What is there that can't be said for CaseLabs and the Merlin SM8? It is huge and offers all the room you will ever need. It is sturdy and very solid, and the only time I could tweak a panel in this chassis was once the rear of the chassis and the motherboard tray were pulled out. That leads us to the full modularity of this chassis as well. With a chassis like the SM8, you just seem to run out of expletives to explain what it is you just had the pleasure of seeing, building in, and using - this chassis is just that good. Outside of aesthetics and structural integrity, since this chassis is made of aluminum, it is not only cooler and lighter, if you do decide you want to take a drill or a saw to this chassis, it is much easier to mod and easier on the tools as well. There really is not one thing I can complain about.
As you saw with my build, I was able to stuff in a triple radiator at the top of the chassis, and with the optional top, it was all enclosed and you are left with a very clean look. I was also able to stick a dual radiator on the floor for the CPU loop and have the PSU in place at the same time. With the basic design, air flow can be set up to make this chassis a chimney with air coming in at the bottom and going out the top. With the heat from the radiator in the floor filling the chassis before the triple radiator would have been cooled, I used the Flex-bay in the front and it allowed me plenty of additional air flow, while it also offers a place to hang another radiator. With all the cases that have passed over my desk, I honestly can't think of a chassis that is this water cooling ready, and with accessory parts, you can make this chassis do anything your enthusiast build would desire.
The pricing is the one thing that will keep a lot of buyers from opting to purchase the Merlin SM8, but I will say it is worth every penny of its $379.95 list price. Out of the box, even with a radiator inside of the top, this chassis would take it on without a complaint and still offer tons of room for SSDs to be stuck to the tray, tube reservoirs, and still keep wiring clean enough to remove the motherboard tray without much issue if needed. Once all of the options are added and the price soars much closer to the $600 range, it is a bit of a stretch, but I use a $600 TJ11 that is not this accommodating to water cooling, nor does it offer the space of the Merlin SM8. For the enthusiasts out there, CaseLabs does make one hell of a chassis and is well worth your attention.
For those of you that are used to $100 cases, you can get by with less, but none of them will offer the future set or the ability to change with your tastes or component requirements like the SM8 will, so I advise since the weather is warm, you pick up a summer job to afford one of your own. The Merlin SM8 is just so advanced compared to other offerings, surely anyone with mechanical ability would love to get their hands on one for as many water cooled builds as possible.
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- Page 1 [Introduction]
- Page 2 [Specifications, Availability and Pricing]
- Page 3 [Packaging]
- Page 4 [CaseLabs Merlin SM8 Full-Tower Chassis]
- Page 5 [Inside the Merlin SM8]
- Page 6 [Accessories and Documentation]
- Page 7 [The Build and Finished Product]
- Page 8 [The Build and Finished Product Continued]
- Page 9 [Final Thoughts]
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