A Closer Look
Simple, stylish and to the point; Cooler Master’s packaging is unambiguous here. The back of the box serves as both promotion and instruction manual; helpful since none is included inside.
With the layers of protective packaging stripped away, this is what you get: the pad itself nestled in Styrofoam bookends, and a box underneath containing the accessories. Those accessories are fairly minimal, consisting of the fan assembly and a nylon strap for securing your laptop in the cooler’s underside for travel, if you so desire.
The construction of the cooler itself is fairly simple; the single sheet of moulded and perforated aluminum is enclosed where needed by rubber feet. The fans clip on with spring-loaded retention clips, and positioning them is quick and easy. Shown here is the fan configuration used for my aging Pavilion dv9000, which sports a hot-running GPU, CPU, and RAM for the lap-burning trifecta.
Evaluation and Conclusion
Using this cooler was a mostly pain-free process; the only exception being when it came time to try to stuff it into my laptop bag. My Everki Beacon bag is large enough to stuff an Xbox 360 into its main compartment with space left over for my laptop, but the dimensions of the NotePal U3 proved to be too much for it. I ended up having to carry it under my arm with the rest of my kit in the bag—hardly ideal.
On the performance end, the NotePal U3 does not disappoint. With extended light use, my HP laptop normally becomes so hot that using the touchpad or the left side of the keyboard becomes uncomfortable. With the NotePal U3 plugged in and fans turned up to full, I heard no additional fan noise beyond what the laptop normally produces. What I did notice is that the normally-hot surfaces stayed cool, even after hours of continuous use. This is a feat that no other laptop cooler I have used has managed. With an average online price of $35 at time of press, the NotePal U3 represents a long-needed boon to the mobile power user.