Specifications, Availability and Pricing
As I mentioned, the Merc Alpha and Beta only vary in the top panel. The Merc Alpha is what you are about to see with the included ventilation, but the rest of this description will cover both chassis versions. The front is comprised of black plastic with rounded edges and profile. At the top the bezel contains the I/O panel and as you move down the face, you find a group of three 5.25" drive covers and a single 3.5" bay cover. The rest of the front is an expanse of plastic to the bottom where a mesh panel the shape of a paper hat is placed for ventilation. The rest of the frame ad panels are constructed of steel and get pained black both inside and out.
Inside there is room for the three 5.25" drives and up to eight hard drives. This hard drive assembly will also be where the floppy drive goes if you should choose to use one, and there is a spot of the floor at the base of this rack to install a 2.5" drive. The rest of the internal area is taken up with the motherboard and PSU and up to seven optional fans. The chassis does ship with a single 120mm fan in the rear of the Merc case. Optionally you can install a pair of 120mm fans in the front of the chassis, a pair of 120mm fans in the top of the Alpha only, a pair of 120mm fans in the doors mesh area and there is room for one more 120mm fan in the floor in front of the power supply.
As I have been saying throughout this review, and it's a trend that as of late I have seen a lot of submissions deal with this, BitFenix's take is like a few others in that they want to deliver you a case with good bones. By this, the idea is to give the buyer a chassis that not only you can just plug and play as it ships, but it will offer you plenty of options for customizing it, allowing the Merc series to grow as you do. With this same concept the idea is to deliver all this with an exceptionally low asking price and BitFenix definitely delivers in this aspect.
As I look at Google shopping to locate these cases, I found that with the Merc Alpha, there are only four places to get one currently. As for the pricing, it looks like a game of The Price is Right, as all four are bidding at close to $40 without going over it. Essentially all four locations are within $2 of each other, so let your fingers do the searching and see who has the best shipped deal to your door. I would have liked to post a link from Newegg.com, but they have yet to stock any BitFenix chassis' and I really think it is about time they do!
Back to the mission at hand as we strip this Mercenary of its outer protection and see what sort of tricks the Merc Alpha delivers under the tough name and understated exterior.