I am guessing that you are reading this article because your laptop or notebook heats up regularly and you have finally decided to buy yourself a laptop cooler pad. Maybe you have browsed through some websites and read through a few cooling stand articles, looked at a number of images and watched video reviews.
Let me ask you this, out of all the hundreds of new units on the market today do you know which of those will suit you and your laptop the best? Do you have a list of criteria to follow that will help you make the right choice when buying a laptop cooling stand?
If you answered no to the above two questions then worry not as I have compiled a handy list of laptop cooler features that are important to know when looking to buy a unit.
Laptop cooler, notebook cooler pad, cooling pads, laptop cooling stand, chill matt, etc. All these are pretty much designed to do the same job and that is to help cool your laptop when you are using it. This will prevent damage done by excessive heat and thus prolong your laptop’s lifespan.
When shopping for a cooling unit it is very important that you pick one that works well with your computer, i.e., one that has all the necessary features to suit the workings of your particular laptop. Do not think all cooling pads are the same. Even though they all help to remove heat, how the heat is removed may work for or against your laptop’s own internal fan; so take note.
Before you go out and buy a cooling system you must first decide what type you are looking for.
A cooler pad is manufactured in a variety of ways based on active and passive cooling techniques. There are two main laptop cooling techniques to choose from.
These do not require a built in fan to extract the heat. One type of passive laptop cooling pad would be a lapdesk that is shaped in such a way that the heat from your laptop naturally escapes. These come in many shapes and sizes many of which can be elevated so that air can circulate in those “hot spot” areas.
The other type of passive laptop cooling is the mat version. These absorb the heat away from the underside of your laptop. They use a crystalline material which turns into a gel with heat absorption and solidifies again when the laptop is cool. These crystals play an important role in dispersing the heat away from the laptop without any disrupting of the natural flow of air through the unit’s cooling vents.
Active cooling pads use fans to draw heat away from the laptop or to blow cool air at the laptop.
These are probably the most common units as having an additional fan cooling the back of your laptop can drop the temperature by quite a few degrees.
You will need to decide whether your laptop will benefit from a cooling system that sucks hot away or one that blows cool air. There are different types of laptop ventilation and it would help for you to know what type your laptop has before buying a cooler. This is all explained below.
Ventilation of your Laptop or Notebook
The first and most important piece of information you will need for choosing a good laptop cooler pad is knowing the position of the vents and their ventilation method on your computer. Your laptop’s ventilation is its primary cooling system and the cooler you choose should be complimenting or helping it.
1. The most common ventilation method is that there are one or two air intakes in the bottom of the laptop (air is being sucked in), and there are one or two air exhaust vents at the back side of the laptop – as shown in the illustration below.
By checking the type of ventilation your laptop has, i.e., where the air intakes and exhaust are, you will now be more equipped with the correct information for choosing a laptop cooler pad that should complement the already existing ventilation of your laptop.
An effective laptop cooler would push air up to the intake vents of the laptop. If a crystalline mat like the ThermaPak or a laptop stand is to be used, it should at least allow air to the intake vents.
Laptops or notebooks which have graphic cards or other extras usually have more vents. If you have one of these then make sure to take advantage of all the extra vents by choosing a laptop cooler that has a fan or fans that reach these areas. Similarly, if you buy a chill mat then be sure that it has adequate space in the areas where your laptop’s vents are.
2. A less common ventilation method is the exact opposite of what is shown above. The air intakes are at the side or at the back, and the exhaust is at the bottom.
With these types of laptops having it raised slightly will increase the space around the exhaust area allowing for air to circulate better. That would mean choosing a lapdesk cooling pad that tilts upward slightly at the back. A laptop cooler which pushes air up to the bottom of the laptop shouldn’t be used as this would conflict with the ventilation of the laptop. What this may do is push the hot air back into the laptop; this is not what you want.
3. There is another ventilation method mostly found in Mac notebooks. These computers have no air intakes but there is an exhaust located at the back or the side. Laptop coolers which suck or pull air at the bottom of the laptop and release it at the side or back of the cooler are appropriate for laptops with this kind of ventilation. An alternative choice would be to use the crystalline chill mat type of cooler with its internal gel that acts as a heat absorber.
The laptop “Hot Spots”
Heat spots are the areas on your laptop which run hot when it is turned on. The areas where heat will commonly be found are around the CPU of your computer. A high percentage of these will be located at the back of the computer. Be sure to check for heat spots in all areas so that you have a rough idea where you need the fan to be on the cooler pad you buy.
If you find quite a few heat spots then a good idea would be to have a fan located in that area also. As with Mac notebooks, if your laptop just has an exhaust at the back or side the fans which suck air at the bottom should be at the position of the heat spots for greater effectiveness. Chill mats such as the Thermapak are most effective in laptops like these as it just absorbs the heat at the bottom of the laptop. No need to worry about air flow.
Design and Build
Laptop coolers with fans are either made of plastic or metal. Some even have a mixture of both where maybe the body is made of plastic but a metal mesh is used to protect the internal fan. There are also plastic coolers with metal or aluminum fans.
1. Plastic laptop cooler pads are very popular as they are for the most part much cheaper than the metal versions. They have the advantage of being lighter and easier to carry around so an ideal choice for anyone who travels a lot. Of course, because they are plastic this makes them less durable than the metal versions so you really need to weigh up the pros and cons.
2. Metal laptop coolers are heavier and pricier but they also conduct heat better and are thus able to disperse it better. Generally, metal coolers are more durable and so the extra money paid may be worth it in the long run.
3. Chill mats that have the crystalline gel are the obviously easiest to carry and are not prone to damage as there are no moving parts to break. Mats also do not require that you put it in a flat surface unlike laptop coolers with fans.
4. Take a good look at the shape of the cooling stand. Is it slightly curved to allow for more airflow? Does it have free areas where the back of the laptop can be exposed in order to help circulation?
5. How big is the fan? A larger fan doesn’t necessarily mean better cooling system. Two or three smaller fans placed in the right areas will certainly do a great job of cooling most laptops. Are the fans quiet? As far as noise levels go a couple smaller fans can be just as noisy as one large fan. Some say larger fans are quieter although this is relative. If peace and quiet is what you are after then the best thing to do is read lots of reviews to find the cooler pad that is quiet enough for you.
For many of us this will be the least important of the list as these tend to be added extras that are not necessities but will help in making the cooling stand as useful or comfortable as possible.
1. Is the cooler USB powered? If so this means you can take your cooler anywhere as it runs off your laptop battery.
2. Does it have padding underneath? If you work of your lap most of the time then some sort of padding will make things that much more comfortable.
3. Is it big enough to hold your laptop? No point in getting a stand that holds a maximum of 14 inches of laptop if your laptop is 17 inches.
4. Can it be tilted? Some stands are already set at an angle so as to make typing easier on the wrists.
These are all the basics you need to know when choosing a laptop cooler pad. There will be other criteria that may be important to you but generally speaking if you get most of this list ticked off then you should be on your way to buying the right cooling pad for you.
Filed under: Laptop Tips and Tricks
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