Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Anyone who follows our reviews should know by now that while ID-Cooling may not immediately fill your head when it comes time for a new CPOU cooler, they should. We have seen a couple of their recent releases, which not only come with performance, affordability, and good looks but were also given some of our best awards for these solutions and are back at this formula again today. We even reviewed others from the same series of coolers, so much so that only one number changes from an earlier sample we looked at called the SE-225-XT Black we saw in the middle of last year. However, please do not assume that this is a similar design. Even though they are both single-tower designs, we are dealing with an entirely different monster here.
The premise of the new cooler is to maximize the amount of material used to cool the CPU while keeping it stylish, thermally, and audibly acceptable, yet keep costs down so that the masses can take advantage of everything ID-Cooling puts into their designs. In this instance, we get a single fan to cool the tower, brushed metal and spayed on textures, and a level of detail we have not seen from them in the past. ID-Cooling also decided to make two versions of this cooler, where one is the Black model we have, which is murdered-out, where the other option ends in ARGB, and is the same tower, but with a fan with ARGB lighting with a slight increase in cost over what we have.
Knowing what we do of ID-Cooling and their pursuit of becoming a more significant player in the market, we have a good feeling about what we are about to see in this review. With what we have seen on the product page and when taking our images, we have a good feeling that ID-Cooling has delivered another sleeper, not just visually but in its abilities as well. All we are willing to say at this point is that you are strongly urged to pay attention to not only this CPU cooler but to ID-Cooling in general. As with each cooler we have seen lately, we are more impressed than the last time we saw their products.
The chart we show was taken from the product page at ID-Cooling, where at the top of it, we see the compatibility. Intel has a ton of coverage with LGA115X, 1200, 1700, 2011, and 2066 are all workable, yet for AMD, only AM4 is supported.
The SE-226-XXT Black and ARGB designs boasts a 250W TDP rating within its 129mm width, 106mm thickness, and 154mm height. To move the heat from the copper base plate to the forty-one aluminum fins via six 6mm-diameter heat pipes, which are also made of copper. However, the aluminum and copper are not visible due to the use of a "black coated microwave heat sink fin" coating applied to the parts. All told, and this is a biggie, is that the SE-226-XT Black weighs 1300 grams, which is more than a few of the dual-tower solutions in our charts.
The fan in the box is the ID-12025M12S, a 120mm fan with the following credentials. It can spin in a range of 700 to 1800 RPM, and at maximum speed, delivers 76.16 CFM and 2.16 mmH2O of static pressure, which is great and all, but being PWM controlled, the latter specs will be much lower. The chart shows that we should expect 15.2 to 35.2 dB(A), and that is the adjusted scale, which means this fan can be loud. The last thing worth mentioning is the use of a hydraulic bearing, as the power draw is minimal, and the two-year warranty is not even mentioned here.
We also know that ID-Cooling has set the MSRP for the SE-226-XT Black at a highly reasonable level regarding the cost. For the version we have in hand, it will set you back just $39.99, and even if you cannot go without ARGB lighting, you only need to shell out $49.99 to obtain that version of this cooler. Starting this well, we have high hopes for ID-Cooling and this SE-226-XT Black, and there are no surprises along the way as we bring you what ID-Cooling is up to these days.
Dressed in the typical ID-Cooling garb, this SE-226-XT Black ships inside a matte black And orange box. On the face of it, we see the image of the thicker bodied single tower shown front and center, with the ID-Cooling name and logo at the top.
The same colors are found on the right side of the box, but the information is kept to the basics. ID-Cooling leaves a lot of open panel yet display all of the compatible sockets, the 220W TDP of this cooler design and icons in the orange stripe are all we are shown.
ID-Cooling lists the specifications on the back, similar to what we discussed earlier, but this time, displayed in six languages. Lastly, we get the cooler's name again, shown across the orange stripe at the bottom.
Just as we saw on the opposite side of the packaging, we are left with a vast expanse of matte black, this time used for feature icons. Things like PWM supports, the black coating, its copper base, use of rubber isolation, inclusion of a 120mm fan, and use of a hydro bearing. This time, the orange band at the bottom displays company information and social media links.
Inside the box, we find our SE-226-XT Black to be well protected. With the use of dense foam as the bottom to protect the cooler's base, ID-Cooling then encloses everything in white cardboard for added protection. The fan is in the box at the back; a five-sided box covers the tower, and the hardware ships inside the box closest to us. The literature is shipped on top of it all so that you can read it over before getting too far into unboxing and sorting. In the end, this attention to detail allows our SE-226-XT Black to arrive in, not perfect, but as close to it as the design allowed.
ID-Cooling SE-226-XT Black CPU Cooler
Without a fan attached to block the view, we can see the SE-226-XT Black in all of its glory. We notice first is the thick top cover with the pipes and their covers showing above the stack of forty-one aluminum fins. Running through the fins are two rows of heat pipes, six in total, which come from the base, coated black to match the rest of the body.
