Laptop Cooling Trays

Sunday, 31 January 2010 | Tags: , , , ,

Smart shopper Judy R. compares two different styles of laptop trays for comfort and performance.

I work on a laptop all day, and sometimes, especially on warm summer days, my laptop’s internal cooling fan ends up working overtime to keep the internal components cool. So I decided to invest in a laptop cooling tray (or stand) to give it a hand, and to help protect my valuable data.

I have a 17-inch laptop. I tried two different trays, and both work for me, but in different situations.

Both styles I use have a built-in fan that is powered by plugging into your laptop’s USB port. This means that it’s best if your laptop has multiple USB ports (most newer ones do) so that you’re not unplugging various gadgets to plug in the fan. Both fans on both styles are pretty quiet.

Belkin Laptop Cooling Lounge

About $49.

It’s made of all plastic, with some rubber anti-slip pads placed in strategic spots on the top and underside. I bought this one first. It does what it says it’s supposed to, but since I am at a desk all day, it didn’t quite work on my desk surface the way I wanted it to, but it works well as a tray on your lap when you’re sitting on the couch or in bed. This tray is about an inch wider than my laptop on either side.


  • Works great as a tray on your lap, and is comfortable to use.

  • Was able to keep my laptop cool on a warm day without sending my laptop’s own fan into overdrive.

  • Relatively lightweight. Easy to carry if you’re going to take it along with you on a trip.

  • The USB cord can be tucked into the underside area so it’s not hanging loose when not in use.

  • Has 3-4 height adjustment levels. There’s a flexible thick plastic “sheet” on the underside of the tray. By adjusting this sheet, it creates kind of a roll underneath the back half of the tray to raise it up on an angle. Or you can use it flat. (I think the fan works better if you have it raised though.)


  • You have to make sure you really get the tab to stick into the hole of the sheet (hard to explain!) so it stays raised up. I don’t usually have a problem, but sometimes if you’re not careful, it slips off and flattens out the tray (and if you’re not paying attention, your laptop could take a flip.) Also, sometimes it’s hard to get the tab to let go of the sheet so you can flatten it all out again.

  • Doesn’t work that great on a flat surface, e.g. if you’re using it as a stand to raise your laptop a bit on a desk. The plastic bottom slides around, so any pressure you put on it (like when you’re typing, or resting wrists on your laptop) it moves the tray a bit. There are rubber anti-slip bits but they don’t seem to help much.

  • Unfortunately, when you put it down on the couch or an ottoman, you have to make sure you flatten out the under sheet (to thus flatten out the whole tray), otherwise your laptop can topple over backwards.

  • Compared to the other tray, it’s kind of ugly! (Although I think it’s available in black too.)

Macally ECOFANPRO Laptop Stand with Fan (Bamboo)

About $39.

Made of bamboo – looks really stylish! This tray is just slightly smaller than the width of my laptop, which hangs over about 2 cm on either side of the tray. 


  • As mentioned, looks much more stylish than the ugly white Belkin tray.

  • This one works really well on a flat surface. It’s very stable and sturdy.

  • Has 3 adjustment levels, easy to set/use.

  • Has 2 built-in fans (the Belkin has just one), so I think it cools a wider surface area.


  • The are 4 thick little rubber feet on the corners of this tray. They lasted about 2 months and then started falling off. The glue just didn’t stick very well to the bamboo. Instead of trying to glue them on again, I sliced up some of a rubber anti-slip carpet underlay pad and put it underneath the corners. Works just as well, though detracts a bit from the stylishness.

  • Doesn’t work so well as an actual surface to rest on your lap if you’re sitting on the couch or in bed, unless you flatten it out. The way the stand is constructed, when you have it raised up, the underside turns into a frame, which isn’t very comfortable and digs into your thighs after a while.

  • When you close this tray up (e.g. if you’re taking it with you), you need to secure it closed some how or it will flop open. Also, there’s no neat and tidy place to hide USB cord when it’s not in use.


I actually use both trays. I prefer to use the bamboo one as my daily laptop stand, on my desk, to keep my laptop cool and raise it up a bit. If I’m using my laptop on the couch or in bed, I reach for the Belkin tray since it’s more comfortable.


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