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The 7 Best Chill Mats / Pads for your Laptop

Updated on July 2, 2010

Mayday! Your notebook fans are starting to sound like a mini jet engine during takeoff. If the fans are working a little too hard during hot weather or on your warm lap, it is clear sign that it is time to invest in an inexpensive accessory dubbed the laptop chill pad.

Devices closer to heat-stroke than your think

Laptops face a common dilemma. Manufacturers manage to squeeze amazing speed and features into an ultra-portable slab; however it often comes at the cost of rock solid cooling. While a desktop computer has a handful of large fans and plenty of space for air to move around, notebooks have nearly nil airflow to speak of and sometimes have only one tiny fan nestled in the case interior.

To make matters worse, notebook owners that take full advantage of portability place it on just about anything but a flat, cool desk. Laptops are often seen on the couch, the owner’s lap, puffy bedding and even shag carpeting. Obviously any of the ladder options are terrible for heat levels and cooling.

Excessive overheating can cause system lockups, sluggish performance and is notoriously tough on the internal components inside your machine. Batteries can swell up over time, bending the structure inside (a common problem in white Macbooks). Clearly in the long-term, keeping cool keeps your investment safe and snappy for years to come.

Choosing the right chill pad for your Mac or PC

The first criteria to look at when choosing a chill mat is the placement of the vents on your laptop. Bottom vents are common on gaming notebooks and PCs while Macs commonly have small vents near the hinge that connects the top and bottom of the case.

Chill pads come in two main flavours: the models with tiny fans shooting upwards and those without. The mats that have no fans use special materials or a venting system to keep anything on top of it chilled.

Models with fans tend to be a little more effective; however Apple owners with Macbook or Macbook Pro models without vents on the cases’ bottom won’t get much added benefit from them. In addition, models sans fan make no noise, are commonly soft, less bulky and don’t require cables or power via USB.

Now that you have some idea whether you want to go with a pad with or without a fan, let’s look at the best 7 chill pads out there.

Targus Lap Chill Mat (AWE55US)
Many  folks associate Targus with chill mats as they were among the first companies to find success in this space. This updated, ergonomic design improves on the “stove burner” look popular a few years ago. Four rubber stops on the face of the product prevent the laptop from slipping while you type, a problem common with other angled mats with inferior designs.

Cooler Master Notepal U2 Notebook Cooler with Two Fans
The U2 is extremely light-weight and space-saving, making it an ideal companion for travelers. It is the most flexible cooler as well since you add optional fans and place them directly under vents. Tech saavy users will love the control while fans of plug and play (that want to add fans) may find working with its small parts cumbersome.

Thermaltake I-Xoft Fanless Notebook Cooler
Fans of a soft surface ideal for placement on the lap will like the silent I-Xoft. It can be rolled up like a sleeping bag, making it great for shoving in a backpack or bag. Thermaltake is a leader in cooling and has developed Exclusive HeatShift Technology. Yes, that may be marketing lingo, but it works, giving it performance rivaling chill mats with fans.

Targus Chill Mat for Mac (AWE41US)
This offering from Targus is a perfect companion for white Macbooks (more prone to overheating than their aluminum cousins). It is one of the few mats designed for Apple laptops which use fans for maximum cooling. A breathable mesh provides extra air flow as well.

Zalman Black Notebook Cooler (ZM-NC2000)
Gamers and power users often opt for Zalman’s ZM-NC2000 because of its solid construction, fine curvature and amazing cooling performance. It weighs in at a hefty 6 pounds and isn’t particularly affordable. Still, as a luxury stationary model it is a perfect fit for users that like to push their laptop to its limits.

Logitech Notebook Cooling Pad (N100)
The N100s sleek curves are used both on the top and bottom. The top portion allows airflow under your laptop from the rear intake vents at the back of the product while the bottom is shaped just right for the lap. Choose from three colors: Green, Rose or Gray.

Xpad Slim (Non-slip Laptop Cooler and Heatshield)
While it isn’t the sexiest-looking cooler on the block, the Xpad is a inexpensive choice for people that plan to keep their laptop on a desk the majority of the time and are looking for a little extra cooling. 'X' pattern risers will accommodate laptops up to 17" screen size.

Adding a cooling pad to your arsenal adds a lot of peace of mind. Now you can read PDFs on your bed, sit in the scorching sun (with Pina Colada/Margarita in hand) or even take your laptop on a camping trip without taxing your system components.

Keep your options open and stay chill.

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    • charmstotreasure profile image

      charmstotreasure 6 years ago

      These mats sound neat. Trying to replace a fan that can be troublesome and need power all the time.

    • profile image

      nbbatt.com 6 years ago from bear, de, 19701

      instead of cooling pad. Mat is better. I plan to buy it soon. thanks for info.

    • jrcemail profile image

      jrcemail 6 years ago

      I didn't realize these were available, that's neat! Now, I can go to the beach and my laptop can be cool!

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