My can get rather hot very quickly, It’s a lot of machine in a very tiny space. Not only does that mean the fans come on a lot, if you try to put it in your lap, you get an instant suntan. It also takes up a lot of room on my desk. I needed a stand. After trying some off-the-shelf solutions, I came across Rain Design. They make solid aluminum stands designed specifically for Apple products. I decided to give two of their products a try: the iLap and the mStand.
Rain knows their customer base. Even the packing was very reminiscent of Apple. The products look like they came from Jonny Ive himself with their aluminum construction and black accents. Both products are made of very sturdy aluminum, of pretty much the exact thickness to do the job the products lightweight, but as I said, sturdy. All Rain products feature a raindrop design cut out of the center of the tray,
The first product I tested was the iLap. As the name suggests, this is a low profile stand designed to fit in your lap. It’s built from a single main piece of aluminum with dual hinged aluminum base bar that can swivel. For comfort, it has two velvet cushions. The rear is fixed, but the front is removable and also acts as a wrist cushion. I felt more comfortable without it and removed it. It also comes with 4 non-skid feet for your Macbook, but I did not go with these since my Monoprice Shell Case already has them. That being said, compared to the standard they make a big difference.
The iLap is not a one size fits all proposition. It comes in sizes for 13, 15, and 17-inch MacBooks and 12, 14, 15, and 17-inch PCs. Prices range from $49.90 for the 12/13-inch models to 69.90 for the 17-inch monsters. These aren’t cheap, but then again these are usually for those who want a certain look to accent the grand or two they just spent on a MacBook or premium PC laptop.
Stands are meant to do two things, primarily: Cool your laptop, and place it at a more convenient viewing and typing angle. As for the cooling, to be perfectly honest I found it only cooled my MacBook by about 10 degrees compared to simply setting it on the desk according to temperature monitor. I also noticed no difference with my shell case on or off. If you’re looking for the same cooling as an active fan driven solution, this isn’t it. It might be enough, however, to keep from frying your prized laptop, though.
What it does give you is an excellent stand. Typing was far more comfortable with the laptop slanted and the extra height in the rear improved the camera angles of the HD webcam. While this isn’t tiny, it’s small and light enough that it came with me on our National Restaurant Association Show trip to Chicago. Granted, my Powerbag Business Class backpack has several large compartments and is designed to carry a lot of gear. If I had something smaller like my single compartment hiking backpack or a messenger bag, It might be a different story.
Where the iLap is portable, the mStand isn’t going anywhere from your desk. The design takes many cues from the built-in stand of the post-2007 Aluminum iMacs. There’s a heavy base, a neck with a hole for cable management, and a tray for your laptop. In fact, the entire stand is made from a single piece of aluminum. The tray is narrow in width and has a tab at the end with two foam inserts to keep your MacBook secure. I was pretty hesitant about this arrangement with the sides of my MBPR dangling off the tray to be sure. To my surprise and delight, it stays right where I put it even if it’s not dead center on the tray.
The mStand lifts your laptop 3 inches in the front and over 6 inches in the rear. The lift, first of all, gives you room for your external keyboard and mouse/trackpad. Which is what the stand is primarily designed for. It also gives you viewing heights (and webcam heights) more similar to an external display or all-in-one desktop. I can also see benefit to this stand if you’re using a standing desk without a big screen external display.
Whereas the iLap was available in several different models to fit your computer, the mStand has just 2: regular and one with a 360° swivel base. Price is $49.90 for the standard model and $10 more for the rotating one. Mine is the standard, so I have no idea how well the mStand360 works.
So, how does it do with cooling? When it comes to peak temperatures during heavy video intensive tasks, the MacBook will reach as high as the low 150s. However when placed on the mStand I’ve notice the heat dissipate much faster than using the iLap or just the laptop on the desk. It keeps a more consistent cool temperature, usually between 95-105° during normal use. That’s all anyone could ask for when it comes to passive air cooling.
Final Thoughts and Impressions
There are only so many things you can say about a stand. There are no fans, no integrated USB hub, and no integrated power conditioning system. Rain makes a hunk of metal that lifts your laptop off the desk. Fortunately, it’s an extremely well made piece of metal whose fit and finish is second to none. If you have a sub-$500 plastic notebook, the $50-70 these products cost can be a bit superfluous. If you have an Apple MacBook or other premium laptop with a bare metal case, they’ll accent your machine perfectly. If you want a stand that is as aesthetically pleasing as functional, you can’t beat Rain Design’s iLap and mStand.