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Cougar Panzer MAX Full Tower Gaming Computer Case Review

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Introduction

No matter how amazing the individual components in your computer are, the case you house them in is the most visible part the first thing everyone sees. As the home of everything except your monitor and peripherals, it’s often the first thing many builders pick out when planning a build. If you pick the container before you pick the contents, you often find yourself limited in one way or another on what you can and can’t install. With the Cougar Panzer MAX, that won’t ever be a problem! With room and flexibility to fit almost any combination of hardware and cooling you can come up with from a tiny air cooled mini-ITX to a monster Extended-ATX with quad GPUs, Cougar has you covered.

Pro Clockers would like to thank Cougar for sending us the Panzer MAX to check out, so let’s dive in and see what all the fuss is about!

Cougars Take on the Panzer Max

Panzer Max is a full tower gaming case that has been designed with gamers, overclockers, modders and professional level computer lovers in mind. It provides you with unprecedented levels of freedom when designing your system and choosing its components, has superb cooling capabilities and sports an attractive, professional looking design that will enhance any area you put it in.

Superior Expandability: Panzer MAX brings you unprecedented levels of freedom when designing your system. Its support for six different motherboard form factors and up to four double slot 390mm graphics cards allows you to install all the computing power you need, while the possibility to host up to six storage devices will provide plenty of space for your files.

Superior Cooling: Plenty of cooling is a key factor for gamers, overclocking and PC enthusiasts in general, and Panzer Max offers all they could ask for. With support for up to eight fans and four water cooling radiators, you will enjoy more than enough cooling horsepower to keep even the most advanced components safe from overheating. To complement this, its intelligent cable management system will keep all the cables behind the motherboard tray, allowing Air to flow unobstructed and dissipate the internal components’ heat.

Superior Design: It doesn’t matter where you install it: a computer built in Panzer Max is an impressive sight. With a metallic-like military inspiration design with a big side window, this case can both be a professional looking armored style build or a flamboyant LED fan equipped spectacle: the decision is yours. The easily removable covers and the orifices on all four sides make modding much more convenient, and allow you to transform it into whatever you want it to be. Other features such as the keyboard tray to free desktop space, the headphone hook, the four USB plugs and the two handles will contribute to make your life easier.

About Cougar

Created in Germany in 2007 by a group of engineers, COUGAR has been devoted since its first day to a single objective: to endow every single product with a superb quality, a rich functionality and a distinctive design. As a group of gamers, with successful products right out of the gate, Cougar jumped into the gaming gear market to counter the flood of poor quality and gimmicky gaming devices. Their first keyboard and mouse, the 700K and 700M respectively spent 3 years in development and landed well received on the market garnering many positive reviews and awards, including the prestigious iF Product Design Award in 2014. Cougar has since worked closely with Pro Gamers to completely fulfill the needs of gamers everywhere and in less than a decade has risen to be a global leader in gaming hardware, “Real gear for real gamers”.

Features & Specifications

Specifications

Case Type

Full Tower

Motherboard Type

Mini ITX / Micro ATX / ATX / CEB / L-ATX / E-ATX ( E-ATX upto 12″x11″ )

Dimension (WxHxD)

266 mm x 612 mm x 556 mm

Chassis Dimensions

220 mm x 460 mm x 450 mm

5.25″ Drive Bay

2

3.5″ Drive Bay

2

2.5″ Drive Bay

4+2 (converted from 3.5″ drive bays)

Expansion slots

8

Cooling system

 

Front

120mm x 3 / 140mm x 3
120mm x 2 (non-LED fan pre-installed)

Top

120mm x 3 / 140mm x 2

Rear

120mm x 1 (non-LED fan pre-installed)

Bottom

120mm x1 / 140mm x 1

I/O Panel

USB3.0 x 2 / USB2.0 x 2
Mic x 1 / Audio x 1
Fan Controller

Water Cooling Support

Front

360mm / 280mm / 240mm / 140mm / 120mm

Top

360mm / 280mm / 240mm / 140mm / 120mm

Rear

120mm x 1

Bottom

140mm x 1 / 120mm x 1

Max. Graphic Cards Length

390mm

Max. CPU Cooler Height

170mm

PSU

Standard ATX PS2

Cable Management

Yes

Total Fan

8 Max.

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Features

  • Military Metallic Style with Big Side Window
  • Headphone Hook: Convenient location for your headphones that saves you desk space.
  • Keyboard Tray: Liberate your desktop when you’re not using your computer.
  • 35kg Handle Support: easy transportation
  • Tool-less opening and removal of all covers: easy installation
  • Easily moddable
  • 4 USB Ports (including 2 USB 3.0 ports): Extended connectivity

Contents & Packaging

Cougar doesn’t waste money on colorful boxes, opting instead for a simple monochrome design over the cardboard box. With a simplified drawing of the Cougar Panzer MAX case taking up a 3rd of the front, the case highlights can be found near the bottom with the cougar logo, motto and case name taking up the remainder of the clean design.

