Packaging and Unboxing
The MX500 arrived to us in typical plain cardboard, thick enough to help any foam packing material absorb shock during transit. While the box seemed relatively sturdy, the cardboard did seem to us a bit dry/brittle. Still, the packaging meets expectation and nothing was injured during transit. The front face of the box includes a black and white image of the case and some basic information regarding it, as well as the Cougar and MX500 name.
The side panel contains information on case specifications, as well as the case color which can only be black as of writing. They also provide you with some QR codes to their website and their Facebook page.
The rear of the box shows you a visual layout of where certain features are located, as well as the different positions that the HDD cage can be placed in; more on that a bit later.
Once we slid the case out of the box, we find that everything is as we expected, with a plastic bag around the case to keep the finish from staining or being scratched during transit. We also find two styro-foam end caps to keep everything in place and absorb shock.
Once removed from all of it’s packaging, we finally see that as gamer cases go, this one has a rather subdued look to it. The face rather reminds us of the Arc Midi, with a clean aesthetic and large front intake area. Visible near the top are the three optical drive bays with flat plastic covers in place; more on those once we get to the system build. You may notice what appears to be thumb screws in the front of the case… well you’d be right, that’s exactly what they are. We find they add just the right bit of industrial flare to the front of the case and break apart what would otherwise be an underwhelming front. The same goes for the nice Cougar emblem in the front mesh and the gloss black trim piece located in the center of the fascia. These thumb screws are also removable along with the piano black trim piece, which would allow you to custom color the front fascia should you desire. By now you may have noticed a lack of front I/O…
… because everything is located at the top of the case. We rather liked this particular design trait, as this allowed the rest of the fascia to remain flat and clean, as was intended. We are given two USB 3.0 ports with internal header, two USB 2.0 ports, speaker and mic jacks, Reset and Power. Both the Reset and the Power button must be very deliberately pressed in order to actuate them, which is good for helping prevent accidental shut-downs in the middle of use. Behind the I/O is a rubber panel with the Cougar logo, present to allow people to keep things on the top of their case and not have them slide or roll around and get lost somewhere else. At the rear we see accommodations for two 120mm, two 140mm, or one 180mm fan, which is also dust filtered and uses plastic retaining clips to hold the filter in place.
The rear of the case shows us the I/O cutout as well as seven PCI expansion slots. There should be plenty of room for up to three graphics cards. To the right of the expansion slots is a mesh section with accommodations for a Kensington lock near the bottom should you need one. The rear fan slot can accommodate 120mm fans and contains enough room above and below to hold a 120mm AIO water cooler. Your only other choice for water cooling with this case in stock form is to use the external water cooling punch-outs beneath the 120mm fan to mount a radiator on top of the case. Each side panel is held in place by two thumb screws, and your PSU is bottom mounted with accommodations to have the PSU fan facing either up or down.
Here we see the left side of the case. The only feature present here is the side vent to allow a 120mm or a 140mm fan to act as intake for your system to help cool your PCI cards. We should note that the paint job throughout this case, barring one small exception, is fantastic. It’s very rare that cases at this price point have paint schemes this good, and this theme continues to the interior of the case… barring one small exception, which we will cover a little bit later and put into context. The right side panel is more of the same, sans a fan accommodation.
The grille for the side panel fan is held in place by magnets to allow for easy removal and cleaning. It is made of plastic and is dust filtered like every other intake area in this case, which is a rather nice touch. If no fan is in place to draw air in, the grille doesn’t sit quite flush with the side panel. It’s not the biggest deal in the world, and if they were to engineer this piece to be any straighter then the cost of the case would increase; however it is worth mentioning.
Every intake on this case is dust filtered, and all easily accessed. This dust filter panel on the underside of the case is held in place with magnets, comes out, and goes in with relative ease for maintenance. The case feet are rubber and plastic, held in place by a plastic retaining sleeve arrangement. This will make them easy to remove should you want to either customize the existing case feet or add in new ones.
Now on to the inner workings of the MX500.