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Spire DigiPanel Multifunction Panel - Page 1 of 3
Posted: May 06, 2005
Author: Jason Kohrs
Manufacturer: Spire
Source: Spire
Comment or Question: Post Here

Spire Coolers has been in the business of producing computer thermal solutions since 1991. Perhaps best known for their CPU and case cooling devices, their product line has recently expanded to include other computer accessories including cases, power supplies, drive enclosures, and the device up for review today; the DigiPanel (CF203-NEB) multifunction panel.

The Spire DigiPanel is shown in the promotional image above, and it can be seen right off the bat that this is not your typical multifunction panel. In fact, the unclutter appearance of the DigiPanel may actually mask many of the features provided by the device, and investigating the list of features might be the best way to understand everything it can do...

Features (as taken from the Spire website):

• Multi-Functional Digital Command Control
• 3 Sets of Fan Speed & Thermal Control
• Fan Speed & Overheating Alarm
• USB, 1394 FireWire, Earphone & Microphone Ports
• Built-in HDD Cooler
• Blue LCD Monitor
• Available in black & plain aluminum

From the list of features it is clear that despite the DigiPanel featuring only one knob on the front panel, it is capable of monitoring three temperatures and monitoring/controlling three cooling fans. The knob doubles as a button, and tapping it allows the user to cycle the display between fans, eliminating extra buttons and saving a good deal of space in the process.

The DigiPanel offers many features of a typical multifunction panel without going over the top by trying jam everything under the sun into a single 5.25" bay. In addition to the typical features, the inclusion of a hard drive cooler is a nice touch for a few reasons... 1) Integrating a hard drive cooler with a multifunctional panel can save a 5.25" bay for other uses, 2) the full depth given to the multifunction panel makes it more compatible with cases with tool-less drive bays, and 3) Hard drive coolers are just good to have.

Before jumping into the basics of the DigiPanel itself, lets take a look at the following specifications provided by Spire...

Specifications (as taken from the Spire website):

• Dimensions: 194.2 x 148.4 x 42.4 mm
• Weight: 510 g
• Material: Aluminum Alloy
• Rated Voltage: 12 V
• Thermal Control: 3 sets
• Fan Speed Control: 3 sets
• Temperature Control: Range 30 ~ 90 °C
• Fan Speed Adjustment: Range 60 ~ 100 %
• LCD Monitor Dimensions: 49 x 26.5 mm
• LCD Light: Blue
• HDD Fan:
   • Fan Dimensions 70 x 70 x 10 mm
   • Rated Voltage 12V
   • Rated Current 0.22A
   • Fan Speed 2600 ~ 4300 R.P.M. ±10%
   • Noise Level 25 ~ 35 dBA
   • Bearing Type Ball Bearing

The DigiPanel offers a three channel fan controller, and it should be noted that the 70mm fan described above can be one of the three controlled. If the hard drive cooler feature of the device is not going to be used, Spire has made it very easy to use the fan controller for any other fan, with this one inactive.

The Basics:

The Spire DigiPanel ships in the retail style box shown in the two images below. The various surfaces detail just about everything you need to know about the device, and all features and specifications are provided, as well as some informative photographs.

Click Image For Larger View Click Image For Larger View

The contents of the box are protected by cardboard forms, and when removed you have the collection of items shown in the images below. In the below left image you have the DigiPanel and a detailed user guide. In the below right image you have a collection of all the cables you will need to use the DigiPanel, as well as screws for mounting a hard drive to the device and the device to your case.

Click Image For Larger View Click Image For Larger View

The cables are all well finished, and each is socketed to match a header on the device so that there is no possibility of connecting a cable to the wrong header. Included in the collection are two USB male connectors wired to one socket, one Firewire male connector wired to one socket, three thermal sensors wired to one socket, and three individual 3-pin extension leads for powering case fans. As mentioned, the various cables are socketed so that it avoids confusion, and the three fan power leads and thermal sensors are all labeled to to correspond to the fan/temperature number as indicated on the LCD display.

The cables for audio, USB, and Firewire are all of the variety that need to be passed out the back of the case and connected to the ports on your motherboard or expansion cards. Many people would prefer the type that utilize the internal headers found on a motherboard, but in this instance I prefer the type of cables provided. The internal headers on my motherboard are already in use by the connections provided by my case (Thermaltake Armor VA8000 Tower) and a PCI bracket provided with the motherboard, but the difficult to reach connections on the back of the case are for the most part unused.

Please read on to the next page for more... Next

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