Viral videos show Xbox Series X consoles smoking, but are they real or fake?

Xbox Series X
Xbox Series X (Image credit: Matt Brown | Windows Central)

Update, November 11, 2020: Microsoft has offered this statement on the "issue," noting that they take all these reports seriously, and are currently in the process of investigating the so-called claims. "We take all product safety reports seriously and our products meet or exceed industry standards. We are in the process of investigating further."

Ah, the internet. The most powerful repository of all of humanity's cumulative knowledge. And the most powerful way to amplify viral falsehoods for internet clicks. And no, the irony is not lost on me.

Alas, I've already had dozens of DMs and messages from friends and family about a viral video, that apparently, shows the Xbox Series X full-on catching fire. Are they real, though?

The first comes from @Arek_Adamowicz in Poland, who posted the above video which appears to show thick white smoke billowing out of the Xbox Series X. The second comes from reddit, which shows a similar wisp of smoke curling up from the vents.

The Xbox Series X is designed to vacuum cool air from below the console and feed it up through the components with a very large, very quiet fan. Naturally, this would make it incredibly easy to fake a video like the ones above, feeding smoke from another source (like this) into the console. The length of both videos, being only a few seconds, would corroborate such. The fact the Xbox Series X in Adamowicz's video is sitting on a frame, which is conveniently cropped in the video, could also indicate smoke being fed in from another source below the console itself.

Source: Microsoft How the Xbox Series X handles air flow. (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

If a component inside the console had caught fire, I would've expected continuous smoke production, along with a spreading of the fire. For the components inside the Xbox to actually catch fire, they'd have to get seriously hot, enough to ignite the surrounding plastics within the box.

Our current thinking is ... don't believe everything you see on the internet.

The Xbox Series X like the PS5 and other modern devices have an auto-off switch for situations where the components are getting too warm. Microsoft's labs also test the Xbox Series X consoles inside large toaster ovens, to ensure that they're not a fire hazard and that they can remain cool even in warmer climates. Our own thermal imaging tests concluded that the Xbox Series X runs generally cooler than the Xbox One X even.

There's an outside tiny possibility, of course, that the videos are real and not filmed in bad faith. There's a slim chance a piece of packaging fell into the console and potentially caught fire. If properly insulated, though, modern electronics simply don't do that. It's not like video game consoles are stuffed with igniting material. The very rare instances that smartphones catch fire is almost always due to battery issues, which, of course, aren't found in non-portable video game consoles.

Update November 11, 2020: Twitter user @XboxStudio showed how to re-create the video using smoke from a vape pen. Looks pretty similar, no? Some might say, identical.

In any case, we've reached out to Microsoft to comment, but our current thinking is ... don't believe everything you see on the internet.

Case in point, those pictures that show a ping pong ball suspended by the "force" of the Xbox Series X fan are probably fake too, given that I couldn't even get a feather to float on mine. But hey, gotta' get those juicy clicks.

Xbox Series X/S


Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!