You are here

Phanteks PH-TC14PE Dual Fan CPU Heatsink

Phanteks PH-TC14PE Dual Fan CPU Heatsink

August 30, 2012 by Lawrence Lee

Product
Phanteks PH-TC14PE

CPU Cooler
Manufacturer
Phanteks
Street Price
US$80

If you've never heard of Phanteks, it should be surprising to hear that they claim to have more than 20 years experience in the field of thermal solutions. While it's possible they could have been a nameless OEM for much of that time, according to a WHOIS search, their website domain was registered only three years ago. Their product catalog is also almost barren, consisting of just two CPU heatsinks and a pair of fan models.

If that wasn't suspicious enough, the two CPU coolers listed on their site, the Phanteks PH-TC14PE and PH-TC14CS, look to be almost carbon copies of the NH-D14 and NH-C14, big dual fan heatsinks from the well-known and respected Noctua. In fact we haven't seen products so similar in this market since the first rash of direct-touch heatpipe coolers were released about four years ago and those were all produced by the same OEM. Today we examine the PH-TC14PE, the NH-D14 look-alike, to determine if it's a high-quality clone or a shoddy imitation.



The box.

Noctua large coolers are packed in failry big boxes filled with thick cardboard sections that act solely as padding. Phanteks' packaging is much more compact, no larger than it needs to be and the product inside seemed no less worse for wear from the journey to our labs. One cool thing about Phanteks' heatsinks is that they comes in different colors. In the case of the PH-TC14PE, you can choose between white, black, blue, orange, and red for both the heatsink body and fan blades. If your case has a side window, this can give your system innards a unique look. Our sample is the red version, however the fan blades have an earthy tone, not far off from the brown of Noctua's fan blades.



Package contents.

The package contents are familiar to anyone who's opened up one of a Noctua box. The mounting hardware is segregated by socket with individual re-sealable bags and there are a considerable amount of accessories including a 3-pin Y cable, a 3-pin to 4-pin PWM adapter, three sets of fan clips, rubber isolation strips, and screws and dampening pads for mounting the fans onto your case if that's your preference.

Phanteks PH-TC14PE_RD: Specifications

(from the product
web page
)
Brand PHANTEKS
Model PH-TC14PE_RD
Type Heatsinks and Fans
Compatibilities Intel Socket LGA 2011/1155/1156/1366/775

AMD FM1/AM3+/AM3/AM2+/AM2 (stock back-plate required)
Color Red
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 PH-F140 Premium Fan with PWM Adapter
Fan Size 140 x 140 x 25mm (Dual Fans included)
Fan Compatibilities 140 x 140 x 25mm (3pcs) / 120 x 120 x 25mm (3pcs)

(Third fan clips and accessories included)
Bearing Type UFB (Updraft Floating Balance) Bearing
Blade Geometry Nine Red Colored Blades with MVB (Maelstrom Vortex Booster) Design
RPM 1300 ± 10%
Max Air Flow 88.6 CFM
Max Air Pressure 1.37mm H2O
Acoustical Noise 19.6 dB (A)
RPM with PWM Adapter 700 – 1200 RPM ± 10%
Max Air Flow with PWM 45.1 – 78.1 CFM
Max Air Pressure with PWM 0.45 – 1.21mm H2O
Acoustical Noise with PWM 13.4 – 19 dB (A)
Input Power 2.8W
Current (Ampere) 0.24A
Rate Voltage 12V
MTBF >150,000 hr
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 907g
Heatsink Weight with Fans 1110 / 1250g (Single/Dual)
Package Dimensions 167 x 214 x 190mm (LxWxH)
Scope of Delivery .1x PH-TC14PE_RD 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
Warranty 5 Years.

PHYSICAL DETAILS & INSTALLATION

The Phanteks PH-TC14PE is composed of a copper base, 5 x 8 mm thick copper heatpipes friction-fit to 44 aluminum fins, all nickel-plated by the looks of it. By our measurements, the heatsink is 161.5 mm tall (6.4 inches) but the effective height depends on how high the fans are mounted. According to our digital scale, it weighs approximately 1320 grams (2.9 lb) or 960 grams (2.1 lb) without the fans and clips.



