MEGATech Reviews: Chillbed Aluminum Laptop Cooling Stand

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MEGATech Reviews: Chillbed Aluminum Laptop Cooling Stand   chillbed 2 500x281

You want to keep your notebook cool, not only for your own comfort, but more importantly for the prolonged performance and reliability of your computer. There are many different products out there that aim to achieve these goals, but few offer the elegant simplicity of the ChillBed Laptop Cooling Stand.

The Feature List

While these stands were originally built with the Apple MacBook series in mind, they are just as suitable for laptops from any number of other manufacturers. After all, they’re fairly simple, straightforward, and universal in their design. It’s a stand with no adjustable height, added ports, or other extras. It’s meant to keep your notebook cool and that’s that.

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I’ve said before that I am partial to notebook coolers with fans for active cooling, but Chillbed has taken on an different approach. The stand functions as an aluminum heatsink. According to Adam Berson of Chillbed, they have “no plans for fans, [because] they break down and use valuable battery life.”

The Chillbed Laptop Cooling Stand comes in three sizes — 13-inch, 15-inch and 17-inch — and your choice of either silver or powder-coated black. While the assumption is that the silver anodized aluminum heatsink may perform better, Berson says the powder coater uses “a very small layer of paint, so the effects are minimal…. The paint is electronically adhered and as a result, very thin.” Presumably, the same system is used to “print” the label on top, as it is very smooth and not a sticker.

Proudly Made In Canada

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Most other companies have gone overseas for their manufacturing needs, but Chillbed doesn’t want to do that. Instead, all the manufacturing is done right in my hometown of Vancouver. This is meant to “assure quality,” but Chillbed understands that this has an impact on cost. Even so, they’ve worked to “keep our costs as low as possible to be competitive in this market.”

In an age where everyone is looking to shave a few pennies off the bottom line, it’s good to see that some companies are still working to “esnure quality and value in one package.” Berson goes on to say that they “really try hard to keep it Canadian.”

Ergonomic Typing Angle

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No, you aren’t going to find a bonus USB hub or fan speed control on this, but you do get the added benefit of a raised ergonomic angle. The back part of the Chillbed Laptop Cooling Stand is about 1.5-inches high, giving just enough lift to make typing easier.

Of course, this lift is necessary for the cooler to function properly as a heatsink too. The aluminum needs to absorb the heat from the base of your laptop and then dissipate that heat into the environment. There is a rubberized portion along that back edge, plus little stick-on rubbery feet in the front; this helps to ensure that the stand won’t scratch your desk. Since it is softer on the bottom, you could presumably use this quite comfortably in your lap as well.

Cooling Performance: CPUID HWMonitor

To test the cooling performance of this stand, I went through the same process that I did for the NZXT Cryo E40 and several other notebook coolers before it. I cold-booted up my Dell 640m and let it run idle for about 20-30 minutes, monitoring the temperature with CPUID HWMonitor. I then ran the full benchmark suite in PCMark05 (which takes about 30 minutes) to simulate a load environment. The notebook is shut down and left to cool completely before replicating the process with the notebook cooler in place.

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You can see the results above in degrees Celsius. In my test, the ambient temperature was around 27 degrees. The difference between using the Chillbed and not using it appears to be quite negligible. There is a degree here and there in either direction, but this can easily be attributed to testing variability.

I did find the final reading for the temperature after the load environment was a few more degrees lower with the Chillbed than without, however, but the minimum and maximum values are still quite comparable.

Cooling Performance: In the Lab

Admittedly, my testing configuration isn’t perfectly scientific. Chillbed recognized the considerable variability in testing and that’s why they hired an engineer to perform some real temperature tests. He ran four overnight tests using a standardized procedure and more direct monitoring.

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The results are shown above. As you can see, while the average case temperature was 5.1 to 5.2 degrees Celsius above ambient with the Chillbed, i twas 6.6 to 7.8 degrees higher without it. To be fair, this test is with the case temperature, while the benchmark I ran monitored the internal temperature, CPU temperature and hard drive temperature. It’s also worth noting that a different laptop was used–a Dell Vostro 1520–and the load environment was simulated with video playback and other apps, while I used PCMark05.

MEGATechie Metal Miracle or MEGATechie Meaningless?

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In terms of build quality, the Chillbed laptop stands are very good. You can tell that they’ve used a higher grade aluminum, giving you solid assurance that this will hold up against the test of time. The utter simplicity means that there are no moving parts and, thus, a virtually 0% chance of utter failure. Indeed, customer satisfaction has been very good for Chillbed.

From a cooling perspective, though, I’m not as convinced. My tests yielded minimal differences with and without the cooler, but the engineer-run test by Chillbed seems to show some promise. It really does depend, but for my part, I’m still inclined to use something with a well-designed and well-placed fan.

Check out the Chillbed Store for more information and to order. Pricing ranges from $29.99 to $42.99, depending on size and color.

About

Michael Kwan is a freelance writer who also happens to be a professional gadget geek. From smartphones to digital cameras, he's gotta get 'em all. Follow him on Twitter: @michaelkwan.

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