Vertical vs. Horizontal: Which PS5 and Xbox Series X Position Is Safer?

If you're lucky enough to find a PS5 or Xbox Series X, you'll probably soon start to wonder whether it's better to position your new console vertically or horizontally. The answer to that question can be surprisingly tricky.

Photo: Phil Barker/Future Publishing via Getty Images

As global hardware shortages are (slowly) resolved, more and more people find themselves finally able to buy a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. That also means that more and more people are asking the simple question, “Should I position my console vertically or horizontally?”

Actually, that question isn’t quite as simple as it seems. As we’ll soon discuss, the best position for your console depends on a number of factors that include some potentially worrying reports regarding hardware issues that one orientation or the other may be more susceptible to.

Before we get into all that, though, let’s talk about the most important thing you need to know…

The Best Position For Your PS5 or Xbox Series X Depends on the Space You Have Available

Whether vertical or horizontal, the PS5 and Xbox Series X need room to breathe. They’re advanced pieces of hardware with some impressive built-in cooling systems, but they are not miracle machines. If you block their vents, they will eventually break.

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You need to make sure your console (or consoles) is positioned in a way that ensures they have enough space to vent heat. Furthermore, you want to make sure they are positioned in a way that leaves them free of excess clutter and allows them to be properly stabilized. When possible, you also want to make sure that they are shut down correctly and are not left running unattended for extended periods of time.

If there is a particular positional orientation that allows you to accomplish all of those things better than the other orientation, that’s the one you should go with most of the time. The option to position your console either vertically or horizontally is really only an option for those whose set-ups allow them to give their console ample room to breathe in either position.

Should Your Xbox Series X Be Vertical or Horizontal?

Generally speaking, the Xbox Series X is an incredibly well-built machine so far as cooling goes. It does an excellent job of ventilating excess heat regardless of whether it is positioned horizontally or vertically.

However, there is a somewhat persistent internet rumor that suggests the Xbox Series X actually performs better when it’s positioned vertically. At the very least, quite a few people believe that the Xbox Series X runs “cooler” in its vertical orientation.

There is a degree to which that suggestion is supported by the idea that “heat rises,” which would mean that any internal heat will naturally dissipate faster when the Xbox Series X is in a vertical position. While there is some truth to the idea that heat rises, that’s a somewhat limited view of the actual ways that heat moves, especially when that movement is affected by a cooling system. Heat does rise, but it’s not like heat can only rise.

More importantly, some vertical orientation fans are simply pointing out that the Xbox Series X is generally marketed in a vertical position. They take that to mean that Microsoft is subtly trying to suggest that gamers are better off positioning their Series X consoles vertically.

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Personally, I suspect that the Xbox Series X’s vertical marketing is based on the fact that Microsoft wants people to know that is an option. After all, previous Xbox consoles either did not support vertical alignment or simply performed poorly when positioned vertically. That dual positioning possibility is one of the Xbox Series X’s selling points, and the vertical position is a bit more of a novelty.

For what it’s worth, some tests have suggested that the Xbox Series X may run a couple of degrees cooler on average in its vertical position when both vertical and horizontal positions are viable options. Furthermore, the Xbox Series X was clearly designed with extra features (such as additional padded “feet”) that are intended to support its horizontal orientation. That furthers the narrative that “vertical” is the Xbox Series X’s “natural” position, but the fact of the matter is that those extra horizontal features all work as intended. They ensure that both orientations are viable.

At the very least, I will say that the Xbox Series X is one of the best-performing (and best-designed) vertical consoles ever. Generally speaking, though, anyone worried about the console’s overall performance really doesn’t need to worry.


Horizontal and vertical are equally viable, but you could certainly make the argument that vertical gets the slight nod in this instance if you’re on the fence. Again, the Series X is a particularly well-designed vertical console. If you happen to notice that one position is attracting more dust or causing you any other kinds of problems, though, then you can (safely) switch to the other position in order to run your own comparisons.

Should Your PlayStation 5 Be Vertical or Horizontal?

Not long ago, the internet was rocked by a report that suggested the PS5 may be compromised by a design flaw that could cause certain internal components to “melt” if you leave the device in a vertical position for too long.

Some of those reports (which include claims from supposed repair shop owners who say they’ve seen examples of this issue themselves) suggest that the PS5 has a component that can overheat and “melt.” If that happens while the PS5 is positioned vertically, it’s reportedly more likely for that “melt” to affect other components in the console. For what it’s worth, similar claims have been made by some online hardware testers who have previously suggested that it’s generally safer to position the PS5 horizontally.

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If you’re really interested in reading up on these claims, you can certainly do so. However, you should know about these reports before you worry about putting your PS5 in a vertical position.

First off, I’ve yet to see any of these reports verified by either an official source or a noteworthy outlet/hardware tester. Furthermore, those who have raised their concerns about the PS5’s vertical orientation have also been quick to point out that this is most likely a rare issue that won’t affect the vast majority of PS5 users. Finally, the information on these PS5 owners that claim to have been impacted by this issue is disturbingly thin. If this issue really happened, we still know nothing about how those users treated their consoles or even if they were specifically trying to produce this result through stress tests.

Officially, the PS5 can be positioned either horizontally or vertically, though there are a couple of catches to that official information. Most notably, the PS5 comes with a stand that the PlayStation team recommends you properly secure to your console before positioning it either vertically or horizontally. If you’re not using that stand, you run the risk of your PS5 losing its stability or potentially not producing the proper airflow at all times.

However, I’ve found (and heard others say) that it can be remarkably easy to mess up that stand installation process, especially if you’re trying to position the console horizontally. To be safe, you want to follow Sony’s official installation instructions and ensure that your PS5 is properly positioned at all times.

As for the rest…well, I will admit that I’ve seen more reports of the dangers of putting the PS5 in a vertical position than in a horizontal position. However, I’ve yet to see the report that leads me to believe putting your PS5 in a vertical position is incredibly dangerous. Not only is the PS5 regularly advertised in a vertical position, but many users will find that it looks better (and takes up less space overall when positioned vertically).

If you want to (or need to) position your PS5 vertically, you should be fine doing so as long as you follow all other operational guidelines. If you’re really worried, though, you may opt to keep it horizontal in order to help prevent the only orientation-based performance issues that have been suggested so far.

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Again, the PS5 is designed to support both vertical and horizontal positions. Having said that, those that are especially worried about their console’s long-term health may choose to position the PS5 horizontally in order to minimize known and suspected risks. For what it’s worth, though, the PS5 looks fantastic in its vertical position, and any risks associated with that position can likely be minimized by following other recommended practices. Just keep an eye on any official updates that may bring new information about possible hazards associated with either position.