It's hard to deny the resemblance to the NH-D14. It has the same basic construction/design and even the fins are shaped are similarly. The only noticeable differences are the nameplates sitting a top of each fin section and the presence of five rather than six heatpipes.



Each tower is 58 mm wide and comprised of 44 fins (including the nameplate). The gap between them is small; with stock fan and isolation strips attached, there is only 2~3 mm to spare.



The fins have an average thickness of approximately 0.40 mm and are spaced 2.21 mm apart. They are slightly thinner and more tightly spaced than the NH-D14.



Big 8 mm thick heatpipes bulge out of the base.



Like Noctua's heatsinks, the base surface is slightly convex and the finish is short of mirror quality.



The stock fan has an interesting design with a dodecagonal shape similar to the Thermalright X-Silent though Phanteks' model is symmetrical, measuring 14 cm across both ways. It also has built-in rubber washers on the mounting holes and the blades have small ridges on the intake side.

BASE & INSTALLATION

The most critical aspect of installation is that the heatsink be securely
mounted. A firm mating results in good contact between the heatsink's base and
the CPU heatspreader and more efficient heat conduction. Ideally it should
also be a simple procedure with the user having to handle as few pieces of
hardware as possible.



The included mounting hardware is fairly comprehensive, mimicking Noctua's gear to a close degree. A backplate is provided for Intel installs while the stock backplate is reused for AMD.



Intel mounting kit assembled on its own.



The bolts that secure the backplate don't stay in place without a little help (some masking tape came in handy). Noctua's backplates are lined with tight-fitting foam to prevent slippage.



The mounting clips on the other side are raised on plastic spacers and secured with thumb nuts. A thick metal bar is clamped over the heatsink with spring-loaded screws.



Installed on our LGA1366 test platform. The fan mounting scheme is also similar to Noctua's. Plastic loops are attached to the fan's mounting holes and wire clips are slipped through them and hooked onto the sides of the heatsink..



The fan hung over several of our board's memory slots so RAM with tall heatspreaders may cause problems. With the fan centered, the maximum DIMM height is 40 mm (there's 52 mm of clearance under the bottom fin).



The PH-TC14PE left a nice thermal compound footprint on our test CPU. Most of the TIM was pushed out to the sides with only faint residue left at the center where contact is most vital. This indicates a good amount of pressure.

TESTING

Before thermal testing, we took some basic physical measurements.

Approximate Physical Measurements
Weight
960 g g

1320 g with stock fans and clips
Height 161.5 mm
Fin count 44 x 2
Fin thickness
0.40 mm
Fin spacing
2.21 mm
Vertical Clearance*
52 mm
* measured from the motherboard PCB to
the bottom fin of the heatsink


Large Heatsink Comparison:

Average Fin Thickness & Spacing
Heatsink
Fin Thickness
Fin Spacing
Thermalright HR-01 Plus
0.45 mm
3.15 mm
Thermalright HR-02 Macho
0.34 mm
3.12 mm
Scythe Ninja 3
0.39 mm
2.64 mm
Noctua NH-U12P
0.44 mm
2.63 mm
Noctua NH-C12P
0.47 mm
2.54 mm
Noctua NH-D14
0.43 mm
2.33 mm
Thermalright Archon SB-E
0.49 mm
2.33 mm
GELID Tranquillo Rev.2
0.40 mm
2.30 mm
GELID GX-7 Rev.2
0.31 mm
2.25 mm
Phanteks PH-TC14PE
0.40 mm
2.21 mm
be quiet! Dark Rock 2
0.38 mm
2.22 mm
Prolimatech Armageddon
0.51 mm
2.08 mm
Prolimatech Megahalems
0.50 mm
2.00 mm
Zalman CNPS10X Quiet
0.40 mm
2.00 mm
Scythe Kabuto & Zipang 2
0.34 mm
1.94 mm
NZXT Havik 140
0.41 mm
1.91 mm
Scythe Mugen-2
0.31 mm
1.89 mm
Swiftech Polaris 120
0.43 mm
1.85 mm
Thermalright Venomous X
0.53 mm
1.84 mm
Noctua NH-C14
0.38 mm
1.79 mm
Enermax ETS-T40
0.40 mm
1.79 mm
Scythe Yasya
0.32 mm
1.78 mm
Cogage TRUE Spirit 1366
0.40 mm
1.70 mm
Arctic Cooling Freezer Xtreme Rev.2
0.30 mm
1.70 mm
Scythe Grand Kama Cross
0.38 mm
1.66 mm
Reeven Kelveros
0.47 mm
1.61 mm
Zalman CNPS9900 MAX
0.16 mm
1.59 mm
Thermalright Silver Arrow
0.32 mm
1.57 mm
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus
0.43 mm
1.54 mm
Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme Rev.C
0.56 mm
1.52 mm
Zalman CNPS10X Extreme
0.42 mm
1.50 mm

