Specifications, Availability and Pricing
As I said, CaseLabs uses aluminum for all of its construction. For this Merlin SM8, we received a 22.44" height, 11.18" wide, and is 22.38" deep, and is powder coated in white for our sample. The chassis is very square as this design looks for simple elegance on the outside, with everything under the sun taken into account on the inside. The front offers 11 5.25" bays and you have the option for a front I/O panel to go in near the anti-vandal switches used for the power and reset. On top there is a flat ventilated panel (an option) to allow the option to install up to a quad 120mm radiator. The bottom of the chassis offers the same amount of holes for water cooling, and with the option for a top or bottom mounted PSU. It depends on where it is placed too, as it will cut off some of the holes. Both side panels are designed to open over 180 degrees to allow you easy access, and my sample was shipped with the XL window (an option) in the left panel. In the back there is room for a 120mm fan (an option), as well as support for eight expansion slots.
Internally things are a bit different from the usual design. While the front offers all that room for 5.25" drives, there aren't any restrictions as to where you put things in. This is because there are brackets for adding devices here that come in the hardware kit and not pre-installed into the chassis. Along with plenty of wire management options, the motherboard tray will hold Micro-ATX motherboards, ATX, and SSI-CEB as well, and the motherboard tray is completely removable. Since this design uses nothing but screws to hold everything together, if you want to, you can take the standard ATX layout, and with a little work, the internal layout can be completely reversed. There is plenty more to absorb as you read the list, but if I delivered it all to you now, it would get dry, and you would have little reason to continue and see all the nuances in the design.
As far as I can tell, the only place you will find CaseLabs cases to buy them is direct from their store. The Merlin SM8 ships with the base price of $379.95. While a bit of a premium price, it offers more than most other cases we have seen in this range and beyond. The version of the SM8 as you are about to see it is just shy of $500 and I still need to add the $35 flex bay radiator mount and the $90 for the optional top. So as you can see, it is quite easy to get carried away with options and parts, so much so that you can easily break the $600 mark customizing this chassis. I will be showing the original as-shipped design, but as I go through the build, I will be adding these additional options into the build.
Just keep in mind that the final version you are about to see in this review is no longer the $380 version of the Merlin SM8. Something else to consider is the cheapest shipping option I see is another $41 for standard Fed Ex transit, and goes up from there.