Review: As cool as cucumber with a 220mm fan
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that number of laptop users is on the up and experts claim that notebook users will overtake regular PC users by 70% to 30% in only a few years. This has prompted many manufacturers to start launching various notebook accessories.
Our today’s guest is a laptop cooler made by Zalman, the company that surely needs no introduction by now.
In general, laptops should handle their cooling in optimum conditions, i.e. when placed on a hard and flat surface. Naturally, optimum conditions are no fun and most users use their laptops in their laps or on the bed. Such usage scenarios, as you’ve surely noticed by now, tend to result in the laptops exhaust vents being blocked, leading to overheating and in the worst case scenario damaging some components. Thankfully, that’s where cooling passive or active accessories come in.
Zalman has several laptop coolers in its offer, our today’s guest being the model ZM-NC3000U. This is a universal laptop cooler/stand and will take care of laptops from 9’’ to 17’’ format. The active part of cooling is performed by one 220mm fan, whose fan speed can be regulated manually.
ZM-NC3000U comes in a stylish but simple cardboard box. The package contains the ZM-NC3000U, together with the USB cable and instruction manual.
ZM-NC3000U was made using aluminum and plastic. The aluminum grill with 1300 vents is placed on the top part whereas plastic was used for the rest. The aluminum grill also has a rubber pad that will keep your laptop from sliding.
The fan is pretty large and is placed in the center beneath the aluminum grill. This means the 220mm fan will do an equally good cooling job on smaller as well as larger laptops. You can regulate fans peed via the wheel on the back (picture below), which we didn’t quite find as practical. The fan’s RPM ranges from 620 to 720 whereas the loudness goes between 17 dBA and 23,5 dBA.
The fan can be turned off via the power button. The ZM-NC3000U can be powered via your laptop’s USB port but you can also choose to power it directly from the 5V connector. If you find your laptop to lack enough USB ports, then you’re in luck as the ZM-NC3000U acts as a USB 2.0 hub with three ports.
Zalman ships the USB/power cable with the device. If however you are using all USB ports at the same time, it is advised to use external adapter which unfortunately does not come in the package.
ZM-NC3000U is made to keep your laptop at a slight angle. Of course, the angle can be adjusted the way you see fit via small feet similar to those found on keyboards.
ZM-NC3000U is aimed at laptops ranging from 9’’ to 17’’. This might prove to be quite popular with users, especially those with larger and hotter laptops. The implemented fan speed regulator will allow for manual regulation and finding that perfect balance between noise and cooling.
The fan is very quiet at minimum RPM, almost inaudible. That’s not to say that maximum RPM of 720 is loud, as we found it to be acceptable.
We used two laptops for our testing - a slightly older HP Pavilion DV9000 and the new Sony Vaio VPCEB1M1E. We stressed the laptops using Prime 95 and got the following results:
First test used the 17’’ HP Pavilion DV9000 with Mobile AMD Turion 64 X2 dual-core, notable for bad heatsink design and prone to overheating. As you can see, Zalman’s ZM-NC3000U took care of that in no time.
The second test used a few months old 15,5’’ Sony Vaio VPCEB1M1E running on Intel’s Core i7 330M CPU
Zalman ZM-NC3000U is a cooler for laptops up to 17’’. Thanks to the large fan, the cooler performs nice and will allow you to keep your laptop in your lap or use it while in the bed, with no worry of overheating.
ZM-NC3000U does a good job, as is evident from our test results. The 220mm fan allows for inaudible operation at minimum RPM, although it’s not loud even at maximum of 720RPM.
The cooler is priced at €35, which is about right for this kind of products. All in all – Zalman’s ZM-NC3000U laptop cooler is a simple but effective device that will definitely serve you and your laptop well.