Laptop cooling pads come in a variety of designs and features, despite the fact that their core functionality is usually the same. Some are tough and long-lasting, with extra perks, while others stick to the bare essentials, aiming for the best bang for the buck.
The latter is exemplified by the TopMate C302. It’s inexpensive and reliable, but the plastic construction feels flimsy. Without gentle handling, I wouldn’t bet on it lasting for the long haul, but given the price, you might not be too concerned.
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Design: Light and a little flimsy
The C302 is slightly wider than 14 inches and is designed for laptops with screens up to 15.6 inches diagonal. It’s mostly made of light plastic, with a thin metal grate on top to help dissipate heat from the two 4.9-inch fans.
The pad weighs only 1.1 pounds, but due to its light weight, it feels flimsy and rickety. It’ll hold your laptop and sit on a desk just fine, but I wouldn’t count on it surviving a hard fall without being damaged.
It has two small flip-up stopper nubs at the bottom to keep your laptop in place while typing, and they can be gradually adjusted to avoid sticking up and pressing into your wrists. Meanwhile, a pair of feet on the pad’s bottom flip out to raise your laptop an inch higher for better air circulation.
The cooling pad comes with a single cable that plugs into a USB-A port on your computer and has a pass-through so you can plug in another accessory instead of sacrificing a port just to use the cooling pad. That’ll come in handy.
It’ll hold your laptop and sit on a desk just fine, but I wouldn’t count on it surviving a hard fall without being damaged.
The C302 has some accent lighting in the form of a pair of blue lights beneath each fan, but it doesn’t emit a strong glow and isn’t configurable in any way.
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Setup Process: Plug and play
The C302 is a simple plug-and-play device with no fancy features or settings to fiddle with, and no software to install on your computer. To turn on the pad, simply place it under your laptop, adjust the feet and holding nubs as needed, and plug the USB port into your computer. The fans will then turn on and run at the lowest speed possible, and you can unplug it when you’re finished or no longer require it.
Performance: It makes a difference
I put the C302 to the test on the Razer Blade 15 (2019) gaming laptop, which has an Intel Core i7-9750H processor, 16GB RAM, and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU (6GB).
This small and inexpensive pad provided adequate cooling, lowering both the internal and external temperatures of the laptop when it was under heavy load.
I first tested the laptop on its own, recording the internal processor temperature with the NZXT CAM app and the external temperature of the laptop with an infrared thermometer using two recent, popular games and a graphics-intensive benchmark test. I repeated the process with the cooling pad in place after allowing the laptop to cool down.
The Razer Blade 15 reached a maximum internal temperature of 196 degrees Fahrenheit and a maximum external temperature of 118 degrees in Fortnite, while the cooling pad reduced those temperatures to 179 degrees internal and 115 degrees external.
The Razer Blade 15 reached 184 degrees internally and 117 degrees externally in Dirt 5’s built-in benchmark test, dropping to 175 degrees internally and 100 degrees externally with the cooling pad. When using the cooling pad in the Dirt 5 benchmark, there was no discernible difference in performance: the average FPS mark was within one frame whether the pad was used or not.
Finally, when using the Razer Blade 15 alone, UNIGINE’s Heaven Benchmark reached 162 degrees internally and 109 degrees externally, but dropped to 154 degrees internally and 105 degrees externally when using the C302. Overall, this lightweight and affordable pad provided adequate cooling performance, lowering the laptop’s internal and external temperatures while under heavy load.
The results were comparable to or better than more expensive cooling pads, such as the Kootek Laptop Cooling Pad and Thermaltake Massive TM, which have some additional features onboard, depending on the test. It’s also relatively quiet when in use, much quieter than the Razer Blade 15’s internal fans.
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Price: It’s very affordable
This is one of the most cost-effective laptop cooling pads on the market right now, at $30 (Check latest price on Amazon). While results varied across tests and games/apps, the C302 performed comparably to some of the more expensive options I tested. The C302 is a good entry-level option, though it feels a little flimsy and lacks premium features.
TopMate C302 vs. Kootek Laptop Cooling Pad
The Kootek Laptop Cooling Pad, which costs $27, is a bit more durable. It allows you to turn on and off the fans—either the single large fan or the group of four smaller fans surrounding it—and it is a little quieter when in use. Overall, the Kootek seems more durable, though the height adjustment system is clumsy, requiring you to slide a hanging metal bar into plastic ridges to keep it upright. The Kootek pad is larger and designed for laptops up to 17 inches in size, but if you don’t need the extra space, the TopMate C302 will suffice.
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The Final Word
Aside from durability concerns, the TopMate C302 Laptop Cooling Pad performed similarly to the other, more expensive pads I tested, assisting in the cooling of a hot gaming laptop. If you’re worried about long-term damage or performance degradation from an overheating laptop, the C302 is a cost-effective way to keep it from reaching dangerously high temperatures.