Not all laptops are made alike, so it would only be reasonable that not all notebook coolers should be made alike either. What may be very effective for one laptop computer could be not effective at all for another laptop. And that's why the NZXT Cryo E40 is such an intriguing proposition. You see, it has the ability to adapt to the needs of your specific notebook, giving you the best cooling performance possible.
Features at a Glance
The most important feature of the Cryo E40 is that it comes with a pair of 80mm moveable fans. They are not in any fixed position, so you can move them around to where they'd offer the greatest benefit to your laptop. This is a relatively smaller cooler, so it will support notebooks up to 15-inches in size. You could put something bigger on there, but it will hang over the sides.
Whereas previous offerings like the NZXT Cryo S came in a full aluminum build, the Cryo E40 is a bit of a hybrid. The removable top is an aluminum mesh, but the base underneath is a glossy black plastic. This takes away from the premium feel, but it's still perfectly adequate. It is a shame that there is no height adjustment, though.
Cool Any Way You Want It
As mentioned above, the two 80mm fans can be placed anywhere along the aluminum mesh cover. Other companies have offered a similar idea in the past, but they typically involved some sort of clasp or locking mechanism. With the Cryo E40, everything is held in place with a simple low-powered magnetic clasp design.
This is a low-powered magnet, so it should have any detrimental effect on your hard drive or other items sensitive to magnetic fields. The small magnets on the fan housings simply attach to the underside of the metal mesh and you're good to go. Similarly, the metal mesh top attaches to the base by small magnets.
This versatility is very useful. Whereas the fixed position of the fan on something like the CoolerMaster NotePal LapAir means that the cool air will only circulate in one place, the moveable fans on the Cryo E40 mean that you can place them where your laptop is hottest, perhaps by the hard drive or GPU.
USB to the Left or Right
This does come with a small caveat, though. The coiled USB cable is definitely on the shorter side of things. When you have one of the fans at the other end of where you're running the USB cable, you'll find that the coiled cable can sometimes "tug" away at the fan and displace it. I would have liked to see a longer cord or, more simply, one that wasn't coiled, like the Antec Designer, for instance.
Another issue worth noting is that you get no additional features on the Cryo E40. There is no power switch, no fan speed control, and no "bonus" functions like a USB hub. When you plug in the USB power, the fans just starting going and that's that.
Just as I have been doing with other notebook coolers, I put the NZXT Cryo E40 through my somewhat standardized testing protocol using my trusty Dell 640m.
The "cold" laptop is allowed to boot up normally on my desk, running for about 20 minutes on idle with CPUID recording its temperature. To simulate the load scenario, a full PCMark05 benchmark is run (about 30 minutes), again with CPUID recording the temperature. The laptop is shut down, allowed to cool down completely, and the process is repeated with the notebook cooler in place. In this instance, I roughly centered the two fans to give as much coverage as possible.
By and large, it looks like the Cryo E40 was an effective notebook cooler across the board. There were a few instances where the idle temperature was higher than without the cooler in place, but these were observed mostly as "blips" in temperature. The reduction of about 10 degrees under the load environment is pronounced and significant.
MEGATechie Cool Touch or MEGATechie Hot Air?
At about $30, the NZXT Cryo E40 is very affordably priced as a relatively high quality notebook cooler. NZXT had to abandon the all-aluminum construction to save costs, using plastic as the base, but you still get the aluminum mesh cover on top. The rubberized grips are perfectly adequate and the magnetic clasps make everything very easy.
That said, I would have liked to see some form of fan speed control or, at the very least, a power button. It's also unfortunate that the coiled USB cable is definitely on the short side, which can get frustrating when you tug at it one way or the other. The magnets are relatively weak for a reason, but this also means that the fans can be easily displaced with a small tug of the cable.
Even so, I am pleased with the Cryo E40 overall. The cooling performance is very good and the adaptability of having easily moveable fans is a definite plus. The slim and lightweight design make it relatively good for travel too, as long as you don't travel with too large of a notebook PC. If you don't need the extra bells and whistles of height adjustment, fan control, USB hub, and so on, the NZXT Cryo E40 will certainly serve you well.