We laptop consumers seem to have decided that we don’t need heavy-duty cooling on our electronics. As laptops get thinner and thinner, one of the first things to go is the fan. Look no further than Apple’s MacBook, cited as the future of computing. It’s nothing more than a chip surrounded by battery, screen and keyboard. I’ve been living the low-fan life for the last three years with my MacBook Air. What this laptop (and many other modern ultrabooks) has in thinness it lacks in heat dispersion.
That’s why I was interested in trying out the Enhance GX-C1 cooling pad. It promises to be a clean, simple solution for keeping your PC cool. It’s a pad built around four small fans and one large one in the center. It seems simple and effective, but is it?
Enhance GX-C1 Cooling Pad Review
(Side note: The cat treated this strange air-blowing machine with no small amount of suspicion.)
The GX-C1 is a 15.75-inch by 12.75-inch cooling pad. It advertises itself on Amazon as compatible with laptops up to 19 inches, which is almost every consumer laptop.
The front is mostly mesh ventilation for the fans to blow through. They blast air along the underside of your PC, where the processor and heavy electronics usually sit. In theory this should help keep your laptop cool (I’ll get to my results in a moment).
Using the cooling pad is as simple as plugging the included dual-ended USB cable into one of your laptop’s ports and one of the two ports on the pad. The other port on the pad is for you, so you can still use USB drives and accessories without sacrificing one for the cooler.
The GX-C1 is supported by a kickstand that supports three different angles. I found one I liked and had no issues typing this review on my MacBook Air mounted on the GX-C1.
The front end has two padded bumpers that flip up and keep your laptop from slipping off of the front. I used my MacBook some without the bumpers. It stayed on the pad but still moved around too much, so I would not recommend using it bumper-less.
In my case, any kind of laptop cooling is a godsend. Whenever I try playing games on my MacBook’s i7 and Intel graphics card, it spins the internal cooling up to maximum and that still isn’t enough. Too much time with any serious PC game leaves the laptop’s aluminum frame hot. Even the plastic keys on the left side can become too hot to touch after a while.
Here are some baseline numbers. The metal corner to the left of the Escape key (next to the MagSafe power slot, usually the hottest place on my computer) was 82.7 degrees Fahrenheit with no games running.
After one game of Hearthstone (about 10 minutes), the same left corner was 93.7 degrees. The MacBook’s built-in fans were going full steam and the left-side keys felt warm. After two games, it was 97.1 degrees. After three, it was 98 (this is why I don’t hold my laptop in my lap when gaming).
I gave it a day to cool off and tried the same game, same settings with the GX-C1 fan on max. Before the game started, the laptop was a cool 73.4 degrees Fahrenheit. After one game, 86.2. Two, 89.4. Three, 90.3.
The fans helped a great deal with keeping the laptop cool. By the end of the third game I could still touch the keys and hold the laptop and fan setup in my lap comfortably.
Good for Gaming Laptops
I used gaming as my test case intentionally. This seems like an accessory tailor-made for a gaming laptop. It dwarfs my 13-inch MacBook Air but would look right at home on a 17-inch behemoth.
Speaking of too big, I don’t like how the padded bumpers that keep the laptop in place dig into my wrists. They’re too tall for the thin and low profile on a MacBook Air and end up pushing into my wrists when I type.
This is an inherent problem in designing a cooling stand for any laptop up to 19 inches. Bumpers (and an overall size) that are too large for a 13-inch MacBook may be just right for a 17-inch Dell gaming laptop. The size of the pad and the bumpers may not be an issue for you- just be aware that one size does not fit all.
Going back to size, the GX-C1 is substantial. While its weight is negligible, the length, width and thickness are larger than the dimensions of many ultrabooks. Thin-and-light laptop owners spoiled by notebooks that can fit into a manilla envelope may not appreciate carrying around something bulkier.
Indeed, this pad is an awkward match for some of the laptops that most need it. I bring up my MacBook Air because it’s a prime example of the kind of high-end laptops being produced today: thin, light and metal-framed with minimal fan power. The problems that the GX-C1 faces with the MacBook Air are the same it will see with any other Windows ultrabook.
Even if you disregard the size issue by assuming the user has an appropriately sized gaming laptop, I’d still love to see more powerful cooling. The GX-C1 is wonderfully quiet, but it could also use a high-power, high-noise mode. Quiet fans aren’t enough when a laptop still hits 90 degrees while gaming. If you consider that many gamers play with headphones and won’t hear the fan noise, a high-power mode makes even more sense.
The only other missing feature I would have liked is some kind of integration with the host computer’s CPU. I would love a cooling pad that knows to automatically spin up the fans when the CPU usage spikes. OS X also has a neat feature where it pauses built-in fans when you’re doing voice dictation. The GX-C1 fans certainly aren’t loud enough to cause serious interference, but that level of integration would be appreciated, especially if it came with a high-power and high-noise mode.
The lack of host integration isn’t something I consider a huge loss. This is a $20 cooling pad. An accessory that did include host integration would be a different product sold at a different price point. Still, I can’t help but want to try that product.
I like the GX-C1. It’s a useful accessory and something I might keep on my desk if I played more laptop games. It’s a useful cooler and generally helpful as a laptop stand.
I would recommend this for someone with a gaming laptop who needs a desk mount. For $20, it’s not bad.
Disclosure: Review unit provided by the manufacturer.