The Bottom Line
Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
As the middle chapter of a three-part air cooling sage of CPU coolers from ID-Cooling, we are looking at the larger brother of the SE-914-XT Basic we looked at last, but with our latest sample, we have taken a step up! By that, we mean that the CPU cooler in this review does not come with the title of Basic, but has been replaced with a color designation. There is a Basic version of the cooler we are looking at, but it is one of a family of ten coolers that share the majority of the name with what we have in our hands right now!
While it is hard to wrap our head around a company making money with so many coolers under the same name, we have to give it to ID-Cooling for ensuring they will have at least one version of this tower cooler that you will like, even if based on aesthetic changes throughout the line.
Much of what ID-Cooling would feature about this tower is similar to what we found in the SE-914-XT product page contents, but sadly, their overview page is currently broken for this specific cooler. We then went to the page for the white version and found most of what we needed. There it talks about the four heat pipes in the cooler, a 120mm PWM fan, a plastic cover for the top of the fin stack, high-density fin stack, HDT 3.0, its low noise during use, and its memory compatibility with many of the most current socket motherboards, and finished things off with a mention to how easy the cooler is to install. However, with the White version of this cooler, it lacks the coating applied to all of the parts that the Black version has, but we found no mention of whether it was ceramic-based or just plain paint.
The cooler we are ready to get to testing is the SE-224-XT Black. Knowing what we do about the hardware, the new base technology, and what we should expect from the SE series of coolers, we feel that this CPU cooler from ID-Cooling may have what it takes to be impressive this time! Considering this tower's dissipation area and the fact that a larger, more powerful fan was chosen, it has potential written all over it. While we may not have been especially keen on what we found in the SE-914-XT Basic, it is the SE-224-XT Black that has us liking ID-Cooling air coolers, and let us show you why!
When companies present them well, we go ahead and borrow the specifications from ID-Cooling's product page for the SE-224-XT Black. We initially run into the compatibility in the chart, which covers LGA115X/1200 and LGA2011/2066 for Intel, but only AM4 for AMD users. With more cooler in hand, the TDP has been raised to 180W this time around. Dimensionally, the tower stands 154mm tall, it is 120mm wide, and with the fan strapped on the tower, it is 73mm in thickness. All told, the SE-224-XT Black weighs in at 810 grams and offers construction made of copper for the four, 6mm diameter, copper heat pipes, and aluminum for the base and the forty-six fins.
The task of blowing the heat out of the aluminum fins is the ID-12025M12S, a 120mm fan. Fan speed has a wide range, with 700 RPM shown as the bottom end, but there is a notation of plus or minus up to 200 RPM on that figure. The top end of the speed spectrum is 1800 RPM but again comes with the note that it could be anywhere from 1720 to 1980 RPM. This fan can deliver 76.16 CFM of airflow at its maximum speed, with the pressure rated at 2.16 mmH2O. Noise is shown to top out at 32.5 dB(A), which is quite a bit of noise for a "silent" cooler. Using anything from 10.8 to 13.2 VDC to power the fan via its 4-pin PWM connector, it draws 0.2A and 2.4W while spinning at full speed on the hydraulic bearing.
With all of the "better things" that we see in the SE-224-XT Black cooler, we expect the price to be quite a bit more than the $24.99 of the previously reviewed counterpart. Finding ourselves in a bit of shock when we located the cooler on Amazon, we see that the MSRP is set to just $29.99! However, we also know that it is currently on sale with a 15% discount right now, dropping the cost to an astounding $25.49! While many may miss the deal by the time this goes live, we will base all following opinions on the MSRP, which is still impressive for the cooler ID-Cooling provides us!
ID-Cooling packs the SE-224-XT in a very familiar-looking box, still using the bright orange and matte black. The three-quarters sized image of the tower in the middle is a generic image for the series, as the cooler inside looks similar, but is not what is shown. This is also why there is a bright white sticker at the bottom, denoting the SE-224-XT Black version of the many in this lineup.
"Ideas To Make A Difference" is the tagline for ID-Cooling, and on this side of the box, much further down the panel, we find the 180W TDP rating, along with the various Intel and AMD sockets that are supported.
With a larger box, ID-Cooling has increased the languages covered for the specifications chart to nine this time. The lower portion of the panel is the same as what we saw on the front, just that this time the sticker is a bit worse for wear.
ID-Cooling finishes the box with mentions of features running down the right side of this panel. It is silent; it says that PWM is controlled, uses a 120mm fan, uses heat pipes, has universal mounting, and is easy to install. The lower portion offers site addresses for ID-Cooling and their support, where to the right of them, we find the names of their Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Since we are dealing with a larger and heavier cooler this time, ID-Cooling seems to know what can happen, as now the cooler is surrounded by foam. The fan is in a bag under the tower, with a layer of foam between the two, and we also found a layer of foam between the tower and the hardware box. Protecting the cooler in this fashion has paid off, as the SE-224-XT Black we were shipped is in terrific condition right out of the box!
