LEPA NEOIllusion Cooler Review: LED-Rich, But One Key Trade-Off

LEPA’s hardware line has grown steadily the past few years to include power supplies, PC cases, and LED case fans, as well as LED-trimmed CPU air- and liquid-cooling products. We will be taking a close look at its quad-heatpipe LED air cooler, the NEOIllusion, to see how it stacks up against other, similar heatpipe tower cooling solutions.

Specifications

The NEOIllusion comes packaged with an impressive assortment of mounting hardware, which covers many current and legacy Intel and AMD processors, although AMD AM4 and TR4 are not currently supported. The cooler is mounted and supported by back plates, crossbars, and standoffs, like many tower coolers of similar design.

Power for the 120x25mm cooling fan is provided via 4-pin PWM, and it can employ the included PWM speed-reduction adapter to allow the cooler to always operate at lowered noise levels; we tested without it. The cooler tower itself houses multi-color LEDs powered by a separate 3-pin fan adapter, although only the two power leads are used and can be powered by a motherboard header or an included 3-pin-to-Molex adapter.

To control the LED lighting on the tower, LEPA has included an infrared sensor atop the cooler that is controlled by a provided 24-button remote. The remote itself is approximately 2.0 x 3.25 inches (51 x 83mm) and comes with a silicon holder grip that also has four, small integrated magnets that allow the remote to be stuck to a steel PC case for ease of access. By using the remote, the cooler can be changed to any of 15 colors, have the LED intensity raised or dimmed, and have the lighting fade or flash in the desired color, as well as have the unit cycle through all colors on the chosen mode. The cooler's LED lighting can be turned on and off, as well.

The NEOIllusion uses four 6mm-diameter copper heatpipes that integrate with an aluminum block base. The base is milled to a smooth, bright finish and allows direct contact of the heatpipes with the CPU surface. The heatpipes extend from the aluminum base up and through the cooling tower and are coated in a semi-gloss black thermal paint that matches the cooling fins.

The LEPA NEOIllusion cooling tower design has the heatpipes offset on either side to allow greater thermal dispersion through the fin structure. The cooling fan itself is rated at 75 CFM and the fan blades offer a dual convex design for focused airflow through the cooling fins. Although the fan itself does not have LED lighting, the tower itself has integrated LEDs along both sides, beneath white, ladder-like diffusion shields and beneath the LEPA logo centered atop the tower itself. The cooling fan ships affixed to a one-piece snap-retention mount, which clips to each side of the cooling tower and uses a rubber pad in each corner to isolate vibration noise.

During cooler installation to the crossbar and mounts, we found that when we began to secure the spring-tension screws, the base crossbars for our Intel 2011v3 CPU mounts began to flake and shed their nickel plating around the contact point where the tensioners were seating. This can easily become a major problem, as this flaked nickel plating could find its way into DIMM or PCI Express slots, or elsewhere on the motherboard, causing an electrical shorting hazard that could cause permanent hardware damage.

Once we had the cooler securely mounted, we thoroughly dusted the motherboard with canned air. A quick look at online reviews of this cooler seems to indicate that this is a widely known problem, and solutions were to RMA the cooler, find alternative mounts, or to file down the possible problem areas prior to installation.

Once we had the LEPA NEOIllusion tower installed, the fan assembly simply snapped to the tower, and the power connection was made. The NEOIllusion itself did not interfere or overhang any motherboard DIMM slots or provide any obstruction in or around our test system hardware, which is to be expected for a compact heatpipe tower of this design. The cooling tower can be mounted either vertically or horizontally, depending on airflow need, and while the single-fan install is standard, we would have liked to see the inclusion of an additional mount to allow another fan in push/pull for additional performance, if desired.

MORE: Best CPU Cooling

MORE: How To Choose A CPU Cooler

MORE: All Cooling Content