Phanteks PH-TC14PE Review

airman - 2011-11-04 11:21:22 in CPU Cooling
Category: CPU Cooling
Reviewed by: airman   
Reviewed on: December 4, 2011
Price: $89.99

Introduction:

We finally have some fresh blood entering the CPU cooling market! With the release of its introductory line of flagship coolers, the PH-TC14PE, Phanteks will be well on the road to success if it hits the nail on the head with this cooler. Said to have over 20 years of international experience in providing thermal solutions for CPUs and computers in general, the European-based company believes that, with its expertise, no job is impossible. Hopefully today we can see that slogan come true in this review.

With little knowledge of the company itself, I can't say much for the its reputation. Hopefully, the PH-TC14PE is going to establish Phanteks' reputation and set the bar very high. I'm excited to see this monster in action and try it out for myself. By looking at the specifications of these massive coolers (available in Silver, Blue, Red, and Orange), I can tell that if they are designed and executed well we may have a new top dog here in the mist of heatsink manufacturers. Coming to the US market at the hefty price of $89.99, slightly higher than the similar design of Noctua's NH-D14, I can tell that Phanteks is proud of this cooler, and I hope it performs appropriately! The availability of the different colors is a neat addition to this product's release, especially with the matching blades on the included 140mm fans.

One aspect of Phanteks and this cooler that has very much impressed me is the warranty that's packaged with this product. Not only is there a five (5) year warranty on parts and labor, but within the first year of purchase the cooler is eligible for Phanteks' "hassle-free" warranty, which includes a replacement cooler along with a prepaid box to return the defective cooler back to Phanteks. For a company to offer a five-year warranty on a product shows extreme confidence in its product. Not even Noctua matches this guarantee!

Without trying to hype up these coolers too much, I will go into the detail of the review. In this article, I will provide a thorough evaluation of Phanteks' PH-TC14PE from unboxing, an up-close and detailed look at the cooler itself and my thoughts of it, specifications and features, to an intense testing session where it will compete against other top models currently on the market. With that being said, let's get started. 

Closer Look:

Phanteks chose to package these coolers in identical boxes that show all four colors on the front of the box along with a close-up shot of the silver, uncolored model. Identifying which color is inside can be accomplished by looking at the black sticker next to the corresponding picture on the top. The Phanteks logo resides on the upper-right corner of the front of the box, and on the upper-left is a label stating its compatibility with LGA 2011 and AM3+/FM1. The right side of the box displays the specifications of the cooler such as weight, overall dimensions, and fan information as well as a "scope of delivery" list that describes the contents of the box in detail.

The rear of the box has a small "blurb" about the technologies that are found in the PH-TC14PE in ten languages. Mentioned here is the P.A.T.S and C.P.S.C technology. These stand for Physical Antioxidant Thermal Shield, which is said to increase cooling performance by deflecting thermal radiation from other heat sources (northbridge, video cards, etc.) and Cold Plasma Spraying Coating, which increases thermal conductivity on soldered interfaces such as the fins onto the heatpipes and heatpipes into the base. The right side of the box explains these two technologies plus other features and general information about the design of the cooler.

 

 

Neatly packaged inside of the box is the heatsink, two fans, and the accessory box. Inside the accessory box is all the Intel and AMD mounting hardware, fan clips, thermal paste, silicone dampening strips and more, plus the installation and user manual. Overall, the packaging is of high quality and is clearly labeled. The manual seems very clear and installation looks easy to accomplish.

 

 

 

As I said in the introduction, these coolers are available in four different colors. In the rest of the review, I will be featuring the uncolored silver model as they are all identical in specifications and features. The silver model will match with any color scheme and the red and blue could look great near the appropriately colored motherboards. The orange cooler may have more difficulty matching certain schemes, but it's still available nevertheless. I don't believe any other heatsink model is available in as many colors as the PH-TC14PE is, at least none that I have experienced.

