Introducing the BitFenix Merc Alpha

While we've had a chance to check out a few cases in the $200+ club and the majority of the enclosures we've tested have floated around the $99 price range, we haven't really put the screws (so to speak) to a truly budget case. That changes today, when we tackle the least expensive case we've yet tested: the BitFenix Merc Alpha. At just $39 it would be reasonable not to expect much, but as you'll see this case can hang with enclosures at twice the cost or better.

BitFenix has generously provided us considerable lead time to check out the Merc Alpha ahead of other sites, and the time was well spent. The Merc Alpha is one of a pair of twin models under the "Merc" brand; the Merc Beta has the same shell and costs the same amount, but loses the top vents. Given our generally positive experience with the Shinobi (another budget contender), I was looking forward to sitting down with the Merc Alpha and I wasn't disappointed by it.

BitFenix Merc Alpha Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX
Drive Bays External 3x 5.25", 1x 3.5"
Internal 6x 3.5", 1x 2.5"
Cooling Front 2x 120mm fan mount
Rear 1x 120mm exhaust fan (3-pin header)
Top 2x 120mm fan mounts
Side 2x 120mm fan mounts
Bottom 1x 120mm fan mount
Expansion Slots 7
Front I/O Port -
Top I/O Port 4x USB 2.0, headphone and mic jacks
Power Supply Size ATX
Clearance 12.5" without hard drive/10" with hard drive (Expansion Cards), 170mm (CPU HSF), 300mm without bottom fan/160mm with bottom fan (PSU)
Weight 10.8 lbs. (4.9 kg)
Dimensions 17.3" x 7.5" x 19.3" (439mm x 190mm x 490mm)
Price $39 MSRP

As you can see the bones with the BitFenix Merc Alpha are pretty bare, but I was pleasantly surprised at just how much functionality BitFenix was able to pack into it. The Merc Alpha has plenty of room for adding fans and improving cooling much like its older sibling, the Shinobi, and indeed the internal design of the Merc feels in many ways like a Shinobi that's lost some weight and some zazz.

In and Around the BitFenix Merc Alpha
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  • AssBall - Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - link

    I think they are not available for retailers yet; I can't find them to buy anywhere so far except Australia.
  • Airwick - Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - link

    They've been available here for a little while now.
  • TrackSmart - Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - link

    They sell $20 cases on Newegg. So it's not a price issue.
  • blckgrffn - Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - link

    Same internals, right down to where the SSD mounts.
  • Bozo - Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - link

    The inside of that case looks like an Antec 100. Hmmm
  • TyphoidMary - Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - link

    I bought a Rosewill Blackbone from the 'egg on THG's recommendation last year, and it was a genuine pleasure to build in. Cheap too, I think it was like $50.
  • crimson117 - Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - link

    It may be $39.99 MSRP, but the lowest price I can find including shipping to the east coast is ~$55 from the BitFenix store. FrozenCPU wants $30 for ground shipping.
  • iamezza - Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - link

    Thanks Dustin for another excellent Case review

    I too dislike those non-recessed slot covers, it's something I have only really seen on either very-cheap cases or OEM cases.
  • hrbngr - Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - link

    As a previous poster mentioned, I think that for a little bit more $$, the Coolermaster HAF 912 is a stellar budget case. The detachable middle bay that allows room for big video cards along w/decent width--allowing for larger/taller heatsinks--makes this case an easy choice for most installs. I was previously an antec 300 fan, btw.
  • Samus - Thursday, October 6, 2011 - link

    This thing costs less than two 'hotswap adapters' for my Silverstone FT01!

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