As anyone who has spent time with a notebook on their lap will know, these things get unnervingly warm – which can't be good for their life expectancy. Enter the CoolerMaster NotePal P1 portable laptop cooler, an intriguing device that looks more like a speaker upgrade than a cooling device.
This wedge-shaped product is designed to sit underneath your notebook, raising the rear and shifting it to a more ergonomic angle. Sunken into the upper brushed-aluminium surface are a pair of small (70mm) fans, which spin at 1,500rpm (revolutions per minute). Drawing power from the laptop itself via the supplied USB cable, they blow air upwards on to the bottom of the laptop.
The NotePal is pleasingly portable. The device is small and light enough to be squeezed into the average laptop bag and lugged around without difficulty. The increase in noise is marginal, with the fans spinning away virtually unnoticed and only a slight rumble indicating actual activity.
To test the NotePal we hooked it up to a feisty Acer laptop fitted with a 2GHz dual-core AMD Turion processor and ATI mobility X1600 graphics. It's worth noting at this point that the NotePal isn't designed to dramatically cool processor or graphics temperatures – it's merely meant to reduce chassis heat to reduce the workload for small, noisy laptop fans. The CoolerMaster did a pretty good job of this, with typical internal idling and load temperatures dropping by an average of 2 to 3º.
However, the extent to which the fans were actually contributing to the cooling process is up for debate. We suspect that raising the laptop's back end and allowing a bit of airflow was the main factor in making things slightly less toasty – and our suspicions were given added weight when we achieved similar drops in temperature by simply placing a reasonably sized paperback underneath the notebook.