Four Full Tower Cases From $150 To $600

Thermaltake Spedo--Unpacking And Build

$209

Unpacking

There’s only one way I can think to pronounce Thermaltake’s newest chassis, and as a former swimmer, fond memories are not conjured up by the word. Nevertheless, the Spedo is well-packaged in a blue fabric bag with foam supports. Two thumb screws hold each side panel in place. Pop the left one off, as usual, and—wow. Look at all of that plastic. We’ll get into its purpose shortly. Just know that to get at Thermaltake’s little box of accessories, the plastic has to come out.

It turns out that the box of accessories isn’t so small after all, though. Inside you’ll find a converter kit for turning a hard drive cage into a 5.25” device bracket, an adapter to make a 5.25” drive bay hold an external 3.5” device, an extra 120 mm case fan, a bag of screws and standoffs, an extender for the 24-pin ATX cable, and an extender for the eight-pin +12V cable.

Thermaltake's aggressive lines are more visually striking than Cooler Master's or Antec's

You’ll notice that the chassis interior is suspiciously neat. That’s because Thermaltake devoted extra effort to cable management, so fan wires and leads attached to the front panel I/O remain hidden behind plastic blocks under the motherboard tray. Before installing, you’ll want to free those wires and route them around to the front.

Dual-slot cards like our Radeon HD 4870s prevent the Spedo's slot covers from closing

Build

I may be dating myself here, but if the Cooler Master HAF 932 is the Shredder, then Thermaltake’s Spedo is the Super Shredder—very similar in appearance, but larger and with more aggressive angles and features. The chassis is based on a steel frame. However, much of the case is plastic, so its empty weight sits just under 30 pounds.

Like the other enclosures in this roundup, special attention is paid to cooling. Thermaltake includes a 140 mm intake fan on the front of the case, two 120 mm exhaust fans on the back, a 230 mm exhaust fan up top, a 230 mm side panel fan, and a 120 mm fan bar intake fan. All of that cooling goes hand in hand with gobs of ventilation. The Spedo’s front is almost entirely mesh and plastic bezel. The left and right sides feature prominent ventilation grilles. Its top is predominantly vented, as is the case’s back. Even the bottom has a cutout for a 120 mm fan.

We did run into one disturbing issue with the Spedo’s build. Though the case was well-packaged, thin metal at the bottom of the chassis had warped, preventing a proper fit with any of our power supplies. Once we figured out the issue, heavy pressure popped the affected area back into place and the PSU’s screw holes lined up properly.

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71 comments
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  • Proximon
    Thank you Chris, another very useful article. Not enough case comparisons around, as I'm sure you realized.
    I'll be sure to add the HAF to my recommendation list. I hadn't before because I thought all the extra holes would hinder cooling more than help. The hole in the MB tray sounds especially useful.
    I would have liked to see on of the Cosmos cases included, although I suspect they are simply quieter but hotter.
  • malveaux
    Nice article.

    Though, I'm curious. 40db+ isn't whisper quiet. That's freak'n loud. What's up with calling it whisper quiet?
  • Pei-chen
    The three cheaper cases are powerhouses but too big and overkill for most people including gamers. I think the Antec's Three Hundred ($60 a few weeks ago on Newegg) suits the need for most people. 750w PSU are usually enough for SLI/Crossfire so 1000w+ aren't needed.
  • malveaux
    I'm curious when they will start releaseing more cases that have more depth, so that they have more room for today's much larger videocard solutions.
  • kubes
    Ya I agree that case designers should consider making them have more depth. With this in mind though i'm sure vidoe card manufactors will only make their card even longer however.
  • Lian Li has plenty of depth, and otherwise just huge (PC-A70).
  • antiacid
    Good article. Now it gives a procedure and template to test other cases as well. It'd be great to have a review of cases which could be "best of" a certain category (cooling, noise, ease of use, weight, etc). It would be even nicer if the results were put in bullet point form and were setup in a table like the ones used in hdd/video card tables. That would make it a lot easier to compare everything.
  • avatar_raq
    I do believe that all the cases available in the market these days are poorly designed especially when it comes to air flow. You may notice that front fans, rear fans, buttom, side and top panel fans -when combined- cause turbulence in air flow that reduces the overall air flow. That's why I buy a cheap $25 case and modded myself!!!
    I have so many innovations regarding case designs that I hope someone buys them and excutes them in reality!!
  • avatar_raq
    Here is one of my ideas...
    To put it plainly: air needs to be moved in one direction, preferably from down-upwards, since hot air tends to go upward by nature and the hottest part of any system (that's the GFX cards) is located at the lower part..Hence a PSU mounted at the upper part of the case (with its 120-140mm fan), with another 120mm top-panel exhaust fan and two 120mm buttom intake fans will be by far more efficient than all the available cases. To achieve this efficincy I close any other holes (even the ones the manufacturer meant for ventilation) so the air enters the case only from the buttom fans where I put dust filters to minimize dust inside my case. Furthermore I use a case with long "legs" to minimize inhalation of the dust at my desk's surface.
    To minimize noise: I use
    1.low RPM silent fans.
    2.rubber washers between the fans and the case to minimize vibration noise.
    3.cover all the interior surfaces with a layer of an insulator, that can be as simple as sponge!!!
    4.even design external air ducts that divert the exhausted air (which carries the interior noise) to the back.
  • avatar_raq
    Fortunately many aftermarket CPU and GPU coolers helped me. They can be installed in a way that the fan moves the air upwards. There is evidence that the setup I suggested above reduces -though marginally- the power consumed by the CPU and GPU fans to reach thier designated rpm and increases the lifetime of these fans, since instead of meeting resistance, the one directional air flow helps them.
  • malveaux
    Heya,

