Phanteks PH-TC90LS Review

ccokeman - 2012-08-21 10:39:29 in CPU Cooling
Category: CPU Cooling
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: January 21, 2013
Price: $29.99

Phanteks PH-TC90LS Introduction:

One of the first improvements made to a computer is to replace the stock Intel or AMD cooling solution. Not that there is anything wrong with the stock solution when running at stock speeds, it's just that we are conditioned to think that running cooler is always better for the CPU and system components. For the most part that holds true, over the long term. Phanteks has gained a lot of traction in the enthusiast market over the past year with impressive cooling solutions such as the PH-TC14PE and PH-TC14CS that truly delivered excellent cooling performance. Today I will be looking at something a little smaller with the Phanteks PH-TC90LS, a low profile tower-style cooler packed full of the same aerospace technologies used in its larger siblings.

Phanteks packs all kinds of technology into the design of the PH-TC90LS starting with Patented P.A.T.S (Physical Anti-oxidant Thermal Shield) and C.P.S.C. (Cold Plasma Spraying Coating) that work to minimize the impact of radiant heat and improve thermal transfer through the CPU cooler. Topping off at a price of $29.99, this low profile design comes with a five year warranty to ensure you get long term cooling performance. Rated at 130W and designed for use on Intel socket 2011 and 115X, it's time to dig into the PH-TC90LS and see if it can handle the load.

 

Phanteks PH-TC90LS Closer Look:

Looking bland initially, the packaging is packed full of information on just about every single panel. The front features an image of the cooler so you know what you are getting from the start with a mention that this fan is PWM controlled to the left of the image. The back side illustrates in words why this cooler, the PH-TC90LS, is a wise choice for the end user in ten different languages as it is truly an international company. The left side of the package lists the specifications of the cooler while the right side lists the feature set that talks about Phanteks' P.A.T.S (Physical Anti-oxidant Thermal Shield) and C.P.S.C. (Cold Plasma Spraying Coating) technologies, the PH-F90 PWM fan, and the PH-NDC Nano Diamond-based thermal paste.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phanteks takes care to pack the cooler into the box. Open cell foam is used and is split into layers holding each specific part of the package from the top that holds the PH-F90 fan to the backing plate, cooler, and accessory bundle. The instructions are on top of the foam and are strategically placed to give the user that first glance at least, since we are, for the most part, men that do not need instructions on how to put something together until we curse and scream for a few hours. Phanteks say that installation should take about a minute so maybe we can muddle through it.

 

 

 

With all the parts on the table it's easy to see that Phanteks gives you everything you need to install the cooler from the instructions, the back plate, mounting screws, vibration isolators for the fan, fan mounting clips and bushings, and its own Nano Diamond based thermal interface material.

 

 

Seeing what this cooler comes with and the technologies involved, the PH-TC90LS looks to be an interesting addition to the family.

Phanteks PH-TC90LS Closer Look:

Phanteks PH-TC90LS is a small form factor, heat pipe-equipped cooling solution that is designed to work with Intel socket 2011 and 115X-based systems. Measuring 95 x 95 x 45mm, it is built with Intel's 95 x 95mm keep out zone in mind. Using both P.A.T.S (Physical Antioxidant Thermal Shield) to deflect radiant heat generated by the video card away from the the cooler and C.P.S.C (Cold Plasma Spraying Coating) that helps the components of the heat sink transfer the thermal load more efficiently from the contact plate through to the fin array. Available in white only from Phanteks it should blend right in with most system build colors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The mounting surface is free of defects such as machining marks or gouges. The contact plate sits in the center of the base and is connected to the integrated heat pipes. At each corner of the base are the mounting holes for either socket 2011 or socket 115X.

 

 

Phanteks PH-F90 fans use an Updraft Floating Balance bearing. The white, nine blade fans are equipped with Maelstrom Air-Fort Optimization to improve airflow and long term balance of the fan. This fan is 92x92x15 in size and is PWM controlled with a rate between 1000 and 2500RPM pushing at most 28.67 CFM.

 

 

To reduce noise Phanteks uses a series of rubber vibration dampeners that run the length of the PH-TC90LS. The fan retaining brackets mount through bushings and twist into the proper orientation.

 

 

Installing the PH-TC90LS is as simple as putting the back plate in place, adding thermal paste to the CPU, and screwing the four hold down screws into the back plate. Room to the first DIMM slot is somewhat tight so it's best to locate it properly and tighten the hold down screws in an X pattern to keep the clamping pressure constant across the CPU.

