Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
This, being the fifth liquid cooling solution for ID-Cooling has shown us one thing; that they are not afraid to redesign and include more features to attempt to gain more of the market share. While the initial coolers were lackluster, with flat square heat units, as we saw in the white Icekimo, things have changed. ID-Cooling then moved to round head units, and various forms of single color LED displays.
First, there was the Frostflow, which had squares around the edge, which had red LEDs, which appeared to be moving around the head unit at a set speed. Along came the Auraflow sporting a ring and a backlit logo on the round head unit. The colors could be changed, but in this model, you can only see one color at a time. In what we have today, we see the first integration of RGB LEDs, and not only can you choose from various colors, there is also the option for a rainbow effect, along with multiple others, via control by remote or via an RGB 4-pin header on the motherboard.
In just about all of the coolers we have seen, we have given ID-Cooling a hard time about the mounting hardware for the head units, and rightfully so. With many of the Asetek built models, the hardware is made so that components run out of threads, as a brilliant indication of how to know when the parts are correctly tightened. However, ID-Cooling prefers to use all-thread pieces, which is much like a custom block, which may be nice for some, but for the average user can be quite a pain in the rear end. You will find that the hardware still has not changed, no matter how much we complained about it, and we are also about to see one other misstep ID-Cooling has made, which has to do with how the pump is powered. We will be hitting on both of these points pretty hard in the review, and will explain in detail why such things do not bode well.
Today we are looking at the Chromaflow 240 from ID-Cooling. The name alone leads you to believe that this cooler displays RGB LEDs in ways that many of the other AIOs on the market have been doing for some time now. With some of the old mixed in with a few new things to check out, it will be interesting to see not only how well the Chromaflow performs, but also see how the new additions play out, and what sort of experience they offer. We do have much to cover, so get comfortable as we take you through what the ID-Cooling Chromaflow is all about, and if you should put it on the list of things to buy for your next build.
Following the list of specifications, as it is presented, we initially see that the Chromaflow fits anything Intel since LGA775, and anything AMD made since AM2, and ID-Cooling appears to offer TR4 mounting, but you will need to contact them for the brackets. The TDP rating is 200W for this cooler, which uses a 240mm aluminum radiator. Connecting the head unit to the radiator is 330mm of premium sleeved tubing. The head unit utilizes a copper transfer plate, while the body and pump are made of plastic. The pump is shown to spin at 2100 RPM suspended on a ceramic bearing. ID-Cooling rates the pump for fifty thousand hours and is shown to deliver only 25 dB(A) of noise.
To cool the radiator, there is a pair of 120mm fans. The fans spin in a range of 900 to 2100 RPM, with a maximum of 55.2 CFM per fan. Static pressure is decent at 2.13mmH2O, and the fans are shown to get no louder than 33.5 dB(A). Like the head unit, the fans are also RGB with addressable lighting. This means that you can not only see the head unit lighting through the side panel window but in cases with open front design, you can also look at the fans doing their thing through there.
Searching for the Chromaflow 240 led us to only one hit on this side of the pond that we trust. It was at Newegg that we found it listed for $125. Considering what Corsair and NZXT start 240mm coolers at with a similar feature set, ID-Cooling does come in as the affordable option out of many we see a TweakTown. Although, it all comes down to how well the Chromaflow 240 performs as to if there is actual value in such a product as this, and by the time we end things here, we should have a much better grasp on whether to advise such a cooler for your system.
Using black as the backdrop, it allows ID-Cooling to offer the text in white for high contrast and easy readability. We see notations of addressable RGB, as well as compatibility with ASUS Aura Sync and MSI Mystic Light Sync. What attracts the eyes the most, is the image of the AIO with the fans and head unit, with the RGB lighting active.
Three images flank this side of the box where ID-Cooling shows off the RGB lighting, the copper plate on the head unit, and the braided cloth covering applied to the tubing. Under the images, we see this is to build a colorful system, where the use of the motherboard RGB header will sync this AIO to the rest of the system.
At the end of the box, we see the company name, the name of the cooler, and at the bottom are the same mentions we saw on the front of the box.
The other long side of the box again offers three images. This time, the renderings are used to show the cooler on the left as a whole, while the other two offer dimensions of the parts.
The last side of the box is nearly identical to its opposing panel, but this time, at the bottom, we see the part number, the UPC, as well as the serial number of this cooler.
The back of the box offers a list of specifications, with only a few omissions to the chart we looked at earlier. On the right side of the panel, we also see compatibility followed below with company information, should you need to make contact with them.