The back of the box expands upon the features list with some diagrams indicating the interior layout and maximum hardware support, including fans and radiators.

The side of the box gives the full specifications as well as another clean picture of the case and the cougar logo and motto: “Real Gear for Real Gamers”.

Inside, we find the chassis wrapped in a soft cloth bag and cradled in heavy Styrofoam blocks to protect from any damage during shipping.

You probably saw the torn handle and crinkled corners on the outer box in the pictures above, none of that trauma was transferred to the case itself. Being supported on all six sides by Styrofoam over an inch thick has its advantages.

Removing the cloth bag, we get our first look at this awesome chassis! Notice the window is covered by a scratch protective film.

A Closer Look: Exterior

The striking military-esque style frame around the Cougar Panzer MAX case comes to a head at each corner with a carbon fiber appearance. The corners look like you could easily strap on a cargo parachute and air drop your rig right into the middle of a battle.

The top front edge holds the angled front panel. Two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 (type-A) ports surround the 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks. The Power and reset buttons as well as the controls for an integrated fan speed controller surround the gold Cougar logo.

Just under the front panel we find two mesh covered 5.25” bays. Not everyone has given up optical drives, and there are many other devices that can occupy these bays, from Reservoirs to Fan controllers to VR access panels, so we’re glad to see these here. The rest of the front of the case is mesh, providing plenty of unrestricted airflow to the interior. The right side of the case is occupied entirely by a single easily removable door with quick release handle.

Pressing the mesh grill inwards on the front allows it to pop out and be removed for cleaning or installing fans. The 5.25” bays can be removed allowing up to 3 x 140mm fans or a 360mm radiator to be installed in the front. There is room between the front mesh and fan mounts to install normal 25mm thick fans or possibly a thin radiator so you don’t lose that space inside. The front comes with two cougar 120mm fans pre installed.

The top of the Cougar Panzer MAX case has a similar design, about 2/3rds of the case top is a mesh panel, and the rest is broken up into a smaller solid panel. Two fixed handles can be found on top of the case, and both are extremely heavy duty, rated to 35 kg or around 77 pounds, enough to have complete confidence, even with a very heavy and fully loaded build.

Similar to the front, the top panel is two pieces, one mesh and one solid that can be pressed in and popped out to access cooling gear below. Up to three 120mm or two 140mm fans can be installed here between the grills and the steel chassis. There are also a few large cable pass through to handle all necessary wiring.

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The rear of the case is fairly typical, you have eight I/O slots as opposed to the usual seven, that way, four dual-slot GPUs can be used without blocking any ports. You get three pass through knock outs you can open up to run hoses to external water-cooling gear, a 120mm fan space with a Cougar fan pre installed, and the usual ATX power supply mount. Like the rest of the case, the rear is also recessed in a way that nothing extends beyond the exterior rails. In this scenario, you can push this case right up to a wall or desk back and your cables will be somewhat protected from getting smashed.

A Closer Look: Interior

Taking the windowed door off, we get our first glance of the roomy interior of the Cougar Panzer MAX case and the power supply cover. The power supply cover can keep even the worst nest of extra cables from a non-modular power supply at bay, and ensures the best looking build with minimal effort. The front of the cover is notched to allow fans or a radiator to extend down into the front of the power supply bay, keeping a small amount of heat away from critical components. There is also a 240mm tall air scoop to route some cool air behind the motherboard tray for your drives.

A simple diagram indicates how to remove the PSU cover. The sticker can be removed before showing off your build. The cover was initially hard to remove, but we later found a large piece of foam wedged in the lower compartment to keep this cover secure during transport.

The back of the Cougar Panzer MAX case reveals four tool free sleds for solid state drives, as well as two sleds for 3.5” or 2.5” drives depending on your needs. All six drives can be installed with no tools, but each tray can be removed from the case if you need. We also find that 2.5” bays are angled to allow the front air scoop to direct some much needed air over heavily worked drives. The 3.5” drive sleds have vibration absorbing mounts to keep noise to a minimum.

Six thumb screws later, all of the drive trays can be removed.

The front dual 5.25” bays use a quick release mechanism for easy drive or front panel device mounting.

If you don’t have front bay devices, a few screws can be removed to allow up to three fans or a triple radiator in the front of the case for extreme cooling. It’s nice to see flexibility, this is a huge perk for custom cooling enthusiasts.

