Arctic Cooling ARCTIC NC Notebook Cooler

Author
Logan King
Editor
Aron Schatz
Posted
November 2, 2010
Manufacturer
Arctic Cooling
Product Page
ARCTIC NC
Views
44087
Arctic Cooling ARCTIC NC Notebook Cooler
The Arctic Cooling ARCTIC NC offers good performance and a nice design, all in a small package. The performance is still lacking compared to full-size coolers resulting in a product that performs well enough for a compact cooler, but not enough to be recommendable over similar-priced full-size coolers unless size is a primary concern.

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Page 1
Introduction

Most people are aware of the benefits provided by your typical laptop cooler. They help remove heat from the system, cooling it down and prolonging the systems life. However, not everyone is able to use one. Traditional notebook coolers are large and bulky, and while there have been passive coolers that fold out to dimensions similar to full-size models, generally, the only option for a storage-friendly notebook cooler are compact models. Recently, Arctic Cooling developed their ARCTIC NC notebook cooler targeting this market and it is the target of this review.

About Arctic Cooling

Quote

Who we are?

ARCTIC COOLING is a privately owned company founded in 2001 with headquarters in Switzerland, offices in Hong Kong and the USA and production facilities in Asia. The ARCTIC COOLING team consists o­f international highly educated people with business, technical and communicational skills. The attitude to work is based o­n Swiss principles of innovative spirit and high standards of workmanship for which it is recognized internationally. This striving for excellence is integrated in all processes as a matter of course. ARCTIC COOLING´s core competencies are multifarious including systematic noise reduction,copper and aluminum heatsink development, customization of thermal solutions, as well as designing quiet fans. More recently quiet and cool PC Cases and Power Supplies have been developed.

http://arctic-cooling.com/catalog/static_info.php?tid=ABOUT_US


Packaging

The front of the packaging proudly displays the cooler as well as some mention of the warranty information. Pretty straightforward, all told. You can also see the loop at the top of the packaging for hanging this from a store shelf. While the packaging is clear plastic, the color of the cooler itself still manages to convey the same themes seen in other Arctic Cooling products.

Packaging Front


The rear of the packaging is where the meat of the information is held. It contains the specifications of the product, a bit more information about the design, and a comparison chart for performance purposes. One nice thing about the chart is that it specifically mentions the type of laptop used for comparison, rather than some vague "X% cooler" number with a tacked-on bar graph. This means you could look up the laptop used to see more information about it (for example, whether it is known to run hot during use or how powerful it is) so you can get a better idea of the cooler's performance.

Packaging Rear


Another nice thing about the packaging is how it is designed. While it looks like the typical shrink-wrapped plastic case that you have to go overboard and cut open to get inside, it is actually just held closed by 3 raised tabs on the back. This allows you to open the case up without much hassle, and it also allows you to close it back up and have it stay closed. A nice attention to detail.
Page 2
Specifications

  • Model - ARCTIC NC
  • Net Weight - 250 g / .55 lb
  • Dimension (H*W*D) - 278 x 95 x 31 mm (10.9 x 3.7 x 1.2 inch )
  • Cooling System - 2 (Two) 60 X 60 mm fan, 800rpm - 1700rpm, 0.1 - 0.3 Sone
  • Material - Polycarbonate
  • Color - Black, Silver
  • SB port - 4
  • Power Connector - USB, DC 5v (optional).
  • Notebooks Supported - 12"-19"


Marketing Summary

Quote

The ARCTIC NC is a perfect cooling device for any laptops between 12” and 19”. The two 60mm fans draw adequate cool air in and wind is blown out from the vent evenly to the bottom of the laptop. Unlike other plate-design coolers, heat can be dissipated from the sides of the laptop easily to achieve maximum cooling performance. Moreover, fan noise of the ARCTIC NC is undetectable at only 0.1 sone – even at full speed. The ARCTIC NC keeps the laptop at safe temperatures and quiet at all time – even during heavy gaming.


Package Contents

Removing the cooler from the package reveals all of the contents. Included is the cooler itself, a small instruction booklet, a USB Mini-B cable for powering the unit and a bag containing the typical Arctic Cooling sticker, and a pair of rubber feet.

