Phanteks PH-TC12DX CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Otto Coelho on February 21, 2013


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Silver Award

Let´s test the Phanteks PH-TC12DX, a CPU cooler with a tower heatsink, four heatpipes, and two 120 mm fans. Check it out!

The cardboard box of the PH-TC12DX is shown in Figure 1.

Phanteks PH-TC12DX
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Figure 1: Package

Figure 2 shows the contents of the box: heatsink, fans, a syringe of thermal compound, a manual, a Y harness to connect both fans to a single motherboard header, and installation hardware.

Phanteks PH-TC12DX
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Figure 2: Accessories

Figure 3 displays the heatsink of the Phanteks PH-TC12DX.

Phanteks PH-TC12DX
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Figure 3: The PH-TC12DX heatsink

We tested the version of this cooler with a black heatsink, but it is also available with white, blue, and red heatsinks. All of them come with white fans.

This cooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.

The Phanteks PH-TC12DX

Figure 4 illustrates the front of the PH-TC12DX. Notice that there are actually two independent heatsinks, each one connected to one side of the heatpipes.

Phanteks PH-TC12DX
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Figure 4: Front view

Figure 5 reveals the side of the cooler. Here you see the four heatpipes.

Phanteks PH-TC12DX
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Figure 5: Front view

Figure 6 unveils the top of the heatsink.

Phanteks PH-TC12DX
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Figure 6: Top view

The Phanteks PH-TC12DX (Cont’d)

Figure 7 shows the view of the base of the PH-TC12DX. There is a nickel-plated copper layer, which is soldered to the heatpipes. The finishing is well polished but not mirrored.

Phanteks PH-TC12DX
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Figure 7: Base

The PH-TX12DX comes with two 120 mm PWM fans, shown in Figure 8.

Phanteks PH-TC12DX
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Figure 8: Fans

Figure 9 presents thePH-TC12DX with the fans installed. There are rubber strips that must be stuck to the heatsink in order to reduce the vibration of the fans.

Phanteks PH-TC12DX
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Figure 9: Fans installed

Installation

Figure 10 shows the backplate and the four screws that must be installed on the solder side of the motherboard prior to installing the PH-TC12DX on Intel socket LGA775, LGA1155, LGA1156, and LGA1366 systems. On Intel socket LGA2011 and all AMD systems, the stock backplate must be used.

Phanteks PH-TC12DX
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Figure 10: Backplate

In Figure 11, you can see the two metal pieces wherein the cooler will be fastened. Those pieces are mounted over four spacers.

Phanteks PH-TC12DX
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Figure 11: Metal holders

Put the cooler in place, and attach it to the metal pieces fastening two screws. Then install the fans.

Phanteks PH-TC12DX
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Figure 12: Installation finished

How We Tested

We tested the cooler with a Core i5-2500K CPU (quad-core, 3.3 GHz), which is a socket LGA1155 processor with a 95 W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to get higher thermal dissipation, we overclocked it to 4.0 GHz (100 MHz base clock and x40 multiplier), with 1.3 V core voltage (Vcore). This CPU was able to reach 4.8 GHz with its default core voltage, but at this setting, the processor enters thermal throttling when using mainstream coolers, reducing the clock and thus the thermal dissipation. This could interfere with the temperature readings, so we chose to maintain a moderate overclocking.

We measured noise and temperature with the CPU under full load. In order to get 100% CPU usage in all cores, we ran Prime 95 25.11 with the “In-place Large FFTs” option. (In this version, the software uses all available threads.)

We compared the tested cooler to other coolers we already tested, and to the stock cooler that comes with the Core i5-2500K CPU. Note that the results cannot be compared to measures taken on a different hardware configuration, so we retested some “old” coolers with this new methodology. This means you can find different values in older reviews than the values you will read on the next page. Every cooler was tested with the thermal compound that comes with it.

Room temperature measurements were taken with a digital thermometer. The core temperature was read with the SpeedFan program (available from the CPU thermal sensors), using an arithmetic average of the core temperature readings.

During the tests, the panels of the computer case were closed. The front and rear case fans were spinning at minimum speed in order to simulate the “normal” cooler use on a well-ventilated case. We assume that is the common setup used by a cooling enthusiast or overclocker.

The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed near the top opening of the case. This measurement is only for comparison purposes, because a precise SPL measurement needs to be made inside an acoustically insulated room with no other noise sources, which is not the case here.

Hardware Configuration

Operating System Configuration

Software Used

Error Margin

We adopted a 2°C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2°C are considered irrelevant.

Our Tests

The table below presents the results of our measurements. We repeated the same test on all coolers listed below. Each measurement was taken with the CPU at full load. In the models with a fan supporting PWM, the motherboard controlled the fan speed according to core load and temperature. On coolers with an integrated fan controller, the fan was set at the full speed.