Inside a rather nondescript cardboard box twist tied to the rear of the case, we find the manual, accessories like the awesome headphone hanger that can be installed in eight locations on the exterior of the case. All screws needed along with a few zip ties for cable management are in another bag for convenience. The front fan controller can be expanded to control another four fans via two included 1 to 3 three pin splitters. If two triple radiators are not enough cooling for you, the three knockouts on the rear of the case can be protected with included grommets to feed cooling lines to external gear.

System Build & Installation

Build Specs:

  • Case: Cougar Panzer MAX
  • CPU: Intel Core i5-4690k, cooled by EKWB Supremacy Evo block
  • GPU: 3x EVGA GTX 980 SC, cooled by EKWB Full cover blocks with back plates.
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5
  • Ram: 16GB G.Skill Snipper series 1866Mhz
  • PSU: Corsair RM1000, with custom yellow/grey/carbon extensions by Cable Guy Mods.
  • Drives: Four Corsair GT 240GB + 2 SanDisk Ultra Plus 256GB
  • Rad: Phobya 360mm + 240mm
  • Res/pump: XSPC Photon 170 DDC
  • Fluid: Mayhems Sunset Yellow Pastel
  • Fittings: Primochill Revolver SX series + Monsoon 90 degrees.
  • Headphones: Corsair VOID RGB Wireless YellowJacket Edition

The Cougar Panzer MAX case is a pleasure to build in, I was able to install all the major components in short order. I installed the radiators inside the case with the fans installed between the radiators and the outer covers. I could easily squeeze a fourth GPU in the build, but the power supply cover would be nearly as close to the bottom GPU as the cards are to each other, so air cooling may run a little warmer than some would like.  Even with full length graphics cards installed, there is still plenty of room between the GPUs and front radiator to stick a reservoir.

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The top and bottom most ‘slots’ on the outer rails on both sides, front and back are solid with threaded holes for mounting the included headphone hanger.

With a very full system, I had a huge amount of cables to route, and there is plenty of room around the drive sleds, and case edges to handle many times more than I have here.  The majority of the PSU cables are hidden under the power supply cover.  Here you can see a pair of Corsair VOID RGB Wireless headphones hanging from the mounted hook. The four USB ports on the top panel give you a convenience for wireless receivers and USB storage drives.

The four front SSD mounts allow you to just slide the drive in until the front tool free catch snaps into place. The drive sleds only work for 2.5” drives 9.5mm and under, with the unique airflow scoop in the front directing a log of air here, it would be nice to so 12.5 or even 15mm thick drives supported for cheap, large capacity, high-RPM mechanical drives such as Western Digital Velociraptors which are still more affordable to many enthusiasts than a pile of SSD’s.

Installing the top covers after mounting the radiator and fans, I discovered the front section of the removable top plate is very close to the front most fan a few millimeters only. This doesn’t allow great air-flow for this one fan, so I would love to see cougar offer a vented cover piece for this section when a triple radiator is installed in the top of the case.

This is such a heavy duty looking case, and the build quality matches the looks. Subtle gold and carbon fiber accents give just the right amount of contrast without going over the top. This is the completed build with the side door removed.

Final Thoughts & Conclusion

I wanted to save my favorite shot of the Cougar Panzer MAX build for last. Here you get a good view of the subtle but elegant cougar logo etched into the side window.  Unlike some cases, Cougar chose to keep their logo down where it does not block your view of the system.

Overall, the Panzer MAX case is an affordable case that is a dream for many builders. The utilitarian aesthetics stand out from the crowd and will look awesome with nearly any build inside. The included headphone hook is a blessing and solves a problem many gamers have but haven’t really acknowledged. Hanging your favorite cans over your monitor, or on the edge of your desk is just asking for trouble, but that won’t be the case here. Air flow is well thought out, the front is often used as an intake and much of this warmed air is rerouted away from your critical components. The large amount of flexibility gives enthusiasts the reigns to do what they need to do to get the ideal build without resorting to heavy modding.

Subjectively, I LOVE this build, I hate to tear it down later. For a case that retails for around $150, you would be hard pressed to find the same quality and flexibility for the same price point and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy this case was to build in. I was a little disappointed in the fan clearance for the front most top fan, but covering half that fan may not make much difference in cooling power in the long run. The Cougar Panzer MAX receives our Highly Recommended Award!

ProClockers was founded way back in 2004, with a goal to provide unbiased PC hardware and tech reviews. Whilst the first products we reviewed are long gone, we're continuing to review the latest and greatest every month.

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ProClockers was founded in 2004, and since then we have reviewed thousands of tech products, including motherboards, CPUs, graphics cards, PC cases, cooling solutions and more. Whilst many of the original products we reviewed back then have long bit the dust, we continue working hard to provide unbiased PC hardware and tech reviews.

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