All testing is done at a room temperature of 20°C (68°F), with a 1°C margin of error. The coolers are tested with Turbo, EIST, and C1E enabled, which will allow the CPU to clock down to a low 1.6 GHz while idle, or clock up to proper speeds under stock and overclocked conditions. With the use of XMP, the Intel i7 3960X ES chip I used for testing runs at 3.6 GHz under stock load. Overclocked, the chip is set to 4.1 GHz at 1.225 volts. During all these tests, fan speeds are set to run at 100% in the BIOS, with temperatures being recorded by AIDA64.
|Processor:||Intel Core i7-3960X ES @ 3.6 GHz & 4.1 GHz OC|
|Motherboard:||ASRock Fatal1ty Champion|
|Memory:||4x 4096 MB G.Skill Ripjaws Z F3-17000CL9Q |
@ 2133 MHz 9-11-10-28
|Video Card:||AMD Radeon HD 5450 1 GB|
|Hard disk:||OCZ Vertex Plus R2 60GB SATA II SSD|
|Power Supply:||NZXT HALE82-650-M 650W|
|Case:||LIAN LI PC-T60B|
|Software:||Windows 7 64-bit Service Pack 1|
|TIM:||Arctic Ceramique 2|
The idle test will consist of the CPU sitting idle at the desktop for 15 minutes. This will allow for a stable temperature reading that will be recorded at the end of those 15 minutes.
AIDA64 and its CPU-stability test represent a typical multithreaded user load. It is run for 15 minutes before the highest reading during the test is recorded and taken as the result. This test lets enthusiasts know what temperatures they can expect to see with games and applications.
Prime95 is the multithreaded stress test I will use to find the cooler's temperatures at maximum load. This is done by using the "In-place large FFTs" setting to truly stress the cooler's ability at keeping temperatures in check. The test is run for 15 minutes, and the highest recorded temperature is used as the result.
Fan noise testing is done at 20%, 50%, and 100% settings, and the dBA level is recorded by a Pyle PSPL25 sound pressure level meter at a distance of 30 cm. Fan RPM results are taken at the same 20%, 50%, and 100% settings.
At idle, the Phanteks PH-TC12DX starts off in the middle of the pack. This is not a huge deal as the biggest variation amongst all coolers is 3°C at stock. Overclocked, the variation widens to 7°C. In both instances, the PH-TC12DX performs well for its size: 29°C stock and 30°C overclocked.
The PH-TC12DX does fairly well in the typical load test. At stock, it does fine, falling into the middle of the pack at 50°C, which puts it just 1°C behind the far more expensive Cooler Master Seidon 120XL. During the overclocked test, the PH-TC12DX looks less impressive at 60°C. It comes in 2°C behind the Seidon 120XL and the Coolink Corator DS that is much cheaper. When it comes to typical load tests, the Phantek PH-TC12DX gives mixed results.
Once I started doing maximum load testing, things turned around for the Phanteks cooler. It produced a respectable 54°C at stock and 65°C with the overclocked CPU. This puts it 1°C behind the Cooler Master Seidon 120XL and 1°C ahead of the Corsair H90. These overclocked test results are very good as both the Seidon 120XL and Corsair H90 are far more expensive. The Phantek cooler again does well at stock, with the Prime 95 load placing the PH-TC12DX ahead of many solid coolers from the competition.
It is now time for the noise-level results and Phanteks does not disappoint. It may not be the quietest cooler I have tested, but the noise it produced was not high-pitched. It was, in fact, a comfortable low hum that was drowned out by the sound of air moving through the heatsink. No rattle was detected either, making the overall sound profile a pleasing one. The Phanteks PH-TC12DX 's tonality was unobtrusive once mounted and inside of a case. At just 47 dBA at 100% fan speed, the air cooler is just 2 dBA behind the Gelid Black Edition while beating it in cooling performance. Overall, the Phanteks PH-TC12DX has an acceptable noise level that does not compromise on cooling performance.