When it comes to desktop PCs for gaming, small form factor is steadily gaining traction. Many gamers haul their rigs around with them, so portability is a definite plus. MicroATX motherboards have become just as feature-rich as full ATX motherboards. Low-profile, high performance graphics cards are now available in a multitude of variations. Small form factor cases themselves are becoming more and more feature-rich to entice these potential customers. An attractive, small form factor microATX minitower with USB 3.0, good cooling capabilities, tool-less drive bays, and room for even full-size graphics cards for under $40 shipped should be an automatic winner. Enter the Cougar Spike.
The Cougar Spike is a space-saving design constructed of black steel and plastic. It has matching black paint inside and out. Its dimensions are 180mm wide by 370mm tall by 425mm deep. The front panel I/O area has one each USB 2.0 port and USB 3.0 port, along with a standard pair of Mic and Audio jacks. The Spike supports graphics cards up to 330mm in length. The maximum cooler height that can be used is 160mm; but this is reduced to 135mm if a fan is installed in the side panel’s upper position. It features two 5.25″ bays with tool-less latching mechanisms, and one 3.5″ non tool-less drive bay. It also features two tool-less 3.5″ HDD bays in a rear-facing drive cage. Support for mounting a single 2.5″ HDD or SSD is present on the inside of the bottom case panel. The top-mounted power supply area accepts either a standard ATX or PS2 power supply. Four PCI expansion bay covers are present on the rear, and the case supports only microATX motherboards.
The Spike supports the following case cooling fan configuration options:
A) Front 80 / 90 /120 mm fan x 1 (intake) (optional)
B) Left side 120 mm fan x 2 (intake) (optional)
C) Rear 120 mm Cougar fan x 1 (exhaust) (pre-installed)
The Cougar Spike arrived in a plain brown carton with black graphics. The front box panel clearly shows the case’s front panel styling.
The side panel (after carefully removing the shipping documents pouch) sports the same front panel view, along with specifications. The rear box panel shows a view of the case interior, along with a list of features. The last side panel of the box is similar to the opposite side panel, substituting UPCs and a product label for the specifications.
The case is plastic bagged and protected by styrofoam end blocks. The packaging should be able to withstand all but the roughest handling.
In the next image we see an angled view that shows both the front panel, and the left side panel with its two 120mm fan openings stacked one on top of the other. Installing a fan in the upper position here could compromise the height of CPU cooler you can install.
The opposite side panel and top panel are both simple smooth panels. Bear in mind that the side, top, and bottom panels are of a textured finish that is prone to showing fingerprints. Both side panels are held in place by two black knurled thumbscrews each. Both side panels attach and align perfectly with the case for an excellent fit. Removing the left panel reveals the enclosed bag with mounting hardware, case speaker, and instruction manual. The black painted interior appears flawless and really gives the Spike a finished look and feel. Cougar has done a good job of avoiding sharp edges inside the case.