The Cooler Master NotePal U3 Notebook Cooler
Out of the box, the 2mm thick, anodized aluminum frame feels sturdy, but will flex a bit in your hands. There is a drilled pattern of holes that offer ventilation on their own, but also work as mounting holes for the fans. At the back and on the front edge, Cooler Master uses a grey rubber to protect your surfaces and act as something the notebook can "stick" to when sitting on top of the U3.
Looking at the NotePal from the side, you get an idea of the ten degree incline. This is to give a better position for use, but functionally adds the room for the fans to be used. The design is pretty simple; just one continuous sheet of aluminum bent at the back for support.
At the back there is a large hole that goes across the top half. This allows you to run the power cord or possibly use it to tidy up the USB cables for your phone or camera as well.
Underneath the NotePal you will find the rubber on top is also used here for the rear foot pads. In the front the rubber rolls under and acts as the front footing.
Packaged in a box just under the aluminum NotePal, you will find the reason this is the U3. With the other "U" series coolers, the number designates the number of included fans that are sent in the kit. The U3 ships with these three 80mm, fully enclosed fans, pre-wired to a single USB connection.
There is no way you are going to get anything caught in the included fans. At the top you see a metal fan guard, and underneath it is protected by the design of the plastic frame itself.
Pushing in the large tab on the left moves the left two latches inward. This allows them to be clipped in, almost anywhere, under the aluminum cooler. Simply latch the two stationary pins, then push in the tab and lower the fan into place. Releasing the tab will allow the latches to be locked into place with spring tension.
With the base of the NotePal U3 being a sheet of aluminum essentially, Cooler Master used this clip-on design to solve a few issues. It allows a place to help tie the wiring up so it doesn't just dangle under it and get caught up on things. Secondly, it offers CM a place to add a fan control dial which controls all three fans at one move of the dial.
This is the first notebook cooler I have tested with this option, and now using them all the time, I can see the need for this solution. With the limited number of USB ports available on laptops, adding a pass-through USB 2.0 connection is much appreciated. There were times I had to unplug other coolers to upload from my camera or charge my cell phone.
For demonstration purposes, I mounted the three fans straight across the center as one idea of how to cool the underside of your notebook. As I mentioned, as long as there are holes above it and the cabling reaches, these fans can go anywhere you desire for a custom cooling solution.
Going "custom", I set one fan under each vent on my Lenovo. This allowed me to spot cool the CPU, the GPU and the HDD each with their own fan.
Resting my notebook on top of the U3, I located a USB port that the wire could easily reach and allow the clip to hang on the side comfortably. With the benefit of the pass-thru USB, I can easily plug in my mouse receiver and not use two ports to power both.
Taking a step back, you get a better idea of just how large the NotePal U3 really is. It makes my 15" Lenovo look tiny. The specs say it can easily accommodate 15" and 17" laptops, but also some 19" models and I can easily see it holding those with relative ease.