Cooler Master Notepal ErgoStand
MRP: Rs 3000
Street Price (As On 18-Dec-2012): Rs 1900 (PrimeABGB.com); Rs 2100 (Letsbuy.com); Rs 2200 (TheITDepot.com)
There's a lot more in common between Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV) and laptops than you'd imagine. The former are meant to be driven off-road, but people still use them on tarmac because they're considered cooler than sedans. Similarly, laptops are also designed to be used outdoors and on the move. However, because the cool kids don't want to be caught dead with a desktop PC, everyone treats their laptops as awkward desktop replacements.
Although there is no way to make SUVs suck less on the blacktop, there are many means available to make laptops a lot more manageable for extended desktop usage. A laptop stand is one such option.
The 140 mm fan can push a large volume of air at lower speeds.
Big And Sturdy
Cooler Master's NotePal ErgoStand combines a cooling pad, USB hub, and notebook stand in one sturdy package. Make no mistake - this isn't something you can lug around, as it weighs over a kilo. Much of its heft is attributed to a humongous metal grille that covers most of the cooler's surface area. Unlike its plastic brethren, the ErgoStand's grille doesn't absorb and retain heat. This enables better thermal dissipation and provides excellent structural rigidity at the same time. What isn't made of metal is fashioned out of rugged plastic. In short, this puppy can take a lot of abuse before anything breaks.
Notches on the base allow for four levels of height adjustment.
The cooler's main chassis is hinged to a C-shaped base, which features four notches for achieving as many inclination adjustment settings. Four grippy rubber blocks on the cooler's upper surface keep your laptop anchored safely. However, for higher inclination settings, you must use the supplied anti-slip barriers that fit into the front edge of the cooler. These attachments can be adjusted horizontally to support the smallest netbooks as well as full-sized desktop replacements. The rubber feet at the bottom do a fine job of keeping things steady as well. Overall, Cooler Master has chosen the right blend of plastic and metal in the right places for a clever balance of weight and structural rigidity.
The anti-slip barrier placed near the trackpad prevents the laptop from sliding off.
Loaded With Features
The cooler's massive 140 mm fan employs a high-quality bearing (rifle type) that combines noiseless operation with high durability. The fan itself is hooked to a rotary dial (PWM type) for smooth adjustment. Using a large single fan instead of two smaller ones is smarter, because it's possible to push a larger volume of air at lower fan speeds.
The ErgoStand isn't merely a cooler. For the price, it also includes a four-port USB hub and a couple of nifty cable management options. Cable clips at the rear combined with channels on either side let you streamline USB and power cables.
The ErgoStand includes a rich feature set for the price.
The USB hubs are practically useless for power hungry devices, since they draw power from the same USB cable that connects the cooler to your laptop. Fortunately, there is a provision for a 5V DC input socket, which provides the hub with enough juice to run just about anything. Unfortunately, the DC adapter has to be purchased separately.Testing And Performance
For testing, I used a 13" Dell Vostro 3350 laptop
bearing a 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5-2410M
processor. Stress tests using Prime95
took the CPU and GPU to their thermal thresholds. I started off by letting the uncooled laptop idle for 10 minutes while noting the temperature readings on the bottom and top surfaces at regular intervals. This was followed by another 10 minutes of stress-testing sans the cooler. At this point, the ErgoStand was installed and operated at full capacity. Temperature variations were then noted over the next 15 minutes.
Before we analyse the test results, I should clarify that these temperatures represent the absolute worst case scenario. Moreover, unless you own a MacBook Pro
or any other laptop with a metal chassis, don't expect laptop coolers to substantially reduce CPU temperature. Laptops with plastic bodies tend to thermally insulate the internal components, so a cooler is more for your personal comfort than for thermal regulation of the device.
The ErgoStand however, did a fine job of keeping the Vostro cool. Once set at full blast, it managed to bring the CPU temperature down by 5 degrees. The rising temperature levels on the top and bottom surfaces were also arrested, despite both CPU and GPU being strained at 100% by the benchmarks. Under normal usage, expect much cooler operating temperatures with this product.
The ErgoStand makes laptops as ergonomic as desktops.
For Desktop Replacements
This Cooler Master product is quite heavy and has rubber feet at the bottom, not cushions. That's a tell-tale sign that it's meant to be used on a desk and not on the lap. It's targeted at those who want to make their desktop replacements more comfortable. The idea is to set up the stand at steeper inclinations, in order to bring laptop displays to a comfortable viewing height, like that of a regular desktop monitor. This way, you don't have to crane your neck down and risk long-term injury.
It's clear that the ErgoStand is quite good at what it does. It's built tough with generous use of metal, while providing excellent ergonomics. Its 140 mm fan is silent and powerful at the same time. It may not look too stylish, but its capabilities are unrivalled in the sub-3000 rupees segment.Performance:
4/5Design And Build Quality: