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Phanteks PH-TC14PE & PH-TC12DX Coolers Review

AkG

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Please note that we are experiencing some technical difficulties which will cause image errors in some reviews. Hardware Canucks is actively working to solve the issues and the images should display correctly soon.

With the prevalence of high performance yet inexpensive water cooling solutions, some have wondered whether or not there’s still a market for standard air-based heatsink designs. Air coolers may not be as exciting but this tried and tested technology is still a great performer and also ensures easier installation and less compatibility issues.

For anyone still on the air cooling bandwagon, it’s a great time to be looking for a new solution. New ideas and innovative companies are helping to change the very landscape of this market and Phanteks is at the very forefront.

Last year Phanteks burst on to the market with their massive PH-TC14PE cooling solution. The PH-TC14PE is a dual tower, five 8mm heatpipe design capable of accommodating up to three large 140mm fans. Even with an average price of $75, it is still a favorite amongst serious air cooling enthusiasts since it can handle serious amounts of heat and do so why looking spectacular.

Since the 14PE’s (as we will call it in this review) release Phanteks hasn’t been sitting idle, instead choosing to sit back and carefully design their encore presentation. Their latest creation is the PH-TC12DX which incorporates the lessons learned from past generations while also improving certain design aspects in order to broaden its performance spectrum. Much like the 14PE, the 12DX comes standard with two fans, but it uses a compact single tower design.


The PH-TC14PE’s smaller brother comes with a few distinct advantages over its sibling. It boasts fewer compatibility issues and a lower asking price along with higher speed fans. The reasonable cost of entry of just $59.99 will likely be enticing for those of you who want great air cooling performance without breaking the bank. However, don’t let this lower asking price fool you, the 12DX is meant for some serious cooling performance. Its brand new fan design is tailored for optimal airflow without sacrificing acoustics, which is something of a rarity these days.

This unique combination of low noise cooling potential with a noticeably reduced asking price could propel the 12DX towards cult classic status. Meanwhile, the 14PE still looks to be the cooler to beat in in the low noise market.


 
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AkG

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Closer Look at the PH-TC12DX

Closer Look at the PH-TC12DX



The sides of Phantek’s box contain all the information any consumer could want, from specifications to the main selling features such as PATS and CPSC (more on these later). The internal protection scheme meanwhile is also nicely done and consists of two large foam halves which wrap entirely around the 12DX to protect its delicate fins while in transit.


Unlike some newcomers to the industry, Phanteks hasn’t skipped on the accessory package which is both complete and includes high quality components. More importantly, the actual mounting hardware covers literally every Intel and AMD socket from the last five years.

A large, multi use tube of thermal compound makes an appearance as well along with a Y splitter adapter for the two included 4 pin PWM capable 120mm fans. The instructions are particularly well done in a clear and concise manner which leaves very little concerns about how to actually install the 12DX.


With its black and white color scheme the Phanteks 12DX is quite ascetically pleasing and would look perfectly at home in cases like Fractal’s Define series. However, the fun doesn’t stop here since Phanteks actually offers multiple color options thanks to their PATS (Physical Antioxidant Thermal Shield) coating. With this technology applied to the fin array, Phanteks is able to offer the D12DX in a number of colors: black, white, red and blue.

Even the fan itself comes in all four of these colors, allowing for even more customization. However, only the fan blade and motor housing change color while the physical fan body remains white. In any case this does make for a unique approach which certainly helps this tower cooler stand out in a sea of silver or black competition.


Besides giving it chameleon- like characteristics P.A.T.S also serves an important role in the overall design of Phantek’s 12DX. This spray-on coating has the ability to reflect incoming heat away from the aluminum fins, allowing them to be even more effective at soaking heat up from the attached heatpipes and quickly dispersing it into the airflow stream. To put this in laymen’s terms the PATS coating acts much like a mirror but instead of reflecting light it reflects heat.

Phanteks states this non-toxic coating is good for temperatures of up to 200°C but that’s impossible to accurately test since at those heat levels your average computer system will have more to worry about than cooling the CPU. Also, it is worth noting that while it can reflect some of the heat away from the fin array, the hotter the ambient internal case temperature is, the less effective the fin array will be at transferring the CPU heat load. In other words, nothing beats a cool running system with excellent internal air flow.


