Cooler Master Notepal U2 Plus Cooling Pad ReviewWesstron - May 29, 2013
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Cooler Master Notepal U2 Plus Cooling Pad Closer Look:
The Notepal U2 Plus is made of sand blasted aluminum, which gives it solidity and light weight at only 1.34 pounds. This cooler pad measures 13.6 x 11.1 x 2.4 inches and is capable to accommodate laptops up to 17 inches in size. It’s solely made to be used on a desk and felt quite awkward when I tried it on my lap. The cooler pad stands at an angle of approximately 30 degrees offering quite comfortable typing position. The edge is solid metal while the inside is perforated with circular holes for airflow. For the OCD amongst you, there are exactly 913 perforations in there. Looking at the bottom of the unit, nothing much is going on here except the two raiser feet stabilized by another small piece of solid metal.
The rubber used on the Notepal U2 Plus did a great job keeping the Ultrabook used as the testing system in place. It feels soft to the touch and does seem durable as far as I can tell form the short period of time I handled the cooler pad. The rubber however is a lint magnet and very hard to clean; it will try to hold on to anything you touch it with. The only thing that worked for me was a lint-free microfiber cloth dampened with some 99% alcohol. The rubber pieces cover the front part and the two feet, with an extra rectangular piece attached to the back of each foot and serving as a cable management for a peripheral device. As far as I can tell that's the only "Plus" this cooler pad has over the previous model, the Notepal U2 Fan Edition. This feature did not work well with the few mice or keyboards I had around. Most peripherals come with cables that are quite thick and usually do not play nice with any coiling attempt, thus rendering the cable management integration in the Notepal U2 Plus unusable.
The USB pass-through used to power the two fans is quite bulky; it will also obstruct the ports next to the one it’s plugged in to. Preferably it should be connected to a USB hub out of the way if possible; otherwise you might have to bend the cable powering the fans, which increases risks of damage. The fans have enough clearance when installed towards the back of the Notepal U2 Plus to draw cool air and push it through the mesh. Trying to install the fans all the way towards the front will make the cooler rest on them instead and loses stability.
The elastic strap; Cooler Master calls it a safety belt for a reason, will secure a portable computer to the unit for enhanced portability. The concept is great but only laptops of 14" in size are a perfect fit; smaller than 13" ones will pretty much fall between the two raiser feet, and larger than 14" ones will stick out too much on each side. Also, this feature implies removing the fans and transporting them separately, having a laptop bag with enough room for the fairly thick back section of the cooler is a necessity otherwise it will not fit in most regular bags. The two bags I have are equipped with a padded section for improved protection while transporting a portable computer. These padded pockets are tailored to fit the unit being transported with little to no extra room left, so a laptop wearing a Notepal U2 Plus body armor will not fit.
The design of the Cooler Master Notepal U2 Plus has some flaws but the overall build quality and usability are great. Let's see how all this translates in terms of cooling potential.