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Thermaltake Spedo Advance Package Case Review

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lemonlime

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Thermaltake Spedo Advance Package Full Tower Case Review




Manufactures Product Page: Thermaltake Spedo Advance Package
Product ID: VI90001W2Z
TechWiki Info: Thermaltake Spedo Advance Package - TechWiki
Availability: Now
Warranty: 3 Years
Price: Click here to compare prices.



Thermaltake is a very familiar name in the PC hardware industry and not only for PC enthusiasts. Just about anyone who has walked into a computer shop in the last decade has undoubtedly seen some of Thermaltake’s products on the shelves. Founded back in 1999 - long before the Pentium 4 even hit the market – Thermaltake’s mission was to provide consumers with better alternatives to many of the “beige box” and OEM accessories that were available at the time. A lot has changed over the last ten years, and Thermaltake has developed into a very large and successful company offering a diverse range of products. Although probably best known for cases and heatsinks, they have moved on into other areas such as power supplies, storage accessories and even server components. Thermaltake is also one of the few PC accessory makers that has gone public and is listed on the stock market.

Today, we’re going to be taking a look at one of Thermaltake’s newest cases—the Spedo. Now, before you start chuckling, we want to be clear that it is “Spedo” and not “Speedo”, which will definitely throw off your friends if you tell them to “Check out my new Speedo!”. All kidding aside, the Spedo is a very interesting enthusiast grade case that caught our interest here at the HWC labs. We’ve had some very impressive cases passing through over the last several weeks, including the Cooler Master Storm Sniper and the SilverStone Raven, and we were definitely looking forward to taking a close look at the Spedo “Advance Package”.

So what exactly makes the Spedo a case that stands out in a crowd? Plenty. First off, it’s a massive full-tower case standing a full 24 inches tall, with two massive 230mm fans, a 140mm fan and three 120mm fans. Clearly, that is a lot of cooling packed into a case making this a case aimed directly toward the enthusiast gaming community. The cooling features don’t stop at a long list of fans either, as the Spedo Advance Package includes a unique air channelling system called “ATC” or “Advanced Thermal Chambers”. Thermaltake claims that by isolating the CPU, video cards and power supply, that system temperatures can be further reduced. This sounds great in theory, but we wanted to see the results for ourselves.

Aside from the interesting cooling properties of the case, Thermaltake also implemented some cool cable management features that also caught our eye. Not only does the case have a pin-contact side-fan that removes the need for cumbersome cabling to the side-panel, but their “CRM” or “Cable Routing Management” system provides some innovative ways to keep the rat’s nest of cable leads under control as well.

With that said, the Spedo Advance Package claims to bring a lot to the table and we very much look forward to seeing how it does in the labs!



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lemonlime

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Packaging and Accessories

Packaging and Accessories

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The Spedo ships in a massive 27x25x13 inch box. We don’t think we’ll be seeing too many free shipping deals with a massive box like this, but it certainly hints to the monster enclosure within. Thermaltake certainly doesn’t waste any real-estate as there are nice full-size images of the case and a listing of its pertinent features on it.

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Once we cracked open the box, we were greeted by a soft blue wrapping material that helps to keep dust out of the case during shipping. In our opinion, the case is adequately protected by a healthy gap on each side and some foam inserts. Although anything can happen in transit, we certainly wouldn’t be worried about shipping damage if we were to order this case from an online retailer.

Although case packaging is not always considered to be important by buyers, it is important to remember that online vendors almost never place an enclosure box within another box filled with protective packaging like they would with smaller items. What comes from the case manufacturer is what gets tossed around by the courier company.

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The accessory bundle for the Spedo can be found within the case itself in a large cardboard box. We’re used to seeing a bag of screws and some zip ties, so it was a pleasant surprise to see the healthy number of accessories bundled with the Spedo Advance.

In the box you’ll find a 120mm fan, a 24-pin ATX extension cable, an 8-pin CPU power extension cable, bags of screws and stand-offs as well as both internal and external 5.25 to 3.5 inch bay adapters. An instruction manual can also be found at the bottom of the box.

