You’re killing your PS5 by using it vertically, due to a design flaw by Sony, according to hardware experts
The PS5 is marketed as a device you can use either horizontally or vertically. The console is so massive, finding a spot for it can be a puzzle on its own, so thankfully at least we have the option of using it vertically or horizontally, according to Sony. But some hardware repair experts say that using the PS5 vertically is a guaranteed recipe for disaster, one that could kill your console.
Important update from Wololo: in the original version of this article, we misquoted TheCod3r as stating the problem could impact consoles that had never been unpacked. This isn’t what he said. What he said was that the console in question had never been opened (as in, with screwdrivers), he did not say, neither did he mean, “the box”, but literally, the console. This led to significant misunderstandings of the issue, by us, and the larger community. TheCod3r has a new video up on his channel where he addresses this. This was a significant misquote, and, although the damage is already done, we apologize for this.
Which is better for the PS5? Vertical or Horizontal?
According to Sony officials and most technology websites, you can use your PS5 either vertically or horizontally, the device has been designed for it. Tech website Fossbytes puts it this way:
Eventually, it doesn’t matter how you choose to put the PS5; whether you put it in a horizontal position or a vertical position, the console will work the way it is supposed to. According to Yasuhiro Ootori from Sony’s design department, it doesn’t matter how you choose to put the PS5; the stance, whether vertical or horizontal, won’t affect the cooling.
But 2 years in the console’s life, hardware experts from console repair shops are telling a different story:
According to 68Logic, a PlayStation scene member who owns a hardware repair shop in France since 2010, using your PS5 vertically can damage it permanently, and he’s seen the result first hand with his clients’ consoles.
Do not put your Ps5 upright, here is the result the liquid moves and the freezes are there pic.twitter.com/A4Do3TkcXk
— Consoles System (@68Logic) January 4, 2023
The problem, he says, is that the liquid metal used to cool the APU can sometimes spill, and become uneven, which impacts (at least) the cooling. Ben Montana, owner of specialized repair shop ILoveMyConsole in France, has also been trying to bring attention to this issue for months. He says these are not isolated cases. According to him, the risk is high for PS5s that have been standing vertically for a long time, and he says all models are impacted. This includes Digital edition consoles, as shown in the picture below (some people theorize that the vibrations of the Blu Ray drive could make the issue more severe on Physical Edition PS5s)
In theory, liquid metal used to cool CPUs is not a problem. The cooling mechanism and the CPU are so tightly pressed that nothing should spill or “fall” (when the right amount has been applied) because of gravity alone, and this is why there is generally no concern with using a motherboard vertically, even when you’re using liquid metal.
However it appears that several cases have shown that the PS5’s “seal” between the APU and its cooler can sometimes move or be damaged. When that is the case, if your PS5 sits horizontally, the liquid metal will stay flat and keep most of its thermal properties to help cool the PS5. But if your PS5 is vertical and “something” bad happens to the seal, then there is a risk the liquid metal will progressively fall down, becoming uneven, impacting its cooling ability and possibly reach components it shouldn’t.
PS5 Cooling issues, and more. What happens when the liquid metal moves?
There are two impacts from that liquid metal falling from your vertical PS5.
Firstly, cooling will be impacted. The PS5 APU can probably sustain a bit of heat, but this could quickly lead to the following symptoms: Noisy PS5 (because the fans have to spin faster and more often to compensate), more energy consumption, and possibly, the console overheating and shutting down. Ultimately, this will reduce the console’s lifespan.
Secondly, there have been several cases of the liquid metal spilling on other parts of the motherboard, and actually killing the machine,
even in consoles that have simply been sitting in their box, unopened. (update: this was a misunderstanding) Liquid Metal is highly conductive, and if it touches the wrong components on the motherboard, it could lead to a short circuit.
A single drop outside the target area can lead to short-circuiting when you power on your rig, or worse, failure of specific components if you don’t clean it. –makeuseof.com
Youtuber and console repairer TheCod3r equates it to a design flaw by Sony. In a popular video from earlier this year (below), he’s showing a PS5 that
has never been unpacked, but stood for months in a vertical position in its box. (Update: this was a misquote: what he said was that the console itself had never been opened by a repair shop prior to him. Not that the console had been sitting in its box for months in a vertical position) The console refuses to boot, until he discovers, then fixes, the liquid metal spill from the APU (at around 12 minutes in the video).
He’s also saying this should be a critical lesson for console repair folks out there: the flaw isn’t widely known, and a lot of repair shops are not even checking this part of the console for problems.
There seem to be issues with the seal between the APU and the cooling system of the PS5. For PS5s sitting vertically, this can lead to the liquid metal spilling to other parts of the motherboard, which in some cases means a death sentence for the console.
Don’t get me wrong, the vast majority of people using their PS5s vertically have no problem whatsoever. But if you have the choice between horizontal or vertical positions for your PS5, use horizontal.
Many repair shops and hardware experts hope that Sony will change that part of the design in future hardware revisions of the console, but as of the time of this writing, all existing models seem to be impacted.