There are plenty of good reasons to have an effective, reliable cooler for your laptop: preventing thigh burns from resting the laptop on your lap, getting better laptop performance from cooler-running components, and improving component and battery life from cooler living conditions. Take a look and see which type of cooler best suits you: the traditional USB-powered fan coolers, non-powered ventilation coolers, such as the X-Pad, or the newer heat-dissipation cooling pads.
USB-Powered Fans: The Active Solution
There are plenty of traditional fan-powered cooling pads available for laptops. These types tend to score higher in performance than in overall function. This is because, while their USB-powered fans do tend to keep a laptop cooler, additional power is drawn from the laptop by the need to plug in to a USB port for power. In addition, these laptop coolers are usually bulkier and more difficult to use while traveling when compared to some of the other non-powered options. Still, you’re going to get the most performance out of a powered cooler, which is, after all, the main goal of a cooler.
Among the highest rated USB-powered coolers are Zalman’s Ultra-Quiet line: the ZM-NC1000, which is built for laptops with screens 14.1 inches and smaller and the ZM-NC1000’s older sibling, the NC2000, which is built for laptops with screens 15.4 inches or larger. Both received excellent ratings in a Bestcovery laptop cooler comparison. Antec’s Notebook Cooler (built for smaller laptops) and Notebook Cooler 200 (built for larger laptops), which run slightly cheaper than the respective Zalman models, have also received respectable ratings from CNET, as well as Bestcovery.
Several non-powered ventilation coolers, the first type of passive cooler, are available, and many of these achieve performance nearly equal to that of the USB-powered choices. This is due to the fact that good ventilation is more important in cooling than creating a lower-temperature atmosphere for laptop computing. In fact, the XPad laptop cooler scored higher than any other laptop cooler in CNET’s laptop cooler in terms of temperature reduction.
Several other brands have similar options available, such as LapWorks and BlueLounge, all designed to increase ventilation rather than blow cool air and suck up extra power, making this a better option if battery life is a concern.
One more type of laptop cooler exists, and it’s the new kid on the block. Chemical cooling gels stored in highly-portable, foldable mats help laptops to dissipate heat. In ideal conditions, these will work just fine and keep both you and your laptop cooler, but ideal conditions aren’t always the norm. As pointed out by several reviewers, this type of cooling pad will kill a laptop’s performance and cause it to heat up even more if the laptop has a bottom intake fan. This is because the softness of the gel and fabric can easily clog such crucial ventilation points on laptops. Still, if portability is a concern, there are few better options than these, since these cooling pads can be rolled up or folded and easily stored in a bag. The best choices for cooling pads come from Thermaltake, Nexus and ThermaPAK.
- Photo Credit Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images