As we demand more and more from our mobile devices manufacturers are forced to try and stuff higher power CPU and GPUs inside ever-shrinking laptop and tablet shells. This leaves them in tricky position; they have to either put in tons of fans or make the materials for their products. Some have tried to split the difference with a combination of fans, materials and also components that react to the demands of the user. However, (you knew there was a however didn’t you) there are times when these are not enough and where the ergonomics of modern laptops (to include thin and light). Due to this unfortunate fact cooling companies have managed to open up a market for coolers which are intended to keep your high-performance laptop cool. Many of these are ungainly (in terms of ergonomic) despite bringing better cooling to the table. They also tend to be bulky and difficult to transport making their use limited. Thermaltake has a novel design that aims to deal with both portability and ergonomics, the GOrb II. Let’s take a look at this interesting device and see if it really does help bring something new to the table.
The Box and Goodies -
The GOrb II’s box is a small cube that gives you a good idea of the size of the product you are getting. Remember the GOrb II is intended to be a highly portable device and Thermaltake wants you to know this right away. You also get a nice picture of the GOrb II on more than one side (along with the color options).
Thermaltake included a specification list as well as a technical drawing of the product (to keep the numbers guys happy). Other than a few highlights it is pretty much your typical product box.
Inside things are much more interesting. The Thermaltake GOrb II comes in a nice semi-soft case for ease of transport. This case has a carabineer to let you clip it to your bag if you want to. The TT logo is on both the top and bottom so you do not need to worry about which way you turn it (everyone will know it is a Thermaltake product).
Inside the case is the actual GOrb II. When you first pull it out you will see why it has the name it does. The GOrb II is an orb when you pack it away for transport. We will talk more about the design and build of the GOrb II below.
The Thremaltake GOrb II -
The GOrb II is true to its name (at least when you pull it out of the box) it is a small spherical object that is very portable. But the GOrb II is not meant to be an orb at all, instead it is intended to be separated into two pieces and placed under your laptop to keep things cool (and also to make it more comfortable to use).
Each half of the GOrb II has a small fan in it (you know to keep air flowing) at the “top” is a rounded rubber pad that Thermaltake says should rest on your desk. The fan side has three rubber feet, each of these feet has a small magnet. The two halves of the GOrb II are held together by magnets in the feet. This helps keep all the cables nicely wrapped up. In-between the two halves is a small spool (again to help with cable storage).
The fans are 70mm spinning at 2200RPM and capable of pushing 23CFM of air. They are almost inaudible even in quiet rooms with a rated noise of 27.7 dBA. You can use the GOrb II on notebooks up to 17-inches in size. To keep the two fans powered TT (Thermaltake) gives you a USB adapter/extender. This cable runs from your USB port to one fan which is connected to the other by a cable. Both cables are sheathed in braided cloth for durability (which is a nice touch).
Before we move onto performance we want to talk about how to use this product. According to Thermaltake you are supposed to place the rounded rubber end on your desktop and then put your computer on the three legs of each fan. This is intended to give an automatic tilt to the system while keeping the fans blowing cool air right on the underside of your laptop. Now we tested the GOrb II in this configuration with a 15.4-inch Samsung Series-7 Chronos laptop, but one that was also only 4.8 pounds; most of which was in the touch screen. When we got everything setup the laptop felt unstable and wobbly. At one point when I was feeling the lower edge of the screen to get a gauge of temperature the book fell over backwards. The rounded ends of the GOrb II and the weight of the thick touch screen on our Series 7 Chronos were too much to keep stable.
What we found that worked best for our laptop was to flip the GOrb II over. This provided significantly more stability and, as you will see below, did not cost us much in the way of cooling.
As you might imagine with a product like the GOrb II we are most concerned with cooling, but there is more to the GOrb II than just keeping your laptop cool. Thermaltake did design the GOrb II to help with ergonomics so while we are looking at temps we will also be looking at what impact the GOrb II has on comfort.
For starters let’s get a good idea of the baseline for temperatures. We took a reading at the “hot” spot on the Series 7 Chronos, which sits right along the lower edge of the display (just below the Samsung logo), after one hour of idle time, gaming and streaming video. This was done with the Chronos flat on the table and then elevated (without the fans running). These six gave us a solid base line for comparison.
The base temperatures at idle were not all that bad and well inside what you would expect of a modern laptop with the power that our Chronos has (Intel Core i7 3635QM, 12GB DDR3 1600, 240GB SSD, and a Radeon HD8700M). Under normal usage (internet browsing etc.) the temps rose slightly and, of course, while gaming things jumped up quite a bit although they were not as high as you might expect.
When we lifted the Series 7 Chronos off of the table using just the GOrb II we did not see any significant change in temperatures. It seems that the hot air just stayed under the laptop and did not move at all. After our lift test we put the GOrb II into action in the way that Thermaltake intended and saw our temperatures drop (especially in gaming tests). The only problem was that using the GOrb II this way made the Series 7 Chronos laptop feel unstable due to the weight of the touch screen display. The laptop felt unstable and as if it was going to topple over backwards (not something you want to have happen).
The last bit of testing we did was to flip the GOrb II over and try again. In this configuration our Series 7 Chronos Laptop felt much more stable while we saw a further decrease in temperature. The most likely reason for this is that with the fans blowing down onto the desktop (instead of directly on the laptop) it allowed for more air flow under the device. When setup in this configuration you can actually feel air flowing around the entire underside of the laptop instead of just the back.
The Thermaltake GOrb II also is excellent for ergonomics. Unlike many other solutions that raise the entire laptop the GOrb II simply elevates the back end leaving the front at the same height. This means that your wrists are not resting on the front edge of your laptop at an odd and uncomfortable angle. The angle of incline is subtle enough that you do not feel it in a negative way while still giving you better visibility and reach to the keys on your laptop. It is a nice design. This design also allows for excellent portability which is a plus when you are already lugging around a bunch of other hardware.
Value is another very subjective topic. What is expensive to some might be a deal to others. You can look at this topic in multiple ways. One is raw price and the other is what you get for the money. Each is accurate and both are correct ways to look at price/value. We tend to look at features, performance and real-property when we discuss value. However, we also take into account the raw cash cost of the item.
The GOrb II is an inexpensive device at $31.99 on most etailers. This is about the normal price for a laptop cooler. What makes the GOrb II a little bit more of a value is its portability and how versatile it is. Unlike many other coolers you do not need a ton of space to carry it around with you while the design offers improve comfort over most of the other options out there.
As the market for high-end gaming laptops that are also slim and compact grows so will the market for good cooling products. The Thermaltake GOrb II is a good option for your cooling needs with most of these devices. It is a clean, simple and well-built product that does what it is supposed to do without taking up too much space in your laptop bag or making it uncomfortable to use your laptop. The GOrb II we tested showed very solid performance even after a few hours of gaming with a modern 3D game. The fans that kept everything cool were very quiet and in most cases not audible over the regular background noise in the room. The angle that the two halves of the GOrb II puts your laptop at is very comfortable while giving the screen enough of a lift to make viewing easier. In all it is a great device that will not cost you a lot of money. Even if you are not a gamer the Thermaltake GOrb II is a good buy and one that will help keep your laptop cool and comfortable to use.
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