Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
We have all seen a few of the dual-fan single-tower CPU coolers in the past, and for the most part, they are largely disappointing. Typically, when you see such a cooler, it performs a couple or a few degrees better than the single-fan models but comes with extra noise, which in the end, is not usually worth the effort. However, every once in a while, there is an outlier that figures out how to buck the trends and can come through our testing with flying colors, not only delivering performance that is above expectations but can do so affordably and near silently, which is something we all like when it comes to CPU air cooling.
ID-Cooling has been around a while now, and most of the coolers they have sent over, at least with their air cooling solutions we have seen, are lackluster when it comes to the thermals, even though they may be attractive looking and keep much of the noise at bay. Many of the air coolers we have seen are what we would call stock replacement options and are not typically what we would advise should you want to torture the CPU under it. However, there comes a time in just about every company's history where they design a product that hits the trifecta with a sleek-looking appearance, minimal investment required, and is also able to stand tall in our charts, to the point of being almost shocking.
Somehow, someway, ID-Cooling is taking us back to the days of coolers like the TRUE, pretty much anything from Xigmatek years ago, Prolimatech, or even the Thermolab Baram, where a single 120mm-based tower can deliver impressive results without spending a fortune to get everything you wanted from a CPU air cooler. Keep in mind, the era we are speaking of is 2009 to 2010, and since then, air coolers tended to increase in cost, and the only direction manufacturers were taking was to ensure low noise was the priority, performance be damned. As you might be able to tell, we are delighted with the SE-225-XT Black that has been placed in front of us by ID-Cooling, and if you are in the market for the next big thing in air cooling, you may want to pay close attention to what follows.
The chart we are following can be found on the product page for the SE-225-XT Black, and it starts with compatibility. On the Intel side of the fence, all LGA115X sockets are supported, and LGA1200, LGA2011, and LGA2066 motherboard users can also fit this cooler. When it comes to AMD users, you must be using an AM4 motherboard to use the SE-225-XT Black.
We then run into specifications of the tower, where we see a TDP rating of 220W. Dimensionally, the tower stands 154mm tall, it is 108mm deep, and is 128mm in width. The fin array is stacked on five 6mm diameter heat pipes, and in the same box, it does note that the fins are made of aluminum, but no mention of how many. Counting from the tower, we got to fifty-five fins with a thicker cover on top, all of which are then coated to be black, as the cooler's name alludes. Including the fans and all of the included bits in the box, the overall weight given is 1200 grams.
The rest of the chart deals with the pair of included fans that cool the tower. Both are identical in aesthetics as well as specifications for these 120mm, 1800 RPM non-LED fans. These fans can deliver 76.16 CFM of airflow at full speed while delivering 2.16 mmH2O of static pressure. As most do, these fans draw from the 12V line in the PC but work within the range of 10.8V to 13.2V, but even with that knowledge shown, ID-Cooling then states it takes 7V to get them spinning. However, with just 3W needed for each fan, and the fact that they draw just 0.25A ensures that a single fan header is more than capable of controlling these fans via the PWM connection they both have.
As we do, when it comes to the end of the specifications, we discuss the cost. Shop wisely, as at Newegg, all we found were third-party listings, the cheapest of which is $58. However, one look at Amazon, and we found the listing where ID-Cooling is listed as the seller, and the price drops to just $44.99 to obtain this beast of a single-tower CPU air cooler. Even though with the performance you are about to see, you are likely willing to pay more, as the market and our charts allude to the fact that if you want the best performance, you will have to pay for it. However, it is excellent that ID-Cooling is taking us back in time with performance and styling, and at the same time, delivering us a superior cooler with prices that echo years past as well.
As ID-Cooling does for all of its air coolers, the SE-225-XT Black comes in a black box with bright orange trim. On the face of this box, we see a view of the tower front and center, while the company name and slogan are found at the top, and the full name of the cooler is housed in the orange stripe.
On the right side of the packaging, there is little to see. Near the bottom of the matte black portion of the box, we are shown compatibility. The orange stripe is used to display icons of compliances, use of recycled materials, a note not to bin the cooler, etc.
The back of the box starts with the company name and slogan at the top again, but this time, most of it is used to display the specifications. All of the information shown here is found in the specs chart, with nothing new to glean. As on the front, the orange stripe delivers the name of the product.
The left side of the box starts with small icons, as we saw on the other side, but this time, they are features. They cover silent operation, it's easy to install, it uses heat pipes, the fans are PWM controlled, it offers universal mounting, it has a black coating, and the included fans are 120mm in size. The bottom of the panel is used to provide addresses for ID-Cooling as well as social media links.
Once the box is opened, you will first find the hardware box with literature below it at the top. The tower is wrapped in open-cell foam on four sides, and ID-Cooling uses a fan on either side of the exposed cooler to protect it in transit. While not the best internal packaging we have seen, it allowed our SE-225-XT Black to arrive in perfect condition, without a single blemish.
