NZXT has moved from flashy case manufacturer to become a company that makes all kinds of peripherals. Of course, their main business is still PC cases. They still do a great job at that. But now they make power supplies, mice, and more recently, notebook coolers.
At CES I was able to check out their E40 prototype. Members of the press were not allowed to take pictures of them, but from what I saw, it looked very neat. Featuring two 80mm fans with magnets that stick to a perforated metal frame, it looked like it could be a welcome newcomer to the notebook cooling scene. Unfortunately at CES we didn’t have time to check it out too carefully.
In only a few short months, NZXT has finalized the model and I was able to give it a thorough test. Will the NZXT Cryo E40 be everything I thought it could be in January? Let’s find out.
The Cryo E40 is designed for 15″ laptops and smaller. That’s not to say every 15″ laptop will fit. The Alienware M15x is too large for it and my Alienware M14x is just right. Still, most 15″ laptops will fit. The bottom is made of plastic with large holes for air movement. The top is made of meshed steel. Inside is the secret sauce: totally customizable fan arrangements. Two very thin 80mm fans each have 4 small magnets, one to each corner. They are wired together and attached to a ~10 inch long USB cable with a springy cord. You set the fans and route the cord through the bottom of the cooler.
The magnets in the fans are strong enough to stick on well but interestingly enough, the cooler top acts as a simple Faraday cage and blocks any magnetic effects from reaching the computer. If you’d had a floppy drive, it would rejoice. Hard drives are immune to all but the strongest electromagnet’s power so no need to worry there.
The ability to move the fans around is a great one. Laptops don’t have a standardized fan position. This lets you theoretically cool any laptop with ease. Unfortunately, the execution wasn’t the best. The bottom of the cooler has holes big enough to fit your finger in (well maybe just your pinky) which inevitably leads to the potential of getting something else accidentally in there. I often use my laptop while laying down sitting on my stomach. The cooler didn’t feel awkward in this position until my shirt started rubbing against the fan. Whoops.
Testing the airflow of the fans showed that they were efficient and quiet. Unfortunately, when mounted, much of the air seems blocked by the steel mesh. If you look at the mesh, you’ll see why. The holes make up less than 50% of the area of the top of the cooler. This means your fan is pushing air into steel and wasting energy. The steel is very strong and pressing on it hardly makes an impact. I wish they had made the holes bigger or made a grid covered with very fine mesh instead.
Finally, the last issue is with the cord. The cord is long enough, but it’s easy to accidentally slide the fans out of position by tugging on it. It’s not a big problem if you’re careful though.
While I have some issues with the design, it did actually cool my laptop pretty well. The ability to position the fans wherever desired is a great idea. I hope NZXT can take the idea and run by correcting some of the simple design issues. It’s well built and light weight so if you want a decent performing notebook cooler you can use on the go, it’s definitely a decent option. There’s no USB hub though, but for something this portable I didn’t really expect one.
If you need a portable cooler, it’ll do the trick. I like it more than Antec’s offering which is often found at big box retailers and is slightly less money. If you want to be blown away however, wait for the next generation.