Belkin Cooling Pad Review!

The most common complaint I have heard for MacBook’s is that it runs hot. Burning hot. And its been going on for many generations. They say rMBP doesn’t run so hot, I don’t have one so I can’t speak for that. But the other MBP’s runs so hot that you can’t call it a ‘Laptop’ at all.

Is it a concern? – Actually No.

My Macbook pro runs around 85 degrees Centigrade most of the time and rarely the temperature dips below 70. Playing games like Diablo 3 or F1 2012, I could hear the fan spin so fast that I feel the need to quit the game.

Macbook running hot

(This snapshot was taken during causal browsing with Tweetbot, Fluid, Airmail, Sparrow, CleanMyMac, Chrome opened!)

Should I be bothered? Absolutely. I paid so much money on this machine. I don’t want it to be damaged by anything that not my fault!

But after reading few blogs, I felt you don’t have to be bothered because its Apple! I am sure the laptop was designed to tolerate such heat. I am sure it was tested that it would run even at a higher temperature.

Solutions? 

Its not the temperature that bothers me. It was the battery drain that concerned me more. Running at high temperature would drain my battery more easily. At higher temperature, the fan speed kicked up and it was bringing down my battery life.

To avoid this, you can simply open your ‘Activity Monitor’ and check for apps that are using too much CPU and close it off. But that doesn’t always solved the problem for me.

SMC Fan Control to the rescue.

SMC is a must have app for MacBooks. It help you tweak your Fan Speed manually so that it brings down the temperature. And its free. So its surely worth to have such an app. And it did the job for me. When running at 90 odd degrees, I would use this app to speed up my Fan Speed to maximum level. It would bring it down to about 80. So its was great. Brilliant.

SMCFan Control

But I was still not sure about battery life and fan damage. Battery life was still pathetic if I used higher RPM. And I was even more scared that at high fan speed and with the noise it creates it might damage something inside or the fan might damage itself. I wanted to achieve lower RPM of my fan and maintain 40 to 50 degrees Centigrade, whatever be the cost!

Remember Cooling Pads – More Pros than cons.

Thats when I stumbled into Belkin USB cooling pad. It costs Rs.1200 (Approx US$22.00) in India. And it brought down my temperature and my battery lasts longer now. Its powered by USB and not an external power source, which meant it would bring down my battery life again. It sure does bring down the battery but way slower than before. This consumed less power than just using SMC

Belkin Cooling Pad - Front

The cooling pad is square shaped with the fan in the middle. On the back it has the USB cable that is long enough to port it in. Also it has a stand at the back that lifts your laptop in more of ‘inclined’ angle. This is purely to logic as you want some air going under the fan to cool your laptop.

Having a 17″ MBP meant, this cooling pad was small and my Macbook protruded on all sides awkwardly. If I didn’t put it in exact middle, the balance would not be there. But that doesn’t mean your laptop slips from the stand. The rubber finishing on top and bottom of the face of pad would ensure your laptop doesn’t slip away. It was very sturdy and well balanced.

Belkin Cooling Pad - Wont fit in length for 17" MBP

Placing your hands on the laptop also didn’t disturb the equilibrium. I felt lot more comfy as it raised the laptop level to my eye level.

Cons: 

Its not that portable. Yes, it fits in your bag, but the ‘stand’ on the back of the pad made it bulky as its not detachable. Second fault is on Apple. I am ranting about the closeness of the 3 USB port. It meant the middle port because unusable. If I had to use my 3G modem and sync my iPhone while using cooling pad, its not possible.

Worth the buy?

Inspite of those cons, I still find it very usable. My laptop battery now lasts atleast 3.5 hours of internet browsing against 2.5 to 3 hours of without pad. The temperature doesn’t soar above 45 degree centigrade! Its almost half of the ‘normal’ temperature. Most of all, I am no more worried about any damages my fan would cause internally. So thumbs up!

ps. Its purely my view. Buy and use at your own risk.

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