Review: BitFenix Merc Alpha
The rear of the Merc Alpha provides the already mentioned seven expansion slots, the rear cooling fan, two holes for water cooling, and a bottom mounted ATX power supply cutout. The rear fan cutout can accommodate 80mm, 92mm, and 120mm fans. The two water cooling holes have inserts that can be removed for larger OD water cooling tubing. Expansion cards are held in place by a steel plate fixed to the chassis with three screws. Again I want to point out that normally this type of plate would be a prime candidate for sharp edges on other inexpensive chassis, but not for the Merc Alpha.
The plastic front bezel features a cool looking fan ventilation intake protected by a metal grill. The bottom of the bezel also provides additional intake, but does so without any protection from dust or hair. The drive bay covers remove easily and the curvature of the bezel itself gives a nice look when the drive bays are populated. The ability to populate the front of the case with two 120mm fans is inhibited by the inability to easily remove the front bezel. After trying a few times, and nearly breaking the bezel, I gave up on removing it.
Inside the case, there are no surprises. The motherboard tray has a large cutout for easily removing or installing your CPU cooler and has all the necessary mounting options for Mini-ITX, mATX, and ATX motherboards. Cable management is a consideration and there are plenty of holes provide for zip ties and plenty of cutouts for cables. The PSU can be mounted in either direction, top up or top down, allowing it to draw fresh air from the bottom of the case. There is also an included PSU bracket to help keep your power supply snug during install and travel alleviating all the stress a heavy PSU may put on the mounting plate.
If you put your hands on this case, it will be hard for you to remember that BitFenix is selling it for only $39.ooUSD on their website. The steel construction and jet black paint job makes this chassis sturdy and attractive. If you populate all the available fan options your motherboard may learn what hurricane force winds are like! The use of quality materials on a budget case sets a standard that other case makers should follow (read our Sentey Burton Review – it costs twice as much!). BitFenix has constructed a top notch budget case in the Merc Alpha that can’t be touched in its class. If you can’t afford a case that costs 100+, take a gander at this one. Congratulations BitFenix, you get the gold!