Moving on to the fin array itself you can see that the Phanteks 12DX does have more than a passing resemblance to Prolimatech’s Megahalem Black Edition. This is for the simple reason that Phanteks has opted for a typical split tower design, with each half of the fin array physically separated from the other half.

While both of these high performance coolers bear some resemblance to one another, the fin array of the 12DX is shallower than a Megahalems, giving it a different cooling aspect. A Megahalems dimensions (without fans) is 130 x 74 x 158.7mm, whereas the Phanteks 12DX is only 126 x 57 x 157.


However, even excluding the difference in size, the 12DX is not simply a Megahalems clone. The faces of its fin array boast a completely different design with a distinct, complex saw-toothed pattern. This wave-like layout helps reduce the static pressure ‘wall’ which the fans will encounter, ensuring that airflow isn’t disrupted on its journey through the fins. It also helps to guide air towards the fin array’s more efficient center region instead of towards the outer edges.

Further helping to reduce the static pressure requirements needed, the saw tooth pattern helps to cut the incoming air while also increasing its speed. This combination should allow for lower speed, lower static pressure fans to adequately cool the fin array.


Unfortunately, while there are many similarities to the Megahalems, Phanteks has opted for a mere four heatpipes. This will somewhat handicap the overall performance of the 12DX’s design, but the increased efficiency of the fin array may help minimize any negative impact.

Phanteks has another ace up their sleeve to further help increase the effectiveness of their 12DX: CSPC. Cold Spray Plasma Coating is a new technology consisting of micro copper deposits on the inside of each heatpipe. These copper deposits enhance the heatpipes’ dispersion factor and allow them to quickly wick heat away from the CPU.


Phanteks has included two very good fans which boast a design that hearkens back to older Noctua units. By incorporating an advanced Updraft Floating Balance bearing design, they should be both quiet and retain the ability to operate at relatively high rotational speeds for over 10 years.

Like most serious cutting edge fan designs each blade has three upraised vanes on the trailing edge. These vanes are what Phanteks call Maelstrom Vortex Booster technology and they help focus the air while removing noise creating vortices. At their full speed of 1800RPM they are rated to move 68.5cfm or air with a good 2.07mm of static pressure. They are also PWM capable and boast cables which are sheathed in a tight white braid.
 
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AkG

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A Closer Look at the PH-TC14PE

Closer Look at the PH-TC14PE



The 14PE’s box is nearly identical to the 12DX’s but the graphics have changed slightly and the increased size will help accommodate the larger dimensions of this robust CPU cooler. Unlike the 12DX, the 14PE does not make use of foam for its internal protection scheme and rather sits upright inside a secondary cardboard container with a foam topper.


While there are a few minor differences, the accessories which accompany this cooler are nearly identical to the 12DX’s. Like the 12DX, Phanteks have included all the necessary mounting equipment for both Intel and AMD systems, a multi-use syringe of Phanteks branded thermal compound, two fans, a Y-adapter cable and installation pamphlet.

Where the two coolers differ is the 14PE comes with enough wire fan brackets to mount three fans instead of just two. In addition, Phanteks has opted for larger fans which will allow them to operate at lower speeds while taking advantage of a larger surface area for increased heat dispersion efficiency.


Moving on the 14PE itself, as you can see it is a rather large heatsink which measures a whopping 134 x 140 x 160 millimetres and tips the scales at 970 grams without any fans attached. With its two fans attached its weight balloons to 1250 grams and its depth goes to 134 x 165 x 160. In many ways, Phanteks has focused on size in a brute-force approach to cooling.


To help put the sheer size in proper perspective, with two fans attached to both the 12DX and 14PE, the 14PE laid on its side is basically as ‘tall’ as the 12DX is when standing upright. This is not a small CPU cooler by any stretch of the imagination.

While there are differences, it is obvious Phanteks heavily leaned on competitors’ designs with this earlier model more so than they did with their newer 12DX creation. On a first blush the 14PE looks very similar to a Noctua D14. Both are very similar in overall design and share many similar features.

