The Bottom Line
Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Since we have not had much luck using ID Cooling sealed liquid coolers, maybe it is time to switch gears and see what sort of love an air cooler built by them has to offer. We have seen only two air coolers from ID Cooling thus far, and both of them were on previous test systems. It was while looking through the previous coolers that we realized we had in fact tested this cooler in its original iteration, but that was way back in 2015. In reviewing the original cooler, we see that this latest incarnation is not just a painted refresh; there is more than that to be had.
The SE-214X that we saw a couple of years ago was a single tower cooler, where the aluminum and copper were left in their natural state. The SE-214X also sported a lower section reduction to the fin stack. This was not to make clearance for anything, in particular, it seemed like more of an aesthetic choice. The original cooler also came with a black and red fan, but none of these things are present in the latest version. What we have today is not just white, fitting to the Snow Edition naming, but the fin surface area has been increased, and a whole new fan comes along for the ride as well.
ID Cooling has sent along the SE-214L Snow Edition One of three of the SE-214L coolers, to get our opinion on today. The SE-214L is a direct touch cooler and is still made with copper and aluminum, but the entire cooler is coated with white paint from tip to tail. What is most impressive about this design, is that ID Cooling has found a way to cleanly add a 130mm fan to a 120mm tower cooler, which means the fan will cover more of the fins, which should, in turn, deliver improved performance. On paper, everything about the SE-214L Snow Edition cooler appears to be on point, but let's get down to the nitty-gritty, and see just what ID Cooling is offering us this time.
ID Cooling was sure to make the SE-214L compatible with just about any processor being used today. For Intel users, LGA 2011(V3), 115X, and 1366 sockets are all covered. As far as AMD is concerned, this cooler will fit anything since and including AM2, and with a 150W TDP, it should cover the spectrum of what all of those processors deliver. The SE-214L is 129mm from side to side, it is 80mm thick from front to back, and it stands 160mm tall. Rather than using 6mm or 8mm diameter heat pipes, the SE-214L opts for four 7mm diameter pipes to transfer heat away from the CPU. All told, with the fan included, the SE-214L Snow Edition weighs in at 690 grams.
The fan that comes with the tower is the ID-13025M12S, with a 4-pin plug for connectivity and PWM control. The frame of this fan is white, angled, and sports clear blades which help to reflect and project the blueish-white LED lighting. The 130mm fan will spin in a range of 500 to 1800 RPM, delivering 69.5 CFM of airflow, and 1.82 mmH2O of static pressure. The fan is rated at a maximum noise level of 30.6 dB(A) while drawing only 0.25A at 3W. There is not a lifetime rating offered, but we are shown that the hub of the fan spins on a hydraulic bearing.
Usually, we are sent some pricing information, or we can find something on the internet which will give us at least an approximation on pricing, but as of yet, this information is not available. We have seen many news posts on these new coolers, and ID Cooling presents this cooler on their site. However, we are left in the dark here. If we had to take a guess, based on other coolers they have sent, we would hazard a guess to say that this cooler would be in the $29 to $39 range. However, this is only a guess based on what other SE-214 coolers have sold for in the past, accounting for the added materials and attractiveness of the SE-214L Snow Edition over the plainer versions.
The packaging of the SE-214L Snow Edition attracts the eye, with not only the image of the white CPU cooler and snowflake but also by using the bright orange accents. While we are unsure at this point as to how much of a difference this idea will make, we are left with little to guess about as to the appearance of the cooler inside of this box.
The right side of the box offers the company name, logo and motto at the top, which is then followed by a rendering of the front view of the cooler below it. Just above the orange section at the bottom, we see the TDP rating along with all of the sockets this cooler will work with.
Specifications are shown on the back but done by listing the parts of the cooler being discussed in three languages first, then showing the numbers and values to the right. This is repeated so that ID Cooling delivers this message in nine languages in total.
The last of the outer panels is mostly black, with small indications of features listed down the right side of it. Once past the list of eight key features, the orange section is used to display information about ID Cooling, like social media pages, site addresses, and even the phone number.
Inside of the box, the tower is found to rest upon a very dense foam, which has been cut out to accept the base of the cooler snugly. There is another dense foam pad used on top of the cooler, which keeps the hardware and the manual away from it. The box did take on some damage, and we found that the fins were only slightly bent. While not in perfect condition, we do not feel the damage will reduce the potential cooling efficiency of this product.
