Gaming with a laptop computer is becoming more prevalent every day. I mean, if you want an i7 processor and a fast GPU, it seems there are many offerings out there built like this. The screens are getting bigger, the resolution higher, and with that and the demand of newer game titles, it can really work the laptop into a heated frenzy. I am not so blessed as my laptop has a lowly Intel 4 Series GPU, but it still allows me to tinker around in Half Life 2, Left 4 Dead, and of course a bit of CS:S on low to medium settings. My problem with gaming is twofold outside of the lowered graphics settings. The keyboard gets hot, as the CPU tends to stew in its juices with the cooler on it, and the hard drive makes a hot plate out of the left palm rest area.
Of course, elevating a laptop will, or at least should improve airflow on most laptops. They pull air in from the bottom to cool everything enclosed. Raising it off the surface allows for more cool air to pool under the fan and this should make normal use on the net browsing more comfortable on its own. Once you add gaming into the mix, just raising the laptop isn't going to do it for keeping temperatures under control. This is where additional fan cooling is needed, and the last submission wasn't quite up to the task of handling gaming heat loads, but it did offer a much cooler lap while using it. This time, things are reversed. This is a high flow, more table or desktop oriented notebook cooler design.
Antec has sent over the Notebook Cooler 200 for me to have a look at, taking cues from the Skeleton series of the industrial open design and using a bit of the honeycomb mesh we are used to seeing. Not only is the fan blowing upward this time, Antec uses a two speed Big Boy 200mm, blue LED fan that can push some serious amounts of airflow and with it, very little noise. Even though my laptop doesn't do all that much gaming, it does tend to run a bit warm, and any help I can get is appreciated. So I say, let's get to it, so I can plug in the USB connection and see just how well the Notebook Cooler 200 handles its business.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The Notebook Cooler 200 is made mostly from a very strong, black plastic construction. With open designing and a textured finish, the 16.75" X 12" notebook cooler can hold anything up to 17" notebooks. The four corners of the top have plastic inserts. These hold the feet in place, but also have a mirrored finish on top and it is see-through on the sides. These inserts surround the two-speed Antec Big Boy, blue LED, 200mm fan that is surrounded in steel, honeycomb mesh. Once powered with a USB connection, you will have a choice of High and Low fan speeds, and also have the option to turn on or off the blue LEDs.
The Big Boy offers up some pretty impressive numbers. Boasting over 115 CFM on high with a noise level of 27 dBA is impressive. Keeping the fan speeds low, 800-950 RPM maxed out, and the size of the fan makes it easier to keep the noise level down, and can spread the air flow over a greater area under the notebook you use. Keep in mind, with this design the Notebook Cooler 200 isn't exactly for use on your lap, and if it was it is uncomfortable to use that way. This product is best suited sitting on a table, improving posture while gaming, and cooling that compact space inside the laptop.
Google turned up many, many hits for this cooling accessory, so if this product looks appealing, you can go right out and get your own right now. Going over to where I have donated many of my hard earned dollars, The Antec Notebook Cooler 200 is listed at Newegg.com for $59.99. That pricing is $10 off the original price point of $69.99, but Newegg is also asking $10 for some sort of restricted shipping, bringing the price back up and just over the $70 mark. Keeping in mind, the Designer was in the $20 range, and was limited in what it could accomplish. I hope for the $50 increase in pricing, I see more than just flash and bling, and we get some good results from our testing.
The top of the Notebook Cooler 200 shows the mirrored corners, black construction, and the large 200mm blue LED fan as it would appear powered up.
The back panel holds information about the features in three languages. The bottom half holds specifications on the cooler and information for both settings of the fan. Next to the specs there is a drawing showing how the air us pulled in from underneath and blown into the bottom of your notebook.
The sides are more plain and don't provide much information, but this side does have another view of the 200 in dimmer lighting.
The only other panel with any info is this, and it is just the compliance and shipping information icons.
Opening the top of the box, I found two pieces of high density foam supporting both sides, while a third strip runs under the fan for additional support. The Notebook Cooler 200 is also wrapped in a plastic liner to keep the foam and paperwork off the product and keep the textured and mirrored finishes in great shape.
Instructions for notebook coolers are really simple. Step one, put notebook on top of the cooler. Step two, route cable and plug in the USB connection. Step three, select the fan speed and use the LED lighting by positioning the switches on the back correctly.
The Antec Notebook Cooler 200
The open construction on the top allows for not only a very attractive cooler, but offers room for both the huge fan in the center, as well as the mirrored corner pieces; it's a shame all this gets covered up!
Standing the 200 on edge, you get a better idea of the mirrored corners. These help to bounce a bit of the blue LED lighting under the notebook, while definitely bringing flash and style.
