Back in our PC days—more specifically, our PC building and modding days—Thermaltake was a company we knew and liked. At that point, if we wanted something like a heatsink for a brand new, expensive CPU, Thermaltake’s solutions were always the ones at the top of the list; we bought at least a couple of its products, liked how they looked, and never had problems with how they worked. So when we heard about the company’s new Luxa2 division late last month, and found that it was going to be selling accessories designed for iPod, iPhone, and Mac users, we were actually interested in seeing what it had to offer. The iPod and iPhone product H1-Touch is in First Looks, a versatile little aluminum stand; the rest of the lineup is for MacBook users.
There are three products: the M1-Pro ($100), the M2 ($80), and the M3 Air ($70), each with the same general concept and somewhat different implementation. M1-Pro is the biggest of the three, a huge, heavy aluminum laptop-to-desktop tray designed to hold a MacBook on top of a table. With rubber pads and a set of three Swarovski crystal on the top surface, chrome accents on its legs, and twin handles for carrying, M1-Pro looks and feels like a very serious piece of metal—sculpted to appeal to that recent Mac convert who likes a little bit of edgy style.
It’s supposed to be a passive laptop cooling device, and achieves that end with two heatpipes on the undercarriage. Though you shouldn’t expect dramatic reductions in heat—around 5 degrees—the stand does elevate a laptop’s back an inch or so off of a flat surface, and adds enough cool aluminum to its bottom to dissipate some heat without any need for fans or active cooling mechanisms.
By comparison, M2 and M3 Air are designed to be portable, so they’re physically smaller: they’re back-of-laptop cooling stands that elevate the rear of the MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air, using integrated fans to keep the computers cool while in use. Thermaltake again sculpts each from cool aluminum, using rubber pads and plastic edging to elevate the computer slightly, and this time adds pull-out, pass-through USB cables to provide power to the fans.
M2 and M3 Air fold up into easily carried bricks, with tight, sturdy-feeling hinges in the center. Each has three more of the Swarovski crystals embedded on one side, with more utilitarian fan vents on the other. Both of the coolers come with leatherette carrying cases; M2 also includes a USB extension cable.
The consistent features of all three of these laptop stands are their solid feel and nice designs. While Thermaltake’s ridged shapes aren’t totally Apple-esque—gentle curves continue to be the Ive design motif these days—they are, like many of the designs from great third-party developers, nice riffs on the general Apple aluminum theme, and quite possibly appealing to both PC modders-turned-switchers and a subset of the current Mac user base. That said, we’re not going to claim to be impressed by the Swarovski touches, which are more or less obscured in each of the stands when they’re actually in use, and come across as a little cheesy given Thermaltake’s past track record—a seemingly bald attempt to appeal to a potential female customer with something sparkly and useless.
One little concern we had with M3 Air: we twice triggered “too much USB current demanded” warning notices just by plugging it into one of the USB ports of a 13” metal MacBook, but they went away when we switched ports, and the fan continued to spin regardless. The fan in the M3 Air is, notably, roughly as audible as the primary integrated fan in a metal MacBook when it’s active; M2’s larger fan is louder and adds a drone equivalent to a standalone hard drive. If you’re noise-sensitive, neither is going to be ideal for your needs, but they both legitimately cool the bottoms of attached computers if heat is a concern you’ve been dealing with.
We haven’t had problems with heat on the latest generation metal MacBook and Pro machines, but users of Apple’s older, hot PowerBooks and prior-generation MacBooks may find the portable designs to be handy; the tray-like M1-Pro adds a little bit of desktop style to any model.