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

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Testing Results & Conclusions

For our comparison testing, we make use of data from standardized testing methods collected during prior CPU-cooling reviews on our Intel Core i7-5930K platform, clocked at 4.2GHz and 1.20V. We will be looking at the LEPA NEOIllusion against the FSP Windale 6, the Arctic Freezer 33 eSports Edition, and the Noctua NH-U14S. Each cooler is mounted to provide horizontal airflow through the front of the cooling tower and warm air exhausting toward the rear case fan.

Right away, we see that the NEOIllusion loses some ground to the rest of the pack in terms of overall CPU core thermal readings during the Prime95 load testing. In a positive spin, we do see that the LEPA is able to keep the local motherboard voltage regulators relatively cool, like the rest of the testing group, so we aren’t able to pin these higher temperatures on airflow alone.

While allowing the highest CPU load temperatures of the group, the NEOIllusion also does so at the highest registered sound levels of the group.

As expected, we see that the LEPA NEOIllusion trails the pack for Acoustic Efficiency, as you would expect given the higher reported load temps and louder noise levels versus the test group. Here, we see the FSP Windale with a strong lead at 100% fan speed, and the Arctic Freezer 33 eSports Edition and the Noctua NH-U14S running away with the half-speed results.

While the NEOIllusion's MSRP of $50 does fall under our test group's price average, it simply doesn’t provide low enough thermal readings or sound levels to make up for this advantage. Meanwhile, we see the FSP Windale 6 showing that, despite being the lowest-priced unit of the four, it was able to maintain placement against the more expensive units and sprint to the finish. The higher costs of the Noctua and Arctic coolers reigned them back in on the overall Performance Value chart.

The LEPA NEOIllusion does do a lot of things well from our perspective, so don’t let the charts above tell the entire tale. We appreciated the overall ease of installation, minus the concern around the flaking nickel plating. The LED control, by virtue of the handheld remote, provided real-world usefulness and simplicity. When we wanted a different look inside the case, we just pressed a button, where otherwise we would either need to open the case door to press an adapter button, or launch and use a software application. There is also the simple fact that the cooler is a looker, and the use of opaque lighting covers over the LEDs allows the color to glow much more vividly than our photos would seem to suggest.

LEPA claims on its website that the NEOIllusion is rated for 200+ watts of cooling power, however we are seeing it struggle a bit to wrangle the load temperatures on our overclocked, six-core, Core i7-5930K, which pushes up around the same 200W neighborhood for TDP. However, the NEOIllusion would be much more at home installed atop a quad-core CPU that is mildly to moderately overclocked for a lower, overall thermal ceiling. That is where we would envision most of this cooler's active duty being served best.

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Garrett Carver
CPU Cooling Reviewer

Garrett Carver is a contributor for Tom’s Hardware, primarily covering thermal compound comparisons and CPU cooling reviews; both air and liquid, including multiple variations of each.