If I were to base this review on looks alone, then the HEC Cougar 1000CM would easily be in my top 5. The orange paint job is really is striking and has an almost colour-shift effect to it that changes under different lighting angles. The black fan grill and screws contrast really well. And the snake-like black/white/orange striped sleeving is totally unique and completes the look.
Unfortunately what lets this PSU down is the performance. Never before have I seen such large ripple spikes across all rails on a PSU. 140mV on the +12v rail at idle is simply unacceptable and I can only hope that this is the result of a faulty sample rather than anything to do with the sparing use of unidentifiable capacitors on the secondary side of the unit. Things only got worse throughout the testing with ripple consistently breaking 200mV and sometimes even briefly coming close to 300mV although this happened to infrequently to catch in a screenshot.
The voltage stability on the other hand was slightly more acceptable with the worst results being seen in tests 4 and 7 where the +12v rail dropped down to 11.70v. Of course this is well inside ATX specifications and only represents a 3.3% fluctuation from the idle voltage of 12.10v. Similarly the +3.3v and +5v rails only dropped as low as 3.21v and 4.81v respectively representing less than 5% fluctuation on each rail. Never less, enthusiasts will undoubtedly frown on these results knowing that there are plenty of other PSU's out there than can achieve much tighter regulation.
Efficiency however, regularly exceeded expectations with the Cougar achieving around 89% at 500-750w loads. Only in tests 5 where the unit was subjected to a heavy crossload did the efficiency drop to 79%, but this is pretty much expected as a 170w load on only the +3.3v and +5v rails is not going to be something easily replicated in any ordinary PC system.
At the end of the day, it's hard to recommend the Cougar 1000CM due to the ripple issues. If HEC can get this fixed or prove that this was simply a faulty batch then the outcome would certainly be different. The Cougar is one very smartly dressed PSU that would go down a treat inside any PC with an orange theme, but unfortunately looks count for very little when it comes to powering high-end PC systems.
- Orange paintwork looks great.
- High quality, unique sleeving.
- Great efficiency at medium load levels.
- Silent operation.
- Appearance of PSU is only likely to appeal to small market segment.
- Voltage regulation is fairly average.
- Little white lie about the 14cm fan which is actually 13.5cm.
- Awful ripple results from all rails at all loads.