Final Words

Wrapping up our reivew, for Cougar the main selling point of the QBX is its design, and for good reason. The company has clearly put a good bit of effort into this design, and despite being their first ITX case it has already won a trade show design award. With the QBX, Cougar has definitely put together something that is interesting and rather versatile, and they've made it look good in the process. The elegant appearance of the QBX, along with the low retail price, are probably the strongest selling points of this product. Which is not to say that this is a case without drawbacks - its small size is both a curse and a blessing - but as we'll get to, these are matters that an experienced builder should be able to handle.

Overall the quality of the QBX is excellent, all the more considering the low price of the case. Cougar may have skipped some "luxury" features, such as rubber grommets, but the case is very well designed, with excellent mechanical strength and made of high quality materials. The solid craftsmanship is reflected in the aesthetics of the QBX as well, making it look almost just as good as much more expensive designs.

In terms of performance the QBX won't quite deliver "the best performance of its class," at least not with just the slow 92 mm stock fan, but it's definitely a solid performer. The case is cleverly designed so as to provide very good airflow to the main system and it appears capable of handling fairly heavy thermal loads, while the optional fan mounts should give it yet more thermal headroom. Meanwhile isolating the PSU's airflow from the rest of the system is a clever and welcome design, but it is not really something new. The vast majority of cases, from the smallest to the largest designs, employ the same dedicated intake & outtake cooling strategy for their PSU bays.

The drawback of this case then is also one of its greatest strengths: its size. For just about everything - the selection of the graphics card, the size of the CPU cooler, the type of the PSU, etc. - there are limitations and consequences that need balanced. A modular PSU would limit the maximum length of a video card, the installation of an ODD drive would block the installation of certain PSUs, installing a side fan limits the CPU cooler's height to just 80 mm, and so on. In the end nearly every hardware selection impacts another, requiring careful planning and selection of hardware to make the most of the case's limited space.

As a result our final thoughts on the QBX may be somewhat complicated, but the Cougar QBX is a deceptively complicated product as well. Ultimately once you have done the necessary homework, what you will find is that the Cougar QBX is a well-designed and high quality Mini-ITX case, one that experienced builders should find rewarding. This, coupled with retail prices hovering around $53, makes the QBX a definite steal right now in the Mini-ITX space.

Testing and Results


View All Comments

  • Ninhalem - Friday, November 13, 2015 - link

    With a smaller PSU and custom sleeved cables, a competent water cooling modder could put a decent system together inside this case. Reply
  • Samus - Friday, November 13, 2015 - link

    I was thinking the same thing. If you put an SFX PSU in there with an ATX adapter plate you'd have a ton of extra room for cables, hoses, a reservoir, longer graphics card, etc. Silverstone almost exclusively uses SFX PSU's in their ITX systems just for the reason they save so much space. Reply
  • Refuge - Friday, November 13, 2015 - link

    Yea but if they were trying to keep costs down (Which I like the price personally) then an SFX PSU wouldn't have been helpful.

    They are fantastic, but more expensive than comparable ATX PSU's. Besides as you pointed out, it is still an option for the builder who wants to invest that extra scratch.
  • zeeBomb - Friday, November 13, 2015 - link

    Oh this cougar...cable game strong!

    I got one question... What ATX cases in todays market has pretty good cable management and well recognized by PC enthusiasts? I've been eyeing Fractal design cases...but your help is really need!
  • Samus - Friday, November 13, 2015 - link

    Really, the best cable management is in OEM systems, because they custom make the PSU's (no ridiculous 24+4 or 24+8 pin connectors) but that limits your motherboard compatibility, and therefor your overclocking capabilities.

    The only way to get decent cable management with a custom build is to use a modular PSU, and a high end case like Lian-Li, Silverstone and Corsair

    I'm personally a big fan of the Silverstone FT03-Mini and Corsair Obsidian 250D for ITX platforms. For ATX, check out the Corsair 450D. For the price, its a really good, professional-looking case.

    I avoid Fractal and NZXT like the plague. They are really just crappy quality. They completely ignore obvious design choices in every model...there's always one thing that utterly ruins the case, requiring some extreme modding and wasted time to work around.

    The original Silverstone Fortress FT01 had probably the best cable management of any case I've ever owned, but it is a dated design (2008) although Silverstone has done a remarkable job supporting it. You can buy a new front IO backplane that has USB 3.0 ports for $20, and they have SATA and SAS backplanes for each hotswap bay available, eliminating cables completely.
  • zeeBomb - Friday, November 13, 2015 - link

    Wow very informative answer, tyvm!!! I was checking out the Fractal Design R5 case as it did fare well on my checklist, but your recommendations opens up a whole new list. Thanks a ton Samus! Reply
  • quest_for_silence - Monday, November 16, 2015 - link

    Unfortunately those negative comments were mostly groundless/rather questionable Reply
  • BurntMyBacon - Monday, November 16, 2015 - link

    @quest_for_silence "Unfortunately those negative comments were mostly groundless/rather questionable"

    I'll agree that they weren't well defined. However, I don't think the comments were entirely baseless. My personal experience is that the four NZXT systems I've built into have plastic fronts that scratch up quickly and easily. The structures also had far more flex than I like, though the customers were clearly more concerned with the aesthetic marring on the front. For reference, these were the Phantom 410, Phantom 630, Guardian 921, and the very recent Noctis 450.

    I've only worked with the Fractal Design Define R4 and R5, so I can't comment on their other products. As far as these go, I've had decent luck. They don't really scratch up any worse than their competitors and the noise dampening is solid. The structure has a little more flex than I'd like, but generally isn't bad.

    However, it is hard for me to recommend one of these Fractal Design cases if you can get your hands on a Nanoxia Deep Silence case. On the more expensive end, the high end Silverstone and Lian Li cases have some of the best build quality I've seen. The Silverstone Fortress FT02/Raven RV02 were some of the best cases I've ever built into. CaseLabs is probably the best, but Dat price. Only ever got to build into one of these and still dream of the day I can afford one for my own system. Corsair's offerings range from solid value with decent build quality (Carbide series) to high end case with a price that matches (Obsidian series). They also happen to be some of the easiest cases I've had the privilege of building into.
  • BurntMyBacon - Monday, November 16, 2015 - link

    If you are considering a Fractal Design Define R5 case, you may want to look into Nanoxia's Deep Silence series cases. Much higher build quality IMHO.
  • BurntMyBacon - Monday, November 16, 2015 - link

    I generally agree with the above. I've had decent luck with Fractal Design, but I've only built into a Define R4 and R5. That said, like you, I find that there are better options out there. I would only add one manufacturer to your list: Nanoxia for noise dampening cases. Build quality is much higher than the Fractal Design cases IMHO. Cable management is only adequate, but I'd be remiss not to mention them for build quality, especially if you are looking for noise dampening. They don't have much in the way of mini-ITX, though. Sorry CaseLabs. You make some of the best cases out there, but $500 is a bit much.

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