ID-Cooling SE-225-XT Black CPU Cooler
From the front of the tower, we can see that the SE-225-XT Black comes with fifty-five fins stacked on five heat pipes with their tips exposed above the thicker fifty-sixth fin at the top. Under the fins, we can see the pipes entering and exiting the one-piece base, where the cross-bar is already mounted to help make installation a tad easier.
Looking at the side of the cooler, we find that the edges of the fin stack are primarily flat and runs in line with the bent tabs used to keep even spacing of the fins while also acting to capture some of the airflow. Below the stack, we see that the five heat pipes are tightly grouped, with no signs of distortion from the bends are visible from this angle.
With the front and back of the tower being identical, we laid it down to look at the edge design. We find that the fins are mainly flat across their width, with a V-groove running through the center of all of them. However, there are also a pair of U-grooves on either side, but they do not continue to the top of the cooler. They fall ten fins short of that.
Both sides of the tower are also the same, and at this angle, you can see what we were saying about it being flat and the use of the tabs. However, we can also see the angled sections near the center, which allow the wire fan clips to lock onto the sides of the tower.
Under the fin array, we looked at the pipes entering the stack and found them to be done with a press-fit. One thing worth mentioning is that the look of the pipes from the other side of the tower has them in reverse. By this, we mean that the two in the center are on the outside, and the three are run on the inside.
Once the tower is fully assembled and coated, the base gets machined. We can see aluminum exposed on either side, which is the base place that locks the pipes into place. The center of the base is made of the five copper heat pipes and has some of the widest gaps between them we have seen in quite a while. As for the surface, it is flat across its width, but there are semicircular machining marks left visible.
The top of the tower offers a look not seen on many towers, even those coated similarly to this. The top plate on the tower is highly textured and matte black, with just the ID-Cooling logo presented in the middle of the heat pipes.
Accessories and Documentation
The hardware that accompanies the SE-225-XT Black sticks to the color theme and is matte black as well. On the left, we have the mainstream Intel top brackets with multiple holes at the ends. In the middle is the mainstream Intel backplate, drilled to allow socket screws through it, and it comes with isolating washers on the studs to keep it from touching the back of the motherboard. That leaves us with the pair of brackets on the right, which are used with AM4 motherboards.
The following bits of hardware are also for mounting purposes. At the top-left, we get a set of four knurled nuts to be used with the Intel motherboards. The gray spacers are slid on top of the backplate studs to support the top brackets for Intel boards but are also needed with AM4 motherboards. The bottom row shows us a set of four standoffs for use with LGA2011 and LGA2066 systems, where the four screws offered are for use with AM4 sockets and the factory backplates that come on said motherboards.
ID-Cooling includes a large tube of ID-TG25, but it is only filled with enough TIM for two or three applications. Since the tower is cooled with a pair of fans, it is nice to see a Y-splitter cable allowing PWM control of both fans from a single motherboard header. Oddly, this tower comes with an LGA775 preload rubber spacer even though it is incompatible, but we find four wire fan clips that allow both fans to be attached to the tower.
The included fans are 120mm in size, black, and on the hydraulic bearing, nine black blades spin. On the hub, when looking at the front of the fans, we see just the ID-Cooling logo, but on the back, we can see the ID-12025M12S part number, should you want to buy a replacement to match, in the chance of a fan dying after warranty support has finished.
As installation guides do, ID-Cooling shows how to install the SE-225-XT Black on the various Intel sockets in two sections, with the third section for AMD. Done mainly with renderings, the instructions are easy to follow and can guide even the most novice user to success and use of this CPU cooler in just a few minutes.
Installation and Finished Product
To get to where we are now, we removed the factory screws and the plastic clips from the top of the motherboard, leaving the backplate from AMD in place. We then set the gray spacers over the protruding bits of the backplate, laid the top brackets in place, and locked it all into place using the screws from ID-Cooling.
Locking the tower to the hardware has to be done without the fan installed, as the spring-loaded screws are under them. Once done, we stepped back a bit to see how it looks from the front. The fan installs on the tower at nearly the height of our RAM, and the black on black theme continues with our system, matching what the SE-225-XT Black delivers.
In the age of single-tower coolers clearing everything around the socket, we are sad to say that ID-Cooling is a few millimeters off in this respect. With the fan just below the heat spreaders of our RAM, with all four slots populated, the rubber isolation material at the corners does force our RAM to the left a bit. Not enough to make the memory unstable or unrecognized, but touching at all is something we should not be seeing.
As we move back to see how the cooler clears other bits, we will assume that clearance to RAM behind the cooler is the same. Still, we do have full access to the 8-pin connector for the motherboard, and we had room under the tower to tuck in the long lengths of fan power cable as well as the Y-splitter.
Once we had all of the components installed and can see it like this, we see that clearance to our GPU is fine, and even if using the first slot, you will be good to go there as well. With the mix of blacks in our choice of components, the SE-225-XT Black is a perfect fit for the theme.