 

 

As a heat sink, this small form factor heat sink should be able to handle the thermal load from an Intel Core i7 with its 130 watt rating. Whether it can handle the heat when overclocked is left to be determined.

Phanteks PH-TC90LS Specifications:

Brand
PHANTEKS
Model
PH-TC90LS
Type
Heatsinks & Fans
Compatibility
Intel Socket 2011/1155/1156
Color
White
Material
Copper (Base and Heat-pipes), Nickel Plated
Aluminum Cooling Fins with patented P.A.T.S. and C.P.S.C technology
TDP
Up to 130W
Fan Model
PH-F90 PWM Premium Fan
Fan Size
92x92x15
Fan compatibility
80x80x15mm
Bearing Type
UFB (Updraft Floating Balance) Bearing
Blade Geometry
White Colored Nine Blade Design
RPM
1000 - 2500 ± 300 RPM
Max Air Flow
11.53 - 28.67 CFM
Max Air Pressure
0.21 - 1.34mm H2O
Acoustical Noise
19 - 26 dB(A)
Input Power
3W
Current (Ampere)
0.25A
Rate Voltage
12V
MTBF
> 150,000 hr.
Heatsink Dimension (LxWxH) without fan
95x95x27mm
Heatsink Dimension (LxWxH) with Single Fans
95x95x45mm
Heatsink Weight without fan
235g
Heatsink Weight with fan
273g
Package Dimension
133x162x106 mm (LxWxH)
Scope of Delivery
1x PH-TC90LS
1x PH-F90 PWM Premium Fan
1x Backplate for LGA 1155/1156
4x Mounting Screws for Intel LGA 2011
4x Mounting Screws for Intel LGA 1155/1156
1x PH-NDC Thermal Compound
1x Phanteks PH-TC90LS User’s Manual
2x Rubber Bar
4x Fan Clip Adapters,
2x Fan Wire Clip
Warranty
5 Years

Phanteks PH-TC90LS Features:

 


All information courtesy of Phanteks @ http://www.phanteks.com/01/PH-TC90LS.html

Phanteks PH-TC90LS Testing:

Testing of Phanteks PH-TC90LS low profile CPU cooler 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 2 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:






 

   

 

   

 

The stock testing shows that Phanteks PH-TC90LS low profile CPU cooler delivers a 6 °C improvement over the Intel box cooler that comes with the Core i7 2600K processor. By using its patented P.A.T.S and C.S.P.C. technologies the cooler solidly outperforms the box solution under load. When overclocked neither the box solution from Intel nor the PH-TC90LS were able to keep the thermals below 100 °C; at that point they register a test failure. Overclocking at a lower threshold is possible and should be limited to roughly the clock speeds delivered with Intel's Turbo Boost technology without any voltage tweaking.

Phanteks PH-TC90LS Conclusion:

When you look at the size of Phanteks' PH-TC90LS, you instantly know that overclocking outside the boundaries of what the processor will deliver using Intel's Turbo Boost technology is going to be about as fruitful as using the stock box cooler. That being said as long as the voltage is not tweaked to reach the 3.8-3.9GHz range all should be good. At 4.3GHz with a slight voltage tweak I exceeded the limits of what this cooler can handle even with the 130W rating; an expectation going into the testing as the Intel box cooler fails at the same point.

Now that we get past the obvious I have to say that Phanteks was able to deliver a cooler that delivers a 9% improvement in CPU cooling over the Intel box cooling solution at stock speeds. Delivering cooling on this level with a 2500RPM fan might lead you to expect a banshee in the chassis. Contrary to traditional thinking, Phanteks' TC90LS UFB fan cannot be heard at all when the chassis is buttoned up. Quite an achievement. By using an an Updraft Floating Balance bearing and Maelstrom Air-Fort Optimization on the nine fan blades you get the best of both worlds: impressive airflow and silence.

The PH-TC90LS comes in white only and is as easy to install as any of Phanteks' many cooling solutions. You will not find any fitment concerns with this design; with a maximum height of 45mm it will fit pretty much anywhere you can fit a motherboard. The fan and cooler have a unique design and incorporate both P.A.T.S. and C.P.S.C technologies to both keep radiant heat from impacting the cooling and to speed up the thermal transfer through the cooler. As seen with other designs Phanteks has moved into a position of favor with the enthusiast crowd in no small thanks to the performance of the PH-TC14PE.

Selling for $29.99, you get a cooler with good looks that can fit anywhere you can stuff your Intel based motherboard, offers better than stock cooling, and comes with a five year warranty. Phanteks impresses at the upper and lower end of the cooling spectrum.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: