While they're busy playing your video, enabling a game of Assassin's Creed or crunching a spreadsheet, the CPU, GPU and other components inside your laptop are generating heat. Unfortunately, some laptops don't have the best ventilation systems, and the extra heat can cause your laptop to slow down as the processor throttles performance to avoid a meltdown. Even if performance is no concern, a hot laptop is uncomfortable to touch and can belch hot air in your direction.
If your laptop is getting a little too hot under the collar, a laptop cooler can help. Fortunately we've got a list of the best active and passive notebook cooling solutions on the market.
Targus Chill Mat and USB Hub
Rather than having just one or two positions, the Targus Chill Mat features a front hinge that allows you to angle the laptop into the position you want, bringing the screen to your eye level. It has two fans placed underneath the laptop and 2 rubber stoppers and a footer to keep your laptop in place while cooling. It powers from USB and has a 4-port hub on the back.
The LapGear XL Deluxe is designed to be used on your lap and leaves room for a laptop, mouse and a slot to hold your phone. It is large enough to hold up to a 17-inch laptop and has 2 padded strips to keep it on your lap. The XL also has a channel specifically for airflow, allowing the platform to disperse heat without fans. Passive cooling like this works best for shorter usages, or computers that don't get as hot.
Not all laptop coolers are pads that sit underneath. The Opolar Laptop Cooler actually mounts to the laptop's ventilation port and adds additional fan capabilities. The vaccuum fan has both an automatic and manual mode, allowing it to determine its own speed, or for you to decide. Installation is a bit of a challenge, because you have to install a piece on the bottom of the laptop and a connector plate that goes between the base and the fan. However, the Opolar could prove very useful for gaming systems that spew lots of hot air from their vents.
This cooling pad is a more traditional design, sitting underneath the laptop and featuring 4 fans. The True New Bee Black and Blue pad gets its power from a USB cable and has an extra USB port on the side, so you don't have to sacrifice a port on your computer. This is increasingly important as we have seen laptops coming with fewer USB ports in recent years. On the bottom are 4 feet, allowing you to raise the laptop off of a table or desk, though not very far. You can also just use the back legs to raise the laptop screen slightly.
The TekHome Super Vacuum Fan is similar in design to the product from Opolar, in that is sits over the laptop's existing ventilation port and pulls air out of the body father than the built-in fans can. The big difference here is in its installation process. Rather than having three pieces required to install, this one only requires a single part, meaning there is nothing that can be lost or broken. The design is also more attractive, looking a bit like a flux capacitor with blue lighting. What it doesn't offer is an automatic mode, so you are responsible for setting the fan speed.
A good choice for laptops that don't need a lot of extra cooling help, the ThermaPAK features a ridged texture that improves air flow between the laptop and the surface beneath it. The passive pad is also filled with a special gel material that absorbs heat, keeping your 10 to 17-inch laptop cool without any fans.
While this product is definitely intended to be more of a laptop stand, its design also allows for easy airflow because the body only touches the laptop in two very small places. The X-Stand's aluminum frame matches the asthetic of many modern laptops while its weight and size make it easy to carry in your bag. If your laptop has a regular overheating issue, the Stelo won't help you, but if you are searching for a simple stand that adds a little extra cooling, this might be your best choice.
This simple design features a single, large fan and rounded back plate which raises the laptop screen just a little. The Zalman Cooling Pad has adjustments for fan speed and has a turbo button, which kicks the fan speed up quickly and easily in the event you're playing a game and the CPU or GPU begins to overheat. It powers off of USB and also features a 4-port USB hub on the back plate for additional device connectivity.
The space-themed Deepcool M6 is one of the more unique cooling pads we have encountered. In addition to the single adjustable high speed fan, USB power and 4-port hub, the M6 adds 2 speakers to the mix: one woofer and 2 tweeters. This is a great way to add several much-needed capabilities to a laptop with a single, portable device and without spending over $100.