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Spire BlackFin Case



Spire BlackFin Case

Spire BlackFin PC Case

Introduction

Spire has featured prominently on XSReviews for their range of power supplies that they provide, but today I have one of their new cases; the soft skinned BlackFin. Hopefully their skill at power supplies will rub off on their case design.

About Spire

Founded in 1991, Spire is a leading premiuer brand for computer thermal solutions, power supplies and pc cases. In order to meet the needs and demands of the global market, we have established our production facilities in China and corporate office located in the USA. Our overseas branches are located in The Netherlands, The U.K, Germany, France, Taiwan, Japan and Brazil. All locations are located strategically to better work with the customers we serve.

Spire ideals, to which our employees give full recognition, are (1) constantly striving to become stronger, (2) being sincere and active and (3) seeking the latest innovative technology. After years of hard work and dedication in running its business, Spire today is a major presence in three major business fields: computer thermal solutions, power supplies and pc cases. It has received full recognition in its products as well as its services.

The purpose built Spire factory and all of the products were approved by CE, UR, CSA, and TUV in 1998. We gained AMD and VIA approvals along with recognition by International Standard Commission for Quality Assurance in 1999 against ISO-9002 & ISO-9001. Spire is also proud of shipping all its products compliant to the standards of The European Union ROHS and WEEE.

Spire Products are dedicated to bringing you the latest technology in computer cooling as it becomes available and to offer a variety of solutions to combat the growing concern of overheating. With todays high-speed processors functioning at an unprecedented speed and output, the demand for better and more reliable cooling solutions has become one of the most important issues in the computer industry today. As a premier manufacturer of high quality cooling solutions, we are able to meet the demands of the computer industry by providing competitively priced products, next day delivery and lifetime warranty.

With reliability of products having such high precedence in the business, Spire has earned the loyalty of many well known manufacturers and distributors throughout the world. We have maintained close business ties with international names in the computer industry.

At Spire we continually strive for success and quality products. To improve and develop a wide range of computer products, we have invested heavily in our quality manufacturing process and Research & Development. Our objective is to provide top quality products for
national distributors as well as for ODM and OEM clients.

Our focus is to build on the current success of the Spire brand so that
our brand is recognized world wide as a provider of top quality computing solutions. We will continue to work to maintain the satisfaction of our customers and share the knowledge of our experts – Spire ‘Powered by Innovation’.

Specs

Continuing our evolution of success, Spire is pleased to introduce a new top of the line European design chassis series. The BlackFin chassis is a hot and exceptional computer case in both quality and design. It is made from 0.7mm metal SECC with removable side and top panels that offers tool free access. Designed for an 80mm, a 90mm fan and a 120mm fan the BlackFin provides highly-efficient airflow and ultra-silent operation.

SP-7090B – BlackFin
Middle tower metal pc case

Main Features:

  • Durable lightweight metal
  • Stylish & sophisticated design
  • Front USB & SOUND connections
  • 120mm Fan duct system on the side panel
  • Full folded edge, full screen, radiation protected
  • Easy installation, screw free side panel, one manual screw top panel
  • Optimized internal space design for easy installation and highly-efficient airflow

Packaging:
Dimension: 517x260x522mm (L x W x H)
Weight: N.W. 7.8 K.G
G.W. 8.3 K.G

The Case

Spire BlackFin PC Case
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The BlackFin came in a rather uninteresting brown cardboard box with ‘Spire’ stamped in blue text over the sides, giving no clue as to what is inside.

Spire BlackFin PC Case
Spire BlackFin PC Case
Click to enlarge

Once out of its shipping container, the first thing that you notice is the large side vent on the side. In the middle of this protrusion is a button – about the size of a 2p coin – which allows you to toggle the side vent open or closed.

Spire BlackFin PC CaseSpire BlackFin PC Case
Spire BlackFin PC CaseSpire BlackFin PC Case
Click to enlarge

The front of the case is made out of a soft textured black rubber which has a matt finish. Surrounding this is a frame of silver plastic which matches the power and reset buttons found at the bottom of the front bezel. Below the buttons is a small push-to-open flap that hides the USB and audio I/O ports.

Spire BlackFin PC Case
Click to enlarge

The sides of the case are made of thin steel and are coated with the usual black paint that has become standard with case makers. There are held on with two chrome thumbscrews, and then you have to use the handle which allows you to slide the side easily.

Spire BlackFin PC CaseSpire BlackFin PC Case
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Internally you find all of the drive bays four 5.25”, one floppy disc bay, and four hard disc. The two hard disc bays have odd looking black knobs on them. These are Spire’s form of tool-free installation. More on these later.

