Steal or Sham: How well do laptop cooling pads work?

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You know those things you always see on Amazon and are unsure whether or not they are worth your money? Yeah, we are talking about janky laptop cooling pads. Are they even worth it? Do they yield significant results, or are they just a load of horse manure?

Design

This cooling pad is from Tree New Bee, and I bought it for around $20 on Amazon. It features four blue 120 millimeter fans. Once turned on, the fans light up with blue LEDs. There are two pegs that keep your laptop from sliding off, fairly well thought out if you ask me. Along with the Tree New Bee logo, the front is made out of a hard metal mesh material. Along the perimeter  is an industrial plastic design with a gaming aesthetic all around. Along the back of the device, there are two USB-A ports, one of which is used to power the unit via a provided blue male to male cable, that is also braided. There are also two dials on the back which serve as fan speed controllers, and each one controls two fans. The remaining USB-A port can be used as a power pass through only. On the back of the unit, along with some more gaming designs and a “warning mechanical injury” sticker, there is a place to wrap up the cable for easy transport. This is a nice feature, especially for such an inexpensive product, but it creates distance between the fans which may make smaller laptops harder to cool. One feature that I am glad was included is the two rubber feet on much larger plastic feet. These allow cool air to get to the device and prevent sliding.

Performance

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So how does it perform? To find out, Zach and I ran three benchmarks: Cinebench, Unigine Heaven Valley, and Geekbench on two devices: My mid-2013 13 inch Macbook Air and Zach’s early-2015 Dell XPS 13. To be honest, the results weren’t exactly what we were expecting. My computer averaged a score of 222 in Cinebench without cooling, and 221.6 with. These results are within margin of error, so the cooling pad was likely ineffective in this test. Do be aware that we let the temps stabilize between tests. In the same benchmark, Zach’s computer averaged 248 without cooling and 253 with. Now we are starting to see some kind of improvement. In the next benchmark, Unigine Heaven Valley, my laptop scored 188 and an average FPS of 7.5 without the cooling pad, and 193 and an average FPS of 7.6 with. This test’s extended length may have led to the cooling pad having a more significant impact on scores. Zach’s laptop scored 172 with an average FPS of 6.8 without cooling and 178 and an average FPS of 7.1 with. Same logic applies. For the last test, Geekbench, my laptop scored 2830 single core and 5140 multi core without cooling, and 2780 single core and 5113 multicore with. The cooling didn’t have much effect here. The same trend appeared with Zach’s computer, scoring 3129 single core and 5688 multicore without cooling and 3087 single core and 5694 multicore with cooling.

Conclusion

By the end we hadn’t seen much of a performance improvement while using the cooling pad. However, if you plan on using your laptop for many years, this is a good start towards making it last longer. Personally, I use the cooling pad for my desk setup, and I have noticed that navigating through my workflow is noticeably smoother. It also really does depend on what laptop you have as some feature different cooling layouts. For example, if you have an ultrabook, it is less likely to have a cooling layout that would benefit from this device since hot air is usually exhausted from the back instead of the bottom. However, if you have a gaming laptop, you might see a bigger performance boost due to the fans being on the bottom of your laptop. For Zach and me, using a cooling pad may help longevity, and I intend on keeping it as part of my setup, but your results may vary.

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Alex Bulanov

I have always been passionate about technology! My parents used to say that I was born with a hammer in my hand (Russian saying). I make up half of the New and Improved team, along with my good friend Zach.

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