Laptop makers and engineers are constantly pushing the boundaries in terms of making machines thinner, and yet more powerful – the latter being a prime consideration with gaming portables, naturally.
And of late, huge strides have been made in terms of powering up gaming laptops, with the ability to pack near-desktop-level equivalent GPUs into a notebook. But at the same time, this brings obvious issues in the form of not just space constraints, but heat-related problems (of course the two are closely interrelated).
And it’s becoming increasingly challenging to innovate with cooling systems and clever fan setups or super-efficient heat-pipes to cool a chunky CPU and GPU. Because otherwise, these parts can end up throttled back with their performance, and not so desktop-level after all…
But cooling doesn’t just have to be an internal process, of course; it can be external too. And we don’t mean pointing a desk fan at your notebook, but rather using a laptop cooling pad. As the name suggests, this is a pad your laptop sits on which provides cooling with upward-facing fans (and sometimes additional heat dissipation via the metal chassis of the pad).
Any additional cooling can help in the battle against throttling, and perhaps moreover, it could potentially prolong the longevity of your laptop. That CPU and GPU will last longer if they aren’t being constantly run at overly hot temperatures. So there’s a possibility that in some cases, spending a little money on some extra cooling might save you a lot of heartache in terms of potentially avoiding the danger of your notebook giving up the ghost early.
A further benefit of a cooling pad is that it can provide a convenient place to situate your laptop on those occasions when you’re actually using it in your lap, preventing a warmer notebook from being unpleasantly hot against your legs.
Note that the mileage you get from any cooling pad may vary in terms of the cooling vents present on the bottom of your notebook, and their respective position compared to the location of the fans in the pad. As common sense would dictate, a decent amount of vents on the underside of your laptop is a good thing here – and in general – and preferably these will be (roughly) lined up with the pad’s fans.
Although some laptop cooling pads run with one big fan – or multiple smaller ones – that’ll hit pretty much everything, and there are even modular pads where the fans can be repositioned.
Even unfortunate notebooks with no vents on the bottom can benefit somewhat from having the underside of the chassis cooled as a little bit of help in terms of temperature management.
At any rate, while your mileage may vary somewhat given your exact model of laptop, you’ll likely find some benefit from a cooling pad – and perhaps a considerable one, providing, of course, that you choose the one of the best models around.
Which is where we come in with our top picks in various different categories, from cooling pads designed for large laptops through to highly portable solutions, wallet-friendly pads, and even models with nifty integrated accessories like built-in speakers.
- We’ve picked out all the best gaming laptops of 2019
The best laptop cooling pads 2019 at a glance:
- Kootek Cooler Pad Chill Mat 5
- Cooler Master Notepal XL
- Thermaltake Massive 20 RGB
- Enermax TwisterOdio 16
- Targus Chill Mat
- Cooler Master MasterNotepal Maker
- Tree New Bee Cooling Pad
- TeckNet N8 Laptop Cooling Pad
- Cooler Master Notepal X-Slim
- Klim Cool
The best laptop cooling pads of 2019
1. Kootek Cooler Pad Chill Mat 5
Best overall laptop cooling pad
Fans: 4 x 70mm, 1 x 120mm | Size of pad: 380 x 300 x 35mm
Kootek makes a highly impressive laptop cooling pad which uses five fans (the one in the middle is a bigger 120mm model, surrounded by 70mm fans) to deliver an impressive amount of cooling – while still remaining quiet to boot.
The Chill Mat scores strongly in the versatility stakes as you can switch some of the fans off (it’s possible to have one working, four, or all five), plus it can be raised (using a ratchet mechanism, like a deckchair) through six different height settings depending on your preference (you might want to crank it right up when watching a movie, for example).
This cooling pad can take 12-inch to 17-inch laptops, so all common sizes, with a pair of stoppers at the front to prevent the notebook from sliding off. It also boasts a USB hub with two USB 2.0 ports.
In short, this is a high quality cooling pad with flexibility in spades, and it benefits from a reasonable mid-range price tag, making it our top pick for an all-rounder that covers everything without doing too much damage to your wallet.
