Phanteks PH-TC14CS Reviewairman - June 7, 2012
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Though the shape of the cooler is far different from the earlier PH-TC14PE model, may of the elements are similar or even identical. The cross-sectional shape of the fins appear to be the exact same between both models as well as the use of nickel plating on the 8mm copper heatpipes. It is very clear that this cooler is far shorter than the tower style of the PH-TC14PE. Aside from its C-shape, the heatpipes extend only from one side of the base — a standard characteristic of a C-shaped cooler.
The lower end of the heatpipes are crimped off just after they extend from the base. A close look at this area exposes some leftover solder from the assembly process. This is largely indicative of a careful and thoughtfully-planned assembly procedure; by soldering the heatpipe-base interface, thermal conductivity is greatly enhanced over a dry fit or even the use of some form of epoxy. Soldering these joints can be roughly compared to that of thermal paste on a CPU: without any sort of "filler", performance can be affected greatly. The opposite ends of the heatpipes are gently concealed inside of the fin array just like that of the PH-TC14PE model and gives it a simple, aesthetic finish.
The fin construction is very solid. Each fin is a two-piece design that sandwiches each half of the heatpipes in the middle. The four corners and a seam down the middle on each side are all interlocked. This integrated bracing gives the fin structure a lot of rigidity and would make bending or deforming of the fins quite difficult. A lot of inferior designs may only interlock at the edges or not at all. This rigorous construction effort on behalf of Phanteks certainly impresses me!
Focusing back on the base of the cooler, we'll find that part of the mounting system is already in place. For the earlier and larger PH-TC14PE, this was not already installed and it was not terribly easy on my own scale of difficulty due to tight clearances — having this already in place eases the installation process in my mind. As you may have already seen, the heatpipes are closely packed together inside of the base with only about 2mm of base material left on each side. There are two halves to the base which are pressed together and soldered into place. There are no visible gaps within the entrance/exit points of the heatpipe-base interface, optimistically meaning an optimum amount of contact area inside. The finish of the base isn't perfect and is noticeably convex perpendicular to the direction of the heatpipes. I noticed this same characteristic on the PH-TC14PE, though its superb performance didn't hint at the slight convexity being an issue. The convexity is also in the direction of the sides that will be clamped onto the CPU, so it's possible that Phanteks is compensating for the slight deformation here.
The fans packaged with the PH-TC14CS are 140mm in size and have colored blades that match the color of the heatsink fins. These blades are shaped in a way that is said to drastically reduce noise. The notched/knife-edged design is responsible for this. The fans are each powered by a 3-pin connector and operate on 12V at 0.12A each. At full speed, they are capable of flowing 88.6CFM at a mind-boggling 19.6dBA which means that these fans will be no more audible than a whisper. Put them inside a case with the side panel attached and you wouldn't be able to distinguish their noise at all. Some assembly is required for the fan clips however, though this is a simple task that requires a little patience and some focus.
Getting this heatsink into the case, at this point, does not look like it will have any issues at all. The Intel back-plate is placed into the motherboard and the connecting screws are secured to the intermediate brace mechanism. This intermediate brace has two threaded posts onto which the heatsink's pre-attached clamp will mount. Bear in mind that the orientation of the heatsink is dependent upon the way that the intermediate brace is installed, so make sure that the heatsink's orientation will not interfere with taller components like RAM modules. After the thermal paste is applied, the heatsink can be moved into position and the clamp can be fastened. After the heatsink is in place, the fans are clipped on, plugged in, and we're ready to go.
Seeing the heatsink installed makes it look a lot larger than it did on its own, but it's a 140mm heatsink so that should be expected. The benefit is the height clearance of this cooler in comparison to tall tower units. However, the height clearance brings along a similar, small clearance for getting hands in place to use the Allen wrench to tighten the screws onto the mounting's post. It's doable while the heatsink is in the case, but can be time consuming. Anyways, with the heatsink mounted and the computer fired up, it's almost time to get down to getting the heat rolling!