Cougar Forza 85 Review: Quiet, Capable Cat

German company Cougar, founded in 2007, has a lineup that includes many peripherals, from CPU coolers to keyboards, and even gaming chairs! While companies like Noctua are known for their “plain” brown colors, Cougar is known for having orange accents in many of its products, and especially for its orange fans (although you won’t find one here). 

We have Cougar’s new Forza 85 on our test bench, which features a thick single tower radiator. Is the Forza 85 capable of taming Intel’s 12900K and earning a spot on our best CPU coolers list? We’ll have to put it through testing to find out, but first here are the specifications, direct from Cougar.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Specifications for the Cougar Forza 85

Cooler Cougar Forza 85 Air Cooler
MSRP $69.90 USD
Dimensions, including fan 85 x 135 x 160mm
Total Weight 958g without fan, 1160g with fan
Socket Compatibility Intel Socket LGA 115X / 1366 / 1200 / 1700 / 2011 / 2066
AMD AM4 / FM2 / FM1 / AM3+ / AM3 / AM2+ / AM2
Rated Noise Levels Up to 31.68 dBA
Heat Pipes 6 x 6mm
CPU Block Nickel plated Copper

Packing and Included Contents 

Cougar’s Forza 85 is packaged in a fairly typical mid sized box that’s approximately 6 inches on each side, with foam and cardboard for protection.

Included with the package are the following:

  • Heatsink
  • 1x 120mm MHP120 fan
  • Mounting Clips for 2x 120mm fans
  • Mounts for all modern CPU sockets, including LGA1700, TR4, and AM4/AM5 motherboards
  • Thermal Paste
  • User Manual

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Cooler Installation

Installing the Cougar Forza 85 was simple. To begin, you secure the backplate against the motherboard using the standoffs and mounting brackets. After applying thermal paste, press the heatsink against the mounting brackets and tighten the screws attached to the heatsink. You’ll need a long Philips head screwdriver in order to install the cooler, as one of the mounting screws is accessible only by putting the screwdriver through the radiator. It would be nice if Coucar would include a simple one in the box.

What’s different than other coolers?

Thick radiator with a Vacuum Tunnel Design

The Forza 85 has a thick tower radiator, measuring 85 x 135 mm, to transfer heat from the CPU. The heatsink was designed with a 90-degree flip shape on the ends of the fins, which closes air from the sides of the radiator. Theoretically this results in the ends of the cooler having different air pressure levels, which boosts air flow for maximized cooling.

(Image credit: Cougar)

Under 160mm height

Unlike many large air coolers, the Forza 85 is only 160mm (6.3 inches) in height. This means it can be installed in most cases available without any problems being caused by height incompatibilities.

(Image credit: Cougar)

Cougar MHP120 Fan

There’s more to a cooler than just its size and surface area. The fans have a huge impact on cooling performance and noise levels. Included with the Forza 85 is a single black 120mm MHP120 fan with a strong 4.24mm H2O static pressure. A unique feature of this fan is that it has a built-in fan splitter, which will come in useful if you decide to add another fan to the other side of the cooler.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)
Model MHP120
Dimensions 120 x 120 x 25 mm
Fan Speed 600-2000 RPM±200RPM
Air Flow 82.48 CFM ± 10%
Air Pressure 4.24 mm H2O±10%
Noise Level Up to 31.68 dB(A)
Lighting None

Testing Configuration

Cooler Cougar Forza 85
Comparison Coolers Tested BeQuiet Pure Loop 2 FX
Cooler Master ML360 Flux
Cougar Poseidon GT 360
DeepCool LS520
CPU Intel i9-12900K
Motherboard MSI z690 A-Pro DDR4
Case Be Quiet! Silent Base 802 Window
PSU DeepCool PQ1000M

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

New Testing Configuration

Cooler Cougar Forza 85
Comparison Coolers Tested BBeQuiet Pure Loop 2 FX, 360mm AIO
Cooler Master Master Liquid PL360 Flux 360mm AIO
DeepCool LS520, 240mm AIO
Cougar Poseidon GT 360, 360m AIO
CPU Intel i9-12900K
Motherboard MSI z690 A-Pro DDR4
Case Be Quiet! Silent Base 802 Window
PSU DeepCool PQ1000M

I’ll be testing the Cougar Forza 85 with Intel’s Core i9-12900K. Due to the increased thermal density of the Intel 7 manufacturing process, as well as changes to core and component layouts, Alder Lake CPUs are more difficult to cool than previous generation CPUs in the most heat-intensive of workloads. This means that coolers that kept previous generation products like the i9-10900K nice and cool sometimes struggle to keep Intel’s i9-12900K under Tj max–the top temperature before the CPU starts to throttle. Many coolers I’ve tested aren’t able to keep the i9-12900K under TJ max when power limits are removed in workloads like Cinebench and OCCT.

Please note there are many factors that can influence your cooling performance. A system’s motherboard can influence this, as there are motherboards on the market with CPU sockets that are not up to Intel’s spec, which can cause warping or poor contact with the CPU. The case you use will also influence cooling results.

With this in mind, I’ll be rating CPU Coolers in 3 different tiers.

Tier 1: These coolers are able to keep the i9-12900K below TJ max in most loads, with no power limits enforced. I expect only the best liquid coolers to meet this standard. 

Tier 2: These coolers are able to keep the i9-12900K under TJ max with CPU power limits of 200W enforced. I expect most liquid and air coolers to meet this standard.

Tier 3: These coolers are able to keep the i9-12900K under TJMax with CPU power limits of 140W enforced.

Testing Methodology

To test the limits of a cooler’s thermal dissipation capabilities, I run two primary stress tests: Cinebench and OCCT each for 10 minutes. While this may be a short amount of time, it is sufficient to push most coolers –air and liquid– to their limits. 

While stress testing in Cinebench, I run both with power limits removed and with an enforced 200W CPU power limit. In this test setup using MSI’s Z690 A Pro DDR4 Motherboard and Be Quiet’s Silent Base 802 casee, only the best coolers are able to pass Cinebench testing when power limits are removed. 

I don’t test OCCT without power limits because attempting to do so results in CPU package power consumption jumping to over 270W and instantly throttling with even the best AIO coolers. Instead, I test at 200W to give coolers a chance at passing. I also include 140W results to give data closer to a lower-end CPU, such as AMD’s Ryzen 5600X or Intel’s i5-12400.