With more and more laptop coolers passing through our doors, I have seen enough to get a basic feel for the market. Some coolers look like space ships with bulky plastic and rubber pieces and get surrounded by LEDs; some with and some without lighting control. If I was a teenager again, these things would all appeal to me, and at that point I know noise wasn't as much of an issue for me back then, but with lots of other things going on in the world around a PC, I like to see performance without making my ears bleed in the process.
While I was receiving coolers from Antec and Cooler Master, I asked NZXT for the Cryo LX to see what they have in store for the notebook cooling market. I mean we have just seen their LED kits, the Bunker, and those very nice looking wiring adapters, I figured they had to take some of that creativity into other products they produce, and NZXT seems more than happy to oblige me with my desire to want to see it.
Today we will be taking a close look at the Cryo LX, the "largest full aluminum notebook cooler". Not only does this notebook cooler offer an extruded aluminum construction, it also offers plenty of air flow. Even at first glance on the site or looking at the coolers packaging, it isn't hard to tell that NZXT is offering a classy looking addition to your desktop as well. I say we get to the specifics and key features of the Cryo LX, disassemble it a bit, and get to the testing to see if the "largest" cooler means the "best" notebook cooler.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
On NZXT's site and in the email correspondence there wasn't anything really available as far as actual specifications to make a chart about. Instead there is a full list of features that cover most of the dimensions, fan sizes, and options around the Cryo LX. This extruded aluminum frame is said to be a full 3mm thick even though my measurement put the rear section at 2.6mm and the front part at 2.3mm thick. Moving on, this aluminum frame then takes on a brushed finish and has some soft rubber trim added for design as well as secure footing for the notebook. At this point it can be sold as the silver version. Take the same frame and add an anodizing process, and they offer a black version too.
The full dimensions of the Cryo LX are 16.6" wide, and 11.6" front to back. This frame is also raised in the front a bit; 1" off the table to be exact. The rear of the cooler leaves your laptop 2.5" above the table to give you an ergonomic angle while still leaving room for the cooling system and power and USB connectivity. To power the three, fully controllable, 120mm fans, you have options to power this from the wall, or with a provided cable use a USB port from the notebook to power the unit. On the back you will find connectivity for either of the power options along with five USB ports. One of these ports needs to be used as a transfer cable from the cooler to the laptop, while the other four can be used for any sort of USB input device you want to attach to your 15" or 17" notebook.
Going through the usual steps to locate the product in question, I found that the Cryo LX is available almost everywhere. Google put out a ton of various retailers and e-tailers that show stock of this cooler. Depending on where you finally decide to buy one, prices are currently ranging from just under $54 USD prior to shipping, while others are charging much closer to the $70 range. It seems the market is split about half and half; either it's under $60 or over by near $10 everywhere. Right now The silver version is listing for $69.99 at Newegg.com and there is about $8 in shipping charges. The black version is listing currently cheaper with Newegg.com asking $67.99 and it only requires $1.99 to ship. Based on this alone, I advise the black one currently, but let's get a closer look at it, get some testing and typing time on it and see what I think when I get done.
The Cryo LX comes backed very well in a cardboard box with a plastic carrying handle. On the packaging there is a large white panel with an attractive design at the left, and an image of the Cryo LX in the silver version on the right.
Both sides are this greyish-green color and simply note that this is the Cryo LX aluminum cooler for power notebooks.
The back of the box holds a full list of features in various languages, as well as giving a few more product images. We can see that this cooler comes in black and silver, as well as being able to fold up for compact portability. They even show the back of the Cryo LX and the USB and power connectivity.
Lifting the lid on the box, you can see that the inner packing is very tight and allows very little room for the cooler and accessories to be able to move around.
While the accessories are shipped under the unit, the Cryo LX is shipped inside of a plastic bag to keep the brushed aluminum finish in good shape. To center the product, just in case the box takes a bit of a beating, the high density foam on both ends did a great job with delivering me a pristine product.
The NZXT Cryo LX Notebook Cooler
As the back of the package showed us, the unit ships folded, almost in half. Holding both halves is a steel pin that runs through an extruded tube and continues all the way to both ends to give a very solid, yet easily operational hinge for the two pieces of the Cryo LX.
Opened up and in the operational position you can really get a feel for what the Cryo Z offers for the notebook. Soft rubber trim running down both sides of the air venting and the stripe at the front offer both anti-vibration and anti-skid footing for your notebook to sit on. The rest of the cooler is built from aluminum that is brushed, and in this case anodized black.
Just wanted to get closer to the rubber for a better look, but also was a good time to show the only logo on the Cryo LX; this indented NZXT found in the right corner of the cooler.
From the side you can see the two piece construction and the fan box that hangs from the larger half. The front of the Cryo LX leaves my laptop an inch off the table. Moving to the rear, there is almost two and a half inches of rise before the laptop gets placed. This angle is very good to type on and has given me no discomfort from its use.
The fan box hanging from the cooler had a variable speed dial on the right side of the unit. Once powered up, this will give you very finite control of the fan speeds.
The rear of the Cryo LX is made from the same 2.3mm thick extruded aluminum construction. Holes are cut away for the power and USB connections to poke through for access.
All of the ports and connections are marked with grey painted icons. There is a USB transfer connection to allow the other USB ports to function, the power adapter, and then four additional USB 2.0 ports to connect anything you may need. The two screws on either side are to hold the PCB to the rear of the unit.
The left side of the Cryo LX isn't much different from the other side, except for the lack of the fan switch on this side. I say we flip this thing over and get a look at what is handling the cooling.
