Test Results And Conclusion
The HEX 2.0’s low 4.9” height is unmatched by any of our recently-tested cross-flow coolers, yet Phononic uses TEC technology to target customers of those larger cooling solutions.
"With the HEX 2.0, we have created a new category of CPU cooling by offering an alternative for high performance cooling without going to a much larger heat sink/fan or a water-based solution," said Michael Bruno, vice president and general manager of Phononic's Electronics Cooling business unit.
Here's how its mid-sized dimensions compare to the smallest of recently-reviewed Big Air CPU coolers.
We retain the hardware configuration from previous reviews to make all of our results comparable. With the stage set, let’s see how it performs against these models!
If you’re wondering why we’re not showing results for all three HEX 2.0 operational modes, it’s because our CPU’s heat output pushes the HEX 2.0 past its highest TEC engagement temperature. We tested it all three ways and got the same numbers three times, edging out the Noctua NH-U12S at full fans.
A great amount of air is needed to move the extra 40W of power consumed by the TEC, in addition to CPU cooling, yet the HEX 2.0’s fan is a little smaller than those of its Big Air competitors. Phononic relies on increased fan motor RPM to create the extra airflow.
Faster fans mean more noise. We’re still seeing lower noise levels than many of the graphics cards we test, but the HEX 2.0’s fans are noticeably louder than the big slow-spinning parts of “Big Air” designs.
Even though it’s only slightly noisy, higher noise teams together with middling cooling performance to hurt the HEX 2.0’s cooling to noise ratio.
You’ll also pay for the TEC. The HEX 2.0 costs roughly three times as much as a Big Air cooler while offering similar cooling and greater noise. The true market then is for buyers who can’t fit a Big Air unit.
All the charts point in the single direction: the HEX 2.0 performs fairly well for its size, but at a fairly steep price. While we’re sure that a few websites with short memories and lots of marketing enthusiasm will promote taglines such as “Revolutionary” and “Disruptive,” the truth is that the HEX 2.0 is a fairly solid cooler built on time-proven technology. The biggest improvement is that, unlike previously-reviewed units with high-wattage TEC elements, the HEX 2.0 doesn’t hum while switching on and off. And that might just be something to hum home about.
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