Phanteks PH-TC12DX Review

ccokeman - 2013-01-02 20:05:19 in CPU Cooling
Category: CPU Cooling
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: January 24, 2013
Price: $59.99

Phanteks PH-TC12DX Introduction:

Putting together a high performance computer usually involves installing a better-than-stock cooling solution, especially if running the system out-of-spec and overclocking it for all it's worth. Upping the clock speed and/or voltages will demand a much better cooling solution to keep that pricey processor operating as cool as possible. Phanteks has answered that call with a solution that is a bit more modest in size than their dual tower 140mm fan equipped PH-TC14PE, in the PH-TC12DX. Phanteks PH-TC12DX is a tower-style cooling solution again more modest in size yet still equipped with a pair of UFB bearing 120mm PWM fans to provide the airflow needed to cool the processor. Available in multiple colors, the PH-TC12DX can be ordered to fit most color themes.

Priced at $59 the PH-TC12DX is not just your standard cooling solution, but one that is built using aerospace technologies to minimize the effects of radiant heat using P.A.T.S (Physical Antioxidant Thermal Shield) technology. C.P.S.C (Cold Plasma Spraying Coating Technology) is used to improve heat transfer on the soldered surfaces of the four heat pipes, where they pass through the base and fin array. Packed full of technology, offered at a modest price with a five-year warranty, Phanteks makes the PH-TC12DX a tantalizing proposition. All the technical specs are for naught if it cannot perform. Let's run it through the ringer to see if it does deliver the number.

Phanteks PH-TC12DX Closer Look:

The front of the package shows a porthole view of part of the PH-TC12DX to the right, with the four colors available (Red, White,Blue, Black), shown just to the left side of the package. The top-right has the name and highlights that the fans are PWM style fans. The back side gives a brief description of the PH-TC12DX and how it is equipped, in several languages. The right side shows the technical specifications, while the left side shows the features of the package and cooler.












Internally, the cooler is solidly packed in a large closed cell foam form. The PH-F120HP fans and PH-TC12DX tower are encased in the foam, while the accessory bundle is packed separately in a cardboard box. The box was slightly bowed upon arrival, but after pulling the assembly out of the box, I found the whole assembly to be in excellent shape. A testament to the packaging design.



Phanteks' accessory bundle includes everything you need to install the PH-TC12DX on motherboards equipped with Intel LGA 2011/1150/1155/1156/1366/775 and AMD FM2/FM1/AM3+/AM3/AM2+/AM2 sockets. You get compatibility with every current socket, including Intel's upcoming socket 1150 platform. The mounting kits are separated by CPU manufacturer, with one kit specifically for AMD and one for Intel. An accessory kit includes the fan attachment hardware and a tube of Phanteks nano-diamond-like particle thermal paste. A two-into-one four-pin power adapter allows both PH-F120HP fans to be plugged into the PWM controlled CPU fan header. A set of detailed instructions in multiple languages is included for those of us who have found out that reading them is the best course of action when installing a new product.




Let's dig a little deeper into what Phanteks is offering in this U Tower style heat sink.

Phanteks PH-TC12DX Closer Look:

Phanteks' new PH-TC12DX is a U-Style tower design that uses a pair of PH-F120HP PWM fans in a push /pull configuration to provide the airflow needed to carry away the thermal load of the CPU. Available in multiple color schemes, the cooler I am looking at is white in color, with a nickel plated finish on the top cover, base and heat pipes.















Once you strip the fans off the cooler, you can get into what sets this one apart from the crowd. The front and side views show that this cooler is a U-Style Tower design, that uses four 6mm nickel coated copper heat pipes that rise up into a pair of Physical Antioxidant Thermal Shield (P.A.T.S.) coated aluminum fin arrays. On this model, the coating is white in color, yet is offered in a variety of colors. This coating is used to minimize the effects of radiant heat from the GPU and VRM circuits, to improve cooling performance. The four heat pipes run through a two-piece base, with the assembly being soldered together. Part of the SoliSku mounting system is attached to the base of the cooler, to aid in the ease of installation. The top of the PH-TC12DX is embossed with the Phanteks logo to show off whose cooling solution you are running.