Testing on larger heatsinks are done on our
LGA1366 heatsink testing platform
, while smaller coolers tackle our LGA1155 heatsink testing platform. A summary of the test system
and procedure follows.

Key Components in LGA1366 Heatsink Test Platform:

  • Intel Core i7-965 Extreme
    Nehalem core, LGA1366, 3.2GHz, 45nm, 130W TDP.
  • Asus
    P6X58D Premium
    ATX motherboard. X58 chipset.
  • Asus
    EAH3450 Silent
    graphics card.
  • Intel
    X25-M
    80GB 2.5" solid-state drive. Chosen for silence.
  • 3GB QiMonda
    DDR3 memory. 3 x 1GB DDR3-1066 in triple channel.
  • Seasonic X-650 SS-650KM
    650W ATX power supply. This PSU is semi-passively cooled. At the power levels
    of our test platform, its fan does not spin.
  • Arctic Silver
    Lumière
    : Special fast-curing thermal interface material, designed
    specifically for test labs.
  • Noctua 140 mm fan (used when possible with heatsinks that fit 140x25mm
    fans)
  • Nexus 120 mm fan (used when possible with heatsinks that fit 120x25mm
    fans)
  • Nexus 92 mm fan (used when possible with heatsinks that fit 92x25mm
    fans)

The systems are silent under the test conditions, except for the CPU cooling
fan(s).

Normally, our reference fans are used whenever possible, the measured details
of which are shown below.

Reference Noctua 140mm fan

Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
Speed
12V
28~29 dBA
1250 RPM
9V
21 dBA
990 RPM
7V
15~16 dBA
770 RPM
6V
13 dBA
660 RPM


Reference Nexus 120mm fan

Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
Speed
12V
16 dBA
1100 RPM
9V
13 dBA
890 RPM
7V
12 dBA
720 RPM


Reference Nexus 92 mm fan

Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
Speed
12V
16 dBA
1470 RPM
9V
12 dBA
1150 RPM

Measurement and Analysis Tools

  • Extech 380803 AC power analyzer / data logger for measuring AC system
    power.
  • Custom-built, four-channel variable DC power supply, used to regulate
    the fan speed during the test.
  • PC-based spectrum analyzer:
    SpectraPlus with ACO Pacific mic and M-Audio digital
    audio interfaces.
  • Anechoic chamber
    with ambient level of 11 dBA or lower
  • Various other tools for testing fans, as documented in our
    standard fan testing methodology
    .
  • SpeedFan,
    used to monitor the on-chip thermal sensors. The sensors are not calibrated,
    so results are not universally applicable. The hottest core reading is used.
  • Prime95,
    used to stress the LGA1366 CPU heavily, generating more heat than most real applications.
    8 instances are used to ensure that all 4 cores (with Hyper-threading) are
    stressed.
  • CPU-Z,

    used to monitor the CPU speed to determine when overheating occurs.

  • Thermometers to measure the air temperature around the test platform
    and near the intake of the heatsink fan.

Noise measurements are made with the fans powered from the lab's variable DC
power supply while the rest of the system was off to ensure that system noise
did not skew the measurements.