Rather than using grooves, deep valleys, or other tricks we see from time to time, ID-Cooling opts for the alternating saw-toothed pattern, which is used to disrupt airflow when it enters the tower while also offering a lowered center section so that the fans can build a bit of pressure before the air enters the tower.
From the side, our view is of an offset tower design, where ID-Cooling moves the cooler away from the DIMM slots for clearance. Due to this offset, ID-Cooling also notched the back of the tower so that RAM clearance was accounted for on both sides of the tower, should you want to use this with a HEDT setup.
Glancing at this image may feel like déjà vu as it does appear identical to what we saw at the front of the tower. Outside of the hardware on the base now being covered by the fins, visually, there is not much to differentiate the two at this angle.
No matter how we positioned the camera, it appears that this tower is slightly askew, as the top seems a touch twisted, while the base sits level on the glass. We can also see a slight lean to the back, and without any tabs on the sides of the fins, fin spacing can be "adjusted" by shipping.
We want to point out that all six of the heat pipes are press-fit into the aluminum fins, but only after everything is coated. With what, exactly, we do not know, but would assume this isn't simply painted and is more likely a ceramic coating, which is applied heavy enough to leave "wrinkles" in the surface, which while minute, will help with air disturbance and heat transfer.
Once we removed the protective plastic sticker from the base, we can see that ID-Cooling machines the base circularly, leaving the marks visible. After machining leaves a slightly convex surface, it is nickel-plated to keep corrosion at bay.
Even when we get to the top of this tower, we still see that same black-on-black theme. This time, however, the aluminum top plate is brushed before the anodization process and has a hole at the one side to allow a screwdriver to pass through the tower to secure the mounting screw. We also see that the pipe tip covers are finished with as much detail, but the lines are circular this time.
Accessories and Documentation
The first bits of hardware we see have everything to do with mounting the SE-226-XT Black, and with that, they keep the theme going all the way down to the color of these components.
On the left are the Intel brackets that allows the cooler to screw onto them, and for many sockets, the Intel black plate with adjustable position studs is seen in the middle. Leaving us with the pair of top brackets to the right, used for AM4 installations.
Continuing with the mounting hardware, we see a set of universal spacers above the four AM4 socket screws. In the middle are spacers for LGA1700, shaped differently not to be mistaken for the others. To the right, we are left with the Intel HEDT standoffs, with four knurled nuts to secure the Intel brackets to either the standoffs above or the backplate.
Even though only a single fan ships with this tower, ID-Cooling included four wire fan clips. This way, if so desired, users can more easily add a second fan. Along with the fan clips, we also get a metal case badge sporting the ID-Cooling logo, and of course, when buying a cooler, you will need paste, and ID-Cooling includes a syringe of ID-TG25 thermal grease.
ID-Cooling opts for a nine-bladed fan with a black frame, again, matching that murdered-out theme. The corners of the frame use rubber pads to isolate this PWM-powered ID-12025M12S 120mm fan.
The guide is all one needs to get the SE-225-XT Black mounted to any system in roughly five minutes. Things begin with the basics like parts lists and the like. As it continues, instructions are step-by-step, and the images are renderings, but these renderings use colors to highlight the parts used in each step, taking all of the guesswork out of the process.
Installation and Finished Product
The first thing we are told to do is remove the AM4 socket screws and the top latches and then set them aside. With the default backplate still in place, we put the spacers on the protruding bits of the backplate. You are then shown to set the brackets on top of the spacers, and using the screws from the hardware box, we secure everything to the motherboard, locking this hardware into place.
We then applied a bit of thermal paste to the heat spreader of the CPU and gently set the cooler on the IHS. Once that is done, you should alternate a couple of turns to each of the screws in the crossbar until they run out of threads. The one near the DIMM slots is open for accessibility, but you will need a long screwdriver to reach the back screw, as it needs to go through the tower to access it.
The fan shipped with the tower is taller than the intake of the SE-226-XT Black. We have the fan set to the tower's height, where it blows air over the thick top cover, but we can also see through the bottom of the fan and notice the fins stop before the fan does. Coverage for such a design is better than we see in many other single-tower offerings.
Since ID-Cooling decided to go with the offset design for the SE-226-XT Black, clearance to RAM on a mainstream system is something nobody will have to deal with, as the fan does not even come close to causing an issue here, even if we had the tallest sticks ever made installed.
Backing away, we see a similar concession made at the back of the tower with the notch, which again will allow for some of the tallest RAM out there but may cover the view for a couple of those sticks. As-is, we can access the 8-pin EPS plug on the motherboard, but adding a second fan would undoubtedly eliminate that ability.
With the SE-226-XT Black now installed, it sits there and blends in with the rest of the blackness that is our test system. The brushed surface does stand out against the other blacks, but again, without a contrasting logo or ARGB, this sleeper can blend in and likely never get another glance.