Inside of the box, we find the components separated by recycled cardboard. This keeps all of the parts from making contact in transit, delivering a product that looks just as good now as it did when it left the factory.
ID-Cooling Chromaflow 240 CPU Cooler
The head unit has the ID-Cooling logo in the center of the top cover and is surrounded by a ring which is also LED backlit. The universal Intel brackets come installed on the head unit, and we can also see a QC sticker applied to the side which indicates it has been tested and passed.
On the right side of the head unit is where the ninety-degree fittings are found that take the coolant to the radiator and them back to the head unit. Out of the top side of it, we see a pair of leads coming from it, which are for power and RGB LED control.
Under the head unit, we find a machined copper plate which transfers heat from the CPU to the coolant inside of the loop. The base is slightly convex, more so near the edges, but with pressure from mounting is better than a level surface. As for the hardware attached to it, there are four Phillips screws used, which is what is also used to mount the AMD hardware.
At the top is a 4-pin RGB connection which is intended to plug into a motherboard, but can also be connected with optional goodies, which can be controlled with an included remote. The SATA connection is to power the pump inside of the head unit. Think about that for a moment. This means that there is no way to check RPMs, and this means no way to verify speed, or to check to see if the pump is in motion or dead in the water.
Measuring from the base of the angled fittings on the head unit to the connections on the radiator, we find thirteen inches of tubing. Some coolers offer less, but the trend as of late from the bigger names in AIO cooling is to provide fifteen inches to make optional radiator locations and radiator orientations easier to accomplish.
As for the radiator, there are holes on both sides so that 120mm fans can be installed as push or pull fans depending on how you want to install this AIO. If you want to, another pair of fans can be purchased, so that you can have push-pull, and even more lighting too. The fin density is high but is the same as many other AIOs on the market.
Accessories and Documentation
Here we have the majority of the hardware offered with the Chromaflow 240. The bag on the left has the mounting studs, thumbscrews, washers, and also the LGA2011/2066 studs. The other pair of bags deliver the fan screws, where each has a set of four short and four long screws. At the bottom, we see the supplied tube of ID-TG05 paste, and we also have the Y-splitter to power both fans from a single motherboard header.
When it comes to mounting the Chromaflow 240, ID-Cooling offers a single backplate for all socket types. It has holes for both AMD and Intel, the center is cut to go on the back of a motherboard in only one direction, and the corners have dense rubber on them to isolate the steel plate from the back of the motherboard. On either side are the AMD mounting brackets, and each of them has four holes. It is done so to provide mounting for earlier AMD sockets as well as AM4.
For those who want to use the Chromaflow 240, but may not have an RGB header on the motherboard to control it, ID-Cooling provides an answer. Using the remote on the right for control of the lighting, and by plugging in the SATA power to RGB 4-pin header cable, you can connect the cable on the left to also control the lighting. The cable on the left can also be used attached to the motherboard, which splits the four pins to four headers, although only three are needed for the Chromaflow.
The fans included are black to match the rest of the cooler, and both fans have rubber pads on the corners to remove vibrations. In the center is a hub with the ID-Cooling logo, with nine blades surrounding it. The white ring around the frames is what will illuminate, and there is even a pair of exposed sections on the sides of the fans too.
ID-Cooling also includes a manual to ensure even the most novice builder can get this cooler mounted and running in roughly ten to fifteen minutes. Everything from a parts list to step-by-step instructions for both AMD and Intel makes certain the right parts are used and placed correctly as not to run into issues as you progress.
Installation and Finished Product
To get to this point, all we have done so far is to insert the all-thread studs into the proper holes in the back plate. Once that is done, align the backplate with the socket screws, and push it in the motherboard until the foam hits the motherboard.
To lock the back plate to the motherboard, you next install the thumbscrews over a set of washers. Keep in mind though, there is no way to keep the all-thread from spinning, and no specific point to stop screwing the thumbscrews down. This means it is easy to have the hardware too loose, with little pressure on the CPU, or also easy to overtighten, or better yet, not all at the same level.
Once past that, you can then apply some thermal paste, and set the head unit onto the hardware. If you look closely, we had to remove the cooler after this image, because it is painfully apparent we did not get the top-right thumbscrew tight enough, as the other three studs come through the thumbscrew, unlike the one we pointed out.
Once the head unit was toyed with to get the proper mounting depth to all the screws, we also went ahead and installed the radiator. It is there that we see the ID-Cooling name painted in white on the brushed metal plate. The tubing reaches without too much tension on the fittings, and all we have left to do is power the Chromaflow 240 up.
