Do Laptop Coolers Work?

Do Laptop Coolers Work?

I hadn’t bought a notebook cooler for Risk just because I never felt the need to, but like most laptops out there, Risk gets warm too.

Suck or blow?

Antec NoteBook Cooler S

Most cooling pads I looked at had the same basic look: a rectangular pad with two or three fans inside, hooking up to the laptop’s power via USB. Some were obviously some cheap plastic, while some allegedly had the perfect cooling materials in aluminum and ceramics. But the Antec NoteBook Cooler S looked like nothing else. It blows the cool air in rather than suck the air out and claims to lower the temperature by 15 degrees Celsius. I was sold.

Then the lady at the shop that sold this Antec product convinced me not to get it and asked me how quickly my notebook warmed up.

Cool down the over-, not the almost-heating

I really didn’t know. I often get time-warped when I use the computer, so I said in 30 minutes to an hour. She was shocked. She said their notebook at the shop (a white, 12″ MSI) runs the whole day and stays at a decent temperature level without cooling aids. I placed my hand on the notebook and I observed that Risk runs a little warmer than it.

Could it have been the CPU? The GPU? Yes, I was more concerned about the GPU because from experience it had the highest temperature readings.

Buy a well designed notebook!

Of course it was natural for the lady to advise that if I was having temperature problems, then I should have the notebook vendor take a look at it. I guess it’s like treating the symptoms without any prescription instead of going straight to the doctor. Laptops should have been designed properly enough to consider ventilation, of course, but some just aren’t.

But my Risk isn’t suffering from any “hot flashes!” Risk isn’t overheating nor is Risk rebooting automatically. I’m just concerned with the warmness, especially since I don’t use an air conditioner in my room. Sometimes I keep the fan off because it gets chilly at night-’til-dawn. And sometimes I like to use laptop on my lap!

“Buena Mano”

Risk and the cooling pad

Since the lady was actually talking me out of buying the most expensive notebook cooler I saw, I chose to buy the aluminum cooling pad from another place, not to mention a 14-inch screen protector which only they seemed to have. Others had 15-inch and 17-inch ones only. And I even got a free memory card reader for my purchase! They called it buena mano.

Amateur benchmarking

The readings from Everest indicated the CPU was at 29 while the GPU and the hard disk were both 44 degrees.

After connecting the cooler, the GPU temperature went up to as high as 52 degrees! Was there any logic for that? Several times I just left the laptop alone and watched TV in the living room with no graphics-heavy programs on, unless you count Firefox!

Right now it’s 45 degrees. It’s been going up and down erratically. I predict that if I performed a thoroughly scientific statistical analysis with something like ANOVA, I would not be able to conclude either way.

The verdict?

I’ve read about notebook cooling pads that definitely lower the temperature and definitely prevent rebooting due to overheating. I’d say mine isn’t that effective though. Should I have gotten the Antec? Should I have gone to the notebook clinic for a checkup? Perhaps.

18 replies

  1. Interesting article, Ia. Frankly, your notebook temperature is still too low for its processors’ operating temperature before it shuts down.

    My MBP runs at a higher temp than yours and I have never experienced rebooting or shutting down due to the temperature. The fans start running at 85 C. It only happens when I convert videos for my iPod or convert videos to DVD.

    I have not seen your notebook but I suspect that it is not metal like my MBP’s aluminum case. You can comfortably place your notebook on your lap (and accurately call it a laptop) as compared to my MBP. This is one of the reasons why I got the SpeckProducts SeeThru case.

    That new Antec cooler looks cool. It would be great to connect its USB port to my external HDD instead of my MBP. :P Where did you see it and how much did it cost? Does it come with USB ports as well?

    As for me, in addition to the SeeThru case to make mine “lapable”, I use the Rain Design iLap and it works great. At least it does not suck power off of my USB port. :)

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  2. Yup, I did state that the temps weren’t alarmingly high. It’s not that I’m ungrateful, just want to make sure it’s as cool as possible. I’ve compute on my lap and I’m just about the last person to complain of heat because I’d rather have something warm than excessively cold any day.

    Yep, it’s not aluminum (maybe only MBPs are made like that). :D I went shopping at V-Mall and I saw the Antec at a store called Acenet selling for 1,900. I couldn’t see if there were any USB ports (and it would be odd if there were any since it didn’t seem like it had the extra space for that) although my cooler has 4. It can also plug in to an outlet but it doesn’t come with the adapter for it!

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  3. i thought my antec cooler already looked cool, but that antec model looks way more sleek. i bought mine for 1,700 pesos, though it can only connect to a USB port, which means it sucks power from laptop.

    my cooler blows air into the notebook. what about the model that you settled for? (is it also an antec model?)

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  4. @Borjie: Hmm, I think some people have advised that as well, but I didn’t know it could be that effective.

    @Corsarius: Yours is, uh, girly (just like your laptop, haha)! :P And that smaller one appealed to me because it’s silver and black. So that’s what all Antec coolers do, eh? My cooler is an aluminum cooling pad that moves the air out.

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  5. maybe you didn’t connect the cooling pad correctly. a small gap of air between the supposed point of contact could cause insulation rather than conduction.

    an effective design for laptop cooling thingies that I’ve seen (that don’t require power, ie heat sink) is the one with several fins across it’s surface. (naks, ME, hahaha.) ganun ba sayo?

    eh? may plastic cooling pad? how the hell is that supposed to conduct heat? ceramics don’t conduct well either (I think.).

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  6. @Garro: The laptop is flat on the cooling pad with no gaps. I also tried adding a gap to see if the temperature would change but again nothing noticeable. :) Fins across its surface? Where?

    I don’t understand why they’re ceramic ’cause they definitely look metallic to me. But that’s what some reviewers online say.

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  7. Coolers under the laptop simply don’t work too well. I’ve had my household fan under my laptop before and it works better so much better on the side. I simply placed a CD case to bound the wind into the back grills of the laptop. I could not put the fan directly behind since I didn’t have space on my desk.

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  8. Any cooling pad is waste of money , best is small desk fan , it work well for me . Be shure that you get small one . My had clip and stand and i get this think for about $8, just perfect for my need . My notebook is Durabook , it have aluminium and magnesium body . Be shure that you get plenty of air under your lap top . It bring down temperature as much 30- 45 degree no problem at all even in tropical clima . Last year in south Italy I do not believe my eye how effective small desk fan it is, outside temperature was +46 C and my Durabook worked in this temperature for long hours outside relatively cool .

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  9. Well I just recently bought a CoolerMaster NotePal R9, I needed one for my MSI GX600 whenever I Overclock.

    I find it handy as it does decrease my temparature by around 5 degrees or if not, it somehow slows down the heating up of my GPU. Ever since I bought that cooler, my GPU temp never reached 90C, the max it would reach is 85 – 87C at Playing Games.

    Idle time stays at 60 – 65 though…

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