Our last adventure into cooling with Phanteks left us with the PH-TC14PE, a twin tower cooler, which used the same OEM to build their cooler as Noctua does. With the light that was shown then, the cooler was pretty much a redo of the D-14, but with enough flavor and personal touches to make it a cooler that does really well in today's market. To be blunt, I had just received Noctua's newest C-style cooler and I had thoughts that these coolers again may be the same concept, just done a bit differently to add that Phanteks flavor to the cooler. To be honest, with the amount of emails I get asking if I want to sample this or that, I just say go ahead and send it, then do the homework once it arrives.
I couldn't have been more wrong in this instance. Phanteks went a whole different direction than Noctua in this design. Phanteks has actually taken one of their super thick tower cooler fin arrangements from the dual tower design and bent the cooler over on its side. In reality, the heat pipes have to be a bit longer to make the bend and still offer room underneath for memory or motherboard heat sinks. Nonetheless, Phanteks chose to strap two 140mm fans to the chunky fin setup to deliver the best potential for cooling this C-style cooler and keeping the multiple color options that made the PH-TC14PE so popular.
The cooler we are about to get up close and personal with today is the PC-TC14CS from Phanteks. The last time I got a cooler from them, I grabbed the blue version to match my GIGABYTE motherboard. This time when asked as to which color, I went with the white version so it would "pop" in the images with the newer black motherboard I use for testing. As I mentioned, you can get this in all the same colors that the PH-TC14PE was available in, so you can match it to your personal tastes in your next build or upgrade.
At this point I say we get right into the mix, take a look at the specs and get through all the various images. Then we can get to the meat and potatoes of the PH-TC14CS from Phanteks and see just how well this dual fan cooled, C-style cooler competes against the other coolers we have tested.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
With such a long list of specifications, I find it best to attack it from the top down and try to cover a few things as I go.
The PH-TC14CS, C-style CPU cooler is made mostly of aluminum fins that have the Physical Anti-Oxidant Thermal Shield (P.A.T.S.) and then are coated with Cold Plasma Spray Coating (C.P.S.C.) technology to enhance conductivity and give the fins their color. Delivering the heat to the fins from the copper base plate are five 8mm heat pipes, both of which are Nickel plated for looks and antioxidant reasons. The version of the PH-TC14CS I received was the white one and it's the fans that are white in this arrangement, the fins are more of a grey/silver with my version. If you don't like white, you can get the fins in red, blue or black with fans that match.
Cooling this C-style cooler is a pair of Phanteks' PH-F140 fans. In these fans you have nine blades inside of a white frame (blades are color matched to fin color) that incorporates a Maelstrӧm Vortex Booster (MVB) design. Each of the fans, one clipped above blowing down into the cooler and the other under it pulling air through the cooler and pushing it a the motherboard, will spin at around 1300 RPM delivering up to 88.6 CFM of airflow. These UFB bearing fans are rated to spin for 150,000 hours and have a PWM chip to control the fans speed.
With both fans and the body together, the PH-TC14CS is a big boy to install on your motherboard. Fans included it weighs in at 900 grams and takes up a lot of room over the socket and even over the memory. With outside dimensions of 160mm by 151mm you may need to spin this cooler around to get it to line up well with other components on the motherboard. The really nice thing about the PH-TC14CS is that even with the top fan on the cooler, it stands only 140.5mm tall and only 112mm with the top fan off the cooler. Unlike the 95W limit of the Noctua, the PH-TC14CS seems geared for battle with just about any processor an almost any situation as long as your motherboard and memory allow for it.
Along with the cooler and fans you get quite an extensive hardware package, a few extra goodies and a five year warranty, but at what cost; surprisingly not that much, especially considering the price of the Noctua we just looked at.
Going through the usual channels, I found that the PH-TC14CS, as I received it, is currently listed for $76.99 at Newegg. As for other colors, well they will cost you $4 more to own. Newegg shows the blue version, but if you want the black or red one, I suggest you look at Directron.com because they have all four colors in stock. As for how it compares to the Noctua we just looked at, you definitely get much more CPU cooler and fans for your dollar at the same price point, so let's get to it and let the results do the talking.
On the front of the PH-TC14CS packaging you not only get a look at the cooler on the right, but you also get to see the five color options on the lefts side along with socket compatibility and its PWM functionality in the fans.
Moving on to the right side you have a full black panel with all of the PH-TC14CS specifications as well as the scope of delivery printed in white.
On the back there is a brief statement from Phanteks about what goes into making this cooler and what buyers should expect of it. Under the English text, this message is repeated in nine other languages.
