The moment you get this case out of its package you are bound to be dumbstruck. It's simply taller, wider, and deeper than any of the cases I have ever laid my eyes on. Besides being big it also has a certain aesthetic quality to it. Even though it’s huge it doesn't look all that clumsy (which most extra high full towers usually do). The fact that the case is an all aluminum design helps to keep its weight at a minimum, fully assembled with water in the cooling system it weighs about 19 kg which isn't all that bad considering the size of the thing.
From the factory GIGABYTE ships this case with an acrylic window mounted on the side of the case, but included with the case you also get a mesh plate that you can install instead of the window. This option is really nice. Later on in the review I will show you how to install the mesh plate.
The front of the case looks really sweet with mesh drive bay covers. As with the side panels the front is held in a clean black look. The black brushed aluminum makes it look different than most cases. Near the top you can see some of the extra features that this case has. The mesh drive covers actually have small foam inlays preventing dust from entering the case through the drive bay (this is a real problem with a case such as this where you have twice as much air going out as you have coming in from the front fan).
The case's back plate is nickel plated and looks really nice put up against the brushed aluminum sides. Since the back of the case is nickel plated it's a real fingerprint magnet.
One of the things worth noticing on the back of this case is the rather odd layout near the PSU. In order to install a PSU you need to remove the PSU bracket on the back of the case. This is done via four thumbscrews which are located around the PSU bay. Once you get the PSU bracket and the PSU screwed in place all you got to do is stuff the cables inside the case and put the four thumbscrews in place again. This hassle free installation method worked flawlessly for me. Gigabyte even includes an extension for the PSU mounting plate which enables you to install large 1 kW and up PSU without having to modify the case.
The 3D Mercury sports a front panel with a lot of neat features right from USB connectivity to flow and fan control. Right under the panel GIGABYTE has inserted a small window that gives you a clear view of the reservoir. Both the flow meter and reservoir window are accentuated by a polished metal piece. This draws a lot of attention because they are the only two details on the front of the case that are polished.
The reservoir cap is also nickel plated and looks really nice. It's quite large and easy to remove. The seal between the cap and the reservoir is really tight and has a silicone seal. Even though the reservoir cap seal is good I still wouldn't recommend laying this case on its side due to the fact that it will allow air to re-enter the system from the reservoir / pump.
In the middle of the front panel you find the water flow indicator which is a small "fan" inside a round plastic chamber that is hooked up to the water system in the case. When water is going through the plastic chamber it turns the fan giving a nice clear indication of whether water is flowing through the system. The flow indicator has a blue LED that illuminates it so that it's easy to tell if something is blocking the water system’s flow.
Here you can see the power and disk usage LEDs in actions. The power and reset button are somewhat unconventional in their shape. The power button is a short travel length rectangular design which goes well with the rest of the front's design.
On the front panel there is also a fan control knob. This allows you to adjust the two fans that are used to cool the radiator. The fan controller can adjust the fans from 1000 RPM to 2800 RPM according to the sticker on the controller. At 1000 RPM the fans are dead silent, but when you crank it all the way to the maximum they make quite a lot of noise.
As with most new cases the GIGABYTE 3D Mercury has four USB 2.0 connectors that are easily accessible. Besides USB 2.0 it also has Firewire connectivity and Line-In and Line-Out.
Like the flow meter the reservoir is also illuminated by a blue LED, this gives the reservoir a nice blue glow and lights up the entire water cooling compartment on top of the case. The 5.25" mesh covers means that it's possible to catches glimpse of the components installed inside the case from the front. Combined with three 120 mm blue LED fans and one 80 mm LED fan this case emits a nice blue glow at night.
With the top compartments cover removed we can see into the water cooling compartment. The water cooling compartment is roughly three 5.25” drive bays tall and extends to about mid length of the case where it slopes upwards making room for a PSU underneath. It's in this separate compartment where all the water cooling components are housed. From the front of the case we have: reservoir, pump, fan, radiator, fan and slope.
The radiator is mounted with two 120 mm fans in a push / pull configuration. Behind the radiator the water cooling compartment becomes smaller in order to make more room for the PSU which is mounted at the back of the case right under the cooling compartment.
The two fans located on the front and back of the radiator pull cold air in from the room via some vents on either side of the case and the mesh plate in front of the reservoir.
The amount of work that GIGABYTE has put into the building process of this case and water cooling is just amazing. All of the edges that one may come in contact with have a nice rounded edge. Even the cabling in the top compartment of the case has been fixed in place. The routing of the cables from the front panel into the case is really nice and neatly tugged behind the 5.25" drive bay. The only problem is that the USB cable for two of the front USB connectors is too short in order to be able to connect with my motherboard. I have a GIGABYTE P35C-DS3R and all of the internal USB 2.0 headers are placed at the bottom edge of the motherboard, I guess that the cable is long enough for use with a more standard motherboard.
The plate work on this case is really good. Even compared to my Antec P182 the quality of the finish of the GIGABYTE 3D Mercury is way ahead. All of the mounts in the top compartment are quite solid, either boxed aluminum or feature an extra profile with a 90 degree angle making it very durable and stiff.
Removing and installing a side panel of a case can be a bit of a problem. GIGABYTE's solution is to incorporate an "easy click" hatch mechanism. When removing the side panel all you do is push it forward and the side panel pops right out. Installing it is really easy as well. All you do is place the front of the side on its circular hinge and then press the side onto the case forcing the hatch mechanism to lock in place.
GIGABYTE has been so kind as to give the end user a choice between going with a mesh type "window" and a clear acrylic one. If you want to swap out the "window" all you do is release some screws in the side and then take the "window" out while pressing down the plastic pins, further fixing the "window" in place.