Today’s article is aimed at answering a fundamental question for laptop users: are laptop coolers worth it? Are they any good? Does it make sense investing one’s hard-earned dollars into such a gadget? The short answer is yes, and after finishing reading today’s guide, you’ll be able to get the best laptop cooling pad available on the market for your beloved laptop.
Even if laptops already won the battle with the old-school PC, due to their mobility and the huge advances in information technology, portable computers still have some disadvantages compared to regular desktops. Back in the day, only hackers and business-men used laptops, as they were very expensive, relatively slow compared to their desktop brethren and rather bulky, as per today standards.
Yes, laptops in 2019 are more affordable, better looking, sleeker and immensely powerful compared to what was available 10 years ago, yet the fundamental problem is still here: heat.
Why Buy a Laptop Cooler
If you’re a heavy-duty laptop user, as if you’re into gaming, video editing or things of that nature (CPU/GPU intensive tasks), you already know that most laptops will get hot under stress, and sometimes they even shut down in order to protect their hardware from overheating. That’s due to their high-end GPUs and CPUs, which are currently found inside expensive laptops. This type of hardware consumes a lot of power and thus creates a lot of heat when under stress.
Unlike PCs, laptops have an inherent issue with dissipating heat. By design, there’s not enough space for proper ventilation (big fans, big heat sinks) in a laptop, as consumers are looking for a piece of gear which is as slim and as portable as possible. Hence, a laptop’s chassis is prone to suffering from ventilation issues, when under heavy use.
The obvious solution for heavy-duty users is to purchase the best laptop cooler they can afford. The general rule of thumb is that gaming laptops, laptops for video editing and even high-end business laptops can benefit from a cooling pad, as these gadgets provide for better ventilation, which results into your machine running cooler. And yes, that further translates into better overall performance and a longer life-span for essential components, like the GPU or the processor.
How to Choose a Laptop Cooler
When it comes to ventilation, there are 2 main types of laptops: the ones that exhaust hot-air from the bottom, and the ones that pull air from the bottom and exhaust it on the sides. Hence, there are 2 types of laptop coolers to choose from, depending on what type of laptop you own: coolers that push air towards the bottom of your machine, and coolers that pull air away from the bottom.
Obviously, the laptop cooler must have a proper size and shape to match your laptop’s. Keep in mind to avoid buying the wrong type of laptop cooler for your machine, as you may end up hurting your laptop instead of helping it, i.e. choosing a cooler that pushes air towards the bottom of your laptop, while your machine exhausts hot-air from the bottom, makes for a no-no procedure.
There are many designs to choose from, and various qualities (reflected in price), but generally speaking, look for a laptop cooler with a big fan or multiple smaller fans that can be moved around to match your laptop’s air-intakes on the bottom; also, keep in mind that a cooling pad with a high CFM (cubic feet per minute) will move more air compared to smaller ones.
There are also passive laptop coolers, which don’t have any fans, and they’re basically stands that are allowing air to flow more easily. However, cooling pads with fans are more efficient compared to passive ones.
Always look for the proper size, along with portability, adaptability and ergonomics, as these features would allow you to use your laptop with maximum comfort, both at home and while on the go. There’s also the extensibility factor, as a laptop has only 2-4 USB ports available, and one of them would be occupied by the cooler (the fan of the cooler draws power via USB). The good news is that there are cooling pads that feature dual-sided USB ports.
Now, here are our top picks for the best laptop coolers available on the market today (in no particular order):
1. Thermaltake N014‐PL20SW‐A
The Thermaltake Massive 20 RGB is the last (but not least) piece of gear reviewed in today’s article, and it’s arguably the best laptop cooling pad out there in the ~$50 range. The RGB thing describes its 256-color RGB LED-lit system, which provides 5 lighting modes. If you’re into bright shiny things, this Thermaltake notebook cooler has your name on it. Really, it looks awesome. There’s only one, yet massive (200 mm) fan on-board, featuring a speed controller for improved performance.
- ergonomic design
- supreme thermal performance
- looks awesome in the dark
- above average build quality
- supports up to 19’’ laptops (!), which is kind of rare
- max fan speed is rather sub-par (I am being picky, I know)
2. Otimo Laptop Cooling Pad
The Otimo laptop cooling pad is dirt cheap (way under $20), yet it boasts no less than 5 speed-adjustable and ultra-quiet fans. On top of that, this cooling pad would suit any type of machine between 12’’ and 17’’. So, if you’re looking for a dirt-cheap yet powerful and quiet cooling solution, this cooling pad from Otimo should definitely be on your short list.