On the last side Phanteks displays six features of the cooler, including that this is sort of a dual tower concept, even if done a bit differently. The panel ends with broken images of the base of this cooler as well as a look at the blue version without fans on it.
Digging through the box to make sure I removed everything, I found the cooler is surrounded in cardboard and uses dense foam at the top and bottom to cover the top and bottom a little bit more. Under all of this inner packaging you will find the instruction manuals lying in the bottom of the box.
Digging into the packaging a little bit more you can see Phanteks offers pockets for the fans to ship on either side of the CPU cooler. The cardboard is bent to help support the fins of the PH-TC14CS and the hardware is located under the base of it.
Phanteks PH-TC14CS CPU Cooler
Phanteks PH-TC14PE CPU Cooler
As with the PH-TC14PE, the PH-TC14CS has a top plate that covers the end of the fins and the termination of the heat pipes for not only a cleaner look, but it gives them room to apply the company name really large across it, so there is no mistaking whose cooler you are using.
From the side you can see the fans have their work cut out for them as they have to pass through this double stack of forty-four thick aluminum fins. This is what is meant with the dual tower design; they laid one set on top of the other and ran the pipes in between them.
The heat pipes make tight but graceful bends that don't kink the heat pipes in their journey from the base to the middle of the sets of fins. Having five 8mm diameter heat pipes taking the heat out of the copper base should be sufficient and plating both the base and the pipes will keep it looking good.
The base is made of two parts of copper with the five heat pipes sandwiched between then to get the heat moving away from the CPU. As for the mounting hardware seen here, Phanteks mounts this to the base so that you don't have to fiddle with it in the small amount of room under this cooler.
The base is milled much like a Noctua cooler and it has this "warning" sticker protecting the base rather than the hard plastic protector we see in Noctua packaging. All the same in the end though really, as this base is in great condition.[img]13[img]
For anti-vibration purposes you have to get into the hardware and place these strips down each side of the fin array, both top and bottom before you clip the fans into place.
To give you an idea of how well polished this surface is, you are seeing the reflection of the sticker you are warned to remove before installation. There is a bit of roundness near the edges of the base, but the area covering the CPU was dead level against the edge of my razer.[img]15 [/img]
Now here is a C-style cooler that isn't all bread and no meet. If fact the thickness of the doubled set of fins in the PH-TC14CS is thicker than the fans combined. This gives the cooler some serious surface area and with dual 140mm fan, this cooler should do rather well in the testing.
One last time we go back to the front of the PH-TC14CS, just so we can see that fancy name plate between the set of solid white fans that come with this version of the cooler. As I mentioned, if you get another color of fins, the blades of its fans will match the color theme, but the frames will remain white.
Accessories and Documentation
I didn't just mean to show the hardware spilling out of the box, but rather I wanted to show that there is in fact a box packed deep inside that safely contains all of the hardware needed.
The more universal hardware is what I am showing here. You will receive a set of four wire fan clips and four strips of anti-vibration material on the sheet to the right of them. You also get a tube of PH-NDC compound, a Y-splitter for the fans and a ninety degree hex wrench for mounting the cooler to the base.
To install the PH-TC14CS to an Intel motherboard, this is the bit of the kit you will need. There are four legs, spacers and thumbscrews to mount the top plates and the back plate to the motherboard. If you have an LGA2011 motherboard, you do away with the back plate and spacers in lieu of the set of screws made specifically for that socket.
For AMD users, there is a set of screws on the left to mount the top plates over the spacers with the use of the stock AMD back plate that comes shipped on the motherboard.
I'm not really sure how this got away, but in the end I noticed it wasn't in any images. This is how Phanteks makes this cooler a PWM cooler. Just plug this into the motherboard ahead of the Y-splitter, now both fans can run on their PWM fan curve.
The instruction sheets definitely help get the job done. They start with a parts list so you know if you have all the hardware you need at the start and then moves into the installation process with colored highlights in the images to help show what the text is explaining.
Installation and Finished Product
The hardware was simple enough to get onto the Intel motherboard, but I find it strange that the thumbscrews are Phillips head and I got a hex wrench in the hardware. It would seem to me if these were hex head too, things would work without me going to the toolbox for extra tooling.
Part of the SoliSku hardware that differs from the SecuFirm2 hardware is that this allows the plate to go on one of two ways, meaning that the cut outs for the socket hardware is on two sides rather than just one.
If you want to run this cooler with both fans on it, you are going to have to be sure to have memory that will accommodate all the room this cooler is going to be using to do its job.
Once I set in the Ripjaws I stripped the spreaders off of, there were no longer any memory clearance issue to discuss. In fact, there is plenty of room to even be able to add or remove them with the cooler still in place.