 

 

 

Now that I have everything unpackaged, it's time to take a close look at the cooler itself.

Closer Look:

The first thing that stands out to me about these coolers is the fact that the top fin is completely flush with no heatpipes protruding through the top. This design is unique because I have not seen a tower cooler manufactured in this way; all of the fins are usually "stabbed" by the heatpipes with the ends of the heatpipes extending past the top. Although that's still true with these coolers, the top fin bulges out by a couple of millimeters with the Phanteks logo stamped into it so that it covers the ends of the heatpipes, which is neat. Other than this, the heatsink looks very similar to other two-sided tower coolers such as the Noctua NH-D14 and Thermalright's Silver Arrow. With this being said, it shows that anyone can take some bent-up copper rods and some aluminum sheets and make a heatsink. However, it's the design and engineering the manufacturer puts into a product that makes a particular one special and more appealing.

The edges of the fins of this cooler are completely open, as opposed to some recent coolers where some sides are folded down. This folded design tries to "contain" the air flow moving through the cooler, but isn't truly necessary for a multi-fan design and may actually impede fan performance. Though the coolers are featured in different colors, the heatpipes and bases are left with an uncolored, nickel-plated finish. The cooler itself has high ground clearance, making it suitable for computers with tall memory modules and should ease the minds of those who need a heatsink meeting that criteria. The five, 8mm heatpipes gently swoop out from the base and end up evenly-spaced through the rest of the fins, perpendicular to the airflow to allow maximum convection around them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A better view of the lack of heatpipe tips can be seen by looking at the top of the cooler, where the Phanteks logo resides on each half. Looking straight down at the cooler shows a threaded hole in the top of the base for the mounting hardware, and will be used for both Intel and AMD sockets. AMD users be wary; the fact that the stock AMD backplate is used to mount this cooler means that it can only be oriented in one direction (dependent upon the orientation of the backplate itself). The base of the cooler is covered by a protective film which clearly declares the necessity of its removal prior to installation.

 

 

Looking up towards the bottom of the fins, it's clear that the inner layers of fins are actually split into halves around the heatpipes. Located on both ends of the fins, a folded flap is used to lock each set of fins together. Usually I come across one-piece fins, so a split down the middle is somewhat different from what I'm used to seeing. The same method used to hold these halves together around the heatpipes is also used throughout the rest of the heatsink's construction. Even though the fins themselves are soldered in place, as clearly seen below, having these locked together helps keep the individual fins from bending out of shape. Looking at the heatpipe/base interface, I observed that the heatpipes are nicely sandwiched inside and soldered into place. Actually being able to see the solder on the metal-to-metal contact joints is a first for me, and having it visible assures me that they are indeed soldered! Something I noticed is the matte/light finish on the visible section on the bottom fin. I believe this is evidence of the P.A.T.S. - the Physical Antioxidant Thermal shield.

 

 

The base itself is of decent quality, but is not polished and machining marks are evident. A check for flatness revealed a little bit of convexity or bow in the direction opposite the heatpipes. Sure, a perfect base is rarely found, but for nearly $100 I would have hoped it was a little bit closer to perfect than it is. Some of the other bases were a little bit better, but I picked the most exaggerated out of the four for this picture to show the worst case. However, after further contemplation, I realized this may have been the intent of Phanteks since the results are similar on all four bases. Also, other reviews on the internet that inspected the base noted the same convexity. With that being said, there may be some research out there showing processor IHS's are slightly concave, or they will deflect slightly to form better to the base, or something of the like.

 

 

The fans themselves, including each of the four colors I have here, are of excellent build quality and could last for quite a long time. The frames of each fan are all the same color which is a light gray that appears almost white. The colors of the blades match the color of the heatsink, though the blades on the plain, silver model are the same color as its grayish-white frame. Towards the edge on each of the nine blades, there are three triangle-shaped teeth on the surface. Described by Phanteks as Maelstrom Vortex Booster blades, this shape and overall geometry of the blades should make the air current that flows through the cooler more advantageous for convection to take place. Attaching the fans to the cooler requires the use of the included rubber "nails" that will remain in each corner to which the metal clip will attach. Each fan requires two clips that snag onto the notches in the fins to keep it in place.

