YOU'RE FORGIVEN if you’ve never heard of Phanteks. After all, the company only makes one heatsink, though it comes in four colors, and it’s only been out since last fall. The Phanteks PH-TC14PE consists of a nickel-plated copper heatsink and five thick heat pipes, rising through two sets of anodized aluminum cooling fins in orange, blue, red, or plain ol’ aluminum.
Fans of Austrian engineering might notice that the PH-TC14PE looks a lot like Noctua’s NH-D14. They’re almost exactly the same (massive) size and follow the same basic design. The TC14PE’s box even says “Designed in Europe.” But, see, it’s totally different, because the Phanteks cooler has five thick heat pipes and the Noctua has six smaller-diameter pipes. The Phanteks’ colored fin stack is a tiny bit shorter than the tips of the Noctua’s heat pipes and around a tenth of an inch wider. Also like the Noctua, the Phanteks cooler can interfere with the RAM slots on some motherboards. We couldn’t install it at all on a microATX Rampage IV board, and we had to use RAM without towering heat spreaders on our P9X79 Deluxe board in order to install the Phanteks.
You can clip up to three fans onto the TC14PE. The Phanteks comes with two 14cm 3-pin fans and a dizzying array of accessories, including a PWM adapter and a Y-splitter. It includes mounting brackets for LGA775, 1155/1156, 1366, and 2011, as well as AM2, 2+, 3, 3+, and FM1. The mounting bracket is a variant on the usual mounting-bar-and-crossbeam setting. It’s sturdier and easier to use than NZXT’s but not as solid and chunky as Prolimatech’s—though it enables more pressure between the CPU and heatsink. There’s even less room between the fin stacks than there is on the Noctua, so you’ll need a very long or very skinny screwdriver to mount the Phanteks heatsink.
On our overclocked LGA2011 test bed, the Phanteks PH-TC14PE performed incredibly well: nearly 3 C cooler than the NH-D14 SE2011 and NZXT Havik 120, our previous favorites. With an additional Phanteks 14cm fan, temperatures dropped another 2 C.
The Phanteks PH-TC14PE outperforms the Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 on our tests, but has a slightly tougher installation process, and its fans, unlike the NH-D14 SE2011’s, require an adapter for PWM. It’s about $10 more expensive, but it does come in four different colors, which is a nice touch. If your build has room for a giant air cooler, we’ve never tested a better one.
Best performing air cooler we’ve tested; comes in four colors.
Huge; conflicts with large RAM heat spreaders; narrow install.
Dimensions H x D x W (inches, with fans)
6.4 x 6.2 x 5.6
2 lbs, 12.7 oz
2x 14cm, 3-pin (with PWM adapter)
Add’l Fan Support
CM Hyper 212 Evo
All temperatures in degrees Celsius. Best scores bolded. All tests performed using an Intel Core i7-3960 at 4.2GHz, on an Asus P9X79 Deluxe motherboard with 16GB DDR3/1600, in a Thermaltake Level 10 GT with stock fans set to High.