Visually speaking, the Merc chassis is very sleek with its minimalistic matte black finish, and smooth lines. All of BitFenix’s cases seem to follow similar principles and have wonderfully simple and sleek aesthetics. Styling is certainly a personal preference, but we think it takes true skill to make something very functional yet elegant simultaneously. Anyone can toss together a garish case with plenty of LEDs and call it a "gamer case", but it takes special effort to produce a minimalist design that doesn’t sacrifice too much, either in features or build quality. And the build quality of this chassis is very good for its price point; remember, we’re not dealing with a premium case here.
The Merc also has good cable management opportunities, and the simple design creates more than enough space to easily assembe a system inside. The water cooling grommets are something we continue to see on budget cases, and we think they’re rather pointless; anyone looking to water cooling realistically won’t be looking at a $40 case to house their expensive hardware. In any event, that’s really the only downside to note, and that’s nitpicking.
Interestingly, BitFenix actively solicits input from the community directly, and from what we’ve seen, then makes every effort to incorporate those ideas into their case designs. So we’ll offer ours: other than the unnecessary water cooling grommets, consider adding a single USB 3.0 port to the front I/O panel as a standard features, and also offering a windowed version of the Merc (perhaps as an optional feature) with side panel venting incorporated. Even if these two features adds another $10 to the cost, the overall price would still be a steal in our opinion.
The BitFenix Merc is a fantastic example of where form meets function on a very cheap budget. The case is simple and elegant to a point, and with a bit of tweaking it could be something very unique that would absolutely justify even another 15% to the purchase price. As for function, it might be missing some of the handy gadgets that we are used to, but the Merc is nowhere near the price of most "mid-range" tower prices. The bottom line here is BitFenix has not only produced a very affordable case, but more importantly has produced an inexpensive case that isn’t cheap on features or quality. At only $40, the Merc is an utter steal for anyone on a very tight budget.
The Pure Point: The BitFenix Merc is arguably the best $40 case on the market.