Each fan is rated to operate at 900~1200RPM on 12V and pull 0.15A (1.8W) on a 3-pin, non-PWM plug. At 15~19dBA, they produce 0.69~1.21mm H2O with a MTBF of > 150,000 hours.

 

 

 

Installation of the Phanteks PH-TC14PE is a very familiar process (at least for Intel). First, the backplate is positioned with each of the four posts set to the correct hole depending upon the socket. Each mounting strip is attached across two posts. On each mounting strip is a threaded stub onto which the heatsink is bolted. This 2-point approach should allow even-pressured contact between the heatsink base and the processor surface. On a side note, the pressure created by the mounting hardware acts in a direction that is favorable to correcting the slight bow of the base. Phantek may have designed the mounting hardware this way on purpose, but I cannot confirm that this is why the base is bowed. This installation process can easily be done inside or outside the case. Once the heatsink is in place, the fans are attached and plugged into the motherboard.

 

 

 

With everything put together, I can safely say that I am pleased with the PH-TC14PE aside from its slightly "off" base, but I'm not going to look at it negatively just yet. Hopefully the mounting hardware and provided thermal paste can work effectively enough for this to not cause an issue!

Specifications:

Compatibility
Intel Socket LGA 2011/1155,1156, LGA 1366, LGA775 and AMD AM2/2+/AM3 (stock backplate required)
Material
Copper (Base and 5 x ψ8mm Heat-pipes), Nickel Plated.

Alum. (Cooling Fins / Top Cover) with Patented P.A.T.S (Physical Anti-Oxidant Thermal Shield) to increase cooling performance.

Patented C.P.S.C Technology (Cold Plasma Spraying Coating Technology) to enhance thermal conductivity.
Fan Size
140x140x25 (qty 2 included)
Fan Compatibility
140x140x25mm x 3 pcs, (120 x 120 x25mm x 3 pcs).    (Third fan clips and accessory included).
Bearing Type
UFB bearing (Updraft Floating Balance bearing)
Blade Geometry
9 White colored Blades with MVB (Maelström Vortex Booster) Design
RPM
900~1200 RPM ± 10%
Air Flow
60.1~78.1 CFM ± 10%
Air Pressure
0.69~1.21 mm H2O
Noise Level
15.2~19 dBA
Input Power
1.8W
Input Current
0.15A
Rated Voltage
12V
MTBF
> 150,000 hours
Heatsink Dimension (w/o fan) LxWxH
134*140*160mm
Heatsink Dimension (w/ 2 fans)
159*140*171mm
Heatink Weight (w/o fans)
970g
Heatsink Weight (with single/dual fans)
1100/1250g
Warranty
5 years

 

Features:

 

All information provided courtesy of PhanteksUSA @ http://phanteksusa.com/index.php?p=products_3&id=13&cate=1

Testing and Setup:

Testing of this heatsink will involve applying a load simulated by Prime95, using small FFTs in stock and overclocked scenarios, where both idle and load temperatures will be recorded. Load temperatures will be the maximum value displayed in RealTemp after running eight threads in Prime95 for one hour, and idle temperatures will be the minimum recorded value by RealTemp with no computer usage during a period of one hour. The temperature values for each of the four cores will be averaged and displayed in the graphs below. The ambient temperature is held at a constant 23 °C throughout testing of the Phanteks PH-TC14PE as well as the comparison units. All the data shown in the graphs below is in degrees Celsius. The included thermal paste from Phanteks will be used during testing and thermal pastes on other heatsinks from their respective manufacturers will be used. The fans on each cooler will be run at full speed for these tests.