2. Cooler Master Notepal XL
Best quiet and powerful laptop cooling pad
Fans: 1 x 230mm | Size of pad: 305 x 379 x 47mm
Cooler Master knows cool, you would hope, and the firm’s Notepal is a winner in our books. Using a single large 230mm fan – which is impressively quiet, we might add – it has a fan speed controller, and is designed to pipe ‘optimal airflow’ through your laptop. Indeed, it shifts an impressive amount of air, being rated at 89.8 cubic feet per minute; a very effective level of cooling.
This device also benefits from a slightly tilted ergonomic design, aiming to give you the best angle to use your notebook’s keyboard, along with nonslip feet for stability when placed on a surface. As an added bonus, there are three USB ports around the back.
The Notepal XL is capable of holding laptops up to 17-inches in size, and to cap things off, it’s reasonably priced for the cooling performance you’re getting here. This product is a very close second to the Kootek, but just loses out on the versatility front. If you can’t find the Kootek outside of the US – in some regions stock seems very thin on the ground – then this is a great alternative for powerful cooling.
3. Thermaltake Massive 20 RGB
Best laptop cooling pad for large notebooks
Fans: 1 x 200mm | Size of pad: 471 x 354.5 x 46.5mm
If you need a cooling pad suitable for a hefty notebook, then this Thermaltake product can cope with a massive laptop as the name suggests – it won’t break a sweat with a 17-inch portable, and is even capable of playing host to larger 19-inch gaming laptops.
It has one 200mm fan for cooling (the fan speed is adjustable), and there are three different height settings (up to an angle of 13-degrees). The large fan provides efficient cooling for bigger laptops, plus you also get RGB lighting around the edges of the pad with various different modes (pulsing, blinking, or just static lighting of different colors).
It’s fashioned from plastic and the build quality perhaps isn’t the best you’ll encounter in the cooling pad world, but it’s plenty sturdy enough to do the job of supporting a hefty gaming laptop. Note that the price tag is reasonably hefty here, too.
4. Enermax TwisterOdio 16
Best laptop cooling pad with built-in speakers
Fans: 1 x 120mm | Size of pad: 352 x 270 x 52mm
When thinking about laptop cooling pads which do something a little different from the norm, one possibility is an accessory that doesn’t just keep your notebook from getting too hot, but also comes with built-in speakers. Because aside from dealing with heat, another area that laptops often struggle with is providing a decent level of audio quality and volume.
The Enermax TwisterOdio is only capable of dealing with laptops up to 16-inches in size, but its built-in pair of ‘DreamBass’ 2W speakers are pretty decent (and provide some bass, as the name might suggest).
This pad is fairly thick, naturally enough due to those integrated speakers (which are housed in the cylinder at the rear of the pad), but surprisingly light, and provides solid cooling as well as sound quality. Incidentally, you can turn the speaker on or off, and manually adjust the fan speed.
This is definitely worth considering for those who have poor laptop speakers and want a reasonably priced solution to address that issue and any cooling worries in one fell swoop.
5. Targus Chill Mat
Best laptop cooling pad with expansive USB hub
Fans: 2 x 2,500 rpm | Size of pad: 354 x 260 x 25mm
For those who want their cooling pad to also provide expansion capabilities to hook up a number of other peripherals, check out the Targus Chill Mat, which is a little bit like a laptop dock crossed with a cooling solution.
The Chill Mat sports a 4-port USB hub (with USB 2.0 ports), and delivers cooling via a pair of fans (although Targus doesn’t specify what size they are – although the maker does state that they can run at up to 2,500 rpm).
This is a well-constructed device which is impressively slim, and can be adjusted between four different height levels. For those with laptops that have few USB ports, this could be a useful solution on twin fronts.
6. Cooler Master MasterNotepal Maker
Best modular laptop cooling pad
Fans: 2 x 80mm | Size of pad: 384.6 x 270 x 59.6mm
Remember at the outset of this piece we discussed that the relative positioning of the vents in the bottom of your laptop and the fans in the cooling pad can be an important consideration? Well, one way you can ensure optimal positioning is by placing the fans yourself – and that’s possible in this modular cooling pad from Cooler Master.
Modular simply means that the fans can be moved to anywhere on the cooling pad, to target exactly where you need air delivering to your laptop. The MasterNotepal Maker also benefits from an excellent build quality and a ‘sandblasted aluminum’ surface – that can also help with heat dissipation – plus this pad can be set at five different angles.
