I’m the proud owner of an Asus G72 notebook, which features a 17.3-inch screen. Unfortunately, the G72 is just a bit too big for most conventional notebook coolers. While it has a pretty capable cooling system of its own, it can heat up and become less responsive as you play certain graphic-intensive games or run processor-heavy tasks. This is where a good cooling pad comes in, and in this case I picked up a Cooler Master NotePal U3 notebook cooler.

The first thing I noticed when I took this big metal pad out of the box was how big it is. This was pleasant surprise as I’ve grown accustomed to pads that seem too small, even for the notebook size with which they advertise compatibility. The giant aluminum frame supported the bulk of my Asus G72 with extra room on all sides to accommodate slightly bulkier notebooks (up to 19″). The NotePal U3 is adorned with rubberized padding where the feet rest as well as the front-facing edge to keep your notebook securely in place during use. The surface is filled with tiny holes that allow you to mount fans underneath while also providing a free-flowing environment for air to pass in and around the notebook itself.

Cooler Master NotePal U3 Notebook Cooler ReviewThe frame is shaped so the pad can double as a carrying handle. The NotePal U3 comes with a band to strap your notebook securely in place. While I wouldn’t recommend it for frequent transport through crowded areas, it does work rather well for this purpose, allowing you to easily transport both the pad and the notebook together from point A to point B.

The included fans (there are three of them) are powered by USB and can be positioned anywhere on the bottom of the pad. This allows you to concentrate air flow where you need it most. Unfortunately, one of the fans began making noise, indicating that it had a bad bearing after a few days of use. This noise goes away about five minutes after the notebook is fired up, and has been running like this for six months. The fans aren’t removable, so one fan going out isn’t easily fixed.

You can adjust the fan speed by using a dial that clips to the side of the pad so you can quiet things down when you don’t need air blasting away at full speed. Even at full speed (1,800 RPM), the noise generated by the fans is minimal. The USB plug used to power the NotePal U3 doesn’t hog up a port, either. It has a female USB 2.0 port on the other end of it allowing you to plug in your mouse, keyboard, or other USB device.

As far as actual cooling goes, the NotePal U3 cooled my Asus G72’s CPU down by 10 degrees Celsius during idle times and 5 degrees while playing EVE Online compared to only using the desk. This might not sound like a lot, but it was enough of a difference to cut down on the occurrence of stutters and crashes caused by overheating.

Over all, the NotePal U3 is a capable cooling pad for large notebooks that dishes out the cooling on a sturdy and incredibly durable frame. While the fans aren’t of the highest quality, they do provide sufficient cooling without a lot of noise.