The Phononic HEX 2.0 is as impressive as the hype would suggest. Not only does this cooler compete with single 120mm radiator based AIOs, but it also climbed the list and took on some of the 240mm based AIOs as well. Considering the size of the HEX 2.0, we assumed coolers like the V10 and the Voltair would have had a defined advantage since they both sport much more surface area to dissipate the heat from the CPU and the TEC, but we blew right past the Voltair in Insane Mode. Standard Mode is what most will be able to achieve at any given time and place, and even with a near three-degree drop in performance in moving to this mode, we still feel that the HEX 2.0 is impressive for its size. On top of that, everything is built well, it looks good, and is simple to install.
At the same time, we did notice a couple of things we either ran into an issue with or could see it causing issues for some users. We discussed things over the phone with Phononic, and we are told that in their testing, the location of the wiring on the HEX 2.0 is a non-issue. At the same time, if we had a top slot used for GPUs, we would have had to devise a fancy way to power the 6-pin GPU plug on the cooler. The USB cable and fan header are fine, but depending on the flexibility of your PSU wiring, and if the GPU has an aftermarket top plate, things could get tricky fast.
We also ran into the issue where we could not fully close off the shroud on our motherboard. Of course, our motherboard is the end of height around the CPU socket, but this is also why we chose to use it. In our mind, a cooler should fit any motherboard on the market, and the HEX 2.0 was just shy of this feat. On the flip side of that same coin, we did get some pretty impressive results, even without completely containing the air flow, so that too says a lot about the design and efficiency of this cooler.
While anything good usually comes attached with a premium price tag, and while we can appreciate the time and effort in developing a cooler that is this compact, yet able to take on a slew of much larger coolers and win the day. However, we do feel that the user base is likely to be a bit gun shy when pulling the trigger on a $149.99 price for the HEX 2.0. While their main benefit is AIO level performance without the worry of liquid in a PC, and we get that, but we have also seen what happens when a TEC goes bad. So essentially, you are trading one thing for another, but when it comes right down to it, the Phononic HEX 2.0 is an astounding cooler for its size, but too expensive for most to want to adopt to at this point.
Maybe if the pricing were in the $100 range as most AIOs are at this point, the HEX 2.0 Thermoelectric CPU cooler could be more widely accepted by the masses.
Product Summary Breakdown
|Quality including Design and Build||98%|
|Bundle and Packaging||97%|
|Value for Money||78%|
|Overall TweakTown Rating||91%|
The Bottom Line: For such a small package, the HEX 2.0 CPU cooler swings for the fences, and outperforms many much larger designs, including AIOs. The only down side at this time is the high price point, as with that sort of cost, you can buy the chart leading coolers.
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- Page 1 [Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing]
- Page 2 [Packaging]
- Page 3 [Phononic HEX 2.0 CPU Cooler]
- Page 4 [Phononic HEX 2.0 CPU Cooler Continued]
- Page 5 [Accessories and Documentation]
- Page 6 [Installation and Finished Product]
- Page 7 [Software]
- Page 8 [Test System Setup, Thermal Tests, and Noise Results]
- Page 9 [Final Thoughts]
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