Like the D14, the 14PE is a dual tower based design which has its heatpipes centered within each fin array in a straight, evenly spaced row. With that being said, there are key differences in design between these two larger coolers, so Phanteks cannot be accused of simply copying the Noctua D14 and ‘rebranding’ it as their own.



The 14PE actually represents Phanteks’ first truly popular cooler, so many of the technologies incorporated into it later designs gained their first widespread acceptance here. The P.A.T.S. (Physical Antioxidant Thermal Shield) coating allows it to be available in black, white, red, orange and blue. However, the black color scheme is quite different with a stunning and unique matte finish


Besides the dual tower design of its fin array, the 14PE’s facade is also radically different from that of the Phanteks 12DX but its effect is largely the same. The benefit to this saw tooth pattern boils down to efficiency reducing airborne resistance which allows lower RPM fans to properly cool the heatsink. It’s an interesting approach which should make the 14PE a perfect fit for users who want reduced temperatures but aren’t willing to sacrifice acoustics to get there.


While many large-scale CPU coolers tend to use multiple small heatpipes in order to evenly distribute thermal load, Phanteks has opted for massive 8mm units. These use the same Cold Spray Plasma Coating found on the 12DX and is supposed to make this cooler’s base plate to be more effective at transferring heat from the CPU to the heatpipes.

Phanteks has equipped the 14PE with two 140mm stock fans which may not be PWM capable but they nonetheless run at a decent 1300 RPM 140mm, pushing 78.1cfm of air with a static pressure rating of 1.21. These are somewhat lethargic numbers but we can’t forget that the raw surface area of this design is engineered to optimized lower airflow situations to deliver good cooling performance without the need for high speed, noisy fans.
 
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AkG

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Installation Intel / AMD

Intel System Installation


Both the Phanteks 12DX & 14PE rely upon the same “SoliSku” hardware and as such both have nearly identical installation procedures. It is straightforward, well thought out and the step by step instructions are a Godsend for first-time users.


As with any serious cooling solution, Phanteks has included a backplate to support their heavyweights. Getting it in place is easy and the four large retaining bolts hold everything in place while the motherboard is manipulated. The heads of these bolts are octagonal shaped and fit snugly between the raised edges of the backplate which has been designed specifically for their fitment.


Spacers are then placed over each of the bolts. This step is essential as it ensures proper mounting pressure can be applied, yet limits over tightening which can damage the CPU or motherboard. With these plastic tube-like spacers in place, the two mounting bars slide over the bolts, ensuring that the 775 socket holes are closest to the CPU socket and 1366 are furthest away.


The direction you chose to install these bars will determine the final orientation of the CPU cooler and this is where the installation for the 12DX and 14PE slightly diverge. For the larger 14PE you need to mount these two bars in the same orientation as the cooler is going to sit, whereas for the 12DX requires them in a perpendicular direction. What we mean is that if you want the 14PE to be mounted in a East / West orientation, these bars need to run from the RAM slots towards the back IO ports. If you want the 12DX to be mounted in a East / West orientation, these bars need to run from the top of the motherboard to the bottom (i.e. “North / South”).

With these bars installed you then simply thread the supplied thumb screws onto each of the bolts. When they are as tight as you can get them with a screw driver the entire top and bottom assembly is then secured to the motherboard.


The next to last step is to install the top retention bracket on the Phanteks cooler itself. If you have opted for the smaller 12DX it will come preassembled, but the 14PE requires manual installation. This is as simple as taking the supplied bracket, gently placing it over the top of the heatsink’s base and then aligning it with the large mounting notch. Finally, the center-mounted thumb screws have to be tightened down to secure the whole affair in place.


In order to mount the fans, Phanteks has included a number of small plastic ‘arrow head’ nubs which can be pushed into place in each corner. These allow the included wire brackets to be mounted to the fans and provide a surprisingly secure contact point.


When it comes to clearance issues, the 12DX and 14PE once again diverge. The 12DX is a single tower design of only moderate size and the 14PE is anything but compact. Since the 12DX’s fin array starts fairly high, component installation issues are minimal and few consumers will run into any problems.


