As laptops become more and more powerful the traditional cooling methods begin to fail, as we saw with the nVidia GPU and MCP fiasco. Granted, nVidia was to blame in this case as they had a defective chip design and had over estimated the ability of a notebooks cooling system.
Still, we find that newer notebooks are running significantly hotter than their older counter parts. This has sparked a rise in third-party notebook coolers. These handy devices move cool air under your notebook in a effort to reduce the heat trapped inside and not only improve day to day performance but also to help lengthen the life of your mobile office.
Today we take a look at GlacialTech’s entry into the notebook cooling arena. This is the X-Wing notebook cooler with touch controls and digital display. We will see if it actually helps, or if it is just a neat looking accessory.
The GlacialTech X-Wing comes in a large and sturdy box complete with a carrying handle. The information and images on the front and back are more than enough to grab your attention and hold it.
The X-wing survived our drop and kick testing without missing a beat, as you can see from the pictures we managed to inflict a healthy dent on one corner but did not bother the X-Wing nested inside.
Once we were through having fun beating up on the X-wing we pulled it from the box and were pleasantly surprised to find that GlacialTech had forgone the use of a plastic wrapper for the actual cooler but we instead using woven fiber bag. This bag is reusable in addition to be very green. The rest of the packaging is also fairly green, with the usual exception of Styrofoam inserts and a couple of plastic bags. But these are becoming less of an issue as more and more areas are offering recycling services.
GlacialTech includes everything that you need to get the X-Wing running including a two-input USB cable… yup that is really all you need as the X-Wing pulls its power direct from your notebook.
Construction and Design
The X-Wing is a nice looking product, it can be purchased in multiple colors, the R1 is available in red, silver, white, and yellow while the R2 is available in only white and yellow. There are also multiple designs as you can purchase the X-Wing with or without the touch controls; the R1 has the full touch panel controls while the R2 has no controls. We were sent the X-Wing R1 in red.
GlacialTech gave the X-Wing a design that brings thoughts of Ferrari sports cars to mind [at least to my mind] the sleek curved edged and bright, high-gloss read combine to give an impression of speed and power. Once you pick up the X-Wing the impression fades a little as you find that it is made of plastic.
I am not saying that it is not a sturdy build, just that its feel does not match its looks. I really wish that GlacialTech would have gone with aluminum for this; a metallic feel would have maintained the sports car feel and brought the X-Wing to another level in terms of aesthetics and overall design.
The front panel controls on the X-Wing R1 are very straight forward, easy to use and lit up by blue LEDs. The R1 includes media controls for Volume, play, fast forward and reverse, stop etc. while the cooling controls allow you to switch between auto and manual fan control, a lock to prevent accidental changing of settings, and the option to switch the display from temperature to fan RPM.
The air flow design of the X-Wing is straight forward and allows for cool air to be pulled in from the sides and rear to and pushed up into the underside of whatever notebook is placed on top. As the X-Wing gets its power from the notebook, GlacialTech has added a few Extra USB 1.1 ports [three to be exact] these work great for everything but a USB powered external HDD. When I tried to plug in my Seagate FreeAgent drive the X-Wing began to have serious problems as it was trying to pull way too much power from the notebook at that point. So while the X-Wing will take up two ports and give you back one, you are limited in what you can do with those.
As with many notebook coolers you can adjust the height for improved comfort and a little better airflow. One thing that stood out as a problem was the small fan used; for some reason GlacialTech went with a tiny 70mm fan to try and pull enough air into cool your book. This just is not enough in my opinion.
Overall the X-Wing has a good design and is well built; unfortunately the 70mm fan makes all of that planning and design work of little use.
For my performance testing I used an Asus G2S-X1 laptop. This Republic of Gamer’s notebook features and Intel 2.2GHz C2D and an nVidia 8600GTm. It can get very hot under extended use especially while gaming. Specs are as follow:
- Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 2.2GHz
- 4GB [2×2GB] Kingston DDR2-667 RAM
- 160GB Seagate Momentus 7200RPM SATA 150 HDD
- nVidia GeForce 8600M GT 256MB
- 17” Splendid video display [1920x1200 resolution]
My tests were fairly simple and involved forcing the G2S-X1 to run under as heavy a load as I could. For this I used the following tests:
- AutoGK 2.55 – Media Transcoding
- Lightwave 9.6 – 3D Rendering
- HyperPi – 32MB Pi Calculation
- F.E.A.R. 2 Project Origins
- Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare
- Call of Duty 5 World at War
Gaming was as maxed out as I was able to on the G2S-X1. Resolution for all games was 1680×1050. For each game I played for a total of one hour and tested temperatures every 15 minutes. Temperatures were measured with RealTemp 3.00 for the CPU and Riva Tuner 2.24 for the GPU.
Idle temps for the G2S without the X-wing were 52c for Core 0, 51c for Core 1 and 66c for the GPU.
I was rather disappointed with the performance of the X-Wing, it is a great looking cooler but in the end it failed to do much to cool my Asus G2S-X1. This is primarily due to the small [70mm] fan that was used. It simply does not have enough force to pull in air as it should. In the future perhaps a 200mm fan would be a better choice.
The X-Wing will drain $59.99 out of your bank account and won’t do much for your laptop except make it look cool. Unfortunately I cannot recommend this one as it really did not do much for my 17” G2S-X1.
The X-Wing comes with a two-year warranty on defects in manufacture with a direct one to one replacement. However, GlacialTech’s website is fairly difficult to navigate and I was unable to find a place to file an RMA claim at all. At the time of publication I was unable to find out how to RMA the X-Wing if you had an issue that needed resolution.
The X-Wing looks great, it has an amazing sporty look to it and the R1 touch controls are great. The thing is that this is a notebook cooling pad, not just a USB hub or a controller as such it should provide much better cooling that we saw in our testing. Perhaps GlacialTech should stick a 200mm or larger fan in their next version as the small 70mm fan in this one just does not cut it. You do get great looks that will catch the eye of more than a few people but in the end the cooling performance is just not there.