The base plate of the PH-TC12DX is covered with a vinyl warning label that urges you not to forget to remove it before installation. It is over-sized for visibility and ease of removal. Once removed, I found the finish on the nickel plated copper base to be flat and absent of any machining marks that could impact cooling performance. The four 6mm nickel plated copper heat pipes are soldered into the base. Phanteks Cold Plasma Spraying Coating Technology (C.P.S.C) is used on the soldered surfaces to improve the thermal conductivity, by improving the rate with which heat is transferred from the base to the heat pipes.



A pair of Phanteks PH-F120HP PWM Premium fans are used on the PH-TC12DX. These fans measure 120x120x25mm in size, include a built in PWM controller, are rated for operation between 600-1800 RPM, push between 23 and 68.5 CFM and have a static pressure rating of 0.39 – 2.07mm H2O, with a noise level between 21.9 and 27.6 dBA. All this running on 12v, with a MTBF of greater than 150,000 hours. If you add the hours up, that's just over 17 years - 12 longer than the warranty period of five years. To deliver this performance, Phanteks uses an UFB (Updraft Floating Balance) bearing on the nine-blade design. Small ridges are seen on each of the blades. These are part of the MAFO (Maelstrom Air-Fort Optimization) system used to deliver the airflow and maintain the stability needed for that long life span. At all four corners, top and bottom, are anti-vibration pads at each mounting hole, to reduce the noise delivered during operation. The wiring is sleeved into the fan. This braiding functions as both a means to protect the wiring from abrasion, as well as offering a clean look for better wire management.




Installation of the PH-TC12DX on an Intel system involves using the Intel  accessory kit out of the accessory bundle. AMD installations will require the use of the stock CPU retention back plate, while a plate is included for Intel systems. To start, put together the base plate and mounting studs for the socket you will be using the cooler on. In this case, a socket 1155 system. Push the assembled base plate studs through the motherboard CPU cooler mounting holes and add the spacers and secure the top plates with the thumb screws provided. Once the base of the SoliSku mounting system is in place, you can apply the PH-NDC thermal paste to the CPU and attach the cooler to the mounting plates with the two captured spring-loaded screws on the SoliSku plate, attached to the base of the cooler.

Tighten evenly for the best mount. The fans clip to the side of the cooler and mount by way of small fan clip adapters that push through the mounting holes of the fans. Slide the fan clips into place and rotate them into position, so they can be attached. Take care to install them correctly so that you can maintain the push/pull orientation of the fans. Much like most large cooling solutions, the DRAM slots closest to the CPU socket will be compromised if using memory modules with large heat spreaders. Low profile DIMMs can used, or the fan can sit on top of the modules, but this compromises airflow through the cooler.




All technology aside, the design looks good. If the technologies employed allow the PH-TC12DX to shine as a CPU cooler for the enthusiast, then Phanteks will have done their work scaling down the performance of its PH-TC14PE.

Phanteks PH-TC12DX Specifications:

Heatsinks and Fans
White / Black / Blue / Red
Copper (Base and Heat-pipes), Nickel Plated
Aluminum (Fins and Top Cover)
Patented P.A.T.S (Physical Anti-Oxidant Thermal Shield)
Patented C.P.S.C (Cold Plasma Spraying Coating)
Fan Model
PH-F120HP PWM Premium Fan
Fan Size
120 x 120 x 25mm
Fan Compatibilities
120 x 120 x 25mm (2pcs)
Bearing Type
UFB (Updraft Floating Balance) Bearing
Blade Geometry
Nine Blades with MVB(Maelström Vortex Booster) Design
Speed (RPM)
600 – 1800 RPM ± 10%
Max Airflow
23 – 68.5 CFM
Max Air Pressure
0.39 – 2.07mm H2O
Acoustical Noise
21.9 – 27.6 dB(A)
Input Power
Current (Ampere)          
Rate Voltage
>150,000 h
Heatsink Dimensions (LxWxH)
126 x 57 x 157mm (without fans)
126 x 107 x 157mm (with dual fans)
Package Dimensions
220x163x173 (LxWxH)
Scope of Delivery
1x PH-TC12DX Heatsink
2x PH-F120HP PWM Premium Fans
8x Fan Clip Adapters
4x Rubber Bar,
4x Fan wire clips (PH-F120HP Fan’s Accessories)
SoliSku Mounting Kits for Intel and AMD (Stock back-plate required)
1x Y Fan Splitter (4pin)
1x PH-NDC Thermal Compound
2x Phanteks PH-TC12DX User’s Manual
5 Years.