Package Contents


The rubber feet are particularly notable. These are what hold your laptop in place. For whatever reason (possibly so it is easier to package?) they aren't installed out of the box. Installing them isn't a hassle, but it is something odd to note.
Page 3
ARCTIC NC

The design of the ARCTIC NC is pretty stylish. The first thing you notice is the metallic sheen that the product has which looks quite similar to the box that most Arctic Cooling peripherals come in. The front is dominated by the two fans as well as the large Arctic Cooling logo embossed in the center and the ARCTIC NC logo above.

Arctic NC


The bottom of the cooler is pretty straightforward. It has the power rating for each of the fans mounted beneath them, and there are six small rubber feet spread out symmetrically along the bottom of the cooler.

Arctic NC Bottom


Moving the the front of the cooler, you can see the exhaust outlets which span the entire side. The fans pull air down from behind the laptop and blow it horizontally through the exhaust into the bottom of the notebook which is quite a bit different from how full-size coolers operate.

Arctic NC Exhaust


The rear of the cooler is where the control panel and USB hub is located. Everything is laid out well enough with the fan speed controller off to the right of the USB ports and the power LED and USB in being mounted in the center. To the left is the DC input plug which is used if you need the included HUB to be powered. This is a nice touch which expands the usability of the hub somewhat.

Arctic NC USB Hub


Something to note about the cooler's design that is more tactile than visual is the texture. It feels smooth to the touch, but at the same time it has a bit of friction to it. It almost feels like silicone phone protector but a little smoother. Also, even though the ARCTIC NC is very light in weight, it doesn't feel particularly flimsy or brittle.

One final thing is that, as previously mentioned, the ARCTIC NC comes out of the box with the rubber mount points not yet connected. The surface of the cooler might be enough to hold a laptop in place, but we followed the instructions and mounted them anyways.

Arctic NC Rubber Installed
Page 4
Testing

In order to get a good idea of how effective the ARCTIC NC was at cooling, we put it through a series of tests. Each test was using Avidemux to transcode an AVI/MP3 movie into a MP4/AAC movie. Each test was run with the priority set to maximum. What this basically means is that the CPU was running at 100% for about 50 minutes in each test. The test system was a Dell XPS M1710 laptop with an Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 CPU, 4GB of RAM, an nVidia GeForce 7950 GTX, and Windows 7 Professional 32-bit. The M1710 has five different settings for the internal fans: Both fans off; one fan on "low" (around 1500RPM), one off; both fans on "low;" one fan on "high" (around 3600 RPM), one on "low"; and both fans on "high."

Temperatures were recorded with I8kfanGUI, a third party program designed to read the GPU, CPU, chipset and RAM temperatures of Dell Inspiron laptops, and used as an alternative fan controller to the one built into the BIOS. While there were thoughts of testing the temperatures that occurred during gaming, the notion was dismissed due to the lack of consistency in the testing variables. Finally, because this cooler has the ability to lower the fan speed, we also tested how well the ARCTIC NC worked on its lowest and its highest speed settings.

Temperature Testing Results (all numbers in °C)

Name
Value
Percentage
CPU Temperature At Idle
Laptop Flat On Desk 
43
 
Laptop on ARCTIC NC: Fan On Low 
34
 
Laptop on ARCTIC NC: Fan On High 
55
 
CPU Temperature Average During Full Load
Laptop Flat On Desk 
75
 
Laptop on ARCTIC NC: Fan On Low 
69
 
Laptop on ARCTIC NC: Fan On High 
55
 
CPU Temperature Max During Full Load
Laptop Flat On Desk 
77
 
Laptop on ARCTIC NC: Fan On Low 
73
 
Laptop on ARCTIC NC: Fan On High 
68
 


Our testing showed a similar number discrepancy to what we found with our testing of the »Thermaltake Massive23 LX, so read that article for an explanation of the some of the apparent oddities (for example, why the system had a lower temperature with the cooler on low than when the fan was on high).

