Phanteks PH-TC14CS Review

airman - 2012-05-08 10:52:05 in CPU Cooling
Category: CPU Cooling
Reviewed by: airman   
Reviewed on: June 7, 2012
Price: $79.99

Introduction:

Late last year, Phanteks made its groundbreaking entrance into the CPU heatsink market with its PH-TC14PE cooler that dominated in quality and performance in reviews across the entire world. At it again, Phanteks is proud to introduce the PH-TC14CS, the PH-TC14PE's little sister. The PH-TC14CS offers all of the same technology that was found in the larger PH-TC14PE; it's only in a slightly different form. Instead of utilizing two separate vertical fin towers, the PH-TC14CS makes use of a single horizontally-oriented fin tower. This is particularly useful for those users who may not have been able to fit the taller PH-TC14PE in their case due to clearance issues. Using both provided fans, the cooler is 30mm shorter than the former. Using only a single fan, the height is reduced to only 112mm — almost 60mm shorter than the PH-TC14PE, leaving no excuse not to get one of these! On top of that, this model can be found for only $79.99, $20 cheaper than the larger PH-TC14PE.

I hope that the Phanteks PH-TC14CS can offer very similar performance as its bigger sister can. It shares all of the same high-end features as the former, including the C.P.S.C. Technology (Cold Plasma Spraying Coating) which enhances thermal conductivity as well as the patented P.A.T.S. technology (Physical Anti-Oxidant Thermal Shield) on the fins which increases long-term performance by preventing any micro-oxidation on the aluminum which can decrease performance. It uses five massive 8mm nickel-plated copper heatpipes to transfer heat from the base to the fin tower, just like that of the PH-TC14CS. Like the PH-TC14PE, this model is available in the same colors as it is, including a black version. This means that this cooler is available in red, orange, blue, silver, and black. Each different color model is also supplied with matching fans for great color coordination. In this review, I will provide a thorough evaluation of the Phanteks PH-TC14CS cooler starting with unboxing, taking a close look at the cooler itself, then testing the cooler in a real-world scenario on some of the latest hardware where its performance metrics will be compared to other coolers on the market. So with that said, let's get started!

Closer Look:

The box for the Phanteks PH-TC14CS is very much like that of the PH-TC14PE. It is slightly smaller due to its smaller physical shape, but the theme is the same. The box is mostly black and white with small snapshots of each of the cooler's available colors on the front and on the top. A small circular sticker is placed next to the picture of the black model, implying that I will be looking at the black version of this cooler. I had the opportunity to visit the red, orange, blue, and silver versions of the PH-TC14PE back in December, so I'm glad that I get to check out the black version of this one. The right side of the box has a very verbose list of specifications and features (even down to the air pressure of the fans) and a "scope of delivery" — a list of all of the components that can be found inside. The left side of the box describes all of the cooler's features in detail which I will provide on page 3 of this article.

The rear of the box provides an abstract of the cooler, covering all of its features and helps us get an idea of what Phanteks' goal with its high-end coolers is. I quote, "Phanteks PH-TC14CS, C type Single tower thermal radiator design uses the latest aerospace technology. By using P.A.T.S. to increase cooling performance and C.P.S.C. Technology to enhance thermal conductivity, heat will easily dissipate, creating an opportunity for greater overclocking. Combined with Dual Phanteks PH-F140 Premium 140mm Fans, easy-to-install SoliSku mounting kit and PH-NDC thermal compound, Phanteks PH-TC14CS with unique colored is setting the new standard of today's CPU cooling." Yes, it's a little broken in the grammar section, though that's the least of our concerns as long as it performs well! This quote is also presented in nine other languages, such as German, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, and more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside of the box, we find the heatsink itself nested in a white cardboard frame with the two 140mm fans sandwiched on either side. Underneath the cooler is a plain white box that contains all of the mounting hardware, fan clips, fan Y-adapter, and a hex wrench for installation. The installation and operation instructions are found to the side of the box beside one of the fans. The mounting appears to be almost identical to the previous design with the exception of the need for the hex wrench instead of a Phillip's head screwdriver — a requirement due to the cooler's shape. Since the fin tower is so close to the base, there would be no easy way to access the mounting clamp with a screwdriver!

 

 

 

With the heatsink and all of its accessories out and all accounted for, it's time to look at the heatsink itself with a closer, detailed perspective.

Closer Look:

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!

Specifications:

Model
PH-TC14CS
Type
Heatsinks & Fans
Compatibility
Intel Socket LGA 2011/1155/1156/1355/775
AMD FM1/AM3+/AM3/AM2+/AM2
Material
Copper (base and 5x8mm heatpipes), Nickel Plated
Aluminum (cooling fins / top cover)
Fan Model
PH-F140 P.W.M. Premium Fan
Fan Size
140x140x25, Dual fans included
Fan Compatibility
140x140x25 x 2, 120x120x25 x 2
Bearing Type
UFB bearing (Updraft Floating Balance)
Blade Geometry
9 blades with MVB Design (Maelstrom Vortex Booster)
Input Power
2.8W
Current
0.24A
Rated Voltage
12V
MTBF
>150,000 hours
RPM
700~1300 RPM
Max Air Flow
45.1~88.6 CFM
Max Air Pressure
0.45~1.37mm H2O
Acoustical Noise
13.4~19.6dBA
Heatsink Dimension (LxWxH) w/o fan
143.8 x 140 x 112 mm
Heatsink Dimension (LxWxH) w/ Single Fan
160 x 151 x 112 mm
Heatsink Dimension (LxWxH) w/ Dual Fan
160 x 151 x 140.5 mm
Heatsink Weight w/o fan
600g
Heatsink weight w/ fan
750~900g (Single~Dual fan)
Warranty
5 years

 

Features:

 

Information provided courtesy of Phanteks @ http://www.phanteks.com

Testing:

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-TC14CS 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 from other heatsinks provided by their respective manufacturers will be used. The fan(s) on each cooler will be run at full-speed for these tests.

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Heatsinks:

 

 

 

 

So, we see great performance from the Phanteks PH-TC14CS that matches that of the Thermaltake Frio Extreme and even ties up with in a couple of places with its bigger brother, the Phanteks PH-TC14PE.

Conclusion:

Well folks, Phanteks has done it again with its lower-profile PH-TC14CS heatsink. Coming in at about $20 cheaper than the larger, dual tower PH-TC14PE, it provides similar performance numbers and requires a notably smaller height requirement. During testing, I never heard a peep out of the two 140mm fans and the heatsink made no complaints cooling the CPU even while overclocked to 4.4ghz and loaded on all eight threads. The installation can be a little tight depending on your motherboard layout, but still doable in-case as long as you can access the rear of the motherboard to get the backplate in place and your hands aren't monstrous in size.

Phanteks stole the performance throne with its PH-TC14PE at the company's debut and has now added another great option for those looking for high performance with low noise where height clearance may be a restricting factor. It still takes up a large footprint and may restrict access to certain components while installed (RAM, headers, etc), but if a shorter profile is the goal then this is the compromise that must be made if performance should not be sacrificed.

Overall, I really like what Phanteks has done here with the PH-TC14CS. Even though installation can be a little tight, but for a shorter cooler that still performs as good as some dual-tower coolers, it's certainly worth the compromise. At close to $80 it's not going to be for a penny-pincher; but for what it's worth and for how well it performs, it's still a solid choice and a great performer. With that said, I can't wait to see what Phanteks offers next!

 

Pros:

 

Cons: