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Spire Rocketeer SP-500w

Introduction

Spire. Anyone heard of them? I had never heard of them until this VERY shiny PSU arrived in my testing lab. I just hope that Spires first impression on me will be a good one…

A Little about Spire

For the last thirteen years, Spire has been both recognized and respected as the #1 manufacturer of computer thermal solutions in Europe. The quality and reliability of our products has earned us the loyalty of many well known manufacturers and distributors throughout the world and we have maintained close business ties with international names in the computer industry. In July of 2001, Spire opened its first office in Pennsylvania to bring Spire’s success in Europe over to the American market.

Our focus is to meet the demands of our customers and concentrate on guiding them a step ahead of their competition. Our dependable products and vast resources, made available by our R&D team, make it possible for Spire to not only compete, but to deliver a powerful solution.

Specifications

  • Intel BTX 1.0a & STX 1.3 / 2.03 Specification Compliant
  • Supports: Intel Celeron, P4 & 5, AMD Athlon XP, 64, Sempron and Opteron
  • EMI Shielded VGA/HDD Power Connector
  • Modular Power Connectors
  • Ultra-Silent at normal load
  • 3 Speed Variable Fan Speed Auto-Control
  • I/O Short Circuit & Overload Protection
  • Thermo Reactive Cooling System
  • SATA Power Connector
  • Hi-Efficiency – 75% at full load
  • 2 x SATA Power Connectors
  • ATX-20 pin to EPS-24 pin cable connector
  • 3 Year Warranty
  • Safety: Approved by CUL, FCC

Those were taken directly from the box that I recieved the Rocketeer in. It seems that they really want to push the fact that there are SATA connectors. A major bonus in the system is the modular system, which is slowly becoming a standard on PSU’s. Another standard is the fan speed auto adjusting feature that means that sound levels are kept to an absolute minimum.

Packaging

I received the PSU in a fairly battered external postage container, and then inside I saw the market box. It did look pretty good to be fair, and I was really intrigued as to what the PSU would actually look like in the flesh.

I opened up the package and was greeted with an array of cables, cable ties and Velcro strap things. I threw this out the way and found the ridiculously well finished power box. I could quite easily replace my bathroom mirror with the side of this case, and there would be no difference; in fact it would probably work better…

The PSU shipped with a 2 pin power cord which I thought was odd due to the fact that there was a USA plug in a PSU particularly destined for the UK. It even says on the back of the power supply that it is designed for UK power rating. I’m pretty confident however that this is because this power supply was for review rather than an actual consumer. Anyway, this was no a problem as there are literally hundreds of these kettle cords hanging round my house.

It was nice to that Spire have packaged some cable management materials with this product. There are three cable ties, all in black. There are also 4 Velcro straps in different primary colours in the package. Whilst its nice to see this, its pretty much pointless as you will see later on. I was suprised to find that they packaged some screws for mounting the PSU in place.

Of course, with any modular power supply, you can be sure that you will get an array of cables that can be attached to the power supply in different that suit your system and hence lower the amount of cabling in your rig. There are special connectors for PCI-e and SATA that they have kindly named for you.

Installation

As with any PSU this was not particularly strenuous. However, the PSU was first tested in a Thermaltake Armour case. The power supply, being of odd dimensions, simply didn’t fit into the PSU cage of this case. The power supply is the same in every dimension compared to any other PSU but it is substantially longer. I’m pretty sure that Spire could have made the product the same size as many other PSU and had the same output. However, they have successfully removed a portion of their potential market which is a shame.

I have an Intel system still using the old 20 pin ATX standard. Spire has helped me out here as the main power plug has an optional add-on 4 pins for 24 pin users. This means that both generations of ATX power standards can use this supply. The separate Intel power cable also sports a similar design.

The cables themselves look awesome, they have metal sleeving all around that makes them a) look great b) probably due some crazy EM shielding to protect the power output and c) make the cables INCREDABLY stiff. This is why its pretty much pointless having the cable management available. There is no way that you would be able to bend these cables to sufficiently warrant the use of the cable ties. I had quite the mission to fit the 20 pin connector into my mobo without the CD drive getting in the way. In larger cases though, this should be less of a problem.

The modular cables are brilliant to work with. I personally have never used a modular PSU and this one is great. Not only are the cables sleeved so that there is less air flow obstruction, but you don’t have to fill your rig with cables that aren’t even being used.

Another thing that I noticed about the PSU is the fact that you can plug the modular cables into any of the sockets on the back of the power supply, which is much unlike the Hiper TypeR for example where a certain cable has to go in a certain socket.

In Use

The PSU itself is very quiet when I’m using it, in fact I have noticed that there is a substantial lessening of the sound output of my system. I used to have a generic PSU in there before, and now there is a really noticeable difference.


However, this all changes when the ‘Turbo’ button is pressed. This is a small square button located at the top of the power supply that you can easily access by reaching round the back of your computer. When this button is pressed, a little blue LED lights up and the fans themselves get an additional blue glow. The fans also increase their output in CFM and dB.

I find that this button is pretty much pointless, unless your PC is majorly overheating. The PSU itself can deal with the heat that is produced by itself using its variable fan speed/temperature ability.

I also find that this button is way too close to the on/off switch that is present on the PSU. This means that whilst fumbling for the turbo switch, it’s entirely possible to turn off your rig.

Testing

To test the power supply, I will run the rig for a few days to ‘break it in’. After this, I will run my PC for awhile doing basic tasks like word processing, checking emails etc. I will then use SpeedFan to read off the rails.

After this is completed, I will run my rig with every little peripheral I can find and at full load to see how well it survives in a really intense situation.

The rails should be exact or above the name of the rail. For example, the 3.3v rail should be 3.3v or above. If the rail drops below the voltage, then there will be issues with the system such as random restarts and slow downs. However, if the rails are too high, e.g 4v then there will be other issues that come into play, including fried components on add-on cards and even the mobo itself.

Results

Before I start, I noticed that there was a substantial increase in my systems performance when I installed the PSU. This is probably because my old PSU had dodgy rails and wasn’t supplying my rig with the correct voltages. And remember, stable voltages mean better overclocks :D.

3.3v5v12v
No load 3.44v5.18v12.19v
Full load 3.44v5.21v11.94v


Shows before load then during intense load

During testing, I kept the turbo mode enabled to make sure that overheating was not an issue in changing the rail output. My PC is notoriously hot :)

As we can see from the results, the 3.3v rail does not change at all. The 5v rail change is pretty much negligible. However, when under load the 12v rail suffers a lot; whilst .23v isn’t a great amount, the 12v rail drips below the golden 12v mark. Whilst this won’t have any detrimental effects on your system at the moment, as the PSU ages this rail will lower further and further.

The rails themselves are very respectable for such a power supply, and the PCIe connectors are very welcome, it’s just a shame that two PCIe power leads aren’t supplied for SLI.

Conclusion

Spire has done a valiant effort in this power supply. The 500w of power is paramount in a system where high powered GFX cards and case mods are present. It’s a shame that there were not two PCIe connectors for SLI.

The rails themselves were very respectable, but the 12v rail gave me a little bit of concern. Either the situation will get better as the PSU ages, or much worse. I don’t think that this is a major issue however.

If your looking for a new PSU then the Spire Rocketeer SP-500w is a solid choice.

ProsCons
Looks brilliant12v is a little off
Cables also look greatCables very stiff
Stable rails
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