- anti-slip design
- highly portable, due to its slick and lightweight construction
- quiet and efficient
- none really at this price
3. OPOLAR Laptop Fan Cooler
This laptop fan cooler made by OPOLAR is one of the most advanced in the industry, as it features auto-temp detection, a rapid cooling feature and temperature display. This new model comes with 13 speeds, which dramatically assist with reducing noise and improving airflow. The OPOLAR would make for a great companion if you’re a heavy-duty user who enjoys tinkering with his gear, but it’s not recommended for extremely thin laptops, like Macbooks (anything thinner than 0.8’’ actually). Overall, considering its under $30 price-tag and the multitude of features and functions, the OPOLAR makes for a versatile and quiet laptop cooling fan.
- excellent value for money
- above average build quality, tons of features
- fast cooling, easy installation
- relatively quiet
- rather bulky
4. Vanble VA-1 Laptop Cooling Pad
The Vanble VA-1 is marketed as a gaming cooling pad, and considering its 4 125 mm/1200 RPM fans with bright blue LED lights, it should cope with gaming laptops with ease.
Considering the price tag, the Vanble VA-1 is a serious contender in the best gaming laptop cooling pad category, especially for people on tight budgets. The front and back fans have speed controls (each pair) and they do a great job at keeping one’s laptop cool, even under heavy loads. Also, this cooling pad is whisper quiet, which is a pleasant surprise, considering the price tag.
- built-in dual USB hub
- great cooling performance
- bargain price
- better than expected build quality, built to last
- a tad small for 17+ inchers
- there’s no stopper on the front side, so if you own a heavy laptop, “this is not the droid you’re looking for”
5. Kootek Laptop Cooling Pad
The Kootek laptop cooling pad is definitely our winner in today’s article with regard to airflow-power. This thing comes with no less than 5 (five, you read that right) fans, hence if the number of fans on your cooling gear is a decisive factor, Kootek is the way to go. Another benefit is that if you turn it sideways, it becomes a drone.
Joke aside, the Kootek is a cool gadget to have on your desk, featuring a minimalist design, a plastic yet sturdy construction with a metal grille on top and weighs a respectable 2.5 lbs. This is not the sleekest cooling pad out there, but it will definitely get the job done, making for a no-compromise/best bang for the buck package, if it ever was one.
- sober design in a single-tone black finish
- excellent airflow
- you can turn off both the big and the small fans independently
- great choice for 17’’/heavy laptops due to stoppers which prevent it from slipping off
- portability is sacrificed over performance
6. TeckNet Laptop Cooling Pad
The TeckNet N5 is designed to be an ultra-quiet and highly portable piece of gear, which makes for the ideal choice if you’re looking for a stylish and highly mobile laptop cooling pad.
The N5 fits laptops between 12’’ and 16’’, so keep that in mind if you have a 17’’ or even 18’’+ gaming machine. The base of the N5 features rubber based rims, to keep your laptop firmly into place, while the AirFlow Wave design is aimed at providing a whisper quiet and comfortable work environment. The TeckNet N5 comes with twin fans and dual intake vents, led lights and a metal mesh surface for better heat transfer.
- lightweight and thin
- ergonomic design
- good value for money
- comes with an extra USB port to connect other gear
- doesn’t fit bigger machines
- fan speed is not adjustable
7. Belkin CoolSpot
The Belkin CoolSpot is one of the best laptop cooling pads out there in its price-bracket, making for a sturdy and well-built piece of gear which gets the job done without drama. This USB-powered laptop cooling pad is very compact, yet well designed and grippy, making for the ideal companion while on the go. Its lightweight construction and ergonomic design are focused on portability. The CoolSpot comes with just one and relatively small (and rather noisy) fan, but don’t worry, it will get the job done. Unlike other models, this cooling pad pulls air from the bottom of your machine instead of pushing it, so keep that in mind for further reference.
One of the most important things to mention about this Belkin product is how well designed it is, as it’s capable of providing a perfectly stable platform for your laptop. Ergonomics is definitely its biggest asset, together with its reasonable price tag. Even if small, the fan works fairly well, as it keeps the temp down and well regulated, thus making for a no-nonsense laptop cooling pad, without unnecessary bells and whistles.
- intelligent design
- affordable price
- gets the job done and it’s durable
- none at this price
8. Thermaltake Massive Aluminum Panel CL-N002-PL12BL-A
As its name suggests, the Thermaltake Massive notebook cooler can be easily described as one of the best laptop coolers in its price range, featuring an aluminum design and two state-of-the-art temp-regulated 120 mm fans. This cooler also marks a premiere for Thermaltake, being their first product to feature an adjustable temperature sensor and temperature regulated fans. If you like tinkering with your gadgets, this cooler is capable of offering thermal statistics instantly, as it comes with a temperature display built in.