This is just a single shot of the potential of the RGB LED lighting. While we captured the blue and green phase, it offers a glimpse of how the LEDs work as halves for the display of the rainbow of colors it goes through. We do appreciate the looks of the Chromaflow LEDs, both at the head unit as well as the multiple rings around the fans, but can this cooler stand up in performance as well as it does in appearance and pricing?
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.
With the system running at stock settings, the Chromaflow 240 turned in a result of 56.25 degrees. To put that into perspective, there are a dozen or so AIOs which cool better than this, and a handful of low-dollar air coolers too. While roughly five degrees out of the top spot, we do expect an AIO of this size to perform better.
Applying the overclock, things get worse for the Chromaflow 240 and the seventy-three-degree result we obtained. In this chart, the cooler is average at best, nearly as far from the top of the chart as it is from the bottom. The only similarly sized AIOs lower on the chart have to have the fans and pump messed with to do worse, where here the motherboard is in control, delivering very near the best this cooler has to offer.
Using the same settings as above for the CPU, but now allowing the fans to do everything they can to cool the CPU, we only gained 1.75-degrees of cooling potential. 71.25-degrees is well away from the throttle point of the CPU, but again, the Chromaflow provides average results at best in our thermal testing.
Noise Level Results
With the motherboard PWM option used for the stock run of our testing, we are pleased that the fans delivered only 27 dB of noise to the room. At this time, the fans topped out at 1253 RPM, and we have no idea how fast the fan was spinning other than to refer to the chart for its maximum speed, and hope it is doing that.
With the overclock in play, still using PWM to control the fans, we see the Chromaflow drop to the bottom of the chart. With 47 dB delivered, and the fans turning at 1792 RPM most of the time, things do not bode well for ID-Cooling.
If you are looking for this cooler to deliver you everything it has to offer, be prepared for the noise. To obtain less than two degrees advantage thermally, you will be dealing with the fans pushing 64 dB of noise into the environment with a reported speed of the fans is 2200 RPM at this time.
As we wind things down, let's start off with what is right about the ID-Cooling Chromaflow 240 AIO. Appearance is the key that ID-Cooling is banking on here. The head unit is round, minimal, and has an excellent display of RGB LED lighting from it, not only from the logo but also in the ring that surrounds it. The fans offer much of the same, with matching RGB lighting to the head unit, and with a single ring of LEDs, ID-Cooling makes it appear as three, which is a nice touch for multiple viewing angles.
ID-Cooling also dresses up the tubing, with a thick braided cloth covering the rubber tubes inside of them, and even the termination points of the tubing are clean and slick looking. Even when it comes to the radiator, they dressed things up, not only with the brushed metal plate that goes down the side but also painting the company name on it helps to add points in styling. We like that there is motherboard RGB support so that the AIO will match what the system is doing, and adding a remote control and additional parts for those without this feature to still enjoy all the aspects of this cooler is a nice touch as well.
Sadly, once passed the looks, we do not see much offered to make any user used to products from Asetek to want to switch over to AIO. We have said it before, and we will repeat it, the mounting hardware needs work, and should be changed to simplify things for their customers. The next thing we found silly was using a SATA connection to power the pump. We get it, you wanted to do something different, but on the flip side, you take away the RPM reporting of the pump, which means you will likely have the system shut down before you realize there is an issue with the pump. We hope that all of the pumps would last the lifespan described, and all of them work out of the box, but if there is an issue, there is no easy way to tell. Then we run into the most critical part to those looking for a new AIO; the performance. It is here that we feel ID-Cooling fell behind again. While on paper, the fans are low in CFM, which usually means silence in operation, but in our testing, the fans are just mediocre at providing airflow, as the noise they put off is higher than many others out there.
In the real-world, many potential customers might be turned on by the lower cost of obtaining the product, or get drawn in like flies to a flame by the fancy RGB LED lighting, as a whole, we cannot in good conscience recommend the Chromaflow 240. At $125 it seems like a good deal. Looking at the product page, and seeing the images of the cooler on the box does make you think you are getting something awesome. The problem is, eventually you have to take it out of the box, struggle with the hardware to mount it to the motherboard, and eventually run into the poor thermal results, an abundance of noise, and lack of ability to tell if the pump is working, or if it is working at advertised speeds. We feel the chart to follow will sum it all up for you, but if it were us looking for a 240mm AIO, the Chromaflow 240 from ID-Cooling would not even be in our top five coolers to consider.
The Bottom Line: The Id-Cooling Chromaflow 240 is stunning to look at in action. However, there is not much else to brag about whaen it comes to this AIO. Lackluster performance, noisy fans, complicated hardware, and a price that is not that far off from the rest all come together to disapppoint us!
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