Phanteks PH-TC14CS CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Otto Coelho on August 15, 2012
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.
Figure 2 shows the contents of the box: the cooler heatsink, fans, a syringe of thermal compound, manual, and installation hardware.
Figure 3 displays the Phanteks PH-TC14CS unsassembled.
This cooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.
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.
Figure 5 reveals the side of the cooler, with the “C” shaped heatpipes and the horizontal heatsink.
Figure 6 shows the rear of the cooler, where you can see the five 8 mm heatpipes.
In Figure 7, you can see the top of the heatsink.
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.
Figure 9 illustrates the base of the cooler. It is a nickel-plated copper plate with near mirror-like finishing.
Figure 10 reveals the PH-TC14CS with the 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.
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.
Figure 12 shows the pair of holders for sockets 775, 1155, 1156, and 1366 installed on our motherboard.
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.
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.
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.
Operating System Configuration
We adopted a 2°C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2°C are considered irrelevant.
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.
|Cooler||Room Temp.||Noise||Speed||Core Temp.||Temp. Diff.|
|Cooler Master Hyper TX3||18 °C||50 dBA||2850 rpm||69 °C||51 °C|
|Corsair A70||23 °C||51 dBA||2000 rpm||66 °C||43 °C|
|Corsair H100||26 °C||62 dBA||2000 rpm||64 °C||38 °C|
|EVGA Superclock||26 °C||57 dBA||2550 rpm||67 °C||41 °C|
|NZXT HAVIK 140||20 °C||46 dBA||1250 rpm||65 °C||45 °C|
|Thermalright True Spirit 120||26 °C||42 dBA||1500 rpm||82 °C||56 °C|
|Zalman CNPS12X||26 °C||43 dBA||1200 rpm||71 °C||45 °C|
|Zalman CNPS9900 Max||20 °C||51 dBA||1700 rpm||62 °C||42 °C|
|Titan Fenrir Siberia Edition||22 °C||50 dBA||2400 rpm||65 °C||43 °C|
|SilenX EFZ-120HA5||18 °C||44 dBA||1500 rpm||70 °C||52 °C|
|Noctua NH-L12||20 °C||44 dBA||1450 rpm||70 °C||50 °C|
|Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme||21 °C||53 dBA||2550 rpm||71 °C||50 °C|
|Gamer Storm Assassin||15 °C||48 dBA||1450 rpm||58 °C||43 °C|
|Deepcool Gammaxx 400||15 °C||44 dBA||1500 rpm||60 °C||45 °C|
|Cooler Master TPC 812||23 °C||51 dBA||2350 rpm||66 °C||43 °C|
|Deepcool Gammaxx 300||18 °C||43 dBA||1650 rpm||74 °C||56 °C|
|Intel stock cooler||18 °C||41 dBA||2000 rpm||97 °C||79 °C|
|Xigmatek Praeton||19 °C||52 dBA||2900 rpm||83 °C||64 °C|
|Noctua NH-U12P SE2||18 °C||42 dBA||1300 rpm||69 °C||51 °C|
|Deepcool Frostwin||24 °C||46 dBA||1650 rpm||78 °C||54 °C|
|Thermaltake Frio Advanced||13 °C||56 dBA||2000 rpm||62 °C||49 °C|
|Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition||9 °C||48 dBA||2100 rpm||53 °C||44 °C|
|Thermaltake Frio Extreme||21 °C||53 dBA||1750 rpm||59 °C||38 °C|
|Noctua NH-U9B SE2||12 °C||44 dBA||1700 rpm||64 °C||52 °C|
|Thermaltake WATER2.0 Pro||15 °C||54 dBA||2000 rpm||52 °C||37 °C|
|Deepcool Fiend Shark||18 °C||45 dBA||1500 rpm||74 °C||56 °C|
|Arctic Freezer i30||13 °C||42 dBA||1350 rpm||63 °C||50 °C|
|Spire TME III||8 °C||46 dBA||1700 rpm||70 °C||62 °C|
|Thermaltake WATER2.0 Performer||11 °C||54 dBA||2000 rpm||49 °C||38 °C|
|Arctic Alpine 11 PLUS||11 °C||45 dBA||2000 rpm||82 °C||71 °C|
|be quiet! Dark Rock 2||10 °C||41 dBA||1300 rpm||58 °C||48 °C|
|Phanteks PH-TC14CS||16 °C||47 dBA||1300 rpm||58 °C||42 °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.
In the graph below, you can see how many decibels of noise each cooler makes.
The main specifications for the Phanteks PH-TC14CS CPU cooler include:
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
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.