Cooler Master Notepal X Slim review

Introduction to the Cooler Master NotePal X-Slim

When it comes to enhancing the performance and longevity of your laptop, the right cooling solution is pivotal. Among the plethora of options available in the market, the Cooler Master NotePal X-Slim stands out as a top-tier choice for users seeking efficiency, portability, and affordability. This review delves into the various facets of the NotePal X-Slim, providing a detailed analysis to assist you in making an informed decision.

What is the Cooler Master NotePal X-Slim?

The Cooler Master NotePal X-Slim represents the most affordable entry in the Cooler Master’s NotePal series and is notable for its ultra-thin design. It incorporates a single 160mm fan that delivers an airflow of 60 CFM. Constructed primarily from plastic, the cooling pad is topped with a slim metal grate, presenting a sleek, minimalist aesthetic, though it is fairly simple otherwise.

The USB cable is fixed to the device, but it compensates for this with a useful USB pass-through feature, which is a rare find at this price point. The NotePal X-Slim offers two tilt settings for added ergonomic flexibility; you can extend the feet for a slight incline or keep them retracted for a flat setup, accommodating most user preferences comfortably.

Visually, the cooler is quite discreet, generally obscured by most laptops, with only small portions visible around the edges. Although Cooler Master claims the pad can support 17-inch laptops, those with larger laptops in this size range might experience some overhang at the back, making other products potentially more suitable for their needs.

The cooler lacks any lighting or fan speed adjustments, with the 160mm fan maintaining a constant speed. During use, it tends to be louder than my laptop’s fans when they are idle but quieter when they are at maximum operation. The inclusion of USB pass-through is highly valued, though the addition of fan speed controls would have been preferable.

Cooler Master Notepal X Slim review

Design and Build Quality

The Cooler Master NotePal X-Slim showcases a sleek and minimalist design that is both aesthetically pleasing and practical. Crafted with a robust metal mesh front, it offers excellent airflow while maintaining a light build, weighing just 1.54 pounds. Its dimensions (380 x 270 x 27.5 mm) make it an ideal companion for laptops up to 17 inches, providing a stable and spacious platform.

One of the standout features of the X-Slim’s design is its slim profile. At just over an inch thick, it is incredibly portable, making it easy to slip into a laptop bag or backpack. Additionally, the pad includes two height settings, allowing for an ergonomic typing and viewing angle, which can significantly reduce neck strain during prolonged use.

Cooling Performance

At the heart of the Cooler Master NotePal X-Slim is a single, large 160mm fan that operates quietly but effectively. With a fan speed of up to 1500 RPM, it creates a strong airflow of 70 CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute), which is more than sufficient to keep your laptop cool during intense gaming sessions or heavy computational tasks.

What’s impressive about the X-Slim is how it manages to deliver substantial cooling power while maintaining a noise level of only 21 dBA. This means you can work or play in a noise-sensitive environment without disturbance.

Usability and Additional Features

Ease of Use: The Cooler Master NotePal X-Slim is incredibly user-friendly. It is powered via a USB port, which means no external power supply is needed, and it can be connected directly to your laptop. The USB connector is also equipped with a pass-through functionality, so you don’t lose a USB port while using the cooler.

Additional Ventilation: The perforated metal mesh surface is not only durable but also enhances the cooling effect by distributing the airflow evenly across the base of the laptop.

Cable Management: The design includes grooves on the bottom to manage cables neatly, keeping your workspace clutter-free and organized.

Compatibility and Portability

The Cooler Master NotePal X-Slim is designed to support a wide range of laptops, from smaller 15-inch models to larger 17-inch machines. This broad compatibility is a significant advantage for users who own or plan to upgrade to different laptop sizes.

Portability is another major strength of the X-Slim. Its thin profile and lightweight design make it an excellent choice for professionals and students who need a reliable cooling solution on the go.

Price and Value for Money

Priced competitively, the Cooler Master NotePal X-Slim offers exceptional value for its features and performance. It is an affordable investment that can potentially extend the life of your laptop by preventing overheating, which can degrade internal components over time.

How to use the Cooler Master NotePal X-Slim

Using the Cooler Master NotePal X-Slim is straightforward and requires minimal setup. Simply position your laptop on the cooler and connect the cooler to your laptop using the permanently attached USB cable. The device features a USB pass-through, although it only supports USB 2.0. It’s best used for connecting low-bandwidth peripherals like a mouse.