The 14PE’s size contributes to make things a bit more difficult. Thankfully, while it does have two large cooling towers, both ample clearance to all but the most extreme motherboard heatsinks. Memory installation shouldn’t be an issue either, though adding a third fan may cause some compatibility problems. If worse comes to worse a different heatsink orientation should alleviate any problems and we doubt many consumers will run into any insurmountable hurdles.


With that being said, due to the 14PE’s size, adding that third fan could impede certain memory modules’ installation. Standard height RAM is going to be all but a necessity in this situation. However, for such a large cooler this is a rather short list of potential problems and Phanteks does deserve credit for using a well thought-out Intel installation procedure.

Installation AMD




The AMD installation process is the exact opposite as the Intel one above since it start at the top and work its way down. With the backplate in position you thread the included screws through the two AMD top brackets, install plastic spacers and then screw the entire works down and into the backplate. With the retention brackets installed, the rest of the steps follow those from the Intel section.


Unlike the Intel side of things, the 12DX does have one installation issue worth mentioning: you will be unable to mount this cooler in the typical East / West orientation. This is a major oversight on Phanteks behalf and is something you need to be fully aware of before purchasing the 12DX for your new hot-running AMD CPU.

The 14PE doesn’t have an issue here, but once again RAM height and the height of your motherboard’s heatsinks are going to be the critical issues.


Even in dual fan mode you may run into more than one problem with the larger of these two heatsinks, but once again simply installing the fans in a different configuration –or slightly higher on the fin arrays - should alleviate most of these issues. Triple fan configurations are going to be more hit or miss and RAM height is going to be key to a successful install.
 
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AkG

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Testing Methodology

Testing Methodology



To ensure that the results from one review to another are not only reproducible but actually pertinent to this review, the Testing Methodology will be the same throughout all reviews used. If something does change we will be sure to make a special note of it and explain why this change was done and more importantly why things had to be changed or altered.


Thermal Paste and Application Methods:

Arctic Cooling MX-2 thermal paste was used for all coolers during these tests unless otherwise noted.

For all non HDT coolers, application of thermal paste was in accordance with the TIM manufacturer’s instructions; and while not necessary, the TIM was allowed to cure for 24 hours under moderate to high loads (with periods of low loads) prior to testing.

For all 3 pipe HDT coolers two lines of TIM is applied to the two centre metal posts and for all 4 pipe HDTS three (smaller) lines of TIM are applied to the metal posts. This method has been found to provide significantly better coverage than the more typical methods.


Fans Used

120mm:
For all CPU Cooling Solutions which do not come with their own fan, a Noctua NF-P12-1300 and a Scythe S-Flex “G” 1900RPM fan will be used if it accepts 120mm fans. With these two fans we are able to simulate different fan speed conditions as indicated below.


High Speed:

1900RPM Scythe S-Flex “G”. To be more precise our specific fan runs at 1860RPMs. Any stock fan which comes with the ability of being controlled by means other than the motherboard (e.g. remote fan speed controller, potentiometer, rheostat, etc) will be set to this speed during the High speed test and BOTH sets of performance results will be included.


Dual & Triple Fans*:

Two or Three 1900RPM Scythe S-Flex “G”

*Dual fans only used if the cooler comes with the necessary mounting hardware.


140mm Fan:

If the cooler being tested accepts 140mm fans, NZXT FX 140LB fans will be used.

92mm Fan:

If the cooler being tested only accepts 92mm fans, a Noctua NF-B9-1600 will be used.

If the given CPU cooling solution comes with a stock fan we will also include its numbers in the closest of the main tests BUT we will also include our standard fan results in that particular tests.


Fan Notes:

- If a heatsink cannot mount an aftermarket fan, we will be only including the stock fan results. However, if the stock fan speed can be precisely controlled by means other than the motherboard BIOS (an included remote fan speed controller, potentiometer, rheostat, etc), the cooler will be tested at different fan speeds.

- For dual fan results ALL coolers capable of mounting two fans (and come with the necessary hardware) will be tested with two NF-P12s and the Dual Fan graph will contain data for other such dual capable fan coolers.