CoolerRoom Temp.NoiseSpeedCore Temp.Temp. Diff.
Cooler Master Hyper TX318 °C50 dBA2850 rpm69 ºC51 °C
Corsair A7023 °C51 dBA2000 rpm66 ºC43 °C
Corsair H10026 °C62 dBA2000 rpm64 ºC38 °C
EVGA Superclock26 °C57 dBA2550 rpm67 ºC41 °C
NZXT HAVIK 14020 °C46 dBA 1250 rpm65 ºC45 °C
Thermalright True Spirit 12026 °C42 dBA1500 rpm82 °C56 °C
Zalman CNPS12X26 °C43 dBA1200 rpm71 °C45 °C
Zalman CNPS9900 Max20 °C51 dBA1700 rpm62 °C42 °C
Titan Fenrir Siberia Edition22 °C50 dBA2400 rpm65 °C43 °C
SilenX EFZ-120HA518 °C44 dBA1500 rpm70 °C52 °C
Noctua NH-L1220 °C44 dBA1450 rpm70 °C50 °C
Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme21 °C53 dBA2550 rpm71 °C50 °C
Gamer Storm Assassin15 °C48 dBA1450 rpm58 °C43 °C
Deepcool Gammaxx 40015 °C44 dBA1500 rpm60 °C45 °C
Cooler Master TPC 81223 °C51 dBA2350 rpm66 °C43 °C
Deepcool Gammaxx 30018 °C43 dBA1650 rpm74 °C56 °C
Intel stock cooler18 °C41 dBA2000 rpm97 °C79 °C
Xigmatek Praeton19 °C52 dBA2900 rpm83 °C64 °C
Noctua NH-U12P SE218 °C42 dBA1300 rpm69 °C51 °C
Deepcool Frostwin24 °C46 dBA1650 rpm78 °C54 °C
Thermaltake Frio Advanced13 °C56 dBA2000 rpm62 °C49 °C
Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition9 °C48 dBA2100 rpm53 °C44 °C
Thermaltake Frio Extreme21 °C53 dBA1750 rpm59 °C38 °C
Noctua NH-U9B SE212 °C44 dBA1700 rpm64 °C52 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Pro15 °C54 dBA2000 rpm52 °C37 °C
Deepcool Fiend Shark18 °C45 dBA1500 rpm74 °C56 °C
Arctic Freezer i3013 °C42 dBA1350 rpm63 °C50 °C
Spire TME III8 °C46 dBA1700 rpm70 °C62 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Performer11 °C54 dBA2000 rpm49 °C38 °C
Arctic Alpine 11 PLUS11 °C45 dBA2000 rpm82 °C71 °C
be quiet! Dark Rock 210 °C41 dBA1300 rpm58 °C48 °C
Phanteks PH-TC14CS16 °C47 dBA1300 rpm58 °C42 °C
Phanteks PH-TC14PE16 °C48 dBA1300 rpm57 °C41 °C
SilverStone HE01 (Q)19 °C44 dBA1150 rpm63 °C44 °C
SilverStone HE01 (P)20 °C57 dBA2050 rpm62 °C42 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme (S)17 °C44 dBA1250 rpm52 °C35 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme (E)17 °C53 dBA1900 rpm50 °C33 °C
Deepcool Neptwin11 °C46 dBA1500 rpm56 °C45 °C
SilverStone HE0219 °C49 dBA2000 rpm64 °C45 °C
Zalman CNPS9900DF23 °C45 dBA1400 rpm68 °C45 °C
Deepcool ICE BLADE PRO V2.022 °C43 dBA1500 rpm67 °C45 °C
Phanteks PH-TC90LS24 °C47 dBA2600 rpm95 °C71 °C
Rosewill AIOLOS20 °C40 dBA1600 rpm94 °C74 °C
Corsair H6020 °C49 dBA2000 rpm64 °C44 °C
Zalman LQ31027 °C51 dBA2050 rpm65 °C38 °C
Noctua NH-L9i24 °C44 dBA2500 rpm95 °C71 °C
NZXT Respire T4020 °C45 dBA1850 rpm76 °C56 °C
NZXT Respire T2021 °C45 dBA1900 rpm77 °C56 °C
Zalman LQ31520 °C52 dBA1950 rpm57 °C37 °C
Corsair H80i (Quiet)19 °C44 dBA1100 rpm61 °C42 °C
Corsair H80i (Maximum)19 °C57 dBA2500 rpm55 °C36 °C
NZXT Kraken X40 (Silent)25 °C44 dBA1050 rpm66 °C41 °C
NZXT Kraken X40 (Extreme)25 °C53 dBA1650 rpm62 °C37 °C
Zalman LQ32020 °C52 dBA2100 rpm57 °C37 °C
Corsair H100i (Quiet)22 °C45 dBA1150 rpm58 °C36 °C
Corsair H100i (Maximum)22 °C61 dBA2500 rpm54 °C32 °C
NZXT Kraken X60 (Silent)26 °C46 dBA1000 rpm62 °C36 °C
NZXT Kraken X60 (Extreme)26 °C60 dBA1650 rpm60 °C34 °C
Prolimatech Genesis Black Series25 °C46 dBA1150 rpm69 °C44 °C
Phanteks PH-TC12DX25 °C51 dBA1850 rpm74 °C49 °C

In the graph below, you can see how many degrees Celsius hotter the CPU core is than the air outside the case. The lower this difference, the better is the performance of the cooler.

 Phanteks PH-TC12DX

In the graph below, you can see how many decibels of noise each cooler makes.

Phanteks PH-TC12DX 

Main Specifications

The main specifications for the Phanteks PH-TC12DX CPU cooler include:

* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.

Conclusions

The Phanteks PH-TC12DX is a good CPU cooler, with a great look, high construction quality, and good performance.

It is a lot smaller than the PH-TC14PE (which showed an incredible cooling performance on our tests), presenting, as expected, a little less performance.

For its features and performance level, the Phanteks PH-TC12DX CPU cooler receives the Hardware Secrets Silver Award.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Phanteks-PH-TC12DX-CPU-Cooler-Review/1727


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