The fan operates automatically, so there’s no need for additional adjustments once it’s plugged in. If you’re using a larger laptop, you might need to carefully adjust its placement on the pad to ensure that the fan effectively directs air to the appropriate areas under the laptop to optimize cooling. This will help you achieve the best thermal management for your device.

How well does the Cooler Master NotePal X-Slim perform?

The Cooler Master NotePal X-Slim was evaluated using an ASUS ROG G731GW 17.3-inch gaming laptop, equipped with 16GB of RAM, an NVIDIA GTX 2070, an Intel i7-9750H processor, a 500GB NVMe drive, and an additional 500GB SSD. Despite the central placement of the cooler’s 160mm fan, the vents on my laptop—located at the top left and right—received only indirect cooling. Nonetheless, efforts were made to optimize air intake to the fullest.

The performance of the Cooler Master NotePal X-Slim was assessed through a series of rigorous tests:

  1. BIOS Optimization Test: This test evaluates the cooler’s ability to handle the typically minimal BIOS optimizations.
  2. Windows 10 Idle Test: After booting, the cooler’s impact on the laptop’s idle temperatures was measured over ten minutes.
  3. CPU Stress Test: Utilizing Intel XTU’s native stress test, we monitored temperature fluctuations, thermal and power throttling occurrences, and average CPU clock speed over a ten-minute period.
  4. Gaming Test with Halo Wars 2: Known for its intensive demands, this game was used to simulate a high-load scenario to test the cooler’s effectiveness under pressure.

The tests highlighted several key outcomes:

  • BIOS and Idle Temperature Control: No significant temperature difference was observed during the BIOS test with or without the cooler. However, during the idle test, the cooler managed to reduce the CPU temperature by 6°C.
  • Stress Test Performance: In the CPU stress test, the cooler helped lower the temperature by 5°C compared to without the cooler, delaying power throttling and preventing thermal throttling altogether. The CPU maintained higher speeds of 3.6-3.7GHz with the cooler, versus 3.2GHz without.
  • Gaming Performance: During a session of Halo Wars 2, the cooler helped reduce peak CPU and GPU temperatures by 4°C and 3°C, respectively.

Overall, while the Cooler Master NotePal X-Slim doesn’t provide dramatic cooling benefits under extremely high loads, it does demonstrate a clear capacity to improve system stability and performance during more typical usage scenarios. The cooler is more effective in managing lighter loads and can help mitigate thermal and power throttling, thereby slightly boosting performance. Although it struggles with more demanding tasks on high-performance laptops, it offers measurable improvements, particularly in maintaining a higher operational frequency under load.

What I Liked About the Cooler Master NotePal X-Slim

  • Sleek and Universal Design: The slim profile of the Cooler Master NotePal X-Slim is aesthetically pleasing, fitting seamlessly into a variety of environments—be it at home, in coffee shops, or in office settings.
  • Portability: This cooler is notably lightweight, enhancing its portability. It’s easy to carry around, making it an ideal choice for frequent travelers who might use their laptops on airplanes or in various mobile settings.
  • Affordability: At just $19.99, the Cooler Master NotePal X-Slim is an affordable option for those seeking a basic laptop cooling solution without a hefty price tag.
  • USB Pass-Through: The inclusion of USB pass-through is a practical feature, allowing users to connect additional peripherals without sacrificing a USB port on their laptops.

What I Didn’t Like About the Cooler Master NotePal X-Slim

  • Lack of Fan Controls: The cooler is equipped with a 160mm fan that operates at a constant speed. The absence of fan speed controls limits the ability to adjust the cooling intensity based on different usage needs.
  • Performance Under Load: The Cooler Master NotePal X-Slim tends to struggle with cooling during intensive tasks, particularly on powerful laptops with high performance demands.
  • Fit and Adjustment Issues: Although it’s advertised to support up to 17-inch laptops, fitting larger laptops effectively on the cooling pad can be challenging. Frequent adjustments may be necessary to ensure optimal fan coverage, which can be inconvenient

Final Thoughts

The Cooler Master NotePal X-Slim is a compelling product for anyone looking to enhance their laptop’s cooling efficiency without breaking the bank. Its robust design, combined with powerful and quiet cooling performance, ergonomic benefits, and ease of use, makes it a must-have accessory for laptop users.

Whether you are a gamer, a creative professional, or just someone who uses their laptop for extended periods, the NotePal X-Slim ensures that your machine remains cool, stable, and performing at its best.

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