The NZXT Cryo LX Notebook Cooler - Cont.
The NZXT Cryo LX Notebook Cooler - Continued
Under the unit you find a lot more of the steel mesh that was on the sides of the fan box. You can see that all the fans are screwed right to the steel mesh, and you can see just a bit of wiring at the top. Now how do we get this apart for cleaning purposes?
Looking for that solution, I started at the top near the wiring. What I found is this 3-pin header that at this point I can't disconnect. The boxes shell sits too close to allow for me to pull out the plug.
Aha! Here we go; I found the screws that hold the fans in place. Right next to the hinge you will find four small screws that need to be removed. These screws pass through an extruded aluminum tab, and the threads are in the steel mesh covering. Once all the screws are out, slide the fans to the right or to you in this image, and then carefully lift the box out of the way. Don't forget about that 3-pin wire!
Once the fans are removed from the aluminum structure you can simply wipe this part down with a damp rag to remove the dirt and dust that can build up after a few months of use.
The fans included in the Cryo LX are a trio of 120mm fans. These fans are all connected to one point which allows for the single 3-pin connection to be used on the outside when you put these back after cleaning them. With all this steel mesh so close to three fans, I am glad to see lots of foam padding used to keep any vibrations at bay. This attention to detail along with the tight fit of this completed cooling unit left my time and usage very quiet.
Placing a 15" notebook onto the Cryo LX, you can see there is plenty of room to spare. This will definitely work for a 17" notebook as well, but trying to use a 19" on here is a definite stretch of the coolers surface area. I simply don't think it will support the feet of the 19" laptop.
I noticed with my notebook that it doesn't sit just anywhere on the cooler. You need to move the notebook around and be sure that the rubber feet of the computer are supported; this will eliminate any wobbles you may run into.
Opened up and ready for some typing and testing. I found the angle of the cooler is much like many others I have tested. One thing I noticed is that this cooler is not very comfortable on my lap. The pointed edges on the front make for annoying pressure points. On a desktop or tabletop is where this unit shined, making my time some of the quietest and most comfortable to use over the week or so I gave it to gauge the "feel" for it.
Accessories and Documentation
Packed under the cooler in the box you will find a couple of bags containing the wiring for the Cryo LX. On the left is the wall inverter to supply power to the Cryo LX. On the right you see a pair of cables. The one on the left is to power the fans via USB on the laptop, just in case you don't have access to power while using this cooler. The cable on the right is a USB transfer cable. This must be in place to allow things like mice or headsets to send the signal to one port on the notebook. Essentially you use one port on the laptop to gain usage of four on the Cryo LX.
The instructions are very simple, and explain what I was telling you about the included cables. Aside from these instructions there really isn't much more to know since I already showed you how to gain access to the fans for maintenance.
Test System & Testing Results
Test System & Test Results
With a 26C ambient temperature, I went about testing the Lenovo with and without the Cryo LX. To monitor the temperatures I used Core Temp 0.99.7. To stress test I used Prime95 in "blend" mode for the first pass of tests. While I could leave the test to run longer, I find the twenty minutes or so it takes to get through the first seven tests is plenty of time to heat things up.
The idle or "low" temperature is obtained after turning the laptop off and rebooting, waiting ten minutes, and then I open Core Temp. I allow it to sit for just a couple minutes more to settle out at the lowest temperature. I then commence testing with Prime95 and once the first set of testing is complete I took a screen capture to show my results.
The baseline was run and it played right into the average results I get with this laptop. Let's get the Cryo LX in place, crank up the fans and see what it can do.
The Cryo LX is capable of keeping the idle temperature down one degree, but at load it did drop the temperatures a full two degrees. Now I have one of the hotter notebooks on the market, there is no doubt about that. But if the cooler is able to drop the temperature even a couple of degrees, and I don't have to hear it run, it's doing a fine job!
The Cryo LX from NZXT offers a very sophisticated looking cooler that will make an attractive addition to any surroundings. During usage and even today I find that the cooler is not only comfortable for normal use, it is very quiet and once the notebook is placed properly, it is a solid unit. The three 120mm fans offer a fair amount of cooling capability, and the larger fans running at a lower speed helps reduce noises from the Cryo LX. This combined with padding in the right places, a tight fit of the fan box, and a long secure hinge make for a notebook cooler that I have a real hard time finding fault with.
The one fault that some may bring to the table is that there is no USB 3.0 connectivity. Lacking a notebook with said capability, or any devices that use it, it fits my needs just fine. I use my notebook for mostly surfing, running TeamSpeak3, and keeping up to date with emails. The four USB 2.0 ports are more than enough for my needs. The fact that the Cryo LX offers cooling along with additional USB connectivity; more than my laptop offers, and only needs one USB port from the laptop if you are using the wall outlet adapter. For those on the go, NZXT offers a second cable that will take power from one of the notebooks USB ports to supply power to the Cryo LX when power isn't available on hot summer days.
The NZXT Cryo LX does require a bit more cash to be invested over a lot of the options in the market. Testing a few of these now, I have the Cryo LX taking its rightful place on my desktop. Does it perform better than the SF-19? No, but the noise level is nowhere near the same, the Cryo LX even at full speed, makes very little noise audible from even just an arm's length away. This unit doesn't have much in the way of flash or LEDs either. What you do get for your investment is a seriously solid unit with plenty of cooling and super good looks. At this point I can't say run out and spend $70 on a laptop cooler, as it may not be for you. For those in search of an elegant and quiet solution, the pricing at $67.99 at Newegg.com, I can't say the price is unreasonable for what you receive in looks, stability, connectivity, comfort, and silence.
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