We feel that the combination of multiple speeds and multiple fans will allow us to give you our readers clear and precise idea of the capabilities of a given unit, in an accurate comparison. It will also help eliminate the occasional “zinger” such as when a manufacturer includes an extremely high-speed fan in order to possibly offset poor heat sink thermal performance.


Environment:

All comparison testing was done on an open bench with a constant ambient temperature of 24°C. If at any time the room temperature increased or decreased by more than 1°C, testing was halted until the temperature constant was re-established.


Testbed:



Unlike our previous methodology which used an open bench setup with a horizontally orientated motherboard, our new open bench is a modified Tech Station with a twist.

It has been modified so that the motherboard is in a more typical vertical orientation as it would be when installed in a case.

This has been done by the simple expedient of drilling out the bumper pads and threading long bolts (typically used for mounting fans to water cooling radiators) up through the top base of the tech station. Then by simply threading the bolts up through the motherboard we can then secure said motherboard to the tech station. Rubber mounts followed by a nut ensures that nothing moves. When the motherboard has been secured we simply tip the tech station on its side and using weights on the lower “legs” to keep it from tipping over we end up with a vertical orientated motherboard which is safe and secure yet still an open, controlled benching environment.


Mounting Orientation:

Only the typical East / West (aka forward / back) orientation will be used.


Temperature Recording:

Recorded temps were as reported via the Real Temp plug-in for the RivaTuner monitor program.

Max and Average load temps are based on 15 minutes of running Prime95 “small fft” and are taken directly from RivaTuner’s built in capabilities.

The maximum temperatures will be the highest recorded temp displayed for any of the cores during the 15 minute test. While RivaTuner will display each core's average temperature it does not easily show the average of ALL the cores. To this end we will be simply taking the average of all the cores adding them together and then dividing by the number of cores.

If during any test temperatures of 90°C or more are displayed in RivaTuner (for any core) for more than 10 consecutive seconds the testing will be halted and that test run will be considered a "fail".

Idle temperatures are the lowest recorded temperature during idle period as recorded by the RealTemp Rivatuner monitoring program.

All CPU throttling technology was disabled in the BIOS; as was all CPU fan speed control. In addition, Turbo Mode was disabled and Hyperthreading was enabled.

All tests are run a minimum of three times and only the best results are represented.

Maximum voltage used is 1.35 volts.


Charts & Graphs:

Due to clutter and confusion we now will only be including the best of the best. We understand that “best” does mean different things to different people, to this end we will only be including what we feel are the best representatives of the main price ranges. These main prices ranges approximately are Intel OEM (free), $30, $40, $50, $60, and unlimited. Please keep in mind that prices are variable and while we have done our best to pick what we feel best represents a given price range there can and will be some overlap as these price ranges are not set in stone (with the exception being the Intel OEM cooler). To further help clarify a given cooler’s performance we will also be including a seventh CPU cooling solution, a cooling solution which irregardless of price best exemplifies what a good “all round” dual fan capable cooler should be. For the time being this last will be the TRUE Black. After each published cooler review we will re-evaluate the coolers being included in the charts and based on the value or performance may swap out a cooler for a cooler that was just reviewed.

This way you will not only know how it compares to the Intel stock unit and the best Damn Good Value coolers but also the best of the best Damn Good coolers out there. In grand total there will only be 8 coolers represented in a graph. However, if the review is a “round up” review this limitation will be extended to include all coolers in that review plus the above 7 cooling solutions. We will endeavour to keep the number as low as possible while still giving an accurate picture of the performance of all coolers being reviewed.

Each chart will include the Maximum or “peak” temperature we recorded, the average temperature and the idle temperature.

No passive results will be shown UNLESS manufacturer claims the ability to passively cool a processor. If a manufacturer claims passive capabilities we will include the performance numbers in the charts. The only exception to this is if the review is a “review roundup” and to keep the charts from becoming confusing we may not do so.