Spire BlackFin PC Case
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There are four 5.25” drive bays all covered by pop out drive covers. The top bay has a CD/DVD drive cover that allows you to stealth your drive to the cases design; which is especially useful if you have a cream coloured drive. One downside of this cover is that there is no space to view the disc read light which could become annoying.

Spire BlackFin PC Case
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Behind the hard drive cage are mounting holes for an 80mm, 92mm or 120mm fan. There isn’t a fan provided with the case, allowing you to choose your favourite brand wind maker to fill the gap.

Spire BlackFin PC CaseSpire BlackFin PC Case
Spire BlackFin PC Case
Click to enlarge

The rear of the case has a 92mm fan that blows hot air from the case out the back. It’s odd that they choose a 92 rather than a 120mm as the cost difference is small, but the noise difference isn’t.

Spire BlackFin PC CaseSpire BlackFin PC Case
Spire BlackFin PC Case
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Behind the huge side vent is a 120mm fan which has a whole bunch of cables coming out of it. These are connected to the external switch in the middle of the vent which turns off the fan when you close the vent. The fan connects to a funnel which should cover your CPU heatsink allowing for lower temperatures. This funnel is removable if it interferes with your motherboard.

Spire BlackFin PC Case
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The PCI blanking plates are all the removable kind, not the snap out variety which is another nice thing to see. This is odd considering as this is a budget gaming case; I would have expected to see the cheaper option being used to save the pennies. These blanking plates are all held in place by screw-free clips.

Installation

Remember those odd hard disc knobs? Well, they allow you to install a hard disc ridiculously quickly. When you turn them clockwise, a small notch comes out the one side, which locks into the screw hole on your hard disc. This allows you to remove/install a hard drive in seconds. This is the best screw-free mounting solution I have ever used; they simply work, and work well. To make sure that you know how to use them, there is a small informative label on the bottom of the case.

Spire BlackFin PC CaseSpire BlackFin PC Case~
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Just in case you decide to upgrade the case once you have installed the motherboard and everything else, you can remove the hard disc cage by undoing a thumbscrew and opening the top clip. The cage then slides out towards you.

Spire BlackFin PC Case
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After screwing in the motherboard stand-offs I was ready to pop in my motherboard. There is no removable motherboard tray, so you have to do everything in the confines of the case. The motherboard went in without a hitch.

Spire BlackFin PC CaseSpire BlackFin PC Case
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Now we come to the tool less PCI clips. These are, again, quick and easy to use. They secure your expansion cards well and are reassuring difficult to release.

Spire BlackFin PC Case
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The graphics card and hard discs are quite close together in this case, and even with a 7600GT there are space issues. If you have a larger card (like any of the x1900+ series or an 8800) then it simply won’t fit if you have the hard discs in line. You could however move the hard discs to the lower mounting positions. You can also unscrew the tool less mounting knobs and have those at the bottom as well.

Spire BlackFin PC CaseSpire BlackFin PC Case
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Everything that makes up the modern computer was installed in minutes rather than hours which was a pleasant surprise.

Testing

As in my Antec Nine Hundred Gamers case, I have added a new test to enclosures; the standing test. This is where I test the stability and build quality of the case by simply standing on it. While cases are far from meant to withstand the 12 stone of punishment, it is a testament to their workmanship if they manage the test. The test is marked out of three, with each level as below:

0: The case buckled, fell apart or bent in some way; good for the stationary computer but completely impractical if used at LAN events.
1: The case withstood the punishment but was shaky and a little more weight would cause it to break. Not the best LAN PC.
2: The case passed the test easily with no problems. Slight bending occurred. A good choice for a LAN case.
3: The case barely moved when stood on. An excellent choice for any LANer.

The Spire BlackFin managed a 2 in this test, which is excellent news considering as this is a budget gaming case.

Spire BlackFin PC Case
Click to enlarge

When the case is turned on, the front LEDs shine brightly and the side vent lights up blue when turned on. None of the fans inside light up however.

The fans manage to pump a reasonable amount of air, and are quite quiet when doing so. The option to turn the side 120mm fan on and off is a nice feature, but most of the time I just left it on.

While no official testing was carried out, the case did manage to shave a couple of degrees off my CPU temperature.

Conclusion

The first thing that you should know about this case is the price. This case markets for £20. For your 20 hard earned sterlings you get effective tool less design, a side vent, attractive facia and sturdy chassis.

The case is so cheap because of the savings made on an OEM box (rather than a full colour glossy version), short manual and lack of case fans. However, I feel the cuts have been made in the right places as to not compromise the design/function.

The quality of the front cover isn’t the greatest, but only falls down under close scrutiny. The Spire BlackFin case is hard to fault.

ProsCons
Looks goodNot the best quality facia
Exceptional priceLack of included fans
Perfect tool free design

I’d like to thank Spire for providing us with the case.

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