Can a simple case with a rock bottom price win us over?
When building a budget gaming machine, we are firm believers that a decent case shouldn’t cost more than your CPU. While it might not be as pretty as its more expensive brethren, a cheap chassis is all that’s needed to keep your hardware roughly in the vicinity of your desk.
BitFenix has a range of expensive high-end cases, but the Merc Alpha is not one of them. With an RRP of $69, the Alpha can be found for a very affordable $50-$60 on the street. As you might expect for such a low price, it doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles. Tool-less mounts, filters, extra fans, lights or USB 3.0 ports won’t get out of bed for this sort of cash.
What the Alpha does have is a painted interior, motherboard CPU cut-out, cable management options, rear tabs for a lock and plenty of drive bay expansions. It’s also pretty tough, with no untoward flex even if we sit on it. Working inside the Alpha is easy, with a simple layout and nice finger-friendly rounded edges on any metal. The drive bays all include thumbscrews, so installing your HDD is dead simple. On top of the case you get four USB 2.0 ports as well as audio I/O connections, and the BitFenix can handle up to three 5.25in optical drives and seven 3.5in HHDs.
By default there’s only one fan, though there are plenty of vents and the option to add another seven if you need to. That said, with a GPU and PSU that vent outside the case the Alpha will stay cool enough. There are also holes for running-water cooling pipes, but this is probably overkill for the Alpha. Available from Altech, retailing for $69
.APC rating: 9/10 (Editor's Choice)