Phanteks PH-TC90LS Mini Cooler

Cooling
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STOCK FAN MEASUREMENTS

Specifications: Phanteks PH-TC90LS
Manufacturer
Power Rating
3 W
Model Number
PH-F90 PWM
Airflow Rating
11.53 ~ 28.67 CFM
Bearing Type
UFB (Updraft Floating Balance)
Speed Rating
1000 ~ 2500 ± 300 RPM
Corners
N/A
Noise Rating
19 ~ 26 dBA
Frame Size
95 x 95 x 16 mm
Header Type
4-pin
Blade Diameter
81 mm
Starting Voltage
4.4 V
Hub Size
33 mm
Weight
30 g
Data in green cells provided by the manufacturer or observed; data in the blue cells were measured.

The larger fans that ship with Phanteks' premium coolers are among the best sounding models you can get with an aftermarket cooler but this smaller version shares only superficial commonalties, namely the shallow ridges on the fan blades. The blades have greater curvature, perhaps to make up for the lack of a box frame which helps increase pressure by forcing airflow in one direction rather than off to the sides. The frame design also requires the struts be straight which can lead to tonal effects.

The stock fan had a complex acoustic character with an audible hum throughout its usable range. This was coupled with a buzzing sound at lower speeds and high frequency turbulence at higher speeds. It essentially sounded poor unless we dialed down to speed to the point where it was inaudible. We also found that the fan didn't fit as tightly as it could — placing gentle downward pressure on the corners resulted in slightly altered acoustics. The fan's weight and light frame just doesn't give much support or rigidity.

Stock Fan Measurements
Voltage
Speed
SPL@1m
12V
2570 RPM
34 dBA
9V
2080 RPM
28 dBA
7V
1680 RPM
21 dBA
6V
1440 RPM
18 dBA
5V
1200 RPM
14 dBA
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle from the center of the heatsink.
Ambient noise level: 10~11 dBA.

Given the size of the TC90LS and Phanteks' claim that it can cool a 130W processor, the included fan has a rather high nominal speed. Our sample spun at just under 2600 RPM which produced a loud 34 dBA@1m. The speed needs to be dropped below about 1600 RPM to be considered quiet.

Test Results

Phanteks PH-TC90LS
Fan Voltage
Fan Speed
SPL@1m
°C Rise above Ambient
CPU
VRM
RAM
Stock Fan
12V
2570 RPM
34 dBA
52
29
17
9V
2080 RPM
28 dBA
55
33
20
7V
1680 RPM
21 dBA
63
41
26
6V
1440 RPM
18 dBA
67
46
29
5V
1200 RPM
14 dBA
69
48
30
Reference Nexus 92 mm Fan
12V
1470 RPM
17 dBA
66
37
25
9V
1150 RPM
12~13 dBA
74
46
30

Tested on our mildly overclocked/overvolted Core i5-2400, the CPU temperature stabilized at 52°C and 69°C above ambient at 12V and 5V respectively, with a big drop off in performance below the 9V level. At lower fan speeds, its effectiveness takes a drastic turn for the worse but this is fairly typical for a heatsink of its size.

Our thicker Nexus 92 mm reference fan produced similar CPU temperatures at the 17~18 dBA@1m level, suggesting that airflow isn't really the limiting factor. It's also notable that the Nexus improved on the stock fan's VRM temperature by a substantial 9°C. Its greater airflow didn't help dissipate heat from the heatsink any better but the area around the socket did receive substantial benefits.



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