Thermaltake makes their instruction manual available online for anyone interested in some pre-reading. Although there is sufficient information in the manual to “figure out” most of the case’s features and installation quirks, we found it quite lacking as far as content. It would have been nice to see some information on how to best utilize many of the case’s unique features.

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While we were digging around inside the case to retrieve the accessory box, we found two pieces of metal rattling around at the bottom of the case. They turned out to be an unidentified panel of some kind – we’re guessing it was in the rear IO shield opening – and an expansion slot cover.

Thermaltake decided to use punch-out panels in the Spedo, which is pretty disappointing given the high cost associated with the case. Not only do these things have a tendency of falling out – as we witnessed - they are a pain to remove and cannot be reinstalled. If a Spedo owner were to replace their motherboard, their slots may no longer be in the same place and the slot covers would be absent in the wrong locations. Why Thermaltake couldn’t just include regular screw-in slot covers is beyond us as this is not a corner that should be cut in a premium enclosure.
 
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lemonlime

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Exterior Impressions

Exterior Impressions

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There is no doubt about it—the Spedo is one monster of a case. Standing exactly 24 inches tall, it definitely falls perfectly into the “Full Tower” category. Although looks are definitely in the eye of the beholder, we’d say that the Spedo exudes an aggressive appearance without being overly flamboyant and colourful. At first glance, it looks quite a bit like the Cooler Master Stacker with its front panel filled with removable bay covers from top to bottom.

The case’s finish has a nice and durable black paint coating, and its plastic exterior highlights appear to be nice and thick, and solidly constructed.

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The Thermaltake Spedo Advance Package’s side panels are far from the everyday norm. A uniquely shaped window is almost completely obstructed by a massive 230mm fan that we’ll get into a bit more later on. Ventilation openings can also be found toward the front of the case for the hard drive cages. Although there is no fan to provide side-to-side ventilation for the hard drives, we believe that Thermaltake opted for this feature to allow some improved passive cooling to the drives.

On the other side of the case, we see an interesting location for a 120mm fan. This is actually a stamped grill for a fan that can be attached to the rear of the motherboard tray for additional CPU cooling. We’ll be exploring this feature in greater detail in the “Installation” and “Cooling Performance” sections.

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The rear of the case is well ventilated with two 120mm exhaust fans, ventilated slot covers and a stamped grille that covers most of the unused parts of the rear panel. Keeping the rear of the case breathing, especially the expansion slot area is very important as toasty video cards do not always exhaust air directly out of the case very well. Front-to-back airflow helps to get this warm air out of the case.

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Two watercooling tube grommets can also be found for external watercooling gear. The grommets enter the case above the motherboard, which may be a pro or a con depending on your watercooling setup. At any rate, the case is essentially empty above the motherboard so tubing would enter in a location free of obstructions. Water cooling grommets are becoming more and more of a staple feature found on enthusiast grade cases today so it only makes sense that Thermaltake would follow the crowd. We’ll speak a bit more about the Spedo’s watercooling potential in the “Interior Impressions” section.

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The Spedo is yet another bottom mounted PSU case, which is becoming ever more popular these days. It should be noted that there are some thermal advantages to having the PSU at the bottom of the case, but some serious cable management challenges go along with it. Thankfully case manufacturers are starting to implement some more innovative ways to manage cabling in this sort of orientation, and PSU makers are providing longer power leads to ensure they’ll reach. We’ll see how the Spedo manages in this regard but with the extension cables for the CPU and 24-pin power connectors, things are looking good in this area.

The mounting holes exist to allow the PSU to be mounted right-side-up or upside-down. Some PSUs with a 120mm or larger fan at the bottom of the casing may benefit from an upside down orientation as they can draw in air with less restriction from the case. On the flip side, mounting it right side up allows the PSU to draw in cooler air from underneath the case. If the air temperature within the case is high, this orientation may be preferred. At any rate, it’s good to be able to choose between the two mounting possibilities.
 
