Phanteks PH-TC12LS CPU Cooler Review: Low-Profile, High Value
Installation of the Phanteks PH-TC12LS
Before proceeding with installation, lay out all accessories and cross reference the package content with the illustrated user’s guide.
AMD installation is universal since the mounting holes remain unchanged for several years now since AM2 all the way to AM3+ and FM2+ except with the new AM1 socket. The motherboard’s backplate is utilized but the plastic brackets and screws have to be removed. Simply place the white plastic spacers on the small protruding piece of the backplate, then place the curved mounting bars and secure them with the four long screws. The mounting bar should be curving toward the CPU socket. It is easy to do with the motherboard outside of the case horizontally, although installing with the motherboard already installed vertically on a case will take a bit of effort as the spacers can fall off. The PH-TC12LS can only be installed in mounting type C (heatpipe curve facing west) and type D (heatpipe curve facing east) configuration on AMD systems.
Installation on LGA2011 motherboards with integrated locking mechanism does not require a backplate or spacers but requires the LGA2011 bolts to be hand-screwed in place first. For non LGA2011x Intel motherboards, the universal backplate is required. Three mounting hole distances are provided and marked: 1-LGA 1366, 2-LGA115x, 3-LGA775.
Installation requires the backplate to be positioned through the mounting hole. The spacers can be placed next with the mounting bar pair going on top to be secured with the four thumbscrews. This last part with the mounting bar is identical to the LGA2011 installation. Make sure to position the mounting bar with the mounting holes converging toward the CPU socket. Use the outer holes for LGA2011 mounting and use the middle holes for LGA115x mounting. Unlike the AMD mounting system, users can orient the mounting bars for either horizontal or vertical heatsink mounting since Intel mounting holes are equidistant from each other. Since the posts are non-integrated into the backplate, it is advisable to install with the motherboard on a table or if installing vertically with the motherboard already inside the case, users can tape the base of the posts to the backplate so it stays in place while placing the black spacers and securing the mounting bars.
Position the mounting plate above the heatsink base until the notches align then set it to the desired orientation with the mounting adapter strip protrusion visible through the heatsink openings at the top. Apply the desired thermal compound quantity then simply align the PH-TC12LS screws to the mounting strip adapter’s center male protrusions. Place the plate screws on each side and secure with a screw driver. The last step is re-attaching the fan with the wire clips and plugging in the 4-pin connector to the header.
Compatibility and Clearance Issues
The Phanteks PH-TC12LS provides 27.7mm clearance (measured from CPU contact surface) underneath before the fin array begins and measures 130mm long with 120mm width. The Mushkin Stealth RAM used in this review measures 31.5mm tall in total from PCB base up to the top of the heatsink (standard DDR3 PCB measures 30mm tall). The test system motherboard is an ASUS Maximus VI Gene motherboard with a 28.5mm clearance between the CPU socket and the first DIMM slot and has a 45mm gap between the CPU socket and the topmost PCI-E x16 slot. The Phanteks PH-TC12LS can be mounted in four different orientations: Type A (heatpipe curve facing south), Type B (heatpipe curve facing north), Type C (heatpipe curve facing west) and type D (heatpipe curve facing east).
For RAM clearance, Type A, B and D provide full RAM clearance, although type A and B is within a hair’s reach on this motherboard and the top fan overhangs on top of the first DIMM slot, limiting full 4-piece RAM kit installation to modules that are 48mm-tall and shorter. Type C overhangs on top and cannot be installed on any RAM modules with heatspreaders, even this low profile Mushkin Stealth RAM. Only naked PCB modules can be installed under Type C mounting and the first three DIMM slots are obscured as well so RAM must be installed first before the memory module in this specific mounting method.
PCI-E clearance is fully compatible with the exception of Type B mounting which overhangs too close on top for any graphics card to be installed. Type A mounting provides the best clearance for graphics card installation, even on mini-ITX and micro-ATX motherboards.