Cooler Master has presented us with another laptop cooling product. In our previous review we talked about how some aim for cooling, comfort, portability or any combination of the three. The Cooler Master NotePal LapAir clearly aims more for the comfort range of the laptop cooling market.
Product Name: Cooler Master NotePal LapAir
Review Sample Provided by: Cooler Master
Review by: Jakob Barnard
Pictures by: Jakob Barnard
- Noiseless fan with great cooling performance.
- Comfy sponge mat provides comfort.
- Ergonomic design for best viewing/typing angle.
- Easy access to fan for quick cleaning.
- Powered by USB port extender, you won't lose a USB port.
- Cable grooves for easy USB cable management.
- Supports up to 17" laptops.
Cooler Master shipped· the NotePal LapAir in a box with their usual white and pink coloring. The front of the box shows a picture of the product and the back walks you through the various features. The tag-line on the front states that it is “Versatile, Silent, Comfortable,” which we will be testing those claims later in this review. Opening the box up we can see that the cooler is protected by two foam pieces and a plastic bag. As with the X-Slim, the LapAir is self contained and doesn’t require any accessories. The USB cable is built into the product.
The NotePal LapAir as I mentioned is self contained. This is because of a new feature that they are using with the USB cable that powers the fan. It is actually a USB pass-through cable. This is identical to what we just saw with the X-Slim version of the NotePal line. The concept is nice, though if you chain anything off of it, you will have to be careful about moving it around a lot as it sticks out a fair way. With anything larger than a 15” laptop I would find this annoying as the cooler is meant for lap use (hence the name),
For testing I used my Dell Latitude E6410 fitting nicely in that middle 15” range. There is a comfortable amount of room using this size of laptop. Operation of the fan was simple – plug it into any USB port on the laptop and the fan kicked in.
The Dell laptop that I used for testing usually keeps itself at a moderate temperature, but naturally we are going to push it a little bit here. With laptop coolers I use two applications in 15 minute cycles. The first test is taking a temperature at full idle after 15 minutes, using SpeedFan to take the temperature. The second test is maxing out all four cores on the CPU using MaxCPU for 15 minutes and taking a temperature reading. The third and final test is repeating the test with the laptop cooling fan running.
Before we even discuss the chart above it is important to make one very important note about laptop coolers which I say in every laptop cooler review - your mileage will vary! They are *highly* dependent on how your laptop is constructed and how the ventilation is designed. The Dell laptops I tend to work with have more side venting than bottom venting. Coolers can help, but have limited penetration of the casing.
The difference in temperature was relatively small - only 1.5 degrees Celsius. I suspect this is due to the LapAir having a relatively small fan when compared to the X-Slim. This makes it harder for it to penetrate the side venting on the laptop I am testing with. However, having a cooler did result in a lower overall temperature during extreme use. During normal usage when you only have spikes in temperature periodically, this will help remove the excess heat buildup quicker.
Overall I had mixed feelings about this product. It certainly made the laptop a bit more comfortable when sitting on the couch using a laptop. However, it weighs about 2.6 lbs or 1.2 kg. When compared to something like the X-Slim which clocked in at 1.5 lbs or 0.7 kg, it just felt heavy. To make sure I wasn’t imagining this, I brought the LapAir downstairs and had my wife try it out with her laptop. With no explanation and no questions, the only comment I received was that it seemed a bit heavy to add to her laptop.
The fan noise was more audible as well. It certainly wasn’t loud and would easily be covered by just about anything else. I suspect this is due to comparing the larger 160mm fan of the X-Slim to the 80mm fan found in the LapAir. The specifications list them as 21 and 23 dBA respectively, though in testing I couldn’t hear the X-Slim and I could hear the LapAir. My feelings about the USB extender are the same as I covered in the X-Slim. I view it as a negative, but that is purely a personal preference and many might view it as a positive. In a cooler that is meant to be used in the absence of a desk, I really don’t see the purpose of it. Although even without a purpose it doesn't hurt to have it included.
Those negatives aside, it really did add to the comfort of working without a desk. The LapAir isn’t something you would throw in your laptop bag and bring with you, but it really isn’t meant to. It is something you can lean against the side of the couch, your favorite chair, or some other location and have available. Once in your favorite computing location you can have a bit more comfort while cooling down your laptop and keeping the heat off of your legs. This is a laptop cooler that fits a very narrow and specific niche. I would not recommend it if you are looking for something ultra-quiet and/or ultra-portable. I would recommend it though if you find yourself working in long stretches on a laptop without a desk.