Phanteks PH-TC14CS CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Otto Coelho on August 15, 2012


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Golden Award

Let’s test the Phanteks PH-TC14CS, a CPU cooler with a horizontal heatsink, five heatpipes and two 140 mm fans. Check it out!

The PH-TC14CS comes in four models: the standard one that we are showing here, and red (PH-TC14CS_RD), blue (PH-TC14CS_BL), and black (PH-TC14CS_BK) models, where the heatsink fins and the fan blades come in the respective color.

The big box of the PH-TC14CS is shown in Figure 1.

Phanteks PH-TC14CS
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Figure 1: Package

Figure 2 shows the contents of the box: the cooler heatsink, fans, a syringe of thermal compound, manual, and installation hardware.

Phanteks PH-TC14CS
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Figure 2: Accessories

Figure 3 displays the Phanteks PH-TC14CS unsassembled.

Phanteks PH-TC14CS
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Figure 3: The Phanteks PH-TC14CS unsassembled

This cooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.

The Phanteks PH-TC14CS

Figure 4 illustrates the front of the cooler, where you can see a cover (it is not actually a fin) with the name of the manufacturer.

Phanteks PH-TC14CS
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Figure 4: Front view

Figure 5 reveals the side of the cooler, with the “C” shaped heatpipes and the horizontal heatsink.

Phanteks PH-TC14CS
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Figure 5: Side view

Figure 6 shows the rear of the cooler, where you can see the five 8 mm heatpipes.

Phanteks PH-TC14CS
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Figure 6: Rear view

In Figure 7, you can see the top of the heatsink.

Phanteks PH-TC14CS
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Figure 7: Top view

The Phanteks PH-TC14CS (Cont’d)

The bottom of the cooler is visible in Figure 8. You can also see that the five 8 mm heatpipes are soldered to the base of the cooler.

Phanteks PH-TC14CS
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Figure 8: Heatpipes

Figure 9 illustrates the base of the cooler. It is a nickel-plated copper plate with near mirror-like finishing.

Phanteks PH-TC14CS
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Figure 9: Base

Figure 10 reveals the PH-TC14CS with the fans installed.

Phanteks PH-TC14CS
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Figure 10: Fans installed

Figure 11 shows the 140 mm fans that come with the cooler, with the wire holders. The fans have three-pin connectors, which means they are not PWM-compatible, but the product comes with an adapter to allow the speed of the fans to be contolled according to the PWM signal from the motherboard. Note the fins on the surface of the blades; they help to reduce the air turbulence.

Phanteks PH-TC14CS
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Figure 11: Fans

Installation

Figure 12 shows the backplate for installing the PH-TC14CS on Intel sockets 775, 1155, 1156, and 1366 CPUs. AMD and socket LGA2011 systems use the stock backplate.

Phanteks PH-TC14CS
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Figure 12: Backplate

Figure 12 shows the pair of holders for sockets 775, 1155, 1156, and 1366 installed on our motherboard.

Phanteks PH-TC14CS
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Figure 13: Holders installed

The next step is to put the cooler in place and hold it there using the two screws on the base of the cooler. Those screws are hard to reach; we had to remove our video card in order to reach one of them.

Phanteks PH-TC14CS
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Figure 14: Heatsink installed

The last step is to install the fans, both of them blowing in the direction of the motherboard, which helps to cool the components around the CPU, mainly the memory modules.

Phanteks PH-TC14CS
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Figure 15: 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 °C51 °C
Corsair A7023 °C51 dBA2000 rpm66 °C43 °C
Corsair H10026 °C62 dBA2000 rpm64 °C38 °C
EVGA Superclock26 °C57 dBA2550 rpm67 °C41 °C
NZXT HAVIK 14020 °C46 dBA 1250 rpm65 °C45 °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

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-TC14CS

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

Phanteks PH-TC14CS

Main Specifications

The main specifications for the Phanteks PH-TC14CS CPU cooler include:

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

Conclusions

The Phanteks PH-TC14CS surprised us. It is a wonderfully manufactured CPU cooler, with the advantage (over the tower coolers) of helping to cool all the components around the CPU, including the memory modules. It is not, however, a “slim” cooler, since it is 5.5” (140 mm) tall, but you can install it with only the lower fan, making it only 4.4” (112 mm) tall. Obviously, the performance of this cooler may be lower, in this case.

The real surprise was the cooling performance, which was on the same level as the best air coolers we have tested so far. The noise level was acceptable for such a good performer.

Being a CPU cooler with a great performance and a beautiful look, the Phanteks PH-TC14CS receives our Golden Award.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Phanteks-PH-TC14CS-CPU-Cooler-Review/1613


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