BitFenix has unveiled a new budget desktop chassis series comprised of two enclosures: Alpha and Beta. Both are constructed out of steel and plastic -- the de facto materials among budget cases. While the company clearly cut corners where possible, the Merc series doesn't look cheap by any means, and that's partially thanks its sleek all-black paint job.

Although it's increasingly common for cases to have a painted internals, such treatment is usually reserved for pricy cases like the HAF X. Both mid-towers measure 439mm (H) x 190mm (W) x 490mm (D), support Mini-ITX, mATX or ATX motherboards, seven expansion cards, as well as three 5.25-inch bays, seven 3.5-inch bays, and one 2.5-inch bay.

Front panel I/O includes four USB 2.0 ports alongside audio jacks. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be any USB 3.0 ports, which could certainly be a deal breaker for some folks. To be fair, we're not aware of any sub-$40 cases that come equipped with USB 3.0 ports. NZXT's Source 210 Elite is the only case that comes to mind, but it costs $10 more.

The core difference between each case is evident in the image above. The Alpha has extended cooling functionality via two top-mounted 120mm grills. Both cases support dual 120mm fans on the front and side, along with one 120mm fan in the bottom and back. However, they only ship with the single rear exhaust, which probably isn't adequate for a gaming rig.

Other noteworthy features include two water-cooling holes on the back (sans rubber grommets), thumbscrews for the side panel and drive bays, a CPU cutout in the motherboard tray, and a seemingly solid cable management system including space for excess wires behind the motherboard tray. Pricing is set at $39 for both the Merc Alpha and Beta.