It takes more than good looks to stand out in the crowded mini-ITX heat sink market. Phanteks' PH-TC90LS looks the part with its simple, white paint job. We also like its price. But mediocre cooling performance barely beats Intel's own bundled cooler.
Phanteks' PH-TC90LS reminds us of the thermal solutions you see in server applications. But unlike any rack-mount cooler we've worked with, the PH-TC90LS is painted white. Naturally, it stands out from the crowd.
The sink's three 6mm heat pipes are not readily visible; they are embedded in the large base plate. This plate and the pipes inside are the reason Phanteks' PH-TC90LS weighs a hefty 9.3 oz. (including the fan), making it the heaviest offering in our low-profile series.
The mechanical architecture of this cooler, a large base plate on which a heat sink is built, certainly makes it stable. However, that big base also blocks the motherboard's power circuitry from beneficial air flow, which might affect overclocking headroom.
The bottom of the plate, where contact is made with the CPU, is sanded down slightly. The heat sink is symmetrical (all four sides are equally long). And you can't install this thing on AMD-based platforms; it's only compatible with Intel's LGA 115x and 2011 interfaces.
Don’t try to swap the fan, either. The bundled cooler has a non-standard frame that is, unsurprisingly, white.
Installation And Compatibility
Installation is easy. Place a metal back plate on the back of your motherboard, set the heat sink on your CPU, and tighten down the sink with four screws.
The fan is installed using mounting brackets. Optionally, two narrow rubber strips can be glued on the fins first, which should mechanically decouple the fan from the heat sink. Because it's symmetrical, the cooler can be arbitrarily rotated in 90° steps.
The white Phanteks PH-TC90LS is definitely one of the best-looking coolers we have on-hand, and it won't break the bank with a £30 price tag. Unfortunately, its cooling performance is not on a par with those good looks. In fact, it's barely able to beat Intel's bundled solution. Moreover, its sound level is high enough that you'll notice the noise.
There are other coolers that perform better. At least this one comes with a five-year warranty. And due to those internal heat pipes, we suspect it'd pull away from Intel's bundled sink at higher power levels.