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lemonlime

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Exterior Impressions pg.2

Exterior Impressions cont.

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The front of the Spedo has no fewer than twelve 5.25 inch bays. Five of them in the mid-section of the case actually conceal a large 140mm fan and the hard drive cages. A total of seven optical drives can be installed in the Spedo, or the included 5.25 to 3.5 inch adapters can be used to fill the case with a ludicrous number of hard drives. However you look at it, the Spedo has plenty of space to spare.

The top of the case is very different looking with four raised ventilation fins that appear to be purely cosmetic in nature. Although it can’t really be seen, there is a massive 230mm exhaust fan found beneath the grille toward the rear of the case.

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Some of the cosmetic touches are quite nice on the Spedo, including the Thermaltake logo prominently displayed at the front of the case, and the reflective power and reset buttons.

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An I/O plate can be found at the top of the case and has a pair of USB ports, an eSATA port and the essential audio connections. Although having the I/O connections on the top of the case is great if it’ll be residing on the floor, the ports will not easily be accessible with the 24 inch tall Spedo on top of a desk. A 1397 Firewire connector is not present on the I/O cluster but we’d gladly forgive this as it’s not commonly used outside of the Apple world and just adds more cable clutter inside of the case. In our opinion, if a motherboard even offers Firewire support, a single connector at the rear of motherboard or on a break-out bracket is good enough for those rare instances it may be required.

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Wow, Thermaltake actually threw three separate grilles over the top exhaust fan. What purpose could this possibly serve besides hampering exhaust airflow? It doesn’t even have much of a cosmetic appeal in our opinion, so we’re still scratching our heads on this one.

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At the bottom of the case, you’ll find retractable plastic feet. This is a nice feature, especially with extra tall cases as they can tip over much more easily than mid-towers. The feet themselves don’t protrude much, and click into place firmly.

Two 120mm stamped vents can be found at the bottom of the case. The one closest to the rear of the case is for the PSU intake, and the one at the center of the case is for an optional 120mm fan that can draw up cool air toward the expansion slots. Although Thermaltake includes an extra 120mm fan in the accessory bundle, it is best used elsewhere as you’ll see in our “Installation Section”.
 
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lemonlime

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Interior Impressions

Interior Impressions

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With the side panel cracked open, we were immediately shocked by the sheer amount of plastic stacked within the Spedo. This plastic is Thermaltake’s “ATC” or “Advanced Thermal Chamber” system. Call us crazy, but we don’t think there is anything terribly advanced about four flimsy plastic dividers. None the less, we kept an open mind and reminded ourselves that function often comes before form.

What we do like is the fact that all the metal is painted black instead of being left the usual drab grey. This brings a great aspect of uniformity to the interior which is a must in a high-end chassis.

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Since the ATC system dominates the inside of the case, we thought we’d start by taking a close look at it. Thermaltake defines the ATC system in one short sentence: “Advance Thermal Chamber 3 provides maximum cooling and prevents hot air re-circulation”. The idea is to separate the system into three thermally isolated chambers. This helps to keep the heat produced by video cards, the power supply and the CPU separate from each other. We’ll be testing the ATC system with a pair of toasty HD 3850s to see just how effective it is.

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One of the first features we noticed was the little slide out drawer. We assume it can be used to store case screws, but it is very flimsy and doesn't shut closed securely. We can understand that Thermaltake wanted to make good use of wasted space, but in our opinion, screws and stand-offs belong outside of the case in your parts bin, not inside a case.

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Thermaltake numbered the ATC dividers from one to four, the first one being a simple plastic divider with thin plastic flaps. These flaps help to keep the lower section isolated without having to worry about clearing various motherboard components. This looks like it should work in theory, but it certainly doesn’t create a very air tight barrier. One must be careful with boards with active northbridge coolers, as the flaps need to be cut or directed away from the moving fan blades.