The last angle didn't really do the total height of the cooler or the amount of room left above the memory any justice. From the side you can see there is plenty of room to work with the RAM and that this C-style cooler is as big as most tower coolers.
Looking at it from the top, you still have room to get the 8-pin EPS plugged in, it just happens to be behind the fans wires currently. The POH-TC14CS does get close to the first PCI-e slot, but still allows for the card to be installed without actually hitting the fans. You can also move the fans up a bit so that it gives more room there if needed.
Here is one last image of the PH-TC14CS so you have sort of the "glamour shot" of this cooler to keep fresh in your mind as we go through the thermal and audio testing.
Test System and Thermal Results
I would like to thank HIS for supplying the video card in the test system.
Testing for the CPU coolers is done with the use of RealTemp to ascertain temperatures, Intel Burn Test to deliver the load to the CPU and CPU-Z to verify the CPU speed and the voltage being used in Windows.
For the "stock" runs, it's more of a plug and play setup where the PWM of the motherboard is in control of the fans speeds for both the idle and load results. For the overclocked runs, I load the CPU at 4.5GHz and idle results are obtained with 7.5V to the fans while the load run is set to deliver 12V to the fans.
For the sound testing results, I obtain those while I am controlling the voltage at 7.5V and 12V as well. Sorry for the change in the charts again, but I got the full effect of AVX support and 104 Gflops now, so the older results don't directly apply to the results I get now.
At stock levels it bottoms out at twenty-six degrees just like many of the others and even with the increase of the voltage to overclocked levels, the PH-TC14CS only moved a degree and ranked right with the Thermalright SA SB-E.
Loading the CPU sheds a bit of a different light. It fell just behind the Thermalright at stock levels, but once the overclock was set, the difference of the cooling potential becomes more obvious. Falling between a 95W cooler from Noctua and four degrees behind a tower with similar surface area is right about what I would expect.
Noise Level Results
Noise Level Results
In our idle configuration I found the PH-TC14CS to bit a bit quieter than its predecessor, the PH-TC14PE. Again like with the Noctua, the directionality of the flow being blown at the motherboard, it deadens some of the noise that tower coolers dump right out the back.
The same thing happened once I had 12V going to the fans, they just didn't make the meter go as high as the same fans on a different cooler design. That being said 52 dB is not that bad and most enclosures will make the slight hum I heard from them be less apparent once the door is shut.
From the limited amount of coolers I have tested in this fashion, I would say the PH-TC14CS is the better choice of the three C-style coolers on the list. It isn't as universal as the NH-L12, but it performs much better. The Enermax has cool lighting features, but again the PH-TC14CS performed much better. I am going to throw a third comparison in here, even though it is a tower cooler. The Thermalright Silver Arrow is only $10 more than this solution and to be honest, they are both a pain to install compared to the Noctua and if I am going to have to hassle with naked memory to get the cooler to even fit, then I have to hassle with half turns on a wrench I am going to opt for the better performer since this C-style cooler assumes all the room that most tower coolers occupy.
That isn't to say that the Phanteks PH-TC14CS is a failure by any means. I think the price is right as it stands up against the others on the list. My real issue is that I don't see a need for this size of a c-style cooler. Yes it looks cool, yes it's imposing, yes you have a color choice, but is that enough to make this a hit amongst buyers? I really don't think so.
I mean great, I can run one fan and have the cooler not perform near as well and allow myself to have a cooler near 110mm, then what? It just seems that if I were really planning to beat the living snot out of my PC, it isn't in a small HTPC or tiny mid-tower, so height of the cooler when it is this imposing over the memory and just being more of a pain to install than it had to be. Just cut out a few fins like Noctua does and return the Philips screws to the hardware so I only need one tool and it makes mounting like one hundred times easier.
I feel like I am really delivering a fatal blow to the Phanteks PH-TC14CS with what I just addressed. I don't in any way want to discredit the lack of noise emitted from the cooler, nor can I discredit its performance, but with the lack of attention to detail that we saw in the PH-TC14PE, Phanteks just let me down a little bit. It doesn't seem like they really went for "low-profile" even though it's shorter and with all the room it takes up anyways, why not opt for a better performing tower?
I know there are going to be those that are like "I got to have one of these" and I can appreciate that, I have no issues realizing that different people like various things that I don't personally have a use for. If you happen to be one of those people that are on the future PH-TC14CS owners list, I will say that it is quite the cooler for the price and as long as you plan ahead and have extra time on your hands, feel free to get the PH-TC14CS in whatever flavor floats your boat.
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