Laptops have become a necessity even for overclockers and benchers – to tabulate results, record live benching video or even chat with buddies on the forums while taking your CPU to the max. For me, it has become a way of life. Mobility was a necessity during school and having a notebook computer allows for complete flexibility. Despite that, my laptop remained powered on resting on my desk almost exclusively. While a hard, flat surface is preferable to a bed, lap or carpeted floor, it is by no means the ideal environment for a notebook, especially when it’s on 24/7.
Laptops are especially difficult to keep cool due to their size and composition, there is a lot of hardware in a very small space. My Dell Studio 15 notebook is less than a year old, so standard cooling modifications like re-applying TIM, lapping heatspreaders or fan speed alteration is out of the question due to the laptop still being in warranty. This leaves laptop users like myself with few viable options: e.g. prop the notebook up on a book or magazine, leave it near an open window or purchase an external cooling pad.
When Cooler Master approached me to review their new NotePal ErgoStand, I was skeptical to say the least. Copper or metal heatspreaders generally do the heavy lifting when it comes to cooling CPUs, while the fan is secondary. If that’s the case, then how will a plastic stand with a fan have any effect on laptop CPU temperature? It was time to put this product to the test.
Courtesy of CoolerMaster.com
|Material:||Metal Mesh, Plastic, Rubber|
|Dimension:||370 x 265 x 33 ~ 58 mm|
|Operation Degree:||6.5 ~ 45 degree|
|Power:||USB 5V DC|
|USB Port:||USB 2.0/1.1×4 Mini-USB x1 (for power in)|
|Compatibility:||Supports all 9″ ~ 17″ notebooks|
|Fan Dimension:||140 x 140 x 15 mm|
|Fan Speed:||700 ~ 1400 RPM|
|Bearing Type:||Rifle Bearing|
|Noise Level:||15 dBa (Min.)|
|Fan Life Expectancy:||40,000 hours|
|Cable Length:||600 mm|
Packaging and Installation
The box is relatively simple, it displays various configuration options and product features. Inside, the cooler fit snugly between two foam pads. Also inside the box were the accessories, two anti-slip props and a USB cable. Installation is simple and straightforward – simply lock-in the anti-slip props, place the laptop on the cooling pad and plug in the USB cord.
This is not your average flat cooling pad. It features five configurations at various angles: from almost flat to almost entirely vertical. The configurations offer the flexibility to use the NotePal ErgoStand as either a docking station with keyboard and second monitor, typical desk usage, placing the cooling pad on your lap and everything in between. Having several configurations also allows for users to adjust the angle based on their height (or desk/chair height), hence ErgoStand. My preference is an almost flat configuration, which is how this product was tested.
The anti-slip props are intended to provide support so that the laptop does not slip off the cooling pad. The NotePal ErgoStand features four anti-slip grips though, so in most cases the anti-slip props are a precaution, not a necessity. When using the NotePal ErgoStand in vertical (fully-upright) configuration, it is necessary to install the anti-slip props. The props also slide from side to side in order to accommodate notebooks from 9″ to 17″.
The picture on the shows the four built-in USB ports. All four can be used for accessories or other devices since there is a separate mini-USB port to connect the NotePal ErgoStand to your laptop. This is a nice feature, since you do not have to monopolize the scarce number of USB ports on your laptop. You lose one plugging in the cooling pad but gain four more. For all you wire-management freaks (and from what we see on the forums, we have plenty!) the cooling pad features two wire-management clips on the underside of the cooling pad. This was useful to tuck in USB cords for my external keyboard/mouse and hard drive. Basically, these features almost turn this product into a docking station, rather than merely a laptop cooler.
Like any notebook cooling pad, the NotePal ErgoStand has a large 140 mm adjustable fan. Fan speeds range from 700 ~ 1400 rpm, with noise ranging from silent to barely audible. This cooling pad is surprisingly quiet, which made me skeptical of its performance.
Test Setup – Dell Studio 1537 Laptop:
- Core 2 Duo T9950 @ 2.66 GHz (locked CPU in High Performance mode to ensure consistency)
- 4 GB DDR2 RAM
- 256 MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD3450 Graphics
- Windows Vista 64-Bit
After several tests at idle, different cooling configurations provided similar results. It seemed the stock cooling in the Dell Studio 1537 laptop provided ample airflow and heat dissipation, adding the cooling pad provided little or no change in temperature.
Full CPU/GPU load was achieved by running Prime95 and Furmark for 15 minutes. Tests were performed twice and averaged to get final results. All temperatures below are in degrees Celsius.
The results are impressive, to say the least. As I suspected, just placing the laptop on the stand (without the fan running) allowed for increased airflow which resulted in a 7.0° C (or 8%) drop in CPU temperature. When switching on the fan to full speed, another significant decrease in CPU temperature (7.5° C) was observed. In looking at these results more broadly, it is pretty clear the NotePal ErgoStand performs quite well. Using the cooling pad gave a solid 14.5° C, or 16%, drop in temperature vs. keeping the laptop on a flat surface.
GPU temperatures did not drop as significantly, however a decrease in temperature still occurred. 3.5° C is not outstanding, but it still shows some improvement. Most likely, this is due to the setup or placement of my video card within the laptop. I expect these results differ quite significantly based on the notebook used for testing.
- Durable design and build
- Quiet and adjustable fan
- Four USB ports
- Solid performance (16% drop in CPU temperature when using NotePal ErgoStand vs. laptop on desk)
- Adjustable angle stand
- Slightly difficult to reach adjustable fan speed dial while cooling pad is in horizontal configuration
- Only a small drop in GPU temperature
In testing this product, I was pleasantly surprised. I imagined a cheap peace of plastic with a wide fan attached. Instead, I got a faux docking station and notebook cooler all wrapped into one. The Cooler Master NotePal ErgoStand is not only durable, but also highly functional. For those of us who treat our laptops like gaming machines, video editing stations or power desktops, this is a great product. The Cooler Master NotePal ErgoStand is available on Amazon for $33.24 with free shipping.