I will be conducting tests using my HP Entertainment notebook with a 12.1" screen. The notebook fit perfectly on the pad, but if you have a larger one, it will probably hang off the edges of the pad a little.
To measure temperatures, I used a non-contact hand held infrared thermometer. I ran the notebook at 100% CPU utilization using SiSoft Sandra Arithmetic and Multi-Media Benchmarks (run continuously) for a full hour. Room temperatures were held steady at 77 F during testing. I conducted two different tests: one using the notebook on my table without any cooler, and the other with the iXoft on the table. For the table, I measured temperatures in two different locations: the bottom of the notebook over the CPU area and the surface of the table over the CPU area. For the iXoft, I measured temperatures at three different locations: the bottom of the notebook over the CPU area, the surface of the pad over the CPU area and the bottom of the pad. Below are the results.
Bottom of notebook over CPU area = 131.7 F
Surface of table over CPU area = 113.6 F
Bottom of notebook over CPU area = 121.0 F
Surface of iXoft over CPU area = 123.0 F
Bottom of iXoft over CPU area = 85.8 F
The iXoft was able to lower the temperature on the bottom of my notebook by 10.7 F under full load. I was curious to see how the iXoft would feel once the phase change had occurred. Under normal temperatures, the material inside the pad feels like those little silica packets; gritty and very solid. Once heated up, the area over the CPU felt really mushy. It was also worth mentioning that the pad held the heat from the notebook long after I had removed it.
Thermaltake has taken a new approach to notebook cooling with the iXoft and it seems to have paid off. The iXoft is a nice looking pad, available in both black and white (PC and Mac). Thermaltake claims the pad can be used with notebooks up to 17", although the edges of the notebook would hang off a little with a 17" system.
Obvious benefits of the iXoft are the fact that it is a passive cooler, so it won't add any extra noise to your environment and won't draw any additional power from your notebook. Unlike other coolers, using the iXoft in your lap is very comfortable. There is no hard metal / plastic surface pressing against your legs, and as we have seen here, the iXoft is very good at preventing heat from penetrating the pad, so your legs won't get too hot.
There are a few areas that I am a little concerned about. The top surface of the iXoft is nylon-like, meaning that stuff can easily slide across it. Even with the rubber feet on my notebook, I was easily able to slide it around with hardly any effort.
Also, the iXoft is labeled as lightweight, but it really weighed more than I anticipated. Thermaltake lists the weight as 640 grams, which equals 1.4 pounds (about as heavy as a large copper heatsink). Those who have lightweight notebooks for the sole purpose of shedding weight in their carrying bag might not appreciated this added weight.
Finally, it is important to understand how the iXoft is designed to work and understand if it will be "compatible" with your notebook. Some notebook coolers are designed to raise the notebook up and allow air to flow under the system. The iXoft is exactly the opposite - it is designed to hug the bottom of your system and pull heat from it. The problem with this system is that if your notebook has a bottom-mounted cooling fan, you will be blocking airflow to the fan, which will probably lead to overheating. If you fall into this category, look elsewhere for a cooler. But, if you have a notebook similar to mine, where the cooling intake and exhaust is positioned on the side / back of the notebook, you will be just fine.
As of writing, the iXoft can be had for under $30 USD. Thanks to Thermaltake for providing us with this review sample.