Antec Laptop Cooler Review

skinny - 2007-01-27 23:14:13 in Cooling, Mobile
Category: Cooling, Mobile
Reviewed by: skinny   
Reviewed on: May 18, 2006
Antec
GF City Computers
Price: $30 USD

Introduction
In the world of computers, heat tends to be a bad thing. Heat is a major limiting factor in the performance of most computers, especially laptops, which do not have room for large fans or other cooling systems due to their compact size.

This is where an external notebook or laptop cooler, like this one from Antec, comes in handy. The design of this cooler allows a constant airflow underneath the laptop, bringing in cool air and removing the hot air. This constant circulation of air, in theory, helps the performance of the laptop. Anyone who has used their laptop on their legs will also appreciate not having the hot bottom of the laptop resting directly on their thighs.

Antec has been around since 1986, and has experience in providing high quality computer parts to both users and retailers. Their current lineup includes items such as cases, power supplies, cooling fans, lighting components, and other accessories.


Closer Look
The Antec Laptop Cooler comes packaged in a pleasantly-styled cardboard box with a built-in carry handle in the top. Product details and specifications are provided in 5 different languages on the box, with specifications laid out on one side panel. The cooler is packaged in Styrofoam.

 


 

 

 



There is no software included nor required, and the only wiring included is tucked into a small storage compartment in the base of the cooler. This 15" long wire has a pass-through USB plug on one end and a 5V/0.4A plug on the other.

 



The cooler is made of black plastic (a pearl white one is also available) with an aluminum panel coving most of the top. Underneath the cover are two 80mm fans, which pull air from the bottom of the laptop and blow it downward through vents on the back and right side. Four large rubber feet are located on the bottom corners to provide a solid, non-slip feel. The left side is where you will find a dual position switch to control the two fan speeds, a blue LED power indicator, and the plug for the power cord.

 

Installation
Installation is simple. Remove the power cord from the storage area on the bottom of the cooler by pressing on the tab that is labeled "Push". Remove the cord, replace the storage area cover, and plug the DC plug into the left side of the cooler. Place the cooler on a firm, stable surface in an area where the vents on the cooler are not blocked. Place your notebook computer onto the aluminum surface of the cooler, and ensure that the rubber feet of the computer are located on the surface of the cooler. This can be difficult depending on the location of the laptops feet because of the non-rectangular shape of the cooler. Making sure that the feet of the computer are on the cooler will ensure a gap between the cooler and the computer, allowing for efficient air flow. Once you have the Laptop sitting on the cooler, plug the USB end of the power cord into an available USB jack on your laptop. Another USB device can then be plugged into the pass-through USB plug; however, due to the draw of the cooler, any additional device using this plug can not require more than 0.1 Amps of current, or 0.5 Watts of power. As soon as the computer is powered on, the fans will be running. You can then adjust the fan speed between the two settings.


Specifications


Testing
After years of using my laptop for everything from photo-editing to gaming to watching DVD's, I have found that watching DVD movies causes the computer to run the hottest. To verify running temperatures, a Raytek infra-red temp meter was used. Temperatures were obtained by slowly scanning the entire surface area of the top (keyboard area) and bottom of the laptop, as well as the surface of the desk where the cooler was sitting. Temperatures were taken prior to turning the computer on, and then at half hour intervals until the temperatures appeared to have stabilized. A DVD movie was then started, and the half hour tests continued until temperatures stabilized, at which time the cooler was plugged in on the highest setting, and temperatures were again taken every half hour. The computer was allowed to idle for 3 hours after the DVD ended, and temperatures were again taken to see what the temperatures would stabilize at. The lowest and highest temperature readings were taken at each interval.

Testing Setup


The cooler was placed onto a standard wooden desk top with no additiona; fans set anywhere. The room was at a comfortable room temperature, with no noticeable air currents to alter the cooler's efficiency.

Results

Readings were taken at half hour intervals. At the 90 minute point, the DVD was started and at the 150 minute mark, the cooler was turned on. After obtaining three hours worth of reading, I allowed the system to idle for another three hours to check what the standard idle temperature would be.

All temps are in Degrees Celsius



  Top surface temp Bottom surface temp Desk temp
Start (power off) 22.5 22.9 22.1
30 min (running, no DVD, no cooler) 28.8 28.0/34.4 26.4/28.6
60 min (running, no DVD, no cooler) 27.8/33.2 28.4/36.7 26.2/29.3
90 min (DVD started, no cooler) 27.8/33.2 26.3/41.4 25.7/32.3
120 min (DVD running, no cooler) 29.6/34.4 27.3/43.8 25.3/32.1
150 min (DVD running, cooler on) 26.6/31.8 25.7/34.4 26.4/28.4
180 min (DVD running, cooler on) 27.7/31.2 24.7/35.9 26.9/28.3
3 hours running, no DVD, cooler on 24.3/27.1 24.6/30.1 25.6/26.1













Looking at these numbers, one can see that while the cooler has limited effects on the temperature of the top surface (approximately 3-4 degrees cooler between DVD / no-DVD, and no-DVD / system idle), it has a much more significant effect on the bottom of the computer and the desk surface. The maximum temperature of the bottom surface of the computer was brought down by approximately 8 degrees while the DVD was operating, and approximately 6 degrees while the system was idling. Desk surface temperatures were reduced between 2-4 degrees in these same comparisons.

Conclusion
These numbers show that the Antec Notebook Cooler is definitely effective in reducing the operating temperatures of a laptop computer. Although the instructions say to use the cooler on a firm, stable surface, most of my laptop use is with my lap acting as my desk. There is a very noticeable reduction in temperatures while using the cooler when compared to not using it. I did find, however, that the cooler tends to bend slightly when on an uneven surface or being lifted, causing a rubbing sound from the fans. The cooler has a pleasant design, although that design can create some difficulty when trying to place a laptop securely on the surface. The cooler is slim enough to easily fit in most laptop cases, but the almost 1" height does create a noticeable lift to the keyboard. This lift can cause some wrist discomfort, although I am sure that a slight adjustment to the work area could eliminate this. The weight is not noticeable. While the two fan speeds are a nice option, I found that I rarely used the lower speed. The fans are quiet enough that even on the high speed, they are not very noticeable, and by keeping the computer temperatures lower, it prevented the loud high-speed fan on the computer from kicking in, which reduced operating volume. By powering the cooler with USB, the user is saved from the cost of batteries, or from trying to locate an extra power supply while using the cooler away from a desk, such as in a vehicle.

The Antec Notebook Cooler works as advertised with its nice design, small size, and being conveniently powered. It is easy to transport and set up. The large non-slip rubber feet on the base form a very solid base. The power cord is long enough to reach any side of the laptop, but short enough to not be dangling loosely and getting in the way. The product includes a three year warranty which covers faulty manufacture or faulty components.

This product worked very well for me. I would recommend it to anyone who regularly uses a laptop computer and is concerned about the operating temperatures, or simply wishes to not have such a hot surface resting on their legs, desk, or wherever they choose to use the computer. And, Also, as laptops become more and more advanced, including high-end gamer laptops, the temperatures will increase, making laptop coolers like this one a very good investment.

 




Pros

  • Aesthetically pleasing (looks nice)
  • Compact size
  • Powered by included USB, doesn't require outside power source
  • Brings down computer temperatures significantly
  • Very quiet when in use
  • Includes warranty

Cons

  • Cooler flexes on uneven surfaces or when being lifted
  • Cooler shape prevents some laptops from sitting firmly on cooler surface

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