Load testing was accomplished using Prime95 or CPUBurn to stress the processor, and the
graph function in SpeedFan was used to ensure that the load temperature is stable
for at least ten minutes. The temperature recorded is the highest single core
reading. The stock fans were tested at various voltages to represent a good
cross-section of airflow and noise performance.

The ambient conditions during testing were 10~11 dBA and 21~23°C.

STOCK FAN MEASUREMENTS

Specifications: Phanteks PH-TC14PE
Manufacturer
Power Rating
2.8 W

(2.16 W on label)
Model Number
PH-F140
(PH-F120 on label)
Airflow Rating
88.6 CFM
Bearing Type
UFB (Updraft Floating Balance)
Speed Rating
1300 ± 10% RPM
Corners
Open
Noise Rating
19.6 dB (A)
Frame Size
140 x 140 x 25 mm
Header Type
3-pin
Blade Diameter
132 mm
Starting Voltage
3.9 V
Hub Size
41 mm
Weight
170 g
Data in green cells provided by the manufacturer
or observed; data in the blue cells were measured.

The stock fan's blades are straighter than most and fills up most of the space between the hub and the frame. The gaps between the blades and the space between the blade edges and frame is minimal. It's also notable that the tips of the blades are raised slightly on the exhaust side. We couldn't dig up any meaningful information or schematics on its mysterious "Updraft Floating Balance" bearing though Phanteks claims is raises the axis to increase its MTBF (mean time before failure) to an unheard of 17+ years.



The stock fans running at 6V measured 18 [email protected]

The stock fans are among the best 14 cm models we've encountered. At 9V (1050 RPM) and above, they were whiny as most fans tend to be, but they had a very nice smooth sound at lower levels. There was no audible tonality or bearing chatter, even at close proximity, which is incredibly rare in our experience.

Stock Fan Measurements
Voltage
One Fan
Two Fans
Speed
Avg. Speed
12V
1360 RPM
32 dBA
33 dBA
1260 RPM
9V
1130 RPM
26 dBA
27 dBA
1050 RPM
7V
940 RPM
20 dBA
21 dBA
880 RPM
6V
830 RPM
17 dBA
18 dBA
790 RPM
5V
710 RPM
14 dBA
14~15 dBA
680 RPM
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle from
the center of the heatsink.

Ambient noise level: 10~11 dBA.

The two included fans were close in speed to one another, differing by 40 RPM at most, so we didn't experience any noticeable intermodulation effects. Strangely when the outer fan was removed, the fan at the center increased in speed by 30 ~ 100 RPM depending on the voltage. As a result, the noise levels were pretty similar whether we had one or both fans mounted. The fans became quiet at about 7V (close to 900 RPM).

TEST RESULTS

Test Results: Phanteks PH-TC14PE
Fan Voltage
One Fan
Two Fans
Thermal Rise
Stock 140mm Fan
12V
32 dBA
38°C
35°C
33 dBA
9V
26 dBA
39°C
37°C
27 dBA
8V
20 dBA
42°C
38°C
21 dBA
7V
17 dBA
45°C
39°C
18 dBA
6V
14 dBA
48°C
41°C
14~15 dBA
Reference 140mm Fan: Noctua NF-P14
12V
29 dBA
39°C
36°C
32 dBA
9V
21~22 dBA
42°C
38°C
24 dBA
8V
18 dBA
43°C
39°C
20~21 dBA
7V
15 dBA
45°C
41°C
17 dBA
6V
12~13 dBA
48°C
43°C
13 dBA

Not only did the PH-TC14PE's stock fans sound good, they were excellent performers as well. In single fan configuration, the Phantek fan kept pace with our reference Noctua fan, putting up similar temperatures at comparable noise levels. In dual fan mode, the stock fans took over, producing similar thermal results with a 2~3 dB reduction.

On most high-end coolers we typically see a decrease of 2~3°C when a second fan is added to the mix. As the PH-TC14PE is designed with dual fan operation in mind the difference was much larger, especially at low speeds. At 7V and 6V, the thermal rise dropped by 6°C and 7°C respectively.