Sound Pressure Testing:

To give a more accurate and less of a personal opinion on the noise level of the stock fan which accompanies the heatsink, we have included a new section for sound pressure testing. These tests are done in our open case setup outlined above with the meter positioned 30 inches away from the cooler and mounted on a tripod. To ensure the background noise does not skew the results all tests will start by recording the ambient noise of the room. Only when it meets our standards will the testing commence.

To ensure that no external noise unduly skews the results, the GPU used will be a passively cooled unit and the only active fan will be the one on the cooler while the PSU and HDD are isolated away from the immediate area.

These tests are run late at night when no other people or animals are awake and thus unable to influence the results.

All fans are run at their maximum speed with no voltage or PWM control being used during the sound pressure tests.

The sound pressure meter used is a DT-805 which has been professionally calibrated and NIST certified. We will record the highest levels obtained with said meter and record it as our result. The test will be 15 minutes long and will be run while the fan is running full speed via a Molex connector and the CPU cores are under a full load via Prime 95 Small FFT.

Please note: The Scythe S-Flex G and Noctua NF-P12-1300 (at 1300 and 900rpms) numbers are taken when mounted to a Cooler Master Hyper 212+. We feel that it would be extremely unfair and unrealistic to include noise rating for these after market fans if they were NOT mounted onto a cooler. They are included to help give some sense of proportion to the charts and allow you to more easily compare a stock fan against a known quantity.


Complete Test System:

Case: Cooler Master HAF-X
Processor: Intel i7 920(Intel)
Motherboard: Gigabyte X58-UD3R
Memory: 6GB Mushkin Silverline Stiletto DDR3-1600
Graphics card: EVGA GeForce GT 240
Hard Drive: 1x 240GB Intel 520 SSD
Power Supply: Topower Powerbird 900W

Special thanks to Gigabyte for their support and supplying the i7 motherboard.
 
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Stock Fan Performance Results

Stock Fan Performance Results





Both of these coolers certainly have enormous potential, but only the newer 12DX comes close to realizing it. Unlike the older 14PE which uses slow – but whisper quiet – fans, Phanteks realized the error of relying too much on low noise solutions and boosted the 120mm 12DX’s fans to 1800 RPMs. This makes for one very potent cooler that does acquit itself nicely considering how much less expensive –and smaller – it is.

With that being said the whisper quiet 14PE does hold its own nicely once the heat is turned up. It appears this massive cooler does not really need overly fast fans to get the job done. Even with much slower fans it nearly performs as good as the newer 12DX. Also on the positive side, in stock configurations the 14PE does outperform a Noctua D14 and that is certainly exciting.
 
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AkG

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High Speed Fan Performance Results

High Speed Fan Performance Results





Neither the Noctua D14 nor the Phanteks 14PE are designed to be run in single fan configurations and they have thus been removed from these charts. It is suffice to say that you would not want to run the 14PE with only one fan anways. Water is wet, the sky is blue and dual tower designs need two fans to be properly cooled. This is why both the Noctua D14 and the Phanteks 14PE come with two fans.

Turning our attention to the single tower design 12DX, this cooler may come with two fans, but it is more than happy to be run in a single fan configuration. It does lag noticeably behind its stock performance but these results are still very, very good.

These tests have also allowed us to include the Thermalright Venomous X and Prolimatech Super Mega since neither come with stock fans. The 12DX may not be able to keep up with the 14PE or Noctua D14’s of the cooling world, but it is more than capable of competing against excellent single tower designs. Even the heavier, semi-copper clad Super Mega is not outpace Phanteks' latest design.
 
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AkG

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Dual Fan & Triple fan Results / Sound Levels

Dual Fan & Triple fan Results


Please note: The "Dual NZXT Fan" results are the results we recorded when a given cooler was paired with two 2000 RPM NZXT 140 LB-series fans. These high performance, Fluid Dynamic Bearing based 140mm fans are the stock fans of the NZXT Kraken AIO series and have proven themselves to be excellent choices for a wide range of scenarios.

Meanwhile, the 3 Fan results use three Scythe S-Flex fans rated at 1900 RPM.





As we suspected, the larger 14PE gets a significant boost in performance when equipped with high performance fans. A three fan equipped 14PE really is a sight to behold and even the Noctua D14 is unable to match its performance.

