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When it comes to computers, heat is a bad thing. An overheated CPU will shut down, which sucks for obvious reasons. Operating at high temps can also lead to a shorter lifespan, which is equally bad, if not quite as obvious. Fortunately, the aluminum unibodies of Apple’s MacBooks are pretty good at dissipating heat. But that doesn’t stop snake-oil salesmen from trying to convince you that your trusty MacBook is really a fiery inferno just a few clock cycles away from melting into an expensive puddle of goo.
It matches your Mac, but that’s about it.
CoolerMaster’s NotePal Infinite EVO actually does look pretty cool. The chunky design sports a sleek black plastic and brushed-metal style that complements the aesthetic of any modern MacBook. But looks can be deceiving. The EVO hasn’t mastered cooling at all, even though it packs dual adjustable-speed fans. In fact, in our testing, a 15-inch MacBook Pro running Microsoft Word, iTunes, Mail, and Safari -- while simultaneously converting H.264 video with HandBrake -- actually ran just a hair cooler without the EVO than with it. The change was minor enough that we can’t definitively say whether it was due to the EVO or the normal temperature fluctuation of our Mac, but it was certainly an interesting data point. So if it’s no good at cooling, what is it good for?
Three USB ports along the right side of the device can expand your laptop’s connectivity options. But at 50 bucks and more than 2.5 pounds, the EVO is the kind of friend you really don’t need. Yes, placing it under your laptop stabilizes it so it’s easier to use it on your actual lap, but there are plenty of other laptop accessories that can do that. A few back issues of Mac|Life or a large hardback book will also accomplish pretty much the same thing -- and chances are you already have those in your house somewhere. Dedicated portable USB hubs are a lot cheaper, smaller, and lighter than this.
The bottom line. When it comes down to it, the EVO doesn’t noticeably cool your Mac, and it’s bulky and heavy to boot. You’re better off buying a stash of tasty cold beverages, which might actually be better at helping you chill things out as you work on your Mac.
NotePal Infinite EVO
Looks Mac-ish. Three USB ports.
Too big to be practical for travel. Doesn’t actually help your MacBook stay cool.