Heatsink Comparison Tables

CPU Coolers (ref. 140mm fan): °C Rise Comparison
Heatsink
Fan voltage / SPL @1m*
9V
7V
6V
18~22 dBA
13~16 dBA
11~13 dBA
Thermalright Archon SB-E
37
40
42
Prolimatech Armageddon
39
42
45
NZXT Havik 140
40
43
47
Noctua NH-C14

(top mounted)
40
44
48
Noctua NH-C14
40
44
49
Thermalright Silver Arrow
39
45
49
Phanteks PH-TC14PE
42
45
48
be quiet! Dark Rock 2
49
51
53
*Note: there are minor differences in measured SPL due to the variety of fan orientations and mounting methods offered by the compared coolers.

With only one fan at work, the PH-TC14PE isn't very impressive. Thinner, single-stack heatsinks do considerably better with just one fan.

Dual Fan CPU Coolers (ref. 140mm fans): CPU °C Rise Comparison
Heatsink
Fan Voltage / SPL*
8V
7V
6V
18~20 dBA
15~17 dBA
12~14 dBA
Prolimatech Genesis
36
37
39
Thermalright HR-02 Macho
36
37
40
Noctua NH-C14
37
39
41
Thermalright Silver Arrow
37
39
41
Noctua NH-D14
38
40
42
Phanteks PH-TC14PE
39
41
43
NZXT Havik 140
39
40
43
*Note: there are minor differences in measured SPL due to the variety of fan orientations and mounting methods offered by the compared coolers.

With two of our reference fans going, the PH-TC14PE trails the Noctua NH-D14 by just a single degree across the board.

MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high
resolution, lab quality, digital recording system
inside SPCR's
own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber
, then converted to LAME 128kbps
encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation
from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of
what we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds
in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer
or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient
noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware
that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from
one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The recording starts with 5~10 second segments of room ambiance, then the fan
at various levels. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that
the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume
setting again.

FINAL THOUGHTS

There is no denying that the Phanteks PH-TC14PE mimics the Noctua NH-D14's design but it can't be dismissed as a cheap knockoff being sold out of the back of a truck in a run-down alley. It doesn't simply emulate its looks — it is a full-fledged copy that delivers much of the same experience. The PH-TC14PE has a heavy duty build quality, an excellent mounting system, great cooling proficiency, and a nice set of accessories. It even beats the NH-D14 in one key area — its stock fans are more acoustically sound.

The Noctua, bizarrely, ships with only one NF-P14 (14 cm) paired with a smaller NF-P12 (12 cm). Each fan sounds fine on its own but in tandem they create intermodulation effects that imbue the NH-D14 with an undesirable sound. When both heatsinks were equipped with two NF-P14's, the NH-D14 came out on top ever so slightly but Phanteks' stock fans were actually more efficient, effectively making it a draw. Even a hypothetical NH-D14 with matching fans doesn't have a clear edge. All things considered, we actually prefer the clone over the original.

While the Phanteks PH-TC14PE might be a knockoff, it doesn't come with a heavy discount. In fact, at US$80 it's slightly more expensive than the NH-D14's US$75 price-tag. All the coolers in this price range don't give you much bang for your buck but if you're looking for a high-end heatsink that sounds great straight out of the box, you can't do any better than the PH-TC14PE. If you're more concerned about cooling than acoustic quality, the Thermalright HR-02 Macho and Silver Arrow are better performing alternatives to both.

Our thanks to Phanteks for the PH-TC14PE CPU cooler sample.

* * *



Phanteks PH-TC14PE
is Recommended by SPCR

SPCR Articles of Related Interest:

GELID GX-7 & Tranquillo Rev.2 CPU Coolers
be quiet! Dark Rock 2 Tower Heatsink
Enermax ETS-T40: Direct-Touch Heatpipe Cooler
Thermalright HR-02 Macho Quiet/Fanless Cooler
Reeven Kelveros & Arcziel CPU Coolers
Thermalright Archon SB-E 15cm Fan CPU Cooler
Noctua NH-D14 flagship dual-fan CPU cooler

* * *

Discuss
this article in the SPCR forums.

Sections: 

Google

www SPCR