In general, the ARTIC NC achieved numbers that were well in line with those of your typical full-sized cooler. However, with the cooler running on its lowest fan speed, the ARCTIC NC showed off notably better performance than a passive full-size cooler would. Now, this comparison may not seem fair, but we performed the tests these way for a few reasons:

  • The ARCTIC NC's lowest fan speed is practically inaudible, to the extent that you completely forget that it is even on.
  • We felt that the heatsink properties of a full-size cooler would be a fair comparison to the low-speed fan setting of the ARCTIC NC.
  • There would be little reason to actually buy a portable cooler if you didn't plan on using the fans.


For this reason, even though the performance isn't quite to the same level that you would expect for a full-size cooler, the adjustable fan speeds go a long way towards diminishing those differences.
Page 5
Use

The ARCTIC NC is a portable cooler, so the procedure for mounting it is a little bit different to full-size coolers. Rather than mounting the entire cooler under the notebook, you only mount the very edge of the cooler underneath the notebook. This allows the fans to circulate the air from the intake through the exhaust without anything disrupt airflow. It is important to make sure you place the laptop correctly. For example, our initial tests were done with the fans partially obscured by the edge of the laptop, and that alone led to temperatures that were a couple degrees warmer.

Notebook and ARCTIC NC


The fan noise on the ARCTIC NC is acceptable. When the fans are set to their highest speed setting, the fans do get notably loud. The volume does drop quite a bit as you turn the fan speeds down, but the volume of air circulated drops faster than the noise does. Despite that, the cooler worked well enough on the lowest setting that it would probably be enough for most medium-powered laptops.

One thing meant to set this cooler apart from the rest is the 4-port USB hub located on the back. We tested a variety of non-powered items in the hub with the hub plugged in. There didn't seem to be any noticeable performance drop in the devices. Changing the fan speed didn't seem to make any difference, either.

On thing to note about this hub is that it is unpowered. The instruction pamphlet mentioned that Arctic Cooling has a dedicated power adapter, but this may not be necessary depending on what technology products you have on hand. In our testing, we actually found that the hub worked perfectly fine as a powered hub with a USB-to-DC 5V adapter cable (sourced from a USB HDD enclosure) as well as when we tested it with a power adapter from a dedicated Belkin USB hub. We like that Arctic Cooling made this cooler with a flexible enough design that it can be made a powered hub without proprietary cables, and we really like that the fans on the cooler can work purely off of the DC input plug.

On thing we weren't a fan of is how the shape lent itself to use when not placed on a desk. While portable notebook coolers usually give up a bit of comfort when using a notebook in your lap compared to full-size coolers, we simply weren't able to get comfortable using the ARCTIC NC in our lap. It didn't like to stay in one place, nor was the notebook adequately held in place by the rubber mounts on the top (even though it wasn't a problem when using the notebook on a desk).

Conclusion

The ARCTIC NC to an extent gives off a niche product vibe. On the one hand, it offers performance that is pretty good for a compact cooler. It also offers a very usable hub, and the fan speed settings are quite useful. On the other hand, the cooler is uncomfortable for use in your lap, and it can get a little loud for the performance it gives off. That being said, with a suggested retail price of only $31, it also offers a pretty good value in the segment for what it brings to the table. With everything about the cooler taken into consideration, we at ASE Labs can recommend the Arctic Cooler ARCTIC NC, especially if size and portability are major criteria when shopping for a notebook cooler. Hopefully some retails will offer it soon.

Comments

images/siteimages/upload/2010/10/28/4273mis.jpg Packaging Front images/siteimages/upload/2010/10/28/4274mss.jpg Packaging Rear images/siteimages/upload/2010/10/28/4275mx3.jpg Package Contents images/siteimages/upload/2010/10/28/4276m58.jpg Review Preview Picture images/siteimages/upload/2010/10/28/4277mis.jpg Arctic NC images/siteimages/upload/2010/10/28/4278mf8.jpg Arctic NC Exhaust images/siteimages/upload/2010/10/28/4279mei.jpg Arctic NC Bottom images/siteimages/upload/2010/10/28/4280mns.jpg Arctic NC USB Hub images/siteimages/upload/2010/10/29/4281mds.jpg Arctic NC Rubber Installed images/siteimages/upload/2010/10/29/4282m6n.jpg Notebook and ARCTIC NC

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