Phanteks PH-TC12DX CPU Air Cooler Review
Phanteks has high hopes for its sweetly named PH-TC12DX CPU air cooler. OK, maybe not that sweet, but with a patented "Physical Antioxidant Thermal Shield" and "Cold Plasma Spraying Coating Technology" technology this thing has got to be greatest heatsink and fan combination ever made, right?
At the start of this review I remarked how rare a treat it is to review a product from a new and upcoming company. The effort that Phanteks has placed on getting things right is enormous and this is reflected in the PH-TC12DX cpu air cooler. Right from the start I saw how well Phanteks packaged its PH-TC12DX. This attention to detail leads to fewer issues during delivery and happier customers. Also, there was how Phanteks labeled the bags of accessories by platform for easier installation; many companies just give you a big bag of parts and you are on your own to figure out what is needed via some pictures in an instruction manual. Speaking of installation, Phanteks uses a mounting system similar to one employed by Thermalright which has worked very well in the past and makes for a much easier time installing the cooler. All this is not to say that there weren’t some mistakes. The fan clips use these odd little pins to attach to the fan which can easily be lost leaving you with no way to attach the fan to the heat sink. Phanteks should look into including one or two extra for just such an occurrence. (Editor’s Note: Again I have to say that it would be of little effort to affix the fans if you did lose the fan mounting pins with a little "modding" with a pair of pliers and the pins do lend to a more finished look of the cooler. And it is obvious that esthetics is important to Phanteks at least in the PH-TC12DX model.)
The Phanteks PH-TC12DX performed exceedingly well at stock speeds and very well when we turned up the juice on our 3770k. It wasn't able to take the top spot but it is a great effort for a new company to produce such a solid cooler right out of the gate. The only thing left to evaluate now is if Phanteks has priced its new gem to sell.
The charts below show the cost you will pay for each degree in temperature reduction the heat sink gives you over the stock cooler. The two areas that influence this chart are cost of the heat sink and its performance. An expensive cooler that gives you superior performance will be rated as average here since its cost hurts its rating. Inversely, a poor performing heat sink that costs next to nothing will be rated as average since its performance will hurt its ratings. We ideally look for low cost and high performance. All prices were gathered by doing a very quick search of the web for each cooler and listing it here sans S/H and tax (these can vary widely from region to region).
As an example, if a cooler outperforms the stock cooler by 10C and costs USD $5.00 it would be listed in our chart as $.50. You would pay fifty cents for each degree of better performance over the box cooler.
To arrive at a single number difference, we took the value of all four cores from our overclocked tests, averaged those, and then compared for analysis.
The Bottom Line
Speaking in absolute terms, Thermalright has set the bar quite high with its True Spirit cooler and the value it brings. With the True Spirit you would pay about one dollar for each degree of better performance when compared to the stock Intel cooler. On the other end of the spectrum we have the much more expensive water coolers from Corsair that cost upwards of three and a half dollars for each degree of better performance. So where does this put the Phanteks PH-TC12DX?
For $59.99 with Prime Shipping, Phanteks PH-TC12DX gives you a tower cooler with two included fans that can keep up with the much more expensive water coolers and keep your CPU cool during heavy overclocking. It wasn’t the "best" cooler we tested today but it surprised us in a lot of areas. The PH-TC12DX performed better than expected in our temperature and sound tests.
There are a couple things I would like to see Phanteks change for its next edition. For starters, get rid of the black pins for the fans and use wire fixtures like most other companies do. This will make the PH-TC12DX easier to install and require fewer accessories. Secondly, the second fan is nice but only improves performance marginally. Forgo the second fan for a single improved fan. Maybe even one of the 140mm variety, and pass on the savings to the buyer. If Phanteks get the PH-TC12DX cooler down to the $50.00 USD price point I see it as a grand slam for the new company.
As it stands now, the Phanteks PH-TC12DX is a solid air cooler being offered at a decent price.
For the reasons stated above, we are happy to award the Phanteks PH-TC12DX the [H] Silver Award.