I've had a long love-hate relationship with Thermaltake products. Often, it's the only (or at least the first) manufacturer to implement nifty gadgets that really make sense and set its cases apart from generic models. Sometimes Thermaltake comes up with outlandish designs that seem fit only for the most EXTREM3 computer geeks, and while that's usually not my thing, I can appreciate the fact that there will probably always be a market for garish designs.
However, I rarely find a Thermaltake case that doesn't have some nagging problem, whether it's the inability of a tool-less expansion lock mechanism to work with all my PCI cards or an unwanted door or aesthetic piece that I can't get rid of easily. It feels like the majority of Thermaltake cases I've used are only a step or two away from being excellent products, and therein lies the frustration.
Today we turn our attention to Thermaltake's new Spedo Advance Package, which sports surprisingly subdued styling and an array of innovative features that should position the case well against other full tower enclosures. Read on to see what makes the Spedo unique and whether any fatal flaws ultimately sink its appeal.
Funny name, serious case
Images of sports cars adorn the ridiculously large box containing the nicely-packaged Spedo, so I think the name has something to do with speed. Thermaltake cases have consistently impressed me with their packaging. They're always prepared for whatever delivery services may throw at them, surrounded by large foam blocks and a dust cover (in this instance even uniquely marked with a Spedo logo). All loose extras are neatly and individually wrapped, boxed up, and strapped down tightly inside the case with twist-ties. That's all well and good, but I think you'll agree the Spedo is more interesting once it's unwrapped.
Considering Speedos generally have everything to do with being compact and streamlined, the sheer size of this case deepens my doubt that the name is connected in any way with the popular swimwear. The Spedo measures 24 inches tall, 9.1 inches wide, and 21.1 inches deep, which puts it firmly in full tower territory. It's no lightweight, either, with a steel body that tips the scales at just under 30lbs.
Here I'm showing you the right side of the case first, since I want to save the more impressive left side for later. Note the two large grills, one of which is positioned directly under the CPU area on the back side of the motherboard. More on those later.
In a rather uncharacteristic fashion for Thermaltake, the Spedo's face is devoid of any doors, flaps, or even markings, instead opting for simple dark gray and silver accents on either side of a stack of black grill covers for the hard drive and 5.25" bays. While it's hard to tell from this picture, the top four and bottom three 5.25" bays are open for optical drives; a 120mm fan and dual hard drive cages sit behind the five grills in between.
The tops of cases often get neglected by the design department, but the Spedo appears to have reversed this trend, with more elaborate vents made of both plastic and steel. This all makes the automotive resemblance a little more obvious. The design decision to carry the mesh look from the front right over to the top adds to the sleek overall feel, as well.
As far as ports go, you get two USB, headphone and microphone jacks, and eSATA (but no Firewire). Each jack has ample room around it for larger plugs, and the chrome finish on the power and reset buttons adds just enough bling.
Caution and minimalism are thrown to the wind (ha!) on the left side of the case, which houses another steel grill up front, in addition to a clear plastic window with a 230mm, 13-blade fan. Air-movers like this 0.75-foot monstrosity are something I've always wanted to see in a case, as theory has it that larger fans should be able to move more air while generating less noise.
Once we get around to the back, we see even more evidence of a focus on extra airflow. Like the Gigabyte 3D Mars we just looked at, the Spedo has dual 120mm fans for extra exhaust and soft, rubber-lined cutouts for easy routing of water-cooling plumbing. Yet another similarity the cases share is rotating feet, which I've positioned for extra stability in the picture above.