x 18.9 "
|External Drive Bays||3 x 5.25"|
|Internal Drive Bays||4 x 3.5" plus EITHER:
3 x 3.5" or
3 x 2.5" or
0 x extra bays (for long video cards)
|Front Panel Headers||USB 3.0 x 2
USB 2.0 x 2
SD card reader
|Cooling System||Front: 120mm or 140mm fan x 2 (120mm x1 included)
Rear: 120mm x 1 (included)
Top: 120mm or 140mm x2, or 180mm x1 or 200mm x1
Bottom: 120mm or 140mm x 1
Side: 120mm or 140mm x 1
|Motherboard Type||micro ATX, Mini ITX|
|PSU Type||Standard ATX|
In total, the Cougar MX500 offers support for up to 7 fans, which is standard for a gaming case like this. Two fans are included, which we’ll take a look at on the next page as we check out the Cougar MX500 from every angle.