A Closer Look
The PH-TC12DX comes in four flavors: black, silver, blue, and red. The vibrant blue and red models are sure to catch a couple of eyes, but even the standard black model that we're looking at today is very slick and should look great inside a glossy white chassis. The overall form factor of the cooler is nothing out of the ordinary with dual 120mm PWM fans flanking the 157mm tall heatsink. The Phanteks logo is neatly embossed atop the stack of aluminum fins, which are grooved on the faces of the heatsink in order to accept the wire fan adapter clips. Running between the aluminum heatsink and copper base are six linearly-aligned nickel-plated copper heatpipes. There are two technologies working behind the scenes to optimize the performance of the heatpipe/baseplate assembly. Phanteks calls these technologies P.A.T.S. (Physical Anti-oxidant Thermal Spray) and C.S.P.C. (Cold Plasma Spraying Coating). The first works to deflect thermal radiation from other heat sources like your GPU and motherboard components away from the CPU. C.S.P.C ensures the best possible heat transfer via the soldered heatpipes and copper deposits within the base of the cooler. Phanteks also injected the two 120mm PWM Premium fans with some heavy marketing steroids by pairing them with Maelström Air-Fort Optimization blades and Updraft Floating Balance bearings. Indeed, the fans do exhibit signs of some aerodynamic tweaking to maximize airflow, but I don't expect them to propel my PC off of my desk any time soon.
Moving away from the world of marketing and getting back down to earth, there's one very useful aspect of these fans that isn't noted anywhere on the spec sheet. Both of the sleeved, four-pin fan cables measure nearly a foot in length, making them ideal as second-hand case fans should you decide to upgrade your cooler in the future. If you happen to have a motherboard with a multitude of controllable four-pin fan headers, then these sleeved Phanteks cables will be more aesthetically pleasing to hang from your motherboard than some basic fan wires. I suppose Phanteks could have called this their SVCT (Serpentine Versatile Cabling Technology), but I'm very glad that they didn't! If you're worried about the cable excess spilling out from underneath the heatsink to cause an unsightly mess, don't be. Just keep them in check with the supplied twist-ties and no-one will be the wiser.
Both the AMD and Intel mounting systems that come packaged with the PH-TC12DX have been thoughtfully designed. There's a lot to like about the Intel mounting system, starting with the retention bracket. Compatible socket sizes are etched into the back and thick rubber pads ensure the rear surface of your motherboard is not disturbed. The mounting holes are notched for fine positional adjustment. A set of four plastic bushings and two receiver brackets get placed on the other side of the motherboard. Insert the four polished metal bolts, tighten them down with the Phillips-head nuts, and you're halfway done. The great thing about these bolts - aside from the fact that they're some of the fanciest fasteners I've ever seen bundled with a cooler - are their size. To this day I've uninstalled and re-installed my Cooler Master V6 GT cooler about four times. Due to the very small and easily fumbled screws that the V6 GT uses, that's three times too many. After installing the PH-TC12DX just once, I'm confident that I could repeat the entire process in less than two minutes, no problem. Spending 15 minutes searching through the dark confines of my case for a lost screw is not how I like to spend my afternoons.
Now that I'm done venting, it's worth pointing out another simple feature that Phanteks has bundled with the PH-TC12DX. A set of adhesive rubber strips, which you will have to cut out yourself using a utility knife, can be placed along the outer ridges on the two faces of the cooler to give the fans a vibration-free surface to rest on. This, along with occasional dusting, should help to increase the overall life of the fans. There's nothing more annoying than the grating sound of an imbalanced fan coming from the inside of an otherwise well-maintained build. As we have seen on many well-designed products, some of the simplest tweaks can make a big difference in the long run.