ID Cooling SE-214L Snow Edition CPU Cooler
Staring the white 130mm fan dead in the face, we find that the larger fan does indeed cover more of the fin areas, as was expected. We can also see that the four heat pipes are not all in line with each other, as every other pipe is offset from the one before it.
The side of the SE-214L SE points out a few worthy mentionable things. First would be the shape of the fan frame. While the front is 130mm, as it gets closer to the fins, the frame is reduced to 120mm in size. The fin stack is evenly supported between the fifty fins with the tabs bent over on this edge, and we also see some slight damage to the fins in the lower-right corner of the fin stack.
The leading and trailing edges of the cooler are identical, where the fins are not cut straight, to begin with. To help further disturbing of the air, and creating offsets to build pressure, there are eight V-shaped sections of fins, four along the top section, and four evenly spaced one in the lower half.
While the view of the other side of the cooler was virtually as Vertical as can be, the view here is slightly different. With the base of the cooler level to the table, the left side of the cooler has a bit of a curve to it. Also, something we left out from the other side is that the fan is attached with wire fan clips that lock into a groove on the side of the fins.
The view of the top of the cooler is a flat white aluminum fin, where the eight heat pipe tips protrude past them, which is also painted white. Some of the tips were abraded in transit, even with the dense foam in place, and some of the paint has been removed. We can also see the shape of the edges of the cooler are not flat but cut inward to help with pressure building and better flow through the tower.
Holding onto the four heat pipes is this aluminum pre-cooler which has also been painted to match. While the grooves and fins will let some of the heat out of the cooler, this base is made so that mounting hardware can be applied to it mainly.
Fresh out of the box, there was a protective sticker in place, which we have removed. Under that sticker, we find heat pipes which have been machined at the same time as the aluminum base. Gaps in the contact area are minimal, with no signs of TIM oozing out, and the surface is flat across the entire bottom of the SE-213L SE.
Accessories and Documentation
When it comes to AMD sockets, the pair of brackets to the left is what you want to use. The universal backplate is in the middle, and to the right are the Intel brackets which mount to the base of the cooler. You may notice, things look similar to many other of the ID Cooling hardware kits, because it is the same.
The SE-214L SE comes with a second pair of fan clips, just in case you wish to add a second fan. The bag on the left has the four screws to mount the brackets to the base of the cooler, while the second bag has the all-thread, standoffs, washers, knurled nuts, and the LGA2011 bits. At the bottom is a small tube of thermal paste, so you are set if you do not already have some.
The black rubber pads in the corners are easy to see on the white frame and isolate this fan from the cooler. The front also has these pads, but they are white on that side. The ID-13025M12S fan has nine clear blades, and we can see the 4-pin PWM fan lead to the right of it.
The manual for this cooler is brief but is still able to get you through the process for both AMD and Intel mounts. We can see it starts off with a parts list, and after it are good renderings and well-worded explanations to get any level of PC user through the installation process.
Installation and Finished Product
Sad to say, but the SE-214L SE comes with the same all-thread rods that are pressed through the back plate, but do not lock into place. Once they are in, you ensure the socket screws line up correctly to the back plate, and slide the threads through the mounting holes on the motherboard.
You are then shown to flip over the motherboard, place a paper washer on each post, and then lock them down to the motherboard with the spacers. At this point, we are nearly ready to place the cooler onto the CPU.
Before we place the cooler onto the motherboard, we had to grab the Intel Brackets and screw them onto the base of the cooler. While the instructions are a bit vague in this step, you know you have these on correctly if the numbers can be seen on either side of the pipes from the bottom of the cooler.
With such a large fan, it makes the cooler appear much bigger than it is. The fan is nearly as wide as the RAM, and is taller than the cooler, as we cannot see any of the pipe tips over the top edge of the fan.
We like that ID Cooling was sure to stay clear of the memory. This means that the fan can be placed evenly on the fins, and not have to be shifted up, lessening the airflow through the fins, and increasing the overall height.