    I'm curious about putting sinulation in a case. I'd love to see measurments of noise levels in a case with just random sponges in the case versus not.Heya,

    I'm curious about putting insulation in a case. I'd love to see measurments of noise levels in a case with just random sponges in the case versus not, and other solutions. Personally, I don't like lights and other stuff in the case, I don't look at my case, I look at my display. Reducing the case's obvious footprint and pressence is a nice thing. Less noise would be wonderful (especially since I use mine as a HTPC too). I've always been a fan of the blow hole (top fan to draw hot air out). Sealing up a case to reduce all holes to just air flow from bottom to top, with insulation of some kind to reduce noise would be a great project to try.

    Again, I'd love to see some noise and temp measurements! To the forum? Got some ways to measure it?

    Cheers,
  • avatar_raq
    Believe it or not the setup I mentioned keeps my E6750 (overclocked from 2.66ghz 1.23v to 3.8ghz 1.44v) under 55 c under full load (hours of dual prime 95) in a very hot room that lacks a cooling system(temps:40 to 50 c !!). (Don't be smart with me, we lack electrical power in my country and private small-groups generators are the only reason I can be online!!)

    I don't have the means to measure the noise level but I can tell you -though subjectively- it is very quiet when using all the mentioned steps. In the end I wish someone with enough resources (like the guys at Tom's) tests my project and give the whole world accurate objective measures and compare them to the available cases..Even the high end ones.
  • avatar_raq
    In my last post I forgot to add that I use vertically-oriented Zalman CNPS 9500 LED as a CPU cooler.
  • kamkal
    600$ for a case? hahahahaha

    almost spit out my drink when i saw the price tag
  • kelfen
    They should make an article on water cooling for the i7!
  • cangelini
    Getting there. Gotta remember that i7 is still new, so there aren't a ton of options available yet.
  • Shadow703793
    Good write up. But should have increased the # of cases and droped the range to a max of $350-400.
  • cangelini
    Shadow703793Good write up. But should have increased the # of cases and droped the range to a max of $350-400.


    Shadow,
    Kept the number lower so I could spend more time with the cases involved--takes a deceptively long time to build each system up, test it, etc. The ABS case is actually the one that set the whole roundup off--it was a struggle finding enclosures that could compete. I think we'd all love to have that thing, but the price is just prohibitive. Even still, very nice to look at.
  • ccintron
    Wow, those are four hideously UGLY cases... I'll stick with the Cooler Master Cosmos series.
  • Okay I'll bite:

    1.low RPM silent fans.
    2.rubber washers between the fans and the case to minimize vibration noise.

    Okay, these 2 ideas are pretty well established. Although personally i have doubts about #2 really making a difference.

    3.cover all the interior surfaces with a layer of an insulator, that can be as simple as sponge!!!

    Right, but it can also be as simple as extreme fire and inhalation hazard. Make sure what you are using doesn't burn easily.

    4.even design external air ducts that divert the exhausted air (which carries the interior noise) to the back.

    This may seem like a good idea on the surface, but by restricting the air flow (you build additional pressure in the outlet) you might actually be increasing fan noise and heat buildup.

    High legs are a good idea to prevent dust (i have this problem as well) but can be dangerous for someone who has the case on a carpet or other uneven surface, since it increases the chances of the case tipping over.
  • V3NOM
    ccintronWow, those are four hideously UGLY cases... I'll stick with the Cooler Master Cosmos series.lulwut. the cosmos is as ugly as the ante c900 and 1200... ill jsut stick with the curves of a CM690 tyvm.
  • dmbinbc
    I bought a Lien Li PC-V2100 Plus. I am wondering why this case isnt included in a caparison such as this? Maybe its because its a full tower? Too big? Or, just too many cases to compare? Its cheaper than the ABS but I do believe it to be a better case. I think it has more room and easier hard disk drive bays!
  • enforcer22
    ccintronWow, those are four hideously UGLY cases... I'll stick with the Cooler Master Cosmos series.


    Good thing this is what matters i guess. The cases look fine as long as they do the job. Though all my comps are in the lian li pc-a70b. But if your more interested in your computer wining a computer case pagent then whatever.
  • chookman
    Alcoholics AnonymousLian Li has plenty of depth, and otherwise just huge (PC-A70).


    Agree, Lian Li has a plethora of Full Tower cases that are well designed and doesnt even get a mention.