The Cougar QBX Mini ITX Case Reviewby E. Fylladitakis on November 13, 2015 8:00 AM EST
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.