As we step back quite a bit from the last image, we find the SE-214L SE to have all the room it needs around it. We cleared the motherboard heat sinks with ease, and even if we were to add a second fan, access to the 8-pin connection is not blocked, nor would memory if this were an LGA2011 motherboard.
Looking at the cooler against the vast blackness of the motherboard, that white really pops. We do not mind the aesthetics from this angle, but we do feel that ID Cooling missed an opportunity to place their logo at the top of the tower.
Test System Setup, Thermal Tests, and Noise Results
Chad's CPU Cooler Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus VIII HERO (Intel Z170) - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- CPU: Intel Core i7 6700K - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Memory: Patriot Viper 4 3000MHz 4X4GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Graphics Card: MSI GeForce GTX 1060 6GB OC - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage: Corsair Neutron XTi 480GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Case: INWIN D-Frame - Read our review
- Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower DPS 1050W - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
- Software: RealTemp 3.70, AIDA64 Engineer 5.75.3900, and CPU-z 1.77.0 x64
To see our testing methodology and to find out what goes into making our charts, please refer to our CPU Cooler Testing and Methodology article (October 2016) for more information.
63.5-degrees is quite a ways away from the throttle point of our CPU, but we did have higher expectations for the SE-214L SE cooler. While it does considerably better than the Icekimo 120, it has a long list of better performing coolers ahead of it.
Still allowing for PWM control of the fan, when the overclock was applied, the SE-214L SE does not make much headroom towards the top of the chart. To be blunt, 81 degrees from a CPU cooler of this size is almost unacceptable, but at least it did not fail.
The PWM fan curve is so efficient with the way in which it cools this tower, which even adding 400 RPM to the fans speed, we only gained half of a degree in performance.
Noise Level Results
26 dB is low on this chart, and while not the best of the bunch, at the 1140 RPM we saw in the first thermal test, it is nearly unperceivable to the user from a two to three-foot distance.
Even with the overclock applied, the PWN fan curve took the fan to 1500 RPM, and noise is still rather low. 31 dB is just breaking into the audible range a couple of feet from the cooler, but still well within a tolerable level.
Since pushing the fan to 1900 RPM offers very little performance gains, we feel that no one should need to force 12V through the fan. Considering the noise levels jump to 45 dB doing this, why deal with all of that noise pollution for little to no perceivable gains in temperature.
The ID Cooling SE-214L series of three coolers seem to deliver what is needed most. We do like the Snow Edition and the fact that every bit of it, excluding the hardware, is white. We like that ID Cooling went with a slightly bigger fan, a 130mm fan in fact, and we also like the LED lighting offered in it. The fins are kept in alignment with tabs on the side, the heat pipes alternate position to aid in heat removal, and we also were digging the shape of the leading and trailing fin edges, all of which should have us singing praises of the performance of such a design. Sadly though, this seems to be one of those designs that are much better on paper than in reality.
We are happy to say that the SE-214L SE is capable of handling our 95W processor, but the reality is, if you have a 150W processor, you will most likely throttle with this cooler. Our stock testing was decent, but adding the overclock and nearing 110 to 115W of power delivered to the cooler was closer to the throttle point than we would have liked to have seen. The noise levels under PWM control are tolerable, and we have no complaints about that, we just wish that the SE214L SE had done a better job all around.
While we are not exact on a price figure, we can only guess that the previously released SE-214X with less to offer at $29.99 is a good starting point. We have no qualms about the fact that this cooler should, and most likely will cost at least $10 more, but the level of performance for the dollar is not as high as we would have liked to have seen. While many of the coolers that beat this SE-214L Snow Edition cooler from ID Cooling, do in fact, cost quite a bit more money in some examples, we find us with a tough choice to make. Do we opt for the SE-214L SE and save money but have little headroom, or do we spend say $50 and get a single tower cooler which offers the same level of sound, but delivers much better performance.
For us, the answer is easy, but if you have to pinch pennies on a build, you want a white cooler, and you do not have a processor over 100W TDP, then, by all means, buy this CPU cooler from ID Cooling. For us, we will simply say we pass on this design.
The Bottom Line: The SE-214L Snow Edition is nice to look at, the LED fan is a nice addition, and noise is kept at bay. But it's a shame that the performance isn't better, nor do we feel a 150W processor is safe under this tower. Even if this cooler were just $20, we think we would still pass.
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