In terms of performance, the Massive’s coolers are capable of 1300 RPM/61.7 CFM in turbo mode, while keeping it relatively quiet, at 31 dBA of noise. The cooler is made of plastic and comes with an aluminum plate on top, for better heat transfer. There’s a cool looking LCD panel on the front, which provides temperature readouts.
- doesn’t get more high tech than this
- reasonably priced
- relatively quiet
- delivers adequate cooling performance
- not enough grip for your laptop at certain angles
- average build quality
9. Cooler Master NotePal X3
If you’re looking for an affordable yet high-performance laptop cooling pad for gaming, the Cooler Master NotePal X3 has your name on it. Even if this cooling pad has only one fan, it’s a big boy by any metrics, standing at 200 mm in diameter. Due to its fan’s dimensions, the Cooler Master NotePal X3 is very quiet, yet it gets the job done with flying colors. The design is very interesting, as it’s inspired by jet-planes, making it ideal for complementing your gaming rig.
Shaped like the letter X, the NotePal X3 comes with blue LED lights, but you can turn them off you wish. The fan speed is controlled by a special dial, located next to the power port and the USB connector. Weighing just 2 pounds, this Cooler Master is easy to carry around, making for a relatively affordable and efficient laptop cooling pad, which is suitable even for gaming.
- built quality is great
- comes with front vent for keeping your hands cool
- very silent
- stays cool, looks cool
- supports laptops up to 17’’
- tends to vibrate on hard surfaces
10. Havit HV-F2056 Laptop Cooling Pad
The HAVIT HV-F2056 is the definition of a highly portable and affordable laptop cooling pad, which can be used successfully both at home or while traveling. Weighing a mere 1.6 lbs and measuring just one inch in thickness, this cooling pad is the ideal companion if you’re looking for a proper piece of gear at an affordable price, being slim, well designed, ergonomic, whisper quiet and boasting extra USB ports. The HAVIT HV-F2056 comes with three large 110 mm fans, that offer superior airflow and they’re also very quiet.
Moreover, you’ll be delighted to discover the HAVIT HV-F2056 ‘s height adjustability options, for improved ergonomics, making it a great travel accessory for both business and pleasure. Besides being highly portable, you’ll find the HAVIT HV-F2056 to be a silent partner, as it’s whisper-quiet, even if you “turbo-charge” the fans. This cooler works exactly as advertised, which is kind of rare in its price range.
- sleek design and highly portable
- wear-resistant surface
- three whisper-quiet fans
- extra USB ports via dual USB hub (built-in)
- ergonomic and reasonably priced
- tends to vibrate and that can be annoying
11. Cooler Master MNZ-SMTE-20FY-R1
As its name suggest, this is the master of laptop coolers, making for a modular ergonomic laptop cooling stand, boasting adjustable fans and a portable USB hub. Built using one of the best materials for dissipating heat, blasted aluminum that is, the Cooler Master of disaster does an excellent job keeping your machine cool under heavy loads, like gaming or intensive video editing.
Moreover, the fans’ position is adjustable, i.e. you can move them around for targeting hot spots on the bottom of your laptop; on top of that, this laptop cooler features ergonomic tilt for comfort, and cable grooves, for adequate cable-management.
- best laptop cooler for gaming purposes
- comes with rubber feet for excellent grip
- fits up to 17’’ laptops perfectly
- built to last
- a bit heavy
- quality comes at a price
12. Tree New Bee Cooling Pad TNB-K0025
The Tree New Bee Cooling Pad is a very affordable and high-quality piece of gear, which will suit most laptops between 15.6 – 17-Inches. This angular-design laptop cooling pad boasts no less than 4 fans, placed under a metal grill which draws heat away from the bottom of your laptop. Very important, the Tree New Bee features a built-in dual-USB hub (hence it allows you to connect multiple USB devices) and also an adjustable height setting.
In short, this budget cooling pad is as good as it gets, offering portability, style and effecting cooling capabilities (four 120 mm/1200 RPM fans with blue LEDs) at a bargain price. The fan speed can be controlled via a dedicated control wheel, so you’ll be able to keep it as quiet as you like.
- good build quality
- 4 fans
- minimal noise pollution
- 2 pass through USB ports
- the adjustable heights are limited
- LED intensity cannot be modified independently