When it comes to these sequels, CM Storm didn’t try to reinvent the wheel resulting in something that doesn’t even resemble the original product. Instead CM Storm tried refining something that was already successful to make it better. The big question is, did they succeed in that regard? For the most part I would say yes they did. The design style that made the SF-19 eye catching carried over. They trimmed a little size and weight to make the SF series cover all sizes of gaming notebooks. The cable management routing improved and holds the cables in better. Most of all the cooling should improve. By moving from two 140mm fans to a single 180mm and 160mm turbine fan, air flow is more even and fan noise has decreased even on the highest of settings. The CPU temperatures will not drop as much as many people think it should. That is a common mistake. The point of notebook coolers is to insure constant air flow into the air intake of the notebook and to make sure air is circulating inside of the notebook chassis. The CPU is not the only temp that needs to remain cool. Memory, chipset and Wireless devices all benefit from increased airflow. With a 180mm or 160mm fan blowing upwards, your hands will also benefit. The slight breeze will keep sweaty hands at bay.
Just as with any trilogy, there has to be some things you don’t like. It’s a given. In this example, the concerns we came across with the SF-17 were the weak bottom cover that could result in damaged fan blades if any pressure is applied while the fans are in operation. Also, the rubber padding collects every piece of lint and dust it comes in contact with. The picture in this review shows the amount of dust it collected while I was only talking pictures of it. A notebook was not even set on it yet.
I did not include the size and weight as a negative because it is pretty obvious the SF-17 was never intended to be your mobile gaming station. Stationary gaming was the reasoning behind so many of the features added to the SF-17. It includes large non-slip feet, four level height adjustment, retention tabs and support for massive 19” gaming notebooks. You can take it on a trip but it is not something you want to travel with daily. If commuting was your goal then go with the SF-15 instead.
The SF-15 is different. It was built with the same features in mind but designed to be on the move. Its substantially smaller; half the weight, half as thin, yet still offers angle adjustment, LED lighting and the same cooling potential. The only issue I found with the SF-15 is one of the same issues I had with the SF-17. It’s a dust and lint magnet. I’m very thankful it wipes off with a slightly damp lint free cloth. I doubt anyone using it for nonstop gaming will care about a little bit of dust anyways.
There aren’t many standard notebook coolers that can come close to the styling of the Cm Storm SF series. There are no gaming notebook coolers that can match the style and feature list of the SF-15 and 17. However, with a going rate of $54.99 and $64.99 respectively, CM Storm pits these coolers against competition that may not have height adjustments or pretty LED’s. Some of them do come with speaker systems built in, so that is something to consider. It puts a gamer in a really tough spot.
As the credits begin to roll on this review, I can say it was worth the price of admission to see this sequel. We don’t pass out any of the awards you see on TV, we have something so much better.
And the Pureoverclock.com Great Hardware award goes to….The CM Storm SF-15 and SF-17 Gaming Notebook Coolers!