There are other benefits such as excellent cable management, an attachable USB hub, and removable stoppers (to prevent the laptop from being in any danger of sliding off the stand). However, the downside to this top-of-the-range Cooler Master product is that it isn’t cheap, but for those who really want to fully tailor their pad to suit their notebook, it may well be worth the outlay.
The other thing to bear in mind here is that stock seems rather thin on the ground, now, as this product has been out for some time: so if you want one, you may have to move relatively quickly.
7. Tree New Bee Cooling Pad
Best affordable laptop cooling pad
Fans: 4 x 110mm | Size of pad: 408 x 287 x 29mm
If you want a very affordable solution for laptop cooling duties, well, here it is. Tree New Bee’s product runs with four 110 mm fans with adjustable speeds (the blue LED lights get dimmer as you turn the speed down – you can also turn two of the fans off, if you wish).
This device is nicely priced, pretty quiet, and provides a good amount of (suitably variable) cooling, and it can be raised on a pair of legs at the back for what the makers argue is a more ergonomic typing angle (and improved cooling, with more airflow underneath, of course).
The downside is there’s only one height setting, and it might be a touch steep for some. As you’ve probably seen elsewhere on this page, most products offer a range of different heights.
Still, this doesn’t stop the Tree New Bee Cooling Pad from being a great choice that strikes a commendable balance between price and performance.
8. TeckNet N8 Laptop Cooling Pad
Best budget laptop cooling pad
Fans: 3 x 118mm | Size of pad: 380 x 280 x 28mm
If you want to spend as little as possible on a cooling pad, then TeckNet has a great solution which is priced as cheaply as you’ll see anywhere – and you’re still getting a decent product.
The N8 comes with a trio of 118mm cooling fans which provide a decent level of cooling, plus the device benefits from a highly slim and portable design, too. It has a pair of feet that can be extended to raise it up, and a USB port to plug in an additional device (the N8 connects and is powered via USB, incidentally).
The build quality perhaps isn’t the best, but the N8 is impressively quiet, and quite simply it does the job – and does it very cheaply indeed.
9. Cooler Master Notepal X-Slim
Best slim and portable laptop cooling pad
Fans: 1 x 160mm | Size of pad: 380 x 270 x 27.5~46mm
If you want a cooling pad which is nicely portable to carry around with you, then the X-Slim fits the bill. It measures only 27.5mm at its thinnest point, and it’s very light with a weight of 700g.
There are other products that come close to this level of portability – Havit’s 12-inch to 17-inch Laptop Cooler, for example – but Cooler Master’s effort gets the nod due to its quality build. It’s also capable of coping with laptops up to 17-inches in size, and the single 160mm fan offers excellent airflow while keeping things whisper-quiet. The X-Slim benefits from nifty cable management facilities, too, to keep things tidy as well as portable.
While the Notepal X-Slim is tidily compact, if you want a truly portable accessory to cool your laptop, check out our final entry below.
10. Klim Cool
Best portable laptop cooling solution
Fans: 1 x 4,200 rpm | Size: 155 x 82 x 36mm
Okay, so we thought we’d throw this one in at the end as a bit of a wildcard, because while it isn’t a laptop cooling pad as such, it’s a fan-based accessory which does a similar thing (albeit via sucking rather than blowing air). And for those who want a really portable solution, this is a truly compact affair – whereas obviously any laptop cooling pad won’t be all that small, given that they all (inevitably) have a notebook-sized footprint.
Note that there is a sizeable caveat here: your laptop will need a vent at the side or rear for one of these devices to be attached. If you only have air vents on the base of your laptop, then we’re afraid you’re out of luck as far as these particular products go.
As mentioned, rather than blowing air into the laptop to cool it, the idea with a so-called ‘vacuum cooler’ is that they suck air out, but that has an equally cooling effect. Some even argue it’s more effective than a traditional cooling pad, but either way, you’re getting the job done as long as you pick a good product from the available solutions out there.
And in this case, our recommendation is Klim Cool, a very effective cooler which comes with a number of different attachments so you’re covered whatever the size of the air vent you’re attaching the device to. It also measures the temperature inside your laptop and automatically adjusts the fan speed for the appropriate level of cooling – pretty nifty indeed.
The manufacturer backs the product with a five-year warranty and a 30-day free return policy, so you can give it a whirl to see how it works with your notebook. A further bonus is that this isn’t an expensive accessory, either, falling in line with the pricing of the more affordable cooling pads.
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