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The second piece is a semi-transparent piece of plastic that covers the expansion slots of the motherboard. This one’s purpose is to isolate the video card or video cards. There are some angled ventilation openings on it to allow the large 230mm side panel fan’s airflow to enter the chamber. We were very sceptical about this opening, as it clearly won’t allow much of the side panel’s airflow to enter the video card chamber. Our first assumption was that this plastic cover would only restrict much needed airflow the GPUs, but we’ll reserve our judgement until the performance tests are conducted.

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The third divider is the one with the little plastic drawer, and the fourth is the PSU chamber cover. The divider with the drawer has two small doors that slide open to allow cables from the PSU into each chamber. This could be used for PCI-Express leads, or other cables. We were once again disappointed with the quality of these dividers as the little doors kept falling off and simply didn’t have a very nice feel to them. Considering the overall sturdy and high quality feel of the case’s exterior, the interior plastic parts feel very low quality in comparison.
 
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lemonlime

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Interior Impressions pg.2

Interior Impressions cont.

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At the bottom of the case, we find a raised rail to seat the PSU and a stamped vent opening for PSUs with bottom mounted fans. A thin piece of mesh filter is loosely placed over the opening and is held in place by only a few notches. This appears to be a really low budget attempt to provide air filtration for the PSU. At the very least, we expected a dust filter with a frame for ease of cleaning.

We were pleased to see a large opening below the motherboard tray to allow cables up from the PSU area to their final destinations. This feature – although appearing minor – is important for cable management as the PSU leads would have to sit at the bottom of the case if not correctly led out of the main compartment.

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One of our absolute favorite features of the Thermaltake Spedo is the “Wireless Side Panel Fan”. Obviously, wireless power is a dangerous proposition – especially if you cross the streams – so Thermaltake opted for pin-contacts to deliver power to the fan when the side panel is secured in place. It works a lot like the sliding door on a mini-van. When the door is closed, the pins touch the contacts and a connection is provided to a wire on the door. Anyone who has owned a case with a side panel fan knows that connecting it up can be a real pain and every time the side panel is removed, care must be taken to disconnect the fan lead before it can be completely removed.

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With all of the ATC chambers removed, we’re greeted with a clear view of the case’s interior. There is heaps of space toward the front of the case in the vacant drive bays. The two separate hard drive cages are placed right in the middle of the case and occupy five bays worth of space. Although the bays are constructed of metal – which is a positive thing – there is very little space to allow airflow from the front intake fan to enter the case. This front intake fan will likely only provide cooling to the hard drives, which is why the “Fan Bar” is so important.

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The odd looking bracket with the locking lever is the “Fan Bar”. This feature is essential when using the ATC system as you’ll see shortly, but it basically allows the included 120mm fan in the accessory box to be aimed just about anywhere in the case. It has two mounting holes that can be used in conjunction with self-tapping fan screws.

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The 5.25 inch drive bays all utilize push-locks for tool-less installation. Both the SilverStone Fortress FT01 and Cooler Master Storm Sniper utilize a similar mounting system. Although it makes installation very simple, we’d still recommend securing the drive in place more firmly with some screws. These locks are present on only one side of the case, so the drive is usually not held in place very firmly in this manner. None the less, this is a great feature for someone who regularly takes their PC apart—no one like’s fumbling with eight little drive bay screws just to install an optical drive.

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The Spedo accepts up to six hard drives using removable drive caddies, and even more if you take advantage of the included 5.25 to 3.5 inch internal adapters. They are very simple to unlock and remove, but again, the plastic and quality of the caddy leaves quite a bit to be desired. We felt that the caddy could easily be broken if care was not taken.
Not only can the drive caddies be removed, but the two cages can also be removed. This is a very good feature as most people don’t use more than one or two hard drives. Since there are three drive caddies per cage, one can be removed to allow about half of the front 140mm fan to provide unobstructed airflow to the expansion slot area of the motherboard. Since the cages are so restrictive, we’d recommend taking this route.

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One very unique feature of the Spedo is the fan grille directly behind the CPU area of the motherboard tray. A 120mm fan can be installed in this location to either exhaust hot air away from the rear of the motherboard, or to intake cool air. Thermaltake pictures a fan in an exhaust mouning direction, but either way should provide some benefit. We’ll be performing some tests with Thermaltake’s fan 120mm “Turbo Fan” in this position to see if there is any measurable benefit associated with cooling the back of the motherboard.

