Thin, light design makes for easy portability
Above average cooling for light to medium workloads
Below average cooling during heavy gaming workloads
Some components feel a little cheap
No controls of any kind.
Laptop cooling pads come in all shapes and sizes. Some are for gamers and some are for professionals. The price range varies quite a bit as well, with some coolers going for over $60. TopMate, however, decided to aim at the low end and make an affordable laptop cooler. The current model of the TopMate C302 is actually an upgrade from the previous version. The fans spin at 1,300 RPM rather than the outgoing model’s 1,000 RPM. Did it matter at all? Let’s find out in our full review.
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What is the TopMate C302?
The TopMate C302 is an entry-level laptop cooler. Like most, it features a plastic frame with a metal top grate. Two 125mm fans push roughly 70 CFM of air, sitting underneath the grate in a central location. The bottom features a space to store the USB cable when you aren’t using it. Additionally, there are two plastic feet to put the laptop in a tilt position. Meanwhile, the top has two more plastic nubs that pop out and keep your laptop from sliding off.
The USB cable is permanently attached. The whole cooler breaks if the cable does so be careful with it. There is a USB pass-through on the cable in case you want to plug in a mouse or a keyboard. It’s only USB 2.0 so we don’t recommend anything heavy. There are blue lights on the fans but they aren’t very bright. A 15-inch laptop usually covers the lighting entirely. Unfortunately, you can’t turn off the lighting without turning off the fans.
The TopMate C302's design and features aren't bad, but they aren't really memorable either.
The design for this one is quite basic. It looks like most other laptop coolers and doesn’t have any super unique characteristics. The fan noise is average, it looks average, and it feels average. Nevertheless, the cooler is quite light and should be easily portable in most backpacks. It should also fit most 15-inch laptops comfortably. We do not recommend trying 17-inch laptops with this one.
Interestingly, there is no off switch or controls of any kind on the TopMate C302. The only way to turn it on or off is with the USB cable. This isn’t necessarily a pro or a con, but it’s certainly something unique in this space. Luckily, you have the USB cable holder underneath if you want to use it off for extended periods of time.
How to set up and use the TopMate C302
The TopMate C302 works like any other laptop cooler. You sit your laptop on top of it and attach the USB cable. That’s really it. The laptop cooler turns on automatically when connected. We recommend positioning your laptop where the fans can hit your vents as much as possible. You can also pop up the two plastic nubs on top to keep your laptop from sliding. The nubs don’t feel necessary because the tilt isn’t that high, but it’s nice to have the option.
How well does the TopMate C302 perform?
I tested the TopMate C302 with my Asus ROG G731GW 17.3-inch gaming laptop with 16GB of RAM, an Nvidia GTX 2070, an Intel i7-9750H, a 500GB NVMe drive, and a second 500GB SSD. The cooler only has one fan speed so I couldn’t increase it for testing. Additionally, I used the tilt for maximum airflow. Unfortunately, my 17-inch laptop is quite a bit bigger than the TopMate C302. I did my best to position the laptop so the fans could cool as efficiently as possible.
We ran a total of four tests with the TopMate C302:
- BIOS test — The BIOS is often very poorly optimized. We see if the cooler can keep up with it.
- Windows 10 idle — Once the laptop is fully booted, we test the cooler to see if it affects idle temperatures. We then leave it on idle for ten minutes to ensure it can hold those temperatures.
- CPU stress test — We use Intel XTU’s native stress test because we can easily identify things like temperature, whether or not it thermal throttled or power throttled, and the average CPU clock speed. We ran the test for ten minutes.
- One game of Halo Wars 2 — Halo Wars 2 is a surprisingly heavy game and, on my Asus ROG G731GW, temps often spike up to the mid-90C range with GPU temps reading the mid-80C range. It’s a good benchmark for a heavy game on a powerful gaming machine.
- Something to note — During the explanations below I often refer to power throttling and thermal throttling. Thermal throttling is the laptop forcibly lowering CPU speeds to cool itself down. Power throttling limits the CPU to its base TDP and prevents it from drawing extra (boost) power. We expect laptop coolers to prevent thermal throttling at least.
The laptop was set to Windows Balanced for all tests with no modifications. The laptop cooler was at its maximum setting for the highest amount of cooling. The temperatures were recorded and double-checked with HWMonitor, Asus Armoury Crate, and Intel XTU.
Without further delay, here are the results of the tests.
|Test||CPU temp||GPU temp||Fan speed|
|BIOS without cooler||50C||NA||2800RPM|
|Windows 10 idle without cooler||45C||39C||2400RPM|
|CPU stress test via Intel XTU without cooler||85C||42C||6400RPM (max)||Power throttle after 60 seconds, thermal throttle after 90 seconds. Throttled CPU speed was 3.2Ghz.|
|One game of Halo Wars 2||90C||80C||6400RPM (max)||CPU spikes of 96C, GPU spikes of 84C|
|BIOS with cooler||50C||NA||2800RPM|
|Windows 10 idle with cooler||39-42C||37C||0-2400RPM||Laptop disengaged fans at 39C, re-engaged at 42C causing temperature fluctuations.|
|CPU stress test with Intel XTU with cooler||79C||47C||6400RPM (max)||Power throttle after 90 seconds, no thermal throttle detected. Throttled CPU speed of 3.6-3.8Ghz|
|One game of Halo Wars 2||87C||79C||6400RPM (max)||CPU spikes of 94C, GPU spikes of 79C|
The cooler had an average showing overall. It prevented the thermal throttle my laptop exhibits without a cooler while also keeping the laptop at 0.4-0.5Ghz higher during the CPU test. When idle, it cools enough to disengage my laptop fans. There is a small anomaly where my machine reported higher GPU temperatures during stress tests with the cooler, but it was nothing too worrisome.
Unfortunately, the cooler does struggle during heavy gaming. I saw a drop of only 3C on the CPU while gaming, a below-average showing. It did manage to keep the GPU temperatures from spiking into the mid-80C range so it still helped a little bit. It just didn’t do as well as some other coolers I’ve tested. Of course, I do have a 17-inch laptop and the cooler is a bit too small for it. You may see better results with a smaller laptop.
What I like about the TopMate C302
- It’s lightweight, portable, and it looks good.
- USB pass-through is always a plus for me.
- Roughly half the coolers I test don’t cool my laptop enough for it to disengage the fans (below 40C).
- It’s very easy to use.
- It’s less than $20 on Amazon.
What I don’t like about the TopMate C302
- No controls of any kind. I would’ve liked an off switch at least.
- Struggles to cool during gaming sessions.
- Some materials feel a little cheap.
- The blue lighting may scare away minimalists who don’t like superfluous lighting.
Is the TopMate C302 good?
The TopMate C302 is average. It definitely cooled my laptop so there is no question there. Additionally, the USB pass-through, the tilt, and the top plastic nubs are nice to have in the laptop cooler space. Its cheap price helps justify its lack of more power user-friendly features. However, the cooler struggles during heavy gaming sessions and the blue lighting wasn’t a great addition.
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We recommend caution for heavy gamers, but productivity folks should be happy with the TopMate C302. Additionally, it’s a great cooler for things like routers and other gadgets without active cooling. You can pick it up for around $18 on Amazon right now at the button below.