Today I'm having a look at another notebook cooler; the Cooler Master Notepal S. I had thought about doing a "passively cooled notebook cooler shootout," but the soft, fold-able Thermaltake iXoft cooler is made for portability and is made to work on any surface, including the user's lap. The Cooler Master Notepal S is made for a completely different market niche; it isn't very portable (even though it does fold somewhat flat) and isn't something you could really put on your lap... not comfortably at least. The Notepal S is pretty much the antithesis of the iXoft.
The Notepal S is made to not only keep your notebook cool by providing better airflow to the underside, but to elevate the monitor so it is at the eye level of the typical LCD monitor of your every day desktop computer.
The back of the box has plenty of information for someone that happens upon this product on a retail shelf, including the size of the unit and how large a notebook it will support. Dimensions are listed at 320mm x 300mm which should be large enough to support a notebook with up to a 16" monitor. Supposedly, this unit is large enough to support a notebook with a 17" LCD as well, but do try it before you buy it if you have a notebook with an LCD that large. If the local store stocking this product doesn't have one on display, the cardboard box is easily opened and the product removed without having to cut any plastic. The unit can be repackaged very easily and will look just like new.
If there's anything positive to say about the Notepal S it's that the aluminum construction is beyond elegant. It looks like a modern art sculpture at some angles.
The base is plastic, which is okay because it does not come into contact with the notebook and therefore does not have to dissipate heat. It also does not look or feel cheap, which is the first thing you would think of if someone were to tell you that it was made of plastic if you didn't see it for yourself first. You can see there are six notches in this plastic base for six different height positions.
The aluminum acts like a giant heatsink, while the unique "S" shape and vents cut into the panel ensure that there is plenty of airflow. Using my notebook, which is an AMD 1800MHz based Acer TravelMate 4400, I ran a number of burn-in and stress tests to bring the temperatures up as high as possible. To give you an idea of how high that is, as I currently type this, I'm seeing a CPU temperature of 60 to 65°C. After two hours of stress test, this temperature jumped to 82°C in a 25°C environment.
While running burn-in on the CPU, RAM and HDD, I witnessed a drop in CPU temperature from 82°C to 77°C.
Even at the lowest setting, the Notepal does have quite a bit of an angle to it. The notebook's keyboard is still usable, but it takes getting used to.
The above photo is a prime example of how the notebook is tilted up at angle by the Notepal S.
By looking at the rear of the Notepal, we can see how the notebook keeps so cool. Other than being made of aluminum, which in itself is excellent at heat dissipation, we can see that there is minimal contact with the actual surface of the bottom of the notebook. Air easily moves through the bottom of the computer.
Even the surface that does come in contact with the underside of the notebook has several vents cut into it. On the far left and right vents you can see a small rubber piece. This prevents the laptop from slipping off the Notepal S, even if the notebook computer is elevated completely vertical.
So what is the Notepal S? The Notepal S is the ideal notebook cooler for the person that uses their notebook with a standard keyboard and mouse in place of a typical desktop computer. If you are someone that uses their notebook computer in this fashion, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this beautifully crafted piece of aluminum.
What the Notepal S isn't is portable. The Notepal S also doesn't allow the user to use their notebook on their lap, on the bed, etc. and it's rather uncomfortable to use the Notepal S as a notebook cooler when used on a desktop surface because of the unusual angle the keyboard sits at.
I would NOT say the Notepal S is not a fantastic product. But it's a niche product. So if you are looking for a passively cooled notebook cooler, be aware of how the Notepal S is intended to be used before jumping on one of these.
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