Test System Setup, Thermal Tests, and Noise Results
Chad's CPU Cooler Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII HERO [Wi-Fi] (AMD X570) - Buy from Amazon
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600X - Buy from Amazon
- Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 4000MHz 4X8GB
- Graphics Card: ASUS GeForce RTX 2060 6GB OC - Buy from Amazon
- Storage: Galax HOF Pro M.2 1TB SSD
- Case: Hydra Bench Standard
- Power Supply: ASUS ROG Thor 850W - Buy from Amazon
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
- Software: AMD Ryzen Master, AIDA64 Engineer 6.25.5400, and CPU-z 1.92.0 x64
To see our testing methodology and to find out what goes into making our charts, please refer to our 2020 CPU Cooler Testing and Methodology article for more information.
At first glance, the 59.5-degree result may not seem that impressive, but allow us to add perspective. It is the sixth-best air cooler in the chart and keeps company with the likes of the A500 and NH-D14, which isn't a small task. Think about the pricing of these three CPU coolers, and the light shines even brighter on ID-Cooling.
As we enable the overclock, heat increases, and we now find the SE-226-SE Black in eighth-place when looking at only the air coolers at 67.1-degrees. We are still holding on just behind the A500 and the Freezer 50. We have no complaints thus far.
Disabling the PWM curve and supplying the fans with all the power the motherboard can, the noise increased, but we found only 2.5-degrees left in the tank. While we would have liked to get this performance, once we heard the noise emanating from the cooler, we understood why they cut the curve where they did.
Noise Level Results
At idle, this fan sits near 800 RPM with less than 20 dB of noise coming from it, and this rings true with the overclock applied. However, once under the load of AIDA64, the fans topped out at 1136 RPM using the stock settings, which delivers 25 dB out into the room, and inside of a case is virtually silent at this time.
Applying our overclocked profile, we reran the tests and found that the PWM curve for the fan is set lower than we would have expected, topping out at 31 dB while under full load. We see the curve is adjusted for silence first, but even so, considering this fact, it adds more perspective to the thermal results, and with a better fan, this CPU cooler could have taken the top slot!
While we could have gained a couple of degrees thermally by allowing the fans to run at full speed, there comes a penalty to the ears doing so. We found the fan spinning at 1834 RPM at its maximum speed, and while doing so, the noise jumped to 45 dB. Even in a chassis using sound deadening material, you will hear the SE-226-XT Black when running like this.
At the end of it all, what we have from ID-Cooling is impressive, not as impressive as, say, the SE-225-XT Black, but we cannot deny that ID-Cooling can hang on the porch with the big dogs. With all of the rage in ARGB or RGB lighting these days, it is nice to go back in time every once in a while and see an affordable cooler making its way through the crowd thermally, but visually, it is there for cooling the CPU, not being fancy or over the top. Yes, the SE-226-XT Black is a hefty offering in single-tower designs, but it appears to have paid off for ID-Cooling. This sleeper of a CPU cooler has enough aesthetically to be attractive; it places well for the cost, and being its fan is designed around silence, there isn't much more to ask of this design.
Simplicity is also crucial here. Using hardware similar to what everyone else offers delivers a sense of familiarity. At the same time, the guide that ships with the tower answers anything that may come up in the installation process, leaving users confident in their installation, knowing they will get the best from the SE-226-XT Black without fiddling around; to "make it work properly."
Everything is solid, and even with the adjustments made to our sample from its trip to our door, we feel it did not affect performance in any matter that would change its ranking. Taking it a step further, for those of you who need things to be perfect, we had no issues persuading fins back into alignment with pliers, but we do advise using a cloth on the fins between the pliers, as not to damage the coating.
On top of the impressive thermal results and nearly silent operation under nay PWM usage, what you need to realize is that ID-Cooling does all of this with a cooler boasting an MSRP of $39.99 with the SE-226-XT Black. For those who need lighting, you can shell out another $10 and get that if you want.
Even if we spent $49.99 for the illuminated version, we would have little to complain about. Still, the actual situation is that ID-Cooling surpassed the A500 and NH-D14 in the stock testing, and those both require a significantly higher investment for similar results.
The only downside to all of this is current availability, which is seemingly a huge theme for us on this side of the pond. No matter where we looked, links that showed the SE-226-XT Black all link back to the Se-225-XT Black, and we found not a single listing where we can obtain this cooler at this time. While we will be highly recommending the SE-226-XT Black, you will most likely have to wait until another boat is offloaded on our west coast before you will ever find one in the wild.
That being said, we like this CPU cooler enough to say you should check one out at your soonest convenience, and if you cannot wait, it isn't like the SE-225-SE Black all of the links take you to is a wrong choice either. However, being what it is, we deal in reality, and the score will reflect the SE-226-XT Black's absence from store shelves.
The Bottom Line
With a stealthy aesthetic, the SE-226-XT Black competes with much more expensive solutions and hangs right with them. However, even while cost is down and results are impressive, its lack of presence for sale will be the biggest downfall as many will simply move on.