The best: Thermaltake Massive TM
The $37 Massive TM by Thermaltake is a desktop-style cooling pad that's ideal for any size Mac laptop, from the 12-inch MacBook to the 15-inch MacBook Pro (and 17-inch notebooks, too), thanks to adjustable sizers that keep your device in place. It has two separate fans that draw cool air in from the bottom and push warm air out through the sides. You can set up automatic cooling with four separate heat sensors, or you can regulate the temperature manually, including giving it a turbo cooling boost. It also sports retractable feet, so you can adjust the angle of your laptop.
Bottom line: The Massive TM has lots of fantastic features, like a temperature gauge, adjustable feet, and a turbo boost so you can cool things down when you're working extra hard.
What makes the Massive TM the best
I've been using my Massive TM for a while now and I've really been putting it through its paces. The one thing that makes it stand out from other cooling pads is its ability to track how warm my MacBook Pro is getting and then allow me to turbo boost the cooling process if things get out of hand.
The pad is large — maybe even a little too large. It's big enough to fit a 17-inch notebook, so my 13-inch MacBook Pro has plenty of space. The aluminum panel on top has four adjustable posts that you can slide around to fit your laptop. This keeps my MacBook Pro snugly in place without anchoring it on the cooling pad. The pegs are also spring-loaded, so if you accidentally set your notebook on top of one, it just flattens out instead of making your keyboard crooked.
When you set your laptop on the cooling pad, it senses the temperature. There are four sensor probes, so you can isolate any problem areas. When the fans are running, it'll cool your device by as much as 20 degrees. If you notice that, even with the regular fans running, your laptop isn't cooling down (like, if you're working extra hard with a particularly heavy processing program) you can hit the Turbo button and it will speed up the fans and send a burst of air upward.
When the fans are running, they are relatively quiet as far as cooling fans go. I'm not saying they are whisper quiet, but you won't have to turn up the volume on your computer when they are running.
There are also retractable feet at the bottom of the pad, which allow you to adjust the angle that your laptop sits. The feet themselves have adjustable height, too. So, if you need a sharper angle, like to watch a movie, you can really get some tilt.
The fan is powered by a USB cable. It comes with a very short (I think it's about 8-inches) USB-to-USB cable. If you have the 2016 or later MacBook Pro, you'll need a USB A to USB C adapter, or at least a really long USB to USB cable so you can plug it into a power outlet.
Probably my favorite aspect of the Massive TM is the temperature display panel. You always know whether your laptop is running hot, thanks to the LED display. If you're in the middle of a game and notice that your MacBook Pro is running at about 85 degrees, you can turn on the fans and cool it down. There is a model available without a temperature sensor for about $10 less, but if you don't need a sensor, you may as well find something a little less expensive, though it's still only $37 with the sensor.
Runner-up: CM Storm SF-17
If you're doing any intense video editing or anything that's going to cause your MacBook's temperature to rise, the CM Storm SF-17 will cool it down and then some (it's not called "Storm" for nothing). It's easily one of the most powerful laptop coolers around. Because it's built to cool gaming PCs, that power comes at the price of portability. It's likely thicker and heavier than your MacBook Pro, but boy does it get the cooling job done. You'll spend a few extra dollars to get the power of the CM Storm at a cost of about $55.
Bottom line: If you want to spend a bit more and get a cooling pad that can cool even the hottest MacBooks, then check out the Cooler Master SF-17. Just don't plan on taking it anywhere.
Second runner-up: Tree New Bee cooling pad
If you're after a cooling pad that just plain looks cool, while effectively cooling your MacBook Pro, then Tree New Bee's cooling pad is your pick. Blue LEDs in the fan cast a TRON-esque glow while the 120mm fans spin at roughly 1200rpm. There isn't anything particularly bad about this cooling pad, it's just not the best. But, for around $20, you can't go wrong.
Bottom line: This is a cool-looking and effective cooling pad for your MacBrook Pro. It's even relatively quiet and definitely easy on your wallet.
For travel: Havit HV-F2056
This laptop cooler's minimalist design makes it ideal for travel with your MacBook Pro. It's ultra-slim, but can still handle laptops up to 17 inches. It's just not the most powerful cooler in the world and it lacks height adjustment, so make sure you get yourself comfortable because the Havit HV-F2056 won't do you any favors in that department.
Bottom line: This is the perfect MacBook Pro cooling pad for traveling. It's just not the most powerful and lacks certain features. That being said, it's only about $20.
On a budget: Cooler Master NotePal X-Slim
The Cooler Master NotePal X-Slim is approaching 10,000 reviews on Amazon, with nearly 80% of them being 4 or 5-star reviews. This cooling pad may only have one fan, but it makes up for that in portability and its height adjustment settings. It's also perfect if you're on a budget, starting around $14.80. For that price, you can't go wrong.
Bottom line: For its price, you really can't go wrong with the Cooler Master NotePal X-Slim.
Thermaltake Massive TM is the coolest
With all of its convenient features, the Thermaltake Massive TM is easily the best cooler/cooling pad for your MacBook Pro. The ability set each of its four fans at a different max temperature is effective and it's three-level adjustable height makes it versatile and convenient. The price is also within reason at only $37.
Bottom line: If you're in the market for a cooling pad for your MacBook Pro, the Thermaltake Massive TM should be your first consideration, since it's effective, ergonomic, and does it's job well.
Updated August 2017: Added pricing for each option. These are still the best cooling pads for your MacBook!