I have a thread over on the New Build forum, here.
Basically, I'm down to two questions, and the one I need help with is the case question.
I had originally picked the BitFenix Merc Beta, partly due to price, but also due to reviews.
cutebeans suggested the NZXT Source 220, which is slightly more expensive, but has better cooling.
I went back to Newegg to look them over, and I ran into some issues.
1) I have a Mac laptop that I use, and I share the non-wireless printer between the two computers. This means I need at least 1 USB 2.0 on the front (so I can easily disconnect it and connect it to the laptop) for the printer. I'd like at least a second one for a flash drive. I don't have any USB 3.0 devices. Will I? It's hard to say, but I tend to be old-fashioned, so my guess is not. This makes me think the Merc might be better.
2) That said, it's true that the NZXT comes with two included fans, whereas the Merc only comes with one. I have verified with all the respondents on the New Build thread that I don't need more cooling than any included fans since I have such a basic system and don't plan to overclock. In other words, I shouldn't need to buy an after-market heatsink/fan. shellls45 said that the Merc and its one fan should be enough, so I'm kind of leaning back that way, but I'll admit that the extra fan sounds nice, especially since my computer is in an enclosure (3 sides enclosed), and I live in a fairly dry, warm, and dusty climate.
So, I'm struggling because I want both the extra fans AND the extra USB 2.0 port (or 3, since the Merc actually has 4 -- but I really only need 2).
That led me to look at all the cases that I found appealing originally at the same basic price:
XCLIO 320 $34.99 2 USB 2.0 ports on the front, no fans included. The Merc seems better than this since it has 4 USB 2.0 ports and 1 fan, plus it's slightly less expensive.
COOLER MASTER Elite 361 $39.99 2 USB 2.0 ports on the front, no fans. Also, the power supply is on top, and I'm not sure what I think about that. Suggestions on top vs. bottom mounted PSU are welcome!
Antec NEW SOLUTION SERIES VSK-4000 $39.99 2 USB 2.0 ports, 1 120mm fan. Top-mounted power supply. This seems to be equal to the Merc, for slightly more money. I do note that it doesn't have a top vent. Is that important?
Xigmatec ASGARD Pro $44.99 This has 2 USB 2.0 ports, 1 USB 3.0 port (which I'm not sure I'll need), 2 fans included. This seems better for my purposes than the NZXT and the Merc, since it has 2 fans AND 2 USB 2.0 ports. That said, some of the negative reviews about the difficulty getting things to fit and putting it together, etc. made me worry some. I'm not exactly a handyman, and this is my first time building a computer.
I thought I'd be buying the parts sometime in the next 1-4 months, but I'm starting to get anxious, so it might be as soon as this week-end, after I do taxes and know how much (if any) money I'm getting back from the government.
At the moment, I think I'm still leaning toward the Merc, but if the Alpha has something the Beta doesn't in the way of cooling, I might switch. I've pretty much ruled out the NZXT since I'd have to unplug the printer every time I wanted to use a flash drive. That would get to be old really fast. The Xigmatec is also looking appealing, since it has two fans like the NZXT, but has 2 USB 2.0 ports rather than just 1, so I could have both the printer plugged in AND use a flash drive for saving files.
If I'm missing something important, please let me know!
Not sure what you want in the case but, cooling wise it has 2x80mm fans and 1x120mm fan
Also has a clear side panel if you want to shoe what you've put together and be able to show it off a little.
Has 2 USB ports on the front for your printer, so no problem there
Just an overall nice clean case
Little less flashy than the other. Only 2 120 mm fans, but cooler master has really good design in all their cases, so 2 fans in their cases could be the equivalent of 4 in another
Also has the possibility to buy extra fans at a later time and mount extra
I'm still thinking the Xigmatec looks like it could potentially be the best, but I'm still worried about the assembly. And since I don't really see a difference between the Merc Alpha and Beta other than price, I'll probably go with the Beta. I just hope the others are right and that I don't need two fans.
BitFenix Shinobi Window. It's more expensive than the others I was looking at, but I like the way it looks (I guess I like some kinds of flash, just not big/bulky/gamer-looking), it has 2 fans, 2 USB 2.0, and if needed 2 USB 3.0. Plus it has good reviews, which doesn't hurt.
Plus, I can keep it and add better fans when I do my *real* build in 2-3 years (when I have more money).
Thanks again for the help! I probably wouldn't have looked again if you hadn't started suggesting other cases that I hadn't considered initially.