Last week at DigitalLife, we had a chance to talk to computer power supply/accessory/enclosure manufacturer Antec about some newly released and upcoming products. One of these was its USB-powered NoteBook Cooler S. At first site we were pretty unimpressed with the looks and design of the device. However, despite a couple shortcomings, it’s a pretty great little device that turned out to be much more effective than we originally thought.
Unlike the other laptop coolers Antec makes that sit under the entire notebook, the new NoteBook Cooler S is meant to sit just under the back edge of your system with the two fans entirely uncovered. This lets the two fans draw air in and blow it out underneath the notebook, keeping the entire bottom cooled. And we mean cool. Plus, it raises the back of the notebook, providing a comfortable tilt to the keyboard.
We tested it on two different laptops, an Apple PowerBook G4 and an HP Compaq Presario V3000 series, and they never came close to getting more than just a little warm to the touch–even under heavy loads while running some benchmarking tests. Also, while it does draw its power from your system, it didn’t have a noticeable effect on performance or battery life and the pass-through connector means you’ve still got use of the USB port.
The complaints we have are minor, but we’ve still got them. First, it’s not terribly attractive and the plastic feels cheap, though it seems solid enough to put up with some abuse. Because of its size and the way your laptop must be positioned on the Cooler S to work properly, you’ll likely want to use this only on a table top, since using it on your lap is a bit of a balancing act. Finally, while it is meant for travel and it’s certainly smaller than most solutions, the height of the fans makes it bulky.
Again, these aren’t huge problems considering how well this thing cools laptops with just two little fans and with a street price of $30 it’s an affordable solution to keep your system from bursting into flames.
Antec NoteBook Cooler S [Product page]
EDIT: Reader Kat makes a good point as the cooler does take up some extra desk space that solutions that tuck under the entire notebook wouldn’t. However, since this is designed to be a mobile unit we thought that it might be used on a surface with more room, like a table in a restaurant, and forgave Antec for extending the back of our notebooks a couple inches.