Gaming

Do you really need a cooling fan for mobile gaming?

The GameSir F8 Pro Snowgon cooling fan controller grip touts itself as a must-have for mobile gaming. Does it really work?

Alejandro Medellin / Input

While console gaming is alive and well in 2021, there’s no denying that mobile gaming deserves a seat at the table. The free-to-play business model and the ability for games to run on budget phones makes mobile gaming the most accessible gaming platform available.

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With the growing popularity of mobile gaming, companies like Razer and Asus have really leaned in — the Asus ROG phone 5s Pro is a beast. Accessories like gaming controllers, phone clamps for console controllers, attachable triggers, and finger sleeves are just some of the gaming accessories you can get for phones.

Asus

Cool off

External cooling fans are another accessory, but they mostly come off like snake oil, promising to drastically improve phone temperatures with a tiny fan when your phone may not even need to be cooled. It’s safe to say I’m highly skeptical, which is why GameSir’s F8 Pro Snowgon cooling grip had a lot to prove. It fell way short of the mark.

$140

The Indiegogo campaign raised less than $200 and didn't meet it's $10,000 goal.

Alejandro Medellin / Input

It’s not all bad

The grips are nicely curved to provide comfort and slightly ribbed for grip, weighing just enough to not feel cheap. The sliding mechanism is smooth and expands to fit larger phones. It’s also got a kickstand and RGB lights that gradually change. And it’s easily available on Amazon for $40.

Alejandro Medellin / Input

Perhaps my favorite part of the gadget is the optional joystick, which works particularly well in shooters like Call of Duty Mobile and PUBG Mobile. The concentric circle texture adds a nice amount of grip, and while it’s not responsive as proper joysticks, it works. But that’s about all the nice things I have to say.

Alejandro Medellin / Input

Deal-breaker

I have one massive problem with the F8 Pro Snowgon that was an immediate deal-breaker for me: it doesn’t have a built-in battery. Instead, you need to power it via the USB-C port with a 5V/2A power supply, which is not included. The whole point of mobile gaming is predicated on the fact that you can game and be mobile, which you can’t do with this accessory.

Alejandro Medellin / Input

To fan the flames even further, the cooling effect — you know, the reason why this thing exists — doesn’t work that great, if at all. I tested the Snowgon on the Pixel 3 XL with Genshin Impact. I used a temperature gun and the CPU Monitor app to monitor internal and external temperatures.

Alejandro Medellin / Input

Initially, the phone’s CPU measured 33° C and the phone’s surface between 28-30° C depending on the area. Those temperatures spiked to 40° C for the CPU when downloading Genshin Impact’s large files. After playing for 30 minutes, by which point the phone warmed up, the CPU climbed to 42° C and the surface to roughly 39° C at its highest.

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Instant cooling... kind of

Before cooling off the phone with the F8 Pro Snowgon, I measured the Snowgon’s cooling pad to test whether GameSir’s “instant refrigeration” claim was true, and it was on point. Within seconds, it dropped from 26° C to 15° C and it was down to between 2-4° inside of a minute. But the cool factor, no pun intended, was short-lived because the drop in temperature did not translate to the phone.

Not cool, bro

Phone temperatures stayed virtually the same after 30 minutes and even 1 hour of playtime. I think it’s because the cooling element is nowhere near the SoC, which produces the most heat. The indirect way in which it cools is like boiling a pot of water by turning on an adjacent burner. The CPU did drop 2-3 degrees, but the slight fluctuation could be attributed to the CPU’s changing workload.

Alejandro Medellin / Input

It’s a comfortable gaming grip but $40 is much too steep for a piece of molded plastic. It’s better to buy GameSir’s $12 F2 grip or pick up the X2 gaming controller, which we enjoyed very much. The F5 Falcon Mini triggers, which GameSir also provided me to test, are excellent triggers with a satisfying, responsive click. But the F8 Pro Snowgon? I can’t recommend it.

Bare minimum

Since I’ve never had a smartphone overheat when playing games, the F8 Pro Snowgon seems unnecessary. If your phone overheats, though, because you’re playing very demanding games on older hardware or play in hotter conditions, it might be worth looking into. But don’t be surprised if the fan doesn’t do much.

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