Phanteks PH-TC12DX Features:





All information COurtesy of Phanteks @

Phanteks PH-TC12DX Testing:

Testing of Phanteks PH-TC12DX will be accomplished installing the cooler into the test system mounted into a case, not a test bench. Most systems are built and mounted into a sealed (relatively) chassis, so this method will be used to generate the load and idle results to give a real world view as to what kind of cooling performance one can expect, based on the test system listed below. Of course, your results may vary, due to case design and ambient air temperature by several degrees. The CPU load is generated by Prime 95 version 27.7 for a period of two hours, with a cool down period of one hour, after the computer has returned to an idle state. Real Temp 3.70 is used to log the temperatures over the time frame with the highest and lowest averages across the four cores of the Core i7 2600K test CPU. Ambient temperatures are kept at 24C throughout the testing to minimize the impact of a variable temperature. Each cooler is tested with the manufacturer supplied thermal compound as delivered. Many of us have our own TIM favorites, but for the end-user without a half dozen tubes of thermal paste laying around, the supplied TIM will have to do and is how these coolers will be tested.

Testing Setup:


Comparison Coolers:






Under load at both stock and overclocked settings, the Phanteks PH-TC12DX kept the Core i7 2600K processor marginally cooler than Sapphire's latest creation, the Vapor-X Universal CPU cooler and our case test cooler the Noctua NH-U12P SE. It does so with a design that is dimensionally similar to the other two coolers. This brings to light the use of its proprietary P.A.T.S. (Physical Antioxidant Thermal Shield) and C.P.S.C (Cold Plasma Spraying Coating Technology) technologies as the point of difference.

Phanteks PH-TC12DX Conclusion:

Phanteks has another winning cooling solution in the 120mm fan equipped PH-TC12DX. At $59, it is not the most expensive tower-style cooling solution on the market, but does not fall close to the bottom-end of the price structure either. For that price, you do get a cooler that does the job it is designed to do - cool your CPU when running stock or overclocked speeds on your processor. At $59 it is less expensive than both the Sapphire Vapor-X Universal CPU cooler and the Noctua NH-U12P SE2 it is compared against, adding some value to the cost. Phanteks includes mounting hardware packages for Intel and AMD's latest sockets, comes with Phanteks' own PH-NDC nano-particle based thermal paste and comes in a four different colors (Red, White, Blue, Black), to match the theme of your build.

Installation of the PH-TC12DX is a snap based on the construction of the SoliSku universal mounting kit. It does require installation before the motherboard is mounted in the chassis, if your chassis of choice does not have access to the back of the CPU socket. On my test system, I found that the front fan has interference issues when all of the DRAM slots are populated on my socket 1155 test system. A problem not unique to Phanteks, but a problem in general with the socket placement on many socket 1155 based systems, when using DRAM modules with large heat spreaders. If you only populate two of the four DIMM slots, or use low profile DRAM modules, such as this kit from Samsung, you can fill all of the DIMM slots, without worries. The SoliSku mounting system resembles Noctua's SecuFirm2 system, for both the Intel and AMD mounts.

When you look at the cooling performance delivered by Phanteks' cooling solutions, it's not hard to see how it achieves its cooling goals. Using P.A.T.S.(Physical Antioxidant Thermal Shield) technology to keep radiant heat from impacting cooling performance and C.P.S.C (Cold Plasma Spraying Coating Technology), to improve the thermal transfer between the copper heat pipes, the base and fin array, it has found a way to make a better cooler. When you start pushing more air, cooling solutions tend to get louder. Phanteks uses UFB (Updraft Floating Balance) bearings and MAFO (Maelstrom Air-Fort Optimization) on its PH-F120HP PWM fans, to push almost 70 C.F.M. of air, at less than 28dBA. Add in the rubber isolation points on the fan and cooler, and you have a cooler that is quiet enough that it cant be heard outside the chassis while gaming. Phanteks has put together a package that works, is not loud, looks good and will keep your processor cool.