Cooler Master Notepal I300 Notebook Cooler Review



The Notepal I300's portability is about as good as any cooler which accommodates 17-inch laptops.  The overall simplicity throughout has lead to a lightweight and relatively low-profile design which packs neatly into laptop backpacks and messenger bags.  15-17-inch laptops look at home and are well-proportioned for the Notepal I300, and even smaller laptops don't look overdone on the larger cooler.




The first thing you'll notice is the blue glow of the I300, which we mentioned before isn't overly bright as blue LEDs often can be.  Acoustically it's very good.  The blade design is a familiar one we've seen on many Cooler Master case fans, and the large 160mm diameter means the fan doesn't have to operate at a very high RPM to produce adequate airflow, with a max rotational speed of a relatively low 1400RPM.  Cooler Master has stresses simplicity throughout the design, and as such we're not surprised to see the absense of any additional USB ports, fan speed adjustment, or LED toggle.  An LED toggle would be great for those who plant to use this in the bedroom, but the lights really are well-diffused and aren't that bright, even in a dark room.


Testing notebook coolers can be a bit tricky, as we have yet to find a reliable fan speed controller for our Dell XPS laptop (readers, throw us a comment if you know of something we can use!).  Fan speeds on notebooks often work like this:  a load is applied and temperature goes up, then the fan kicks up a bunch and cools the CPU back down, so the fan speeds relaxes, then the temps go up, and that cycle tends to oscillate during temperature testing.  As a result, we've been better off monitoring the fan activity of the notebook, which has its own benefits.  If the fan in your notebook (which is highly integrated and difficult/expensive to replace) isn't working as hard, it's a fairly safe bet you should see some lifetime improvement from it.  Our old torture-test notebook has since succumbed to a graphics card failure, and so we'll observe fan speed behavior in different usage environments. 


With the fan speed at its highest setting, the Notepal X3 is still pleasantly quiet, more quiet than the notebook fan when under full load.  We noticed that during normal usage consisting of browsing, music and video playback, as well as other light tasks, the fan remained in essentially the idle state, which was great to see.


During gaming and benchmark runs, we saw the fan oscillating between 75-90%, and only occasionally spiking at 100%.  In the absence of the cooler, it runs at full speed constantly and at slightly higher overall temperatures.  Usability benefits were also seen, as the surface of the notebook was much cooler, and the locations where my palms rest often get very warm to the touch were noticeably cooler.  The open mesh surface allows for airflow to permeate to all corners of the notebook, so although the airflow is focused near the back-center, the rest will see improved airflow and cooling as well.

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