In the past year or so, there has been a notable movement in the gaming peripherals industry – established hardware companies, usually specializing in desktop systems, are muscling into the notebook accessories market. Big names such as Thermaltake or even Microsoft have noticed the boom of the notebook market, and are trying to nab a share of the cash flow with their notebook coolers and accessories. Another such company is Antec. While the California-based outfit is best known for their desktop cases and power supplies, they’ve recently introduced a high-end notebook cooler. We got a chance to test the Antec 200 notebook cooler, and see how well it performs during a variety of tasks.
Black & Blue
The Antec 200 is fairly large – it measures in at 420mm x 300mm x 68mm (WxDxH). Of course, this means that the cooler will work with a large selection of notebooks, including high-end 17” models. In fact, even larger notebooks should fit as well.
Our review unit sported the standard black and silver color scheme offered by Antec. The top plate of the cooler is fashioned from durable aluminium, while the feet on both sides of the top plate are made from plastic. The four spacer plates in every corner of the notebook are metal as well, and feature a mirror-like finish. The grilles covering the cooling fan from the top and bottom are made from metal too. All these parts feel well-built and solid, and there is almost no noticeable flex.
The controls for the fan speed and LED illumination are located at the very back of the unit – easily the worst possible location. Reaching around or over a 17” laptop to use the controls can get very annoying. The USB power cable also connects here, although that is an advantage, since this lets users choose which side they want to plug in the cable. Luckily, the cable has ample length to reach any imaginable position for a USB port. The controls themselves are merely two very small sliders, one for the fan speed (400 or 600rpm), and one for the LEDs (ON or OFF, as it were). While the sliders feel reasonably solid, they are awfully small and poorly located.
All in all, the Antec 200 feels extremely solid. There is zero flex throughout the entire unit, even pressing down on the grille covering the fan won’t create any flexing. The feet on both sides feel very sturdy, although the rubber bottoms could be a bit larger to stop the cooler from sliding on a smooth desk. The “gamer-chic” styling of the cooler will not appeal to everybody, however. Of course, seeing how the cooler will be underneath a laptop most of the time, you won’t ever see much of the cooler anyway. The only big annoyance with the unit is the location of the controls, not that you’d need them much – we expect most users to choose their settings, and then leave the controls alone entirely.
The most important task of a notebook cooler is of course to efficiently cool the laptop placed on it. To find out how the Antec 200 performs, we placed a high-end gaming laptop on it and performed various tasks, all the while monitoring the notebook’s temperatures. Our test laptop was an Alienware m15x, a 15.4” powerhouse featuring a Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB of RAM, and a Geforce 8800M-GTX graphics card.
To monitor temperatures, we used CPUID’s Hardware Monitor (http://www.cpuid.com/hwmonitor.php) for primary temperature measuring, as well as RivaTuner (http://www.guru3d.com/index.php?page=rivatuner) to graph GPU temperatures. The m15x boasts five different thermometers: one for each CPU core, one for the GPU, one for the HDD, as well as a general system thermometer.