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Reviewed By: Bryan Pizzuti [10.28.02]
Edited By: Carl Nelson
Manufactured By: Bytecc
MSRP: $30.00



These days everyone is wild about cooling. You can buy coolers for your video card, your memory, your CPU, and even aluminum cases to act as heatsinks. Some of these are simple (generic heatsinks and fans) and some are much more complex (like water-cooling rigs). But now BYTECC has come out with an Aluminum Notebook Cooler. It's for notebooks (those things we used to call laptops before they got too warm for our laps) and it's got the nice "Aluminum" and "Cooler" buzzwords. But is it really worth it to keep a notebook cool?

The "Cool" in "Cooler"

And no, we're not talking thermodynamics here. Most coolers have a "cool" factor beyond any thermal properties; it has to be funky or stylish or set above the generic stuff somehow to sell. Things like the Thermaltake Orbs (such as the one reviewed here), or their Xaser II case line (reviewed here) sell not just because they cool well, but because they're stylish (and in cases such as the Xaser II which have windows, this effect is synergistic).

The Notebook Cooler doesn't appear stylish at first glance. It's just a slab of aluminum, shaped into an angled notebook computer stand, with some ventilation holes cut into it, and 2 fans that are powered through a PS/2 connector. Pick it up, and it's solid aluminum (other than the fans) with that sweet cool feeling. And "Aluminum" is in nice big letters on the box, since aluminum sells well because of it's cooling properties. It's very thermally conductive, which is why it's used in heatsinks, and some more expensive cases.

There are also some little plastic pads on the surface on which the computer rests. So much for aluminum, since it actually has to TOUCH the object it's cooling in order to pull heat away from it. So why make it out of aluminum, if the aluminum isn't going to add to the cooling? Well, for one we haven't tested it yet, so we don't KNOW that for sure. And's cool. If people will spend $300 on an ATX case because it's made of aluminum, they'll probably go for any aluminum cooler faster than something not made out of aluminum (unless it's made of copper, but I don't think you'd want to lug this around if it were made of copper).

The nice thing about aluminum construction, though, is that it's pretty darn lightweight. I doubt plastic would be noticeably lighter, though it might be cheaper to make. It will also last longer than a lot of plastics, and stand up to rougher treatment. So I guess aluminum is pretty cool.

One thing that might be a problem with this design, however, would be the edges. These coolers were made by extruding an aluminum surface and then cutting it, followed by a bending process to get the proper shape. This can cause a very sharp burr on the edges, depending on the amount of oil used, and how sharp or dull the cutting blade is (I know... I used to do this stuff a while back). Looking at the end, you can see the marks from the cutting blade if you look closely, plus you can see where the material bulges a bit at the corners, where it was bent into it's final shape. Even though this appears to have all of it's sharp burrs sanded down, one should be a bit careful. Probably coating these ends in plastic would have been a good idea from a safety perspective.


In and of itself, this is a pretty nice notebook PC stand. it holds the keyboard at an angle similar to the one most desktop keyboards use. Anyone who has used a notebook PC that doesn't have fold-out legs on the bottom most likely knows that the hardest thing to get used to on that keyboard is the ANGLE, not the keys. I certainly had that problem with both of my portables.

Both notebook PCs pictured here work well with this stand (especially since neither one has a fold-out stand of it's own). The old Toshiba 325CDT is quite heavy, but sits fine. The the newer Dell Inspiron 4100 fits like a glove except for the fact that the lip of the stand itself blocks the DVD drive from opening (this will probably be a problem with any front-opening optical drive on any notebook PC). The 60 mm fans are powered from the computer's PS/2-style port, using the included pass-through cable (so you can still use your external mouse and/or keyboard). Power draw appears to be fairly minimal, and the fans can be switched off at the back of the stand without having to unplug them.

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