To assemble your computer, you’ll need all applicable hardware, which Cougar is kind enough to supply to you in a well organized fashion. You get the “baggie-o’-screws,” 2.5″ HDD sleds, the left side panel dust cover, and three very nice grommets to use in the event you decide to use an external watercooling solution. The quality of the grommets is really nice, though they serve to act as a painful reminder of the grommets that the motherboard tray doesn’t have.
Also supplied is a very nice, straight-forward set of instructions to help you build up your MX500. All text is reasonably legible and the pictures illustrate the idea pretty clearly.
Should you need to use any of the ODD bays, simply depress the retaining clips which hold the front covers in place and pull them out of the front fascia. Replacing them is the reverse of removal, and is quite effortless.
The HDD sleds are super easy to use; just flex the sled to wrap it around the hard drive and line up the pegs with the openings on the hard drive.
The same goes for the 2.5″ sleds, though should you so desire the 3.5″ sleds also have accommodations for you to screw a 2.5″ drive in place, providing maximum flexibility.
Here we have a 2.5″ SSD in place in the top HDD cage. Should you install a drive in the bottom most slot, you will need to use a straight – straight SATA cable, otherwise a 90 degree fitting would put too much strain on the connector and break it.
For those who saw the space in the roof and had aspirations of mounting an X60 or an H100i in the roof, forget about it. Unfortunately you come up about 8-10mm of space short of being able to mount a rad and a single set of fans up there without them colliding with the motherboard. You might be able to get away with something like an H100i if you used 15mm thick fans instead of the OEM fans. Unfortunately we did not have such fans on hand to test this.
Asus Sabertooth 990FX R 2.0
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo w/dual fans
EVGA GTX 560 SC
Crucial M4 128 GB SSD
Seagate Barracuda 1 TB HDD
XFX Pro 750W Black Edition Full Modular PSU
Corsair 200mm LED fan (roof)
We selected a heat sink that we felt would more closely match the selection of an individual purchasing a budget-minded gaming rig. The Hyper 212 Evo represents one of the strongest values on the market in terms of price and performance, and combined with this case costs less than many higher spec cases do alone. We can also confirm that a 200mm Corsair case fan out of a Graphite 600T will fit in the roof accommodations along with any other similar fan, though you will need to remove some of the pegs holding the dust filter in place; don’t worry, the fan will be supporting the filter in the peg’s place. Thankfully the black cables we had on hand and which come with the case draw much less attention to themselves being exposed through the motherboard cut outs than we were expecting, so it cleaned up reasonably well. No other complications arose with the build, though we are left wanting to show off the interior of this case. Such a thing is not possible without a little mod work sadly, since there is no window, but the interior is just so close to looking properly good.
Even with flat cables, the lack of cable tie points made cable management challenging. Since everything must be bundled in this singular channel it became difficult to get everything to lay down properly, even with a fair amount of slack in the zip ties. We were forced to exclude some of our cables from the tie down points as they made it impossible to get the side panel back on. Even with those cables out of the way we had a bit of trouble getting the panel back on, though nothing that required us to go so far as needing to kneel on the case to seal it shut. Still, an opportunity was missed here, as more tie down points throughout the tray would have made this a far better management job and kept the side panel going on and off with relative ease.
Well that’s not good. Upon putting on the side panel to close up the case and see what it looked like, we noticed that the CPU heat sink looked awfully close to the panel. Removing the dust filter confirms our suspicions; in order to use the side panel fan slot you will have no choice but to utilize a low profile heat sink for your CPU. For someone who is solely interested in gaming and doesn’t feel the need to overclock too much this won’t be of too much concern; however if you are one of those enthusiasts who would like to dabble, then your only option for reliable cooling for your CPU is to use a thick 120mm AIO in the rear. This is a bit of an oversight in our opinion, one that could be easily remedied if the fan accommodation were placed about 1.5-inches lower. Another choice present to the end user, should they feel adventurous and have a decent hand with a Dremel, would be to simply remove part of the side panel and put their own window in place. Another route you could go would be to install sound deadening foam on the side panels and roof, turning this into a silence-optimized case.
Now to summarize our thoughts on the Cougar MX500