Cooler Master NotePal U3 Review

Propane - 2010-08-17 18:16:18 in Cooling
Category: Cooling
Reviewed by: Propane   
Reviewed on: August 26, 2010
Price: TBD

Introduction:

Laptops these days produce a lot of heat, and it's a good idea to try to pull some of that heat away from the components in the computer to help make your laptop more stable, increase your laptop life, and, if you choose to overclock your laptop, to unlock a little extra potential. Cooler Master has put a lot of laptop coolers out onto the market, but one of their newer ones is the NotePal U3. The design of the NotePal allows for the ultimate in configuration options and should provide a lot of cooling power with three separate fans. While the NotePal U3 I have isn't exactly the same thing that will be shipped when it becomes available to consumers, it is very similar, and I will be sure to point out the differences that I have been made aware of.

Closer Look:

The front of the cardboard packaging shows a large image of the NotePal U3 and has a small window in the lower left corner to show the actual product that is in the box. On the back is a list of specifications and features and installation instructions for the fans. I will detail how the fans work later in the review and the specifications and features are laid out on the third page of this review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening the box shows the product on top of some of the accessories. The bottom of the cooler is pointed near the hinge of the box, so it appears upside down. This is done so the bottom end of the cooler can be seen through the window of the box. One of the accessories that comes with the NotePal is a band which can be used to attach your laptop to the underside of the cooler for transportation.

 

 

The cooler, before fans are put on it, is just a metallic sheet that is about an inch and a half in the back and very thin in the front. There are three pieces of rubber padding on the top area, two in the back and a longer piece in the very front that has Cooler Master branding on it. There are also two rubber pieces on the bottom in the back, which should help keep the cooler from sliding on any desk surface.

 

Closer Look:

Three fans come with the NotePal and they are all connected to a fan controller. The fan controller clips on to either side of the U3 and has an analog wheel to allow for a range of fan speeds to be used. On the very end of the fan cord is a USB connector, which provides power to the fans. This USB connector allows for another USB device to be plugged into it, so you don't lose any USB ports by powering the fans. Two changes to these fans will be made before the U3 hits shelves: the length of wire between the fans and the fan controller will be lengthened to provide more flexibility, and the fan controller will have a rubber insert on the clip so it can better hold onto the base cooler.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fans that come with the NotePal U3 are unique in that they are designed to be able to be placed anywhere under the cooler and are easily movable by the user to best cool the laptop that sits on top. These fans attach to the cooler using a unique pin system. On the side of the fans, there is a button that can be pressed to push a row of pins in line with the holes in the cooler. The fan can then be placed wherever the user wants and is secured in place by releasing the button, expanding the pins back out. While this might sound complex, it is really quite simple and didn't take long to figure out. The base of the cooler is fairly large, made out of aluminum to help with heat dissipation, and is designed to accommodate up to 19" laptops.

 

 

My 15" MacBook Pro sits comfortably on the NotePal U3, and I didn't have any problem with it sliding at all. Also, the U3 can be used as a laptop carrier with the included elastic band. My 15" MacBook Pro was held comfortably, but I don't know if I would use this as a preferred method of transportation from day to day because there is no protection against drops or bumps.

 

Specifications:

Color: Black / Silver
Material: Aluminum, rubber
Dimension: 420 x 320 x 65 mm
Weight: 1.04 kg
Operation degree: 10 degree (fix)
Power: 5V DC
USB: USB 2.0/1.1 x1 (for power in)
Compatibility: Supports all 15"~17" notebook (up to 19")
Fan dimension: 80 x 80 x 10 mm (3 fans)
Fan speed: 950 ~ 1800 RPM
Fan speed control: Available
Fan air flow: 15.4 CFM (single fan)
Fan noise: 18 dBA (Min.)

 

Features:

 

All information courtesy of Cooler Master @ http://www.coolermaster.com/news.php

Testing:

I tested the Cooler Master NotePal U3 in the same manner as all the other coolers I have tested (listed below). While the U3 does have movable fans, I decided to place them in the back of the cooler, because my MacBook Pro has vents in the hinge of the screen. I believe that the fan placement I used will provide the best cooling for my MacBook, and a different configuration might cool other laptops better. I used it in conjunction with my MacBook Pro while I let the laptop run in an idle state, running a temperature monitoring application (iStat Pro). This allowed me to get both my CPU and GPU temperatures. I then repeated the test with the cooler and with the laptop straight on my desk. To get load temperatures, I chose to run Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword, which stresses the hardware of my Macbook Pro, generating heat. Again, this was repeated on the cooler and on the desk. The results from this testing will be specific to a MacBook Pro, but other laptops should provide similar results.

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Coolers:

 

The MacBook below show that the NotePal U3 does a good job at cooling down my MacBook Pro. The combination of the angle off the desk, as well as the three fans, really helps take heat away.

 

 

Lower numbers are better.

The NotePal U3 did a good job of cooling down my MacBook.

Conclusion:

Laptops get hot from normal use, and really hot if you have decided to use your laptop to play games on. With the added fact that no two brands of laptop have the same vent locations or cooling characteristics, a notebook cooler that is able to be customized to whatever your needs are, like the NotePal U3, is a huge benefit. The cooling that is provided by the U3 is great, and the ability of the U3 to act as a laptop carrier is an added benefit. Plus, ergonomic advantages from being on an angle can make typing and using your laptop more comfortable. Overall, the U3 is a nice laptop cooler and if you need to transfer it often along with your laptop, it is a good choice.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: