What a year it's been for Phanteks. Hardly anybody had heard of the company 12 months ago, yet today, it's a name that's on the tip of many an enthusiast's tongue.
The company's rise to stardom has been so dramatic that when we published a seven-way CPU cooler group test last month - featuring big names such as Noctua, Arctic Cooling, be quiet! and Corsair - the main question people wanted to ask was simple; when are you going to test a Phanteks?
We hear you and it's time to see what all the fuss is about, so we're casting a critical eye over the Phanteks PH-TC14PE to determine whether or not it's worthy of all the hype.
The name doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but the £65 price tag suggests that the PH-TC14PE is a serious bit of kit and the packaging isn't shy on detail, either. In some ways, the Phanteks box feels similar to a Noctua; it doesn't picture the cooler in its entirety, but it's loaded with information, including a full specification, warranty details and a good description of features.
But unlike Noctua, Phanteks is more open to colour. With no real brand identity to try and maintain, it's able to play freely with cooler design and has consequently brought the PH-TC14PE to market in five eye-catching colours; white, black, red, orange and blue. The available options are cutely illustrated on the box, and Phanteks has sent us a blue unit for review.
Opening the box and removing the foam layer reveals the first glimpse of the cooler and the intense blue paintwork. It looks visually impressive and it arrives securely packaged so there's little risk of damage during transport. What's noticeably less tidy, however, is Phanteks's bundle. It didn't escape our attention that it looks similar to a Noctua - with many of the same mounting components and a good-sized tube of thermal paste - but the overall presentation isn't as polished.
Instructions are spread across multiple sheets (making it feel as though some were put in as an afterthought), and though the Intel and AMD kits are neatly separated, some items weren't bagged at all. The package could certainly be neater, but it seems as though Phanteks is learning as it goes. As far as we can tell, the PH-TC14PE didn't initially ship with a low-noise PWM adapter - it's something that was added after launch and consequently ships in its own little bag with a separate sheet of instructions. Worth noting, also, that early adopters without this extra bit of kit can get the adapter by request on the Phanteks website.
There's room for improvement as far as presentation is concerned, but it's hard to fault Phanteks' choice of bundled components. In addition to the multi-platform mounting kits, the PH-TC14PE ships with enough thermal paste to cover multiple reinstalls, a Y splitter cable for the two bundled fans, six vibration-absorbing rubber strips designed to sit between the fans and the heatsink, half-a-dozen fan clips and a set of screws and rubber dampeners that allow the fans to be installed on a chassis if needed. What's handy is that Phanteks includes six fan clips as standard, so users can add a third fan to the heatsink with minimal fuss.
The bundle's good, but it's the twin-tower heatsink that really impresses. The contrast of blue-on-silver really catches the eye, and the heatsink's size and weight is befitting the price tag; it measures a chunky 134mm x 140mm x 160mm in size and weighs a solid 970g. And that's without the fans.
Speaking of which, the fans also look the part. Dressed up in blue fins and white surround, they're a perfect match for the heatsink and they're more than just pretty. Each measures 140mm in size (though the mounting mechanism is 120mm due to the octagonal shape) and comes equipped with UFB bearings, a three-pin connector and nine notched Maelstrom Vortex Booster (M.V.B) blades that are said to improve airflow. When using the bundled four-pin PWM adapter, each fan will run at speeds of up to 1,200 RPM, providing a peak airflow of to 78.1 CFM. Using only three pillars to attach the blades to the surround should minimise disruption, and even the cables are neatly sheathed in white.
|Phanteks PH-TC14PE_BL specification|
|Socket Compatibility||Intel: LGA 2011/1155/1156/1366/775
AMD: FM1/AM3+/AM3/AM2+/AM2 (backplate required)
|Material||．Copper (Base and Heat-pipes), Nickel Plated
．Aluminium (Cooling Fins/ Top Cover)
．Patented P.A.T.S (Physical Anti-Oxidant Thermal Shield)
．Patented C.P.S.C (Cold Plasma Spraying Coating) Technology
|Fan Model||2x PH-F140 Premium Fan (140 x 140 x 25mm) with PWM Adapter|
|Bearing Type||UFB (Updraft Floating Balance) Bearing|
|Blade Geometry||Nine Blue Colored Blades with MVB (Maelstrom Vortex Booster) Design|
|RPM||1300 ± 10%||700 – 1200 RPM ± 10% (with PWM adapter)|
|Max Air Flow||88.6 CFM||45.1CFM - 78.1 CFM (with PWM adapter)|
|Max Air Pressure||1.37mm H2O||0.45 – 1.21mm H2O (with PWM adapter)|
|Acoustical Noise||19.6 dB (A)||13.4 – 19 dB (A) (with PWM adapter)|
|Heatsink Dimensions without fan||134 x 140 x 160mm (LxWxH)|
|Heatsink Dimensions with Dual Fans||159 x 140 x 171mm (LxWxH)|
|Heatsink Weight without Fan||970g|
|Heatsink Weight with Fans||1110 / 1250g (Single/Dual)|
|Scope of Delivery||．1x PH-TC14PE_BL Heatsink
．2x PH-F140 Premium Fan
．PH-F140 Fan Accessories
．6x Rubber Bar, 12x Fan Clip Adapter, 6x Fan Wire Clip 6x Rubber Pad
．1x PWM External Adapter
．SoliSku Mounting Kits for Intel and AMD
．1x Y-Fan Splitter
．1x PH-NDC Thermal Compound
．2x Phanteks PH-TC14PE User’s Manual
The specification is clearly geared toward delivering top-notch performance, but how does the cooler's formidable size affect installation?