Having been around since the dawn of the enthusiast PC market, Thermaltake has given us a product to scratch just about every itch we have when it comes to customizing our PC. Starting with mostly heat sinks and power supplies, they’ve spread their influence to just about every sub-system involved with home computers. Our ever-evolving desire to have something different has been transformed into a healthy avenue for manufacturers to create products to fulfill our dreams.
One component that has advanced light years over the short term is the PC chassis. Remember back just a few short years ago, that plain beige steel box that housed your beloved creation? It required hours upon hours of skill and determination to make it not only something special, but to make it perform better as well. Airflow was not even part of the equation, and our parts were cooking themselves inside these unforgiving ovens.
With the advancement of the enthusiast market, we are now given a substantial selection of pre-modified cases to choose from. Today’s market not only demands high-quality aesthetics, it requires solid design in the area of airflow. Quad-Core processors and super-hot GPU’s just will not survive inside anything less. Gone are the days where you have to do this yourself and I say good riddance as well. The masses have spoken and we have been heard which is readily seen in nearly all current models and designs.
In tune with these needs, the Spedo comes in with some impressive specs. Lots of fans, grills and attention to airflow must have been the main focus in the design. Liberal use of modern plastics has also made way for a very stylish exterior as well. Lacking the ability of E-ATX functionality is somewhat puzzling at this price-point of ~$229US, so we’ll need to break out the fine-tooth comb while poking and prodding this one. Since it did win an award at the 2009 CES show for Innovation Design and Engineering, my hopes are high.
Out of the box we get our first look at the Spedo. The front panel is lined with mesh covers that allow the free flow of air. There is a 140mm fan hidden in the middle to cool the hard drives and it is also lit up red during operation. The large power button is well placed with a reset button below it. I was please to see the reset button since many new cases come without one.
The left side panel sports a window with a large 230mm fan inside it as well as venting in front of it. There is a latch here towards the back which does lock the panel in place firmly enough. I still preferred to use the included thumb screws for that extra security but you could leave them off without much worry.
The backside is all business and you get your first realization that the metal chassis is painted black. This has become the latest trend and it is a welcome trend at that as it makes the components pop out at you when installed. We see there are 2 pre-drilled holes with grommets for large water-cooling lines. The PCI slot covers are vented, but I was not happy with their design as once they are removed there is no way to reinstall them. With the dual 120mm fans and a bottom location of the power supply, the design is up to snuff here.
The top of the case is where we see the amount of plastic used creep right up. There is lots of ventilation with another 230mm mounted to pull out hot air. The I/O panel is located in the front and houses two USB ports, an E-SATA port and mic/headphone jacks. I was surprised to see that there was no FireWire port, but seeing the lack of widespread peripherals using this, it isn’t too surprising.
The bottom has the ability to house a 120mm intake/exhaust fan and sports swiveling case feet.
When you pivot the feet out they do feel like they lock into position at a 45 and 90 degree angle. They are made of plastic and unfortunately they feel very “plasticky” and somewhat fragile. Once in place they are solid enough, I just did not like the feel of them while turning.
The 230mm fan on the inside of the side panel mounts directly to the vented clear window. You can see the latching mechanism to the back of the panel much clearer from the inside.
The really unique feature of this fan is the fact that it connects to the power supply wirelessly. There is a contact at the bottom which closes when you install the panel that powers the fan making it a very clean install. There is nothing that aggravates me more than pinching that wire in a normal arrangement. This is an excellent included feature.
Taking a closer look inside the chassis with the panel off one sees the “Advanced Thermal Chamber” as well as the tool-less mounting for the ODD and HD’s. Also notice the ability to mount a 120mm fan behind the motherboard to further enhance cooling should you so choose. Again notice the black painted finish inside. I feel this definitely enhances the perception of quality.
There is room for 6 hard drives and they ride inside caddies that pull out of their slots with the push of a tab. Once inside, your drives are safe and secure and are given excellent ventilation to enhance their life.
Yet another interesting feature is as adjustable bracket for a 120mm fan. This simple but effective option is something I would love to see incorporated into more designs. One thing I should note is that unfortunately it does have a very cheap and fragile feel. I had to hold my breath as I locked the lever into position as it felt as if it was ready to snap off at any second. I would prefer metal in this application.
Integrated into the thermal chamber is a storage drawer that rotates out to hold any small items that you wish to keep handy. Also notice the venting on the mid-level area of the chamber that will aid in cooling your chipsets and graphics cards.
Once inside belly of the beast we see the bottom venting for your power supply so it can not only draw in fresh air through the bottom it can also expel its hot air out the back to prevent from spilling its heat inside. Also, take note of the inclusion of an eighth PCI slot so you have the ability to house 8 dual-slot graphics cards if you so desired. Considering there are platforms capable of this arrangement, this is a smart and welcome inclusion.
The backside of the motherboard tray contains the “Cable Routing Management” feature. Instead of the usual slots for zip ties they have chosen to make plastic housings that slot in to the tray. I found this feature worked quite well and was simple to use.
The included assembly hardware was thorough as well. You get all the motherboard standoffs required, an 8-pin EPS power cable extension, a 24pin-to-20pin motherboard power cable adapter, a 5 ¼ to 3 ½ floppy tray adapter, two sets of adapters to allow for the mounting of 6 more hard drives in the 5 ¼ empty bays and an extra 120mm “Turbo” fan. All of the 120mm fans are of the turbo design.
With that look all taken care of, it’s time to get to the installation process, and then testing!