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The self-cooling HP Mindframe gaming headset keeps your ears frosty under fire

With built-in thermoelectric cooling plates inside the earcups, this unique headset drops its temperature by a good 10 degrees or more.

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Dan Ackerman
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Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times

3 min read
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Sarah Tew/CNET

Do you ever get a little overheated while PC gaming? I don't mean getting angry at a close Fortnite loss and throwing a mouse across the room, or shouting obscenities at a spawn-camping teen via Discord. I mean, literally hot. Maybe even hot enough to trigger that terrible condition many are afraid to mention in polite company -- sweaty ears. 

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Watch this: A refrigerated PC gaming headset to keep you cool

I don't suffer from that particular affliction myself, but I suppose it must happen, especially after long, intense gaming sessions. That's the rationale behind the new Omen by HP Mindframe Headset (or, just the Mindframe). It's a standard 7.1 virtual surround-sound USB gaming headset, for the most part. But it also adds one unique feature. HP calls it FrostCap technology, but it's a type of thermoelectric cooling, and it starts dropping the temperature of the earcups of the headset as soon as you plug it in. 

This concept behind this isn't new. The mechanism is sometimes called a Peltier cooler, and it uses an electric current to transfer heat from one side of a surface to another. You may have seen it in novelty USB-powered can coolers, which keep a round metal soda-can-size plate cold. There, it's not very effective. In this case, it actually works. 

To test the Mindframe, I whipped out my trusty temperature gun. The starting temperature of the metal plate inside the earcups was around 77 degrees (all temperature readings in Fahrenheit). When I plugged the headset into a PC's USB port, the plate started to get colder almost immediately. 

Omen by HP Mindframe Headset

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I put the headset on and cruised around a bit in a few games -- Shadow of the Tomb Raider and a new crowd-funded sci-fi RPG I'm quite enjoying called Insomnia: The Ark. I didn't feel like I was getting too cold, but when I pressed the earcups against my head, I could definitely feel how cold the inner plates were getting when my ears touched them. 

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Sarah Tew/CNET

After about 15 minutes, I checked the internal temperature again. This time, it was around 66 degrees in most places, and even down to 63 in some spots -- a major drop in a short time. Putting my fingers on the inner plate, I found it felt very cold. At the same time, the outside of the headset, directly on the flip side of the cooling plate, was getting hotter (hey, that heat has to go somewhere). I clocked the hottest part of the outer surface at 93 degrees. 

So yes, the Mindframe really does offer significant on-ear cooling. 

I'm cool, calm and collected enough to not feel like I need to keep my ears or head from perspiring while playing PC games, but I cast no judgement on those who do. If you need to cool off while gaming, your ears can be a frosty 10 or more degrees cooler for $199, starting today. 

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