ID-Cooling SE-224-XT Black CPU Cooler
The first thing we noticed when removing the tower form all of the foam is that everything is black, well almost, as there is some white trim at the top of the tower. The aluminum base is black, the copper heat pipes are black, and so are the forty-six fins in the stack! Above the top fin is a screwed on, plastic cover, which includes pipe tip covers, so that nothing looks out of place.
From the side, we see that the SE-224-XT Black is a thin single tower design, which uses tabs at the front and back of each fin to ensure the fins are properly spaced. Even though there are offset heat pipes, they travel through the tower with even spacing between each of them.
With the leading and trailing edges of the cooler looking identical, we laid the tower down to see the fins' design. We find that the outer edges are flat for fan support, with a stepped-down area with shark-fin shaped tabs and a deeper valley in the tower's center. The deviation of height allows the fan to build a bit of steam before entering through the array.
Since both sides are also indistinguishable, we took the same approach by lying the cooler over to see the fins from a different angle. On either side are the interlocking tabs to keep the spacing, but just inside of them is a groove. These grooves are where the wire fan clips attach to the cooler, and even though this tower ships with a single fan, there is hardware to add another.
From this angle, we can see a few things worth covering. First would be the gentle bends the pipes take as they make their way from the base to the fins. The second point would be that it is much easier to see the heat pipes' offset nature, with every other pipe being shifted from where the one before enters. The last thing to mention is that once coated black, the fins are mated to the heat pipes with a press fit.
With an emphasis on the new base technology being upfront with this cooler and the previous model we tested, it only makes sense to protect the feature. This bright and obvious sticker keeps the base safe from minor dings and scrapes, and also acts as a barrier to fight corrosion on the exposed copper and aluminum.
HDT 3.0 means that more of the base is machined, ensuring gaps between the copper and aluminum are near non-existent. Doing this allows ID-Cooling to claim some 30% better contact than found in their previous coolers. The base is nearly flat, and the circular machining marks are still plainly visible.
We slid the fan under the tower to support it for the image, but where you may have thought this to be a bit on the boring side, the top of the SE-224-XT Black is where the added styling is delivered. The pipe caps and angled bit, being flanked with white strips to accent everything, is a nice touch against the sea of matte black and the ID-Cooling logo in the middle.
Accessories and Documentation
In the hardware box, we found a large bag in which these bits are riding freely inside. We are given four wire fan clips to mount to the tower, and we also see the Intel LGA115X/1200 backplate. With enough paste inside for a few applications, ID-Cooling includes their ID-TG25 thermal grease.
Unlike with the SE-914-XT basic and its hardware left in the natural state, to match the SE-224-XT Black cooler theme, the hardware is also painted to match. At the top are the AM4 top brackets, while below are the universal Intel top brackets for all supported sockets.
In a smaller bag, we found these smaller bits of mounting hardware. Both Intel and AMD systems use the gray spacers, but only Intel systems use the knurled nuts. AM4 mounting will require the four screws, and the standoffs are made to fit LGA 2011/2066 socket motherboards.
The installation guide starts with a list of components found in the box, once it is unfolded. With a few images, you initially run into the AM4 installation procedure, with the Intel socket instructions following. The end of the manual offers a short guide to fix more obvious problems before contacting support, and the address is provided should you need to take that route to find a solution to whatever issue you may encounter.
The 120mm ID-12025M12S fan has a "born-on" date stamped on the sticker in the center of the hub, the frame is black, and so are the nine, sickle-shaped blades. The fan will get power through the 4-pin PWM connector at the end of the black wiring, and rather than tiny foam pads, this 120mm fan uses wide rubber anti-vibration pads in the corners, front, and back.
Installation and Finished Product
The SE-224-XT Black is another cooler that required the default backplate that shipped on the motherboard, with the top portion of cooler retention removed. Once done with that, you place the four gray spacers over the holes, set the brackets on top with the bend outside of the socket holes, and use the provided screws to secure the brackets to the backplate. How tight you go is up to you, as you will not run out of threads, but we recommend this be as tight as possible without exaggerating how much force is needed.
After applying some dots of MX-4 to the CPU, we then sat the cooler in place, aligning the screws that come attached to the base, with the studs on the brackets. Once you get a few threads on each screw going, alternate between the two every few turns to apply even pressure to the HIS. These screws will bottom out and fully compress the springs when they are tight enough.
At this angle, it appears that we see the fan sitting above the memory, but it is only that in height but does not interfere with the RAM at all! The tower is well covered with the fan and could be lowered a touch before hitting the mounting screw, but the pipes are still the tallest part of the cooler as it sits.
ID-Cooling said there was RAM clearance, and if only by the slightest margin between the rubber isolation pads and the sticks, even with a much taller kit installed, the fan will indeed slide in behind it.
Moving the camera back a bit to gain a different perspective, we find that the SE-224-XT Black is clear of all of the motherboard screws, and as it is shipped with one fan, access to the 8-pin EPS connector is wide open. Even if you were to add a second fan, it would be a tight fit to get a hand in there, but it is possible to accomplish.