Although this is a unique feature, it is definitely not a new concept. Another manufacturer – with a similar name – Thermalright, produced a heatsink called the IFX-10 to cool a motherboard behind the CPU socket.
 
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lemonlime

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Interior Impressions pg.3

Interior Impressions cont.

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From the other side of the case, another very unique feature can be seen; the CRM or “Cable Routing Management” system. Thermaltake – a company of few words and many diagrams – sums up the CRM system in one sentence: “Cable Routing Management 3 eliminates cable clutter”. There is not really much else to say except that the CRM system is beautiful in its simplicity. It is literally three small plastic shields and three smartly placed reusable zip-ties. Rather than bundling up unsightly header and power leads, they can be neatly tied up and concealed behind these plates.

We were pleased to see the system effectively hide the big bunch of header leads out of the I/O panel, and we’ll see how it works when we begin installing some gear into the Spedo.

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Once we had a good look at the inside of the case, we started taking it apart a bit more. We started by removing the top and side panel, which was a very easy task. The front panel must be removed first and literally just snaps off with a bit of pulling pressure. It has a nice and secure feeling when removing it. The top can then be removed by depressing two small latches at the top of the case. It also comes off with little effort and feels nice and sturdy.

With the front panel off, we noticed that all of the drive bay covers are connected to the panel, not the case itself. All of the 5.25 inch drive bays are wide open and thankfully don’t need to have metal panels punched out. We also get a first glimpse at the clear LED fan present at the front of the case. Although it is smaller than the massive side panel and top exhaust fans, it is a bit larger than the standard size 120mm models. Thermaltake lists it as a 140mm fan.

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With the plastic top panel removed, we get a good view of the 230mm exhaust fan and the stamped grille at the top of the case. Although the fan is 230mm, mounting holes exist on the stamped grille to accept smaller, 120mm fans, or a water cooling radiator. Unfortunately, there are no standard mounting hole locations to accept a second fan at the front grille. As such, a large radiator would also need a bit of improvisation to get securely in place. A dual 120mm radiator should fit at the top of the case with a little bit of elbow grease and some mounting creativity.

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The 140mm front intake fan is held in place with four long post-screws and was easy to remove. Unfortunately, there are not a whole lot of 140mm fans on the market – or 230mm fans for that matter – so finding a replacement will be difficult.

The fan is a Thermaltake model TT-1425, which is a rebadged “Hong Sheng” model with an extended part number of “A1425L12S”. This is a sleeve bearing fan rated for about 0.30A at 12V, and spins at a relatively slow 1000RPM. Thermaltake rates it for only 16dBA. The fan has four red LEDs and is completely clear. This particular fan is pretty solidly constructed, and has a higher quality look to it.

As you can see, the fan openings behind the fan are very small and will restrict airflow a fair bit. If you are not using all of the hard drive bays, we’d definitely recommend removing one of the cages to improve airflow in the case.

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Thermaltake opted to use massive 230mm fans at the top exhaust and the side panel locations. Case manufacturers have really raised the bar over the last couple of years and fans larger than 120mm have practically become the norm. As mentioned earlier though, this poses a real problem if these large fans do not meet your noise or airflow expectations. With 120mm fans, you can buy a replacement ranging from a silent Noctua model to a raging 150CFM Delta. When it comes to 230mm models, you will be hard pressed to find replacements beyond what is offered by the case manufacturer.
Replacement issues aside, larger fans usually come with some benefits—namely higher airflow at low rotational speeds and low rotational speeds usually equate to lower noise levels.

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Although the side panel fan lists the Thermaltake part number “TT-2020” with the usual yellow and orange sticker, the top exhaust fan does not. According to Thermaltake’s specifications, they are both 230mm fans with a rotational speed of 800RPM. Although we can’t really say for certain what the top exhaust fan is, the side panel fan is a Hong Sheng model listed with an extended part number of “A2020L12S”, which tells us that it is a sleeve bearing model.

