I started searching for computer parts to construct my first computer in November 2008. I did not have a lot of ideas of what I wanted specifically except for the power supply brand, video card, the amount of memory, and the operating system. The NZXT Alpha Black ATX Mid Tower Computer Case with Open Window was listed as a deal on a website I frequent. Apparently, it was $30.00 after a mail-in rebate, so I looked at its reviews. The consensus was that it was an adequate case for new builders, even though it was not really pretty to look at. Not caring about appearances, I ordered it in November 2008 from newegg.com.Installation of the different components was easy for the most part. I had no problems putting in the motherboard, hard drive, or graphics card inside of the case. The one component I had significant trouble installing was the DVD reader/writer. The front of the case is supposed to be removed in order for the drive to be placed into the computer. Removing that part is actually a bit hard. It snaps into place with 6 tabs. It is difficult to remove them because you have to squeeze them and push them out; applying pressure on a small object in a very confined space where your fingers cannot reach is very trying. I ended up using some pliers to squeeze some of the tougher ones.
I also had a little trouble installing the power supply, which is a bit odd since I always thought it was the easiest one to do (I had done it a couple times before). I had bought a 750W power supply, so it was quite large. The problem that I was having was that the screw placement on the case made it necessary for me to hold the power supply with one hand, while screwing it in with the other. The power supply is positioned away from all the sides of the case, so it does not rest on any of the sides. That was why I had to hold it while screwing it in. It does not seem hard at first, but one has to take into account that I had to hold the power supply relatively still for all 4 screws, or else it may have broken the unsecured screws under its massive weight.
The case is supposedly capable of utilizing no screws for installing other components and instead use plastic parts to secure things like your hard drive and DVD drive. I was able to install the hard drive without screws, but I had trouble figuring out the DVD drive. In the end, I decided use screws for practical purposes, which were included with the other parts.
The case comes with a reset button underneath the power button, which is handy if you come across a problem and need to reboot. It also has room for future additions, so I may be able to add a Blu-ray drive in the future. I have plenty of room for more hard drives and floppy disk drives if necessary. Some people criticize the case for being too small for their graphics cards; mine fit fine, but check your measurements beforehand if you have a newer, bulky card.
The case has two fans, one that is on the back and one that is on the side of the case. The back fan is adequate, but the side fan is known to be a little weak in moving air. I can feel a little breeze but not a big one, so it can be removed and replaced with a better one at your discretion. I do not have a lot of money or time to replace it, so I left it alone. The blue LEDs on the side fan do look nice though, especially since the side panel has a window that you can see the inside of your computer with.
There is an option to install another fan near the hard drive to keep it cool as well. The fan is not a standard size though because it is in a smaller space between the hard drive cage and the case. According to other people who own the NZXT Alpha Black, the correct fan size is 120mm x 20mm, not the regular 120mm x 25mm. They are hard to find, but I did find one manufacturer that makes them. I may buy one later, although installation requires taking off the front of the case. Again.
Some people claim they cut themselves on the inside of the case since it is made out of steel, and there are unrefined edges sometimes. Initially, I did not think I injured myself during installation, although I noticed a small cut on my thumb later on. I was not bleeding, but one should be careful.
In conclusion, the NZXT Alpha Black case is a fine case if functionality is more important than looks. I did not mind having it for my first computer build, although you may want to spend time figuring out how to remove the front part before installing anything else to avoid frustration. It is a very basic product but a satisfactory one, especially for the $30.00 price I got it for.