Considering our build is a mix of black, with gray, metal, and white accents all around, the top of the SE-224-XT Black fits the build near perfectly! We feel the screws might be a bit heavy-handed overall, where clips could have been used, but this option ensures the top cover will not rattle.
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.
The results of the stock test are impressive to us and should be to you as well! At just 61-degrees, the SE-224-XT is swinging well above its weight class, considering it is trading blows with many, more expensive, CPU cooling options! We did see a maximum temperature spike of 65-degrees during this round of testing, and we can say the cooler was sufficiently quiet while attaining these results.
Even with the overclock applied, the SE-224-XT Black holds its ground. With the result of 68.7-degrees as the average, and peaks to 77-degrees, we feel this tower does very well in the chart! Considering many of the coolers below it cost more, and those that beat it are multiples of the SE-224-XT Black cost, we have no reason to downplay the awesomeness this affordable solution brought to the table.
With 2.7 -degrees left on the table, we were able to get the SE-224-XT Black down to 66-degrees with spikes to 73-degrees. However, there is a lot of noise associated with this level of performance!
Noise Level Results
While testing the cooler with the stock CPU settings, we saw the fan top out at 1143 RPM, where the noise level is only 31 dB. Just ever so slightly into the audible range when in a chassis, we will admit that the SE-224-XT Black is quiet in operation!
With the overclock applied, the PWM signal ramps up a bit more, leaving our fan to hit a 1388 RPM top speed. With 240-ish RPM added to the fan speed, the noise increased to 41 dB, which is surely in the audible range until the GPU cooler ramps up.
Even though these results are better than some, the near 3-degree difference between 41 dB to your ears and the 51 dB they are at full speed is more than you need to ever deal with. The results under PWM control are admirable, and there is little need to go beyond what it is already designed to do. As to the speed, our fan was spinning at 1856 RPM the entire time.
Usually, it is typical that we would start with the good, say some not so pleasant things about the product, give you the price, and render a verdict. However, with what we have seen with our SE-224-XT Black is plain impressive! The company it keeps in the thermal charts are Noctua, Zalman, Corsair in both air and liquid cooling with lower fan speeds; it is hard to knock a cooler with this performance level. Is it the best we have ever tested, no!
The reality is that at half, or even a fifth of the cost involved, you can have your cake and eat it too. Considering it can beat out ARCTIC, Thermalright, and a couple of be quiet solutions says much for the value found in the SE-224-XT Black. Ranging a bit in cost, if the version we have shown you is not what you are looking for, ID-Cooling offers nine other options, and it is highly likely one of them will fit your checklist! As to this specific version, we feel it will fit in almost any build and is a perfect option for those that dislike the glow of RGB LEDs inside of their chassis!
The mounting hardware is easy to use and get secured to the motherboard. The user guide will get you through the process, and if, like us, you are proficient in CPU cooler installation, we only needed the manual to ensure we had the proper orientation for the top brackets. We went from a naked CPU to having the cooler installed in about five minutes, and that is with mounting the motherboard onto the test bench. As long as you have a Phillip's head screwdriver, everything else you could need is in the box and at your disposal for use! If we did have to make a complaint, we could go into the noise levels, but we feel that 31 dB with stock setting is fair, and at 41 dB, stressing things even more, is acceptable.
We do not advise sending full power to the fan all of the time, though, as the performance did not justify the noise, and those few degrees do not matter for stability's sake. Even so, ID-Cooling does a much better job keeping the SE-224-XT Black much quieter than the SE-914-XT Basic! It is all about perspective when looking at such things, and again, it is tough to say that noise is a bold reason not to buy this cooler. We almost forgot! There is a slight complaint, but it seems not to affect anything, as even with the slight lean of the tower once installed, it is still able to challenge the big dogs on the porch!
When you think about cost and ponder a nearly $200 cooler in Quiet Mode trading blows with this cooler, it blows the lid off your dome a bit. Even when it comes to the better performing air coolers in the charts, they range in price from $60 to $100, which is still too many multiples of what ID-Cooling requires. When we think back to that $29.99 Amazon listing, we can do nothing but smile! The SE-224-XT Black, or any version for that matter, is well worth a hard look when it comes time to buy a new CPU air cooler.
The facts don't lie, and in this case, they continue to stack up in favor of this tower cooler. While we would likely opt for an RGB or ARGB variant of what we saw here today, we still love what ID-Cooling can accomplish with the SE-224-XT Black! If you do happen to catch this cooler on sale, it sweetens the deal even more because, at the current list price of only $25.49, there should be no doubt in your mind that you should click that add to cart button and buy it ASAP!
The Bottom Line
The SE-224-XT Black is an impressive cooling solution. With better than expected thermal results, and a touch more noise than you may be used to, at only $30 you honestly cannot ask for more from this ID-Cooling product!
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