It should definitely be noted that we were not pleased with the build quality of these 230mm fans. The plastic used is very flimsy, and the frame does not provide any sort of rigid structure to the fan whatsoever. In fact, we’d be very concerned about breaking off the fins on the side panel if it is not handled carefully. We expected much higher quality given the high price of the Spedo Advance.

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Two 120mm fans can be found acting as rear exhaust fans for the Spedo. Most mid-tower cases only have one 120mm fan in this location, and it is rare to see anything larger than 120mm in this particular location. The case would simply become too wide if a 140 or 180mm fan was used here. This is a positive thing as their very common 120x25mm size means they can be swapped out for just about any 120mm fan.

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The accessory fan and the two exhaust fans are all the same; they are Thermaltake “Turbo Fan” models “TT-1225” rated for 0.3 amps at 12V. The fan is also a Hong Sheng model with an extended part number of “A1225L12S”, which makes it a sleeve bearing fan. Its rotational speed is rated at 1300RPM with a noise rating of about 17dBA. Although these fans don’t appear to be made with the same level of quality we’ve come to expect in a premium enclosure, their smaller size and standard type of frame makes them a sturdier fan than the 230mm models.
 
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lemonlime

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Installation

Installation

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To install our testing rig into the Spedo, we started with the PSU. It went in without difficulty, but our slightly longer than standard Antec Signature series PSU would make installing the optional 120mm bottom intake fan a difficult task. Even longer PSUs would completely obstruct this opening. Thermaltake should have shifted this intake closer to the 5.25 inch bays, as a device in the lowest bay could easily be relocated, whereas the PSU cannot.

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As you can see, the CRM system is located perfectly to allow header leads and PSU leads to be hidden away. To our surprise, there is enough space underneath the CRM panels for a fairly large bundle of cabling. Hats off to Thermaltake for this system as it made what would have been a very unsightly installation very clean.

There are two other locations that can be used to hide away PSU leads; the lowest 5.25 inch bays and the rear of the hard drive cages. Assuming hardware has found its way into these bays, they make an ideal location to hide away excess cabling.

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Installing the fan behind the motherboard tray was a simple procedure. Self-tapping fan screws secure it in place with little effort. Our only gripe about this method of installation is that the fan cannot be removed without taking the motherboard out of the case. We’ll be testing the system with this fan installed in one of our tests to see how it impacts CPU temperature.

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Installing the hard drive into one of the removable caddies should have been a piece of cake, but it had us pulling our hair out and dropping a few “F-bombs”. After over ten minutes of fiddling with it and even referring to the instructions, there was simply no way our Seagate drive was going to fit into the caddy. We tried the other caddies in the case to no avail, so we attempted to install a Western Digital model, which snapped in place with about five seconds worth of effort.

The problem is the plastic clips; they simply have zero tolerance for any of the mounting holes being off on the drive. And when we say the drive mounting holes were not perfectly aligned, we’re talking less than half of a millimeter. Nothing in this world is perfect, so Thermaltake should have allowed for small variances. We’ve installed this exact Seagate drive in many cases without issue, so clearly the tolerances are too tight on these caddies. Thankfully, we were able to remove the plastic clips without breaking them and secured the drive with two screws from below.

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Aside from this frustrating issue, the drive caddy slid and locked into place very easily. Power and data connections can be made from the rear, and threaded mounting holes are in place for Thermaltake’s optional “AC0002” hotswap adapters. Given the high price of this case, it would have been nice to see at least one of these adapters thrown in, like with SilverStone’s FT01.

Although hot-swap functionality is great in a server environment where a drive must be replaced without shutting the system down, it is purely “nice to have” in a home environment in our opinion.

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Installing a 5.25 inch optical drive into the Spedo was incredibly simple. We removed the front panel, slid the drive into place and locked it in using the push button clips. This is a popular type of mounting system that we’re beginning to see in quite a few enthusiast cases.

