As wary customers, there are times where we will unfortunately disregard certain products out of hand simply based on text instead of attempting to get our hands dirty. This is often due to knee jerk reactions towards claims made by companies that seem rather unbelievable. A quality mini case targeted towards mid-upper level PC gamers with no cooling issues and support for long video cards at an incredibly low price point? Highly unlikely. However, after reviewing the Cougar Spike, those claims are indeed legitimate.
Right away, one would think with components crammed into such a small space, cooling is going to be a huge problem. Common knowledge among enthusiasts is that mini-cases struggle with cooling issues due to size constraints. Usage of high end cards and power supplied builds heat very quickly, which raises concerns for hardware failure. The pre-installed 120mm cooler gave the test system plenty of circulation and no overheating problems were observed. The Cougar Spike also has mounts for three additional 120mm fans (1x front, 2x side), but you will have to buy them separately.
If you are in the market for a mini case, and the Spike is looking good, you must be sure to read the measurements of each component you will be using in your build. Less than ¼ inch in length or height could be the difference between gliding through Arkham City a few hours later, to the torture of playing the RMA waiting game. After was all said and done, the test build left a few precious millimeters to spare. Being a mini case, there will be some Tetris-like maneuvering to make components fit within the Cougar Spike. The test build took a while to properly fit into place, but once everything was mounted, there was no room for anything else.
The tool-less internal mounting of hard drives is the low point in an otherwise stellar enclosure. The plastic clips which hold the drives in place feel flimsy. You never get a sense the mounts are holding properly as hear that great “snap” when a drive becomes attached to the holding area. While there was no issues during testing, this may turn off some potential customers. There are a total of five drive bays available in the Cougar Spike. You have the ability to mount 2x 5.25 and 2x 2.5 devices. Lastly, there is an option for installing a 2.5 drive at the case bottom.
The Cougar Spike, like the Solution, looks like a million bucks. Painted entirely in black, the Spike does not need to be flashy or overly obnoxious with gaudy paint jobs. If you are into a quiet design with little need to be like one of the cool kids, this case is for you. The only style elements to speak of are the honeycomb mesh and subtle golden Cougar logo on the front panel. In a shift from the Solution, the PSU mount has been switched from the lower left to the upper right hand area of the case. This is odd since the bottom placement allowed for much easier PSU swapping in the event one needed to make a change. This more than likely a space saving issue, but does not deter from the functionality of the unit.
Conclusion – Is It Worth Your Money?
Cougar has once again knocked it out of the park. The crazy low price of $34.99 is a dream of any PC gamer who is looking for a top notch mini case. The only downside, if you can call it that, is you need to research and double check component sizes before you make the purchase. Anyone looking for a small budget case would be doing themselves a great favor by picking up the Cougar Spike.