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Heatsinks:

 

 

 

 

When the results from the first test I ran (Overclocked Load) started to take shape, I could only describe the look on my face as "WOW". In disbelief of these numbers demolishing the NH-D14, I grabbed my infrared thermometer and checked the floor next to the computer (to verify ambient temperature) — it was right where it was supposed to be. I looked back at the RealTemp display and stared at the temperatures for the next few minutes (after already running for 45 minutes), and they didn't budge. This cooler has thrown up some astounding results and has blown me away. I'll go into more detail on the next page in my conclusion to this review.

Conclusion:

After having the opportunity to handle quite a large number of heatsinks over the past couple of years, I've learned a lot about what works and what doesn't. I've had the opportunity to ponder and ask myself, "What if I were to take the best, most effective heatsink on the market and throw everything I know and more at it. How much better could it be?" Well, I think I would end up with a heatsink that represents something along the lines of this monster: the Phanteks PH-TC14PE.

Despite these coolers' breathtaking similarities to the NH-D14, though no said affiliation to Noctua exists, I thought about it and realized that there are only so many ways to design a heatsink. Some of those methods are more effective than others, and of course there has to be the MOST effective design. Phanteks chose to adopt that design and improve upon it even further. There are quite a few things that stand out about these coolers that make them more special than any other high-end cooler on the market. The first two are the aforementioned P.A.T.S and C.P.S.C technologies (see the Specifications & Features page or the Phanteks website for more info). These are said to do two things: prevent heat energy by radiation from external sources (northbridge, RAM, graphics card(s), etc.) from entering the heatsink (which results in a cooler average temperature due to less heat flux into the heatsink), and accelerate the overall heat transfer at the metal-to-metal interfaces. These metal-to-metal interfaces are namely the heatpipes inside of the base, and the heatpipes inside of the fins. I can't say that any other manufacturer specifically markets anything like this technology. Whether or not other heatsinks feature similar designs, I am unsure.

The next special thing, though not related to the DESIGN of the heatsink is the included thermal paste. When a warning label of "Avoid skin and eye contact" is printed onto a tube of thermal paste, you know it has to be good stuff. Apparently, there are "high-purity nano diamond-like particles" in it which improve the heat transfer. Honestly, anything with "nano" stuff in it makes it sound cool, but what exactly does it mean in this case? Well, as we know, there is no machined surface that is free from irregularities, surface pits, grooves, etc., and those are what trap heat. The purpose of thermal paste is to clean up and fill in these gaps to help the heat from those areas transfer from the CPU to the base of the heatsink instead of traveling through air, an insulator. However, thermal conductivity of a dense solid (versus the "liquid" state of plain thermal paste) can be much higher. By using "nano particles", microscopic mini-solids act on a macroscopic level to increase the overall heat transfer properties of the thermal paste. I thought it was clever.

Besides the things I think make these coolers special, you also get the choice of four (pretty) different color schemes to match your tastes and intentions for the way your rig(s) look. The silver and white (plain) version as well as the blue or red version would pair nicely inside of just about any case and motherboard scheme you can imagine. The orange would also look pretty sick inside of something like a white case with a black motherboard. Also, yes, it's big.  Quite big indeed. However, to get this performance out of a cooler, you have to go outwards. It's no larger than anything else on the market, and someone dropping a hundred bucks on a cooler is going to know whether it fits in their case or not (at least I would hope so). For those who ask, this is why I will not be listing size as a Con!

Anyways, for a newcomer to present its pilot product line and absolutely demolish the competition like Phanteks has, the company's statement is fitting: "Our expertise means no job is impossible." I hope that I get to see more from Phanteks in the future. What I've seen here has thoroughly impressed me, and I hope Phanteks isn't a "one-hit-wonder" in the world of heatsinks!  Keep it up Phanteks, I am looking forward to your next product.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: