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Build: Cougar Panzer-S Tank Build

When you think Cougar, your first thought might be entry level gaming peripherals, but there’s quite a bit more to their lineup than you might think. They also have a large selection of cases on the market at a variety of price points.

We recently got the Panzer-S, an ATX Mid Tower case with a unique look and a pretty tempting price point. We’ve been looking for a home for a new X299 build, and it looks like the Panzer is just the ticket.

For sub $100 you’d think there would be some compromise in terms of quality, but this case is actually pretty legit.

You can pick it up here for $99.

The Tank

The Panzer (tank in German) has an industrial, military grade look that adds an aggressive sensibility to any build. Between the detail of the rivets and sharp edges in addition to the dark tempered glass, it would be easy to mistake the Panzer for something significantly more expensive.

Where you do begin to notice the lower cost is in the plethora of plastic used in construction. Even the plastic is solid though, and given that it looks a great deal like metal, the construction materials really aren’t detrimental to the overall aesthetic in any significant way.

We wanted to showcase the Panzer-S, and we’re happy with what we ended up with. This is a simple, straightforward build that is a perfect fit for the Cougar Panzer’s sub 100 dollar price point.

What stands out particularly is the mesh like surface that covers the entire front of the case as well as the top. It’s a nice look that adds to the textured metal aesthetic Cougar is going for, but it also helps with airflow in those two areas.

Speaking of airflow, the difference between the Panzer-S and the standard Panzer is that the S version comes with three more LED equipped 120mm fans with orange blades on the front of the chassis. The standard Panzer ships with only one for the back.

As far as branding goes, you better really like the Cougar logo if you go with the Panzer. There’s a fairly tasteful little symbol on the front mesh, but on the inside is a GIANT orange logo splashed across the metal PSU shroud. I could see how this might be off putting for some, but I suppose it would be easy enough to paint over if you were so inclined.

I’d prefer if the branding was a sticker instead of paint so it could be removed more easily, but Cougar probably wouldn’t like that.

Cooldown

One cool thing (HA!) about building inside the Panzer is the airflow configuration options. There’s plenty of room on both the top and the front for fans on either side of the radiator, or both if you want to construct a push/pull configuration. We went with Thermaltake Riing fans for a little RGB splendor, and we put them above the radiator by pulling off the top of the Panzer.

You can also pull off the front, which reveals a nice magnetic dust filter, and room for three more fans on the outside of the radiator if you choose to install it in the front of the chassis instead of the top. Like the top, the front section supports 360mm or 280mm radiators, so you’ve got plenty of cooling options.

Once you undo the four thumbscrews and pull off the dark tempered glass, you’re greeted with a spacious interior designed for experimentation. Space was clearly a conscious focus with this case. There’s plenty of room for liquid cooling loops, and the back of the chassis has plenty of clearance for cable management and access to the back of the motherboard and any cooler backplate you’ve installed.

FIlling The Tank

After selecting the case, we installed the motherboard. We wanted Skylake-X for sure, so we went with the MSI Gaming Pro Carbon AC. MSI is all about gaming with their X299 line, and the Carbon AC is the mid-tier board, called their “performance gaming” segment. While it doesn’t have quite as robust a set of overclocking features as the flagship Gaming M7 ACK, it’s still chock full of RGB, and some pretty remarkable customization features.

The most interesting of these is the ability to swap out heat sink plates with 3D printable replacements, so you can modify the board’s look to fit your build. Assuming you have access to a 3D printer. This kind of modular adjustment is an interesting concept in addition to the software controlled lighting options, and should allow you to fine tune your boards appearance to just about anything.

In addition to those visual adjustment options, it’s a super feature rich board, with everything from U.2 support to gamer centric UEFI.

An X299 board needs a serious CPU, so we went with the eight core i7-7820X with a 3.6GHz base clock speed.

To keep that cutting edge tech cool we went with the trusted Thermaltake Water 3.0 AIO cooler. We installed the radiator in the top of the Panzer with the three Thermaltake Riing fans above, blowing warm air out and away. The three 120mm fans included with the case we left at the front to get a good air path going.

Next up was the MSI Aero GTX 1070, a speedy two spot GPU with a fairly low profile thanks to its single blower fan. It’s not a 1080 Ti, but we were going a little more middle of the road with this particular build, and a 1070 should fit our needs just fine.

We’ve really been digging RGB RAM, so next we popped in two 8GB sticks of G.Skill Trident Z. It’s hard to overstate how good this RAM looks all lit up.

To power it all we stuck with Cougar. We don’t need a huge amount of juice for this build, we’re keeping it fairly straightforward, so we went with the Cougar VTE 600 Bronze PSU.  

Lastly, for storage, we dropped in an Intel 600p M.2 SSD. We didn’t take advantage of any of the 2.5 or 3.5 inch drive bays, we wanted to keep it wire free and clean.

All that was left was to add a little flair via an LED strip plugged straight into the RGB header on the motherboard. Finally it was time to power up, and let the Cougar build roar to life.

Claws Out

We wanted to showcase the Panzer-S, and we’re happy with what we ended up with. This is a simple, straightforward build that is a perfect fit for the Cougar Panzer’s sub 100 dollar price point. Paired with the feature rich MSI Carbon AC and a Skylake-X processor, you’re left with a gaming build that’s super competent, and not outside the realm of affordability.

We’re getting some new Cougar cases soon that are a little more out there soon, so check back for more.