Looking at it from the front, the closest edge has the feet of your notebook placed an inch and five-eighths off the table. There is a gentle incline as you pass over the fan to the back, and the feet here sit two and five-eighths inches off the surface. This raises the screen over 2" off the table top, reducing the slouch that comes with laptop use.
Both sides are held onto the middle section with really beefy hex head screws. I set this on my desk and really leaned into it, and I will say to be able to take what my 200 pound self could deliver with no flex or deviation, I will tell you it is structurally very sound. Each side has two feet; one in the front and one in the rear of the cooler. Antec arched the center of the sides which makes for a great place to grab the cooler and notebook to another location.
The back of the 200 is very open in design. This allows for an excellent inflow of ambient air to be able to be pulled into the 200mm fan.
Right in the middle of the back of the 200 is where you will find the High and Low switch for the fan on the left, and the Off and On switch for the LED lighting on the right. Just below is where the USB wiring stems and is held into the plastic with a sturdy rubber connection to the plastic body.
Underneath the unit, the fan has a covering of the honeycomb, steel mesh to keep your fingers safe if you were to move the cooler while it is running. There is about 13-14" of USB cable for easy connectivity to any port on any side of the cooler.
Curiosity got to me, so I removed the mesh and plastic covers off the bottom with the four screws around the edge of the fan. This nine blade, almost translucent in color, 200mm fan should be plenty capable of showing benefits in cooling. I also like the fact that it only takes four screws to open the fan up for cleaning later.
With my 15" Lenovo on top, it makes my laptop look even smaller; just goes to show you how well a 17" laptop will fit on the 200 as well. With the lights on in the room, the blue LED lighting is hard to see. With the lights off, the clear parts and the mirrored finish show the lighting. There isn't too much that is visible on the table either.
With no defined routing for the cable under the 200, it is up to you to devise a way to keep the wire from getting under the fan and making the unit unlevel. I found with a quick tuck through a couple of holes in the structure I was able to keep the cable out from under the fan.
Test System & Testing Results
Test System & Test Results
Testing the Antec Notebook Cooler 200 was achieved in the same manner that we tested the Designer. This time I was able to test in a more appropriate 25 C ambient temperature. While our last round of testing proved my laptop is a hot one, I still believe that there is room for improvement with the right cooler under it.
Running Prime 95 in "Blend" testing for the first series of seven passes is enough torture to prove whether or not the 200 offers cooling with all the good looks. The highest temperature during these runs is recorded in the Processor #0 Temperature Readings, under High. The Low temperature just to the left of that box was achieved by rebooting the laptop, opening CoreTemp 0.99.7, then allowing the unit to sit there for ten minutes to level off.
With my notebook sitting flat on the floor of my photo and testing box, the lowest temperature achieved was 40 degrees doing nothing, and maxed out at 78 degrees under the load testing I did.
Setting my Lenovo on the Notebook Cooler 200 gave me a 4 degree drop at idle and keeps that same 4 degree drop at load. Keep in mind, this is CPU specific testing, with a cooler CPU, you will have a cooler GPU. Also, if yours has a mechanical hard drive, it can also benefit from all around cooler temperatures surrounding it.
I tried out the Notebook Cooler 200 on my lap, sitting around on the couch or even in my chair here to edit images or surf the web. What I found it that unless you have a really wide and flat lap, the 200 doesn't stay level well, nor is it comfortable on your legs over a period of use. This cooler is definitely designed to sit on a flat surface like a desk or table. Over the past couple of weeks I have been using the 200 under my Lenovo for day to day usage. The most drastic improvement I saw was that my left hand was no longer on fire from the heat that typically dumps out of my hard drive. With 115 CFM of air flow over the 200mm diameter area, the 200 offers the best cooling solution of the two I have tested.
Antec offers a slick looking industrial framework and touches of clear and mirrored plastic. Once the LED lighting is turned on, the fan and the plastic reflect the glow of blue LEDs. The only thing is, you end up covering up all of that flashy looking styling. I'm in no way suggesting you abuse your cooler as I did when I tested its structural integrity. During which I found that this cooler is very solid and will take as much abuse as normal usage is going to deliver. I was so impressed with the 200 that it has made a permanent home under my Lenovo. Even while just surfing the internet, I can feel the cool breeze passing through the keyboard and keeping my hands cool and dry.
The bottom line as to any product is the cost. I mentioned earlier that to get this notebook cooler to your house it is going to be around $70 US dollars. Even though I don't game on my laptop a lot, there is a level of comfort that I see in the equation of the 200's pricing. What I mean to say is that by using the Notebook Cooler 200, I get to enjoy using my Lenovo in everyday situations more now than I could before. I don't burn my palm on the hard drive, and I get dry cool hands on top of it. I know my testing candidates are somewhat limited, but I would easily pay the $59.99 that Newegg.com is asking. As I say, the Notebook Cooler 200 made itself a permanent home on my desk, and it should be making one on yours!
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