Phanteks PH-TC14CS CPU Cooler Review

👤by Sahil Mannick Comments 📅22-04-12

There’s no denying that when I first received the dual tower PH-TC14PE from Phanteks, it was a cooler to marvel at and the performance was thankfully reflective of my initial impressions. So when I first came across the top down PH-TC14CS, there was very little that I could fault in terms of design language. After all, the cooler is effectively half of a PH-TC14PE, using the same patented technologies, the same five 8mm heat pipes and most importantly, the same radiator. The end result however, is not as good as I’d hope. Let’s start with the positives; aesthetics.

The PH-TC14CS is a great looking cooler, combining a nickel plated finish with a selection of 5 popular colours to choose from. The black variant we looked at today looks menacing and will suit any rigs following such a theme. The red and blue variants we also received were also appealing in their own rights thanks to a partially glossy finish on the top cover and a matt finish throughout the rest of the heatsink. Top down coolers also tend to be more aesthetically pleasing as a result of their compact size, which the Phanteks didn’t fail at. My only complaint is that the fans ended up protruding further than the heatsink which to me highlighted the lack of afterthought given by Phanteks to create a cleaner looking product. This is of course partially down to the cooler using the same radiator found on the dual tower variant. Electing to do so on first impression makes sense. It is a great way to save manufacturing costs and the heatsink has already proven to be very effective but on the downside, the cost savings don’t appear to be passed down to consumers and as we saw earlier, it creates problems during installation. In that regard, credit has to be given to Noctua who designed a heatsink to suit its purpose.

Performance wise, the Phanteks PH-TC14CS delivered similar performance to the Noctua NH-C14 at stock speed. The margin between the two regardless of fan configuration was very small. The Phanteks proved marginally ahead by 0.25C using the Coolink fans or in low profile mode. In reverse mode, the Noctua pulled ahead by 1C but in their default configurations, there was nothing differentiating the two. On the overclocked CPU, the Noctua NH-C14 proved the more efficient of the two cooler for a given fan configuration, but straight out of the box, the Phanteks is the winner by a minute 0.25C difference. Compared to other coolers, the Phanteks is no match to high end tower heatsinks, instead competing more with ALC units and smaller tower heatsinks.

With so little differentiating the two top coolers, we have to pick a winner based on their other attributes. The Phanteks will appeal to a wider audience thanks to its range of colours and more pleasing aesthetics but it loses to the Noctua in all other regards. Installation was more troublesome than expected due to having to rely on the hex wrench and the two bundled fans are not as quiet as the NF-P14s. The Phanteks also loses on price based on the cheapest I can find them after a quick search. And finally, the NH-C14 is also slightly more compact making it a better prospect in smaller cases.

Overall, the Phanteks PH-TC14CS isn’t a bad unit at all. It’s a great addition to Phanteks’ line up and for anyone requiring a cooler to fit inside HTPCs or M-ATX cases, they are perfectly viable. Unfortunately, they face very stiff competition from their rival Noctua which would be my personal preference based on noise, cooling efficiency and ease of use but ultimately, you can’t go wrong with either.

+Good performance
+Support for Intel and AMD sockets (including LGA 2011 and AMD FM1)
+Relatively quiet
+Excellent bundle including two premium 140mm fans
+High quality finish and aesthetics
+Choice of colours
+Innovative features
+Memory clearance in high clearance mode
+Good after sales support + 5-year limited warranty

-Taller than the NH-C14
-Fiddly installation
-Fans louder than competing alternatives
-Memory clearance in low profile mode
-Possible packaging issues
-Has to be orientated a certain way for optimal performance.

The Phanteks PH-TC14CS deserves our Vortez Bronze award.

Click here for an explanation of our awards at

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