by Matthew Harris on September 26, 2006 in Mid-Tower
If you’re a PC enthusiast chances are you’ve heard of Spire and if you’re a car enthusiast the chances are you’ve heard of Pininfarina. If you’re into both the chances are good that when you heard those two words together your first thought was "WTF?". Well, Spire just didn’t pull a name out of a hat for this case, it was indeed designed by the folks at Pininfarina. This begs the question "Just what do car designers know about PC cases?" Read on to find out.
Now, on to the numbers. As you can see I added an 80mm fan in the one empty fan slot, I’ll elaborate on my findings with it as an intake and as an exhaust in a bit but now on to the tested system!
System as tested
- ASUS A8N32-SLI Deluxe mobo
- AMD X2 3800+ CPU
- Visiontek X300SE GPU
- 2 x 1 gig sticks of Patriot PDC2G3200LLK PC 3200 @ 2-3-2-5 CR2
- Silverstone Element ST40EF 400W PSU
- 1 x 160Gb WD1600-JD SATA HDD
- Samsung SW-252B 52X CD/RW drive
- Mitsumi floppy
- Windows XP Pro SP2
For testing I used the factory HSF on the 3800+ and did a bit of overclocking to 2.5Ghz at 1.42 Vcore. First round I ran the bottom fan as exhaust so that it would help to compliment the restrictive nature of the rear fan. I ran SuperPi 1.4 Mod and 3D Mark 2006 concurrently for loading after allowing the PC to sit idle for over an hour to stabilize.
I must admit that as a long time water cooling enthusiast that was a bit dismayed by these temps. I decided to reverse the side fan and see how it did as an intake. I have to say I was a bit intrigued by the results until I started looking at what was happening.
How could adding more air into an already over powered box lower temps? I was nonplussed to say the least until I started looking closer. Come to find out that the culprit was the huge duct over the CPU. When I was using the lower fan as an exhaust the duct was getting nearly zero air movement and that meant that the CPU was sitting in what amounted to dead air. After reversing the fan I ended up shoving air out the duct which helped to move cooler air past the HSF for the CPU and as for the mobo temps, the diode is located under the top PCI-e slot so the fresh air being blown across the diode resulted in lower temps for that as well.
All in all not a bad showing for a case that’s hobbled by a less than ideal thermal design. I’d imagine that if the the rear fan was not as restricted that using it and the door fan as exhausts would result in the duct functioning as it should and not having such anomalous results.
Now to sum it up in terms that everyone can get behind.
- Clean lines
- Case doors make for an amazingly easy install
- Front door muffles even the loudest optical drives
- 100% toolless drive bays
- Great finish
- Monolithic design
- All but one fan pre installed
- Heavy for a mid tower
- Fan wires are way short
- Complicated PSU install
- Restrictive rear fan grill
- Top mounted buttons
- Not a case for water cooling or windowing
Overall I’m pretty impressed with the Spire Pininfarina ATX case. The look is smooth and the execution is for the most part quite good. There is a bit of room for improvement though and those issues will have a slight ding on the overall score but not to a huge extent. The PSU issue is the biggest problem that I encountered. When you’ve got a PC built and the PSU dies and needs replacement you don’t want to tear the PC apart to to facilitate the replacement. The fan wires are annoying but easily extended by an enterprising modder. That said I’m awarding the Spire Pininfarina an 8 out of 10 and the Editor’s choice award.
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