The bay covers are stamped grills with a foam dust filter within. The filter is several millimeters thick, so it should be pretty effective at keeping dust bunnies out of the enclosure. On the negative side of the equation, because of the filter’s thickness, airflow through the front bays will most certainly be restricted. Those more interested in performance than cleanliness can easily remove the foam filters and throw them in a drawer for future use.

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Appearance is very subjective, but with the front case cover put back on, we’d describe the case and black optical drive as having a very clean appearance.
 
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lemonlime

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Installation pg.2

Installation cont.

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Looks like Thermaltake made the incorrect assumption that all motherboards accept two-pin power LED connections. In our experience, the majority of boards require three-pin connectors. Why they didn’t just break them off into two separate positive and negative single-pin plugs is beyond us. There will undoubtedly be quite a few people calling tech-support on this one.

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Installing the motherboard in the Spedo was a very painless experience. Because there is so much space within the enclosure, we faced no clearance issues of any kind. The innovative cable routing features found at the rear of the motherboard tray also help to keep clutter out of the main chamber. We routed the 4-pin CPU power connector up the back of the motherboard tray, behind the CRM shields and direct to the top-left corner of the board.

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Installing the video cards was very easy. Thermaltake’s tool-less expansion slot clips were easy to secure, and held the cards firmly in place. Its too bad we had to fumble about trying to wiggle those annoying punch-out slot covers out.

Although we pictured the fan included in the accessory bundle mounted at the rear of the motherboard earlier – as we will be running a test or two with it installed in this position – it is absolutely essential that the movable “fan bar” be placed in front of the PCI-Express slots when used in conjunction with the ATC chambers. We’ll show you why this is so essential in the “Cooling Performance” section.

Installing the fan on the “fan bar” is quite simple. Two self-tapping fan screws hold it in place. The latch can then be moved into two positions to allow the fan to be angled or moved up and down the height of the case. We placed it in a position to direct airflow directly across both HD 3850s.

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Once we got the fan installed, we began reinstalling the ATC plastic dividers. They went in without too much difficulty, but the “#3” divider right above the PSU cover leaves very little clearance at the bottom of the motherboard. We had some difficulties with the header cables being pushed upward, but this is an overall minor issue that didn’t impact the case’s functionality.

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With all of the ATC dividers installed, the case looks very different. We only hope that all of that flimsy, unsightly plastic makes a measurable improvement in component temperatures.

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The final step was to connect up all of the fans and tidy up the cabling. It should be mentioned that every single fan in the Spedo is a 4-pin molex model. This has some pros and cons; however just about every single budget board on the model today has a minimum of two case fan connectors on it. The real disadvantage to molex connection fans is that they can’t be easily used in conjunction with a fan controller, and they can’t be plugged directly into the motherboard for RPM monitoring. On the flip side, these 4-pin molex fans can be chained together and plugged into a single PSU lead, making them a safe bet for just about any system configuration.

It would have been nice to see at least one or two of Thermaltake’s fans connect using 3-pin fan connectors and some 3-pin to 4-pin adapters thrown in with the accessories. Thankfully, all of the Thermaltake fans are sleeved to aid in the cable management.


Acoustic and Running Impressions

When we first fired up the Spedo, we were very surprised by the level of noise. We wish we could say we were surprised because it was so quiet, but quite the opposite was true. Given that all of the fans in the system are rated below 15-17dBA range, we expected a much quieter system. This just goes to show how meaningless these dBA ratings have become over the years. The slow spinning 230mm fans were actually some of the loudest in the system, with the side panel fan being the worst by far. We’re guessing that the way it is mounted so close to the acrylic window makes the situation worse. We can only describe the side panel fan as having a “GPU squirrel cage fan” type of noise. Overall we were disappointed in the acoustics department. Those looking for a quiet case will not be pleased with the Spedo.

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The single red LED fan in the front of the Spedo is not overly bright, and adds a bit of character to the case. Not everyone is a big fan – no pun intended – of LED fans, but the Spedo is not overly flashy. None of the other fans in the case are LED models.
 
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