CM Storm SF-17 Gaming Notebook Cooler ReviewWesstron - August 5, 2013
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CM Storm SF-17 Gaming Notebook Cooler:
Right out of the box, the sheer size of the unit is intimidating! This all black behemoth is made of plastic, mesh, and rubber. It measures roughly 470x327x55 mm (18.5"x12.8"x2.1") and weighs a hefty 1.9 kilograms (4.1 pounds). You better have the desktop real estate to accommodate the CM Storm SF-17 Gaming Notebook Cooler. In addition, a larger-than-standard laptop bag is mandatory if the cooler is to be lugged around with the usual array of laptop accessories.
CM Storm SF-17 Gaming Notebook Cooler is very similar in terms of looks to the SF-19 Strike Force. It sports a rugged angular build that reminds me of the ASUS ROG G series laptops. The top of the unit is dominated by the mesh section in the center that protects the 180mm fan rated at 700-1200 RPM. With such specifications, the fan should move enough air around without much noise. The top and bottom rubber pieces are CM Storm branded, while the side ones are pure black. The 180mm fan is visible through the mesh although it's not removable; disassembling the whole unit is mandatory if maintenance or replacement is needed. The back of the unit has a large square cout-out in the centre where the casing of the fan fits in. The intake cut-outs are whirlpool-shaped and do not seem to take advantage of the area available. A mesh section on the back would allow for a less restricted airflow. On each corner, a piece of rubber serves as a raiser and stabilizer for the cooler.
The front contains the hinge that enables the CM Storm SF-17 Gaming Notebook Cooler to be set up at four different typing angles. A red Tron-like light runs across the bottom for some eye candy, if you so desire. Fortunately the option to turn the light off is available. At the back of the unit is a large rubber piece that doubles as a carrying handle as well as a cable management groove. A smaller rubber piece for cable management is located on each side. The cable management concept seems to be more efficient than what was implemented in the CM Notepal U2 Plus that I looked at a few weeks ago.
The left side of the unit is solid black plastic, while the right side is where all the action is going on. First is a stepless fan speed dial that also provides on/off functionality; the dial feels solid but somehow lacks smoothness. To the right of the speed dial are four USB2 ports for extra connectivity. Out of the box, the ports are powered by the laptop and the battery life will pay the toll without the non-provided power adapter. Next in line is a Mini-B USB port to connect the CM Storm SF-17 to the laptop with the provided USB cable; in the same area is located a Micro-B USB port rated at 5V to connect a power adapter. Last in line is an on/off button for the red lights on the front. On top of the connectivity area is located a cable management groove, with the same design mirrored on the left side of the unit.
The CM Storm SF-17 Gaming Notebook Cooler can be adjusted at four height settings to accommodate different typing or viewing angles. The mechanism is pretty simple yet does a great job keeping everything stable. The cooler did not feel wobbly during the testing. Toward the front are located two retention tabs for extra support when the higher positions are set. Nice touch from Cooler Master considering that the anti-slip rubber pads might lose to gravity when it comes to heavier laptops.
To illustrate the unit in a real life setup, below are some pictures with the laptop that will be used for testing. I found the lowest height setting to be perfect for my comfort. The 15.6" laptop is a perfect match for the CM Storm SF-17 Gaming Notebook Cooler; it will easily manage bigger laptops as stated by the manufacturer without any stability issues. The whole light show is a waste of energy in my book and the cooler drawing power from the battery makes it even more of a questionable feature.