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.
Our stock temperature we a surprise to us, as we had no expectations of this level of performance. Yes, ID-Cooling took eighth place overall, but let us put that in context. The first seven on the list are AIOs, none smaller than a 240mm option, and the air cooler just above it is a massive beast with a nearly $100 price tag. At just a little less than five degrees from the lead, at half to maybe even a third of the cost, we have nothing to complain about thus far.
Applying the overclock, the SE-225-XT Black can move up a couple of places, now ahead of the CNPS20X and all other air coolers we have tested. Again, about five degrees from top honors, but none of the cost associated with getting every last drop of performance from the likes of the AIOs listed above it. Yet again, the SE-225-XT Black impresses us beyond anything we expected to see from such a design.
Even though this chart shows what is left in the tank, the ID-Cooling SE-225-XT Black moves up the chart again. However, the only thing left for us to take advantage of was 1.9-degrees. This means that ID-Cooling has one of the best PWM curves, optimized to leave as little performance on the table while keeping the noise levels to a minimum.
Noise Level Results
Even though the 34 dB we heard while testing the stock run of testing pushes the SE-225-XT towards the bottom of the list, we are more than happy with the noise level compared to the thermal performance of this cooler. At this time, our intake fan topped out at 1259 RPM, with the exhaust fan spinning slightly slower, with a maximum of 1241 RPM.
Think back to the thermal performance a second with the overclock applied and PWM still in control of the fans, realize that we can top the thermal charts while just increasing the noise 2 dB. The intake fan was slower at 1290 RPM, while the exhaust fan was seen spinning at 1326 RPM, showing 36 dB on the meter.
Remembering back to gaining that last 1.9-degrees of performance, audible, it is not worth the effort. The fans spun at 1841 RPM on the intake and 1828 RPM on the exhaust; we run into an ear-splitting 53 dB at full whack. In our minds, there should never be a need to run these fans at full speed, as ID-Cooling maximized all aspects of this tower, and deliver you a superior CPU air cooler without the need to ask for more from it.
Running all of the aspects back through our mind, we think first of the looks. In that respect, ID-Cooling has delivered a sleeper. Aesthetically, the SE-225-XT Black is murdered-out with an all-black appearance, with only the ID-Cooling logos on the fans and the top of the tower to let you know who made this beast. While black coolers are nothing new, it has been quite a while since something as ordinary-looking as this cooler is has impressed us this much. Not only does it fit very well with our and many builds, which users will put together, but it also has more enjoyment to be had beyond how well it looks.
However, there is one downfall that fits this section. While there are no attempts to make this tower an offset design, ID-Cooling ever so slightly misses on clearance to the RAM on our system. With what we saw of the capabilities beyond fitment, we can let that go based on the fact that many do not run four-stick kits outside of HEDT, but we will have to remove points for this.
Looks may get a buyer interested, but thermal and audio performance should seal the deal, and ID-Cooling comes out swinging in these regards. Thermally, for its size, this is the best single-tower CPU cooler we have tested on our AM4 system. Not only is it the class leader, but it can also surpass many more expensive and much larger designs. One could say that with enough airflow and noise, this could be easily done, but the reality is what it is, and while not the best solution for most silent coolers, we feel ID-Cooling toed the line. With a maximum of 36 dB with PWM in control of the RPM, we cannot complain.
Yes, you could do better with other fans, but that would increase the overall cost, making no sense to us. The entire idea behind the SE-225-XT Black is to give users a great solution in air cooling while at the same time not breaking the bank. In our minds, we cannot see how ID-Cooling could have done better when it comes to our testing methodology, and we applaud them for being a standout in a crowd of blacked-out CPU air coolers.
All of what we have mentioned takes us back to when we thoroughly enjoyed testing CPU coolers when the hunt for top-tier performance was king. With the latest trends catering to sound, or a lack of any at all, performance has taken a back seat for quite a while. The saddest bit about it all is that over time, coolers that used to ship for less than $50 were somehow valued at twice that cost. ID-Cooling has stepped up big with the release of the SE-225-XT Black. Even though it uses a pair of fans to accomplish its stellar thermal results, noise is kept to a minimum, and at the end of it all, to say we are shocked by what we saw has to be the understatement of the year.
At a glance, one would never expect what we saw, and all of this can be had with a few minutes' worth of installation and the paltry sum of just $44.99. Look no further for those looking for the next "big thing" or even those looking to save some cash while vastly improving upon stock cooler efforts. The SE-225-XT Black is worth every bit of the investment and is everything ID-Cooling boasted it could be.
The Bottom Line
With a complete lack of RGB/ARGB of any sort, the SE-225-XT Black is still an amazing solution to CPU air cooling. ID-Cooling took us on a nostalgic trip to the exciting years of CPU cooler design, and proves you do not have to go huge or be excessive with cost to top our charts!