Of course, the noise profile of that large CPU cooling solution also noticeably goes up when using more fans. This is always the trade-off manufactures make when deciding on slower vs. faster fans. However, based on these results we think Phanteks made the right decision with both the 12DX and 14PE. A TC14PE equipped with dual 1300rpm fans should cover most consumer’s needs more than adequately, whereas the smaller TC12DX needs a bit more speed to get the job done. Obviously Phanteks quickly learned from previous experiences and adjusted design parameters as needed.


Sound Level Testing


While everyone "hears" noise differently there is one easy way to remove all subjectivness and easily compare different fans: use a sound level meter. This way you can easily compare the various fans noise envelopes without us colouring the results and see what fans fit within your personal comfort level. Of course, we will endeavour to try and explain the various results (which are taken at a 30 inch distance) to help you our readers get an even better understanding of how loud a cooler's stock fan is, but even if you discount our personal opinions, the fact remains numbers don't lie. All fans are tested with both voltage regulation / PWM turned off.



They say a picture is worth a thousands words and in this case the old saying does neither the 12DX nor 14PE justice. While their included fans are louder than Noctua designs, these results are still very, very good. The large 14PE is all but dead silent and even the smaller 12DX is not what we would classify as overly loud. Considering how fast the 12DX fans are rotating, this is impressive to say the least.
 
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AkG

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Conclusion

Conclusion


Phanteks deserves a ton of respect for their accomplishments here. They may not been the most recognizable heatsink company on the market and their stable of products is limited but the PH-TC14PE and PH-TC12DX represent two of the best solutions available in their respective segments. With that being said, neither looks to re-invent the wheel or introduce ground breaking advances in heatsink design. Rather, they focus on improving tried, tested and true engineering methodologies, doing a fine job along the way to the top of our charts.

While Phanteks’ TC14PE and smaller TC12DX are obviously influenced by the Noctua D14 and Prolimatech Megahalems respectively, they aren’t simply warmed over ‘clones’. The TC14PE is not only better than a Noctua D14, it also comes with a great looking finish through the incorporation of PATS technology. For many consumers, their CPU cooling solution needs to be as easy on the eyes as it is the ears. This is something the Noctua D14 could never do as it is a classic example of utilitarian “Teutonic engineering” at its finest. The improved cooling potential offered by the TC14PE is icing on the cake.

The TC14PE is actually an interesting study in contrasts. Its epic mass contributes to impressive heat dispersion and as a result high speed fans have been cast aside in an effort to reduce noise. The addition of low RPM stock fans does tend to hamper performance in certain areas but with higher airflow, the TC14PE is able to dominate. Wrangling it onto a motherboard can also be challenge but Phanteks has provided an excellent mounting kit and straightforward instructions, making the whole installation process much wasier than it could have been.

Phanteks’ TC12DX is a slightly newer heatsink than its massively endowed sibling and incorporates a number of additional performance enhancing features. It also receives the PATS treatment, but comes with a much more aggressive and effective fin ‘face’ which reduces static pressure and allows for improved cooling performance. However, unlike with the 14PE, you will not need to purchase aftermarket fans for the 12DX for it to reach its full potential. Simply put, the stock fans are both powerful and operate within a reasonably low noise envelope while keeping the TC12DX’s performance in-line or better than higher priced all in one water cooling units. This does make for one enticing package.

The only minor point of contention with these coolers is their installation procedure which is literally the only area Phanteks needs to work on, particularly for AMD users. Not being able to mount the 12DX in a typical East / West configuration is simply unforgiveable in this day and age and will likely have AMD system builders fuming.

These two designs may not be ground breaking, but they are solid, robust CPU heatsinks which look great and offer up excellent cooling potential at every clock speed level. If your budget can afford either, both the TC14PE and TC12DX will likely meet your needs. The ultimate choice between the two will ultimately come down to what is most important for a given system: stock performance or stock noise output. If you want one of the best low noise solutions available, the larger TC14PE will be right up your alley, whereas the smaller 12DX will satisfy all but extreme overclockers in its stock configuration.


TC-PH14PE & TC-12DX
 
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