Xbox Series X, Series S horizontal or vertical: Which is best?

Xbox Series X
Xbox Series X (Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft's current-generation duo, the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, are now available worldwide, sporting countless enhancements over the Xbox One family. These technical advancements include beefed-up graphics, speedier load times, and other features, all found inside two compact boxes with their respective cooling solutions. And to ensure you're taking the best care of your console, here's what you need to know about storing the device and whether horizontal or vertical is for you.

Does Xbox Series X work horizontally and vertically?

Xbox Series X

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

While the Xbox Series X is often present in an upright position, embracing its almost monolithic silhouette, Microsoft has shown considerations for daily usage. It includes a design that functions vertically and horizontally, with no impact on functionality, based on the system's orientation.

Unlike the earliest Xbox One console, designed only to sit horizontally, Xbox Series X supports two positions. The primary orientation is seen all over the marketing, with its towering vertical chassis and the Xbox-branded power button positioned at the top. It even features an integrated circular stand to support the device when stood tall.

But Microsoft has made considerations for using the device horizontally, ideal if tucked in media centers with less vertical headroom. It even has four tiny, rubberized feet hidden on the console's right-hand edge. But you can't remove the stand from the device — it's essential to keep airflow guaranteed — and it sticks out from the right-hand side when laid flat.

The Xbox Series X boasts a vastly different form factor to past Xbox consoles, supporting what the company describes as its "Parallel Cooling Architecture." It regulates heat with a single, large fan and high air output, funneling multiple air streams through the device. It also keeps Xbox Series X relatively quiet, improving overall acoustics compared to past Xbox One consoles. But this design works both ways, provided the main fan has room for ventilation.

The Xbox Series X's disc drive works safely in both orientations. This was a fundamental limitation of the original Xbox One's slot-loading drive but has been fixed since Xbox One S.

Does Xbox Series S work horizontally and vertically?

Xbox Series S

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

The Xbox Series S dons the same versatility as Xbox Series X, with vertical and horizontal orientation supported. The design takes cues from its predecessor, Xbox One S, with a single large fan within a traditional console form factor. It securely sits both ways, with tiny, rubberized feet on the underside for added protection. While an uneven chassis saw vertical stands become one of the best Xbox One accessories, they're no longer required here.

While both viable, our early time with Xbox Series S highlighted how the console may better suit horizontal positioning. Unlike the firm base with Xbox Series X, this console sits tall, with little surface area to keep it steady. The slender design can make it easier to topple, which is worth considering if there's a chance of falling. You'll probably be fine, but this slightly more precarious positioning is worth keeping in mind when you're figuring out your entertainment setup.

Xbox Series S doesn't use the same vertical cooling system as Xbox Series X, so you're looking at one bold black fan with side vents to draw air. It's key to leave room around the console from all angles, especially keeping that primary vent clear. And as an all-digital device, you don't need to worry about that disc drive, either.

Xbox Series X, Series S size and dimensions

Microsoft has released official Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S dimensions, providing a clearer understanding of how each device stands in the real world, proving especially handy when sizing up your future console with your gaming setup.

The Xbox Series X measures 301mm x 151mm x 151mm, with its default vertical orientation convenient if standing beside your TV or atop a desk. But for those putting the console into an entertainment center or any environment with reduced overhead space, flipping the console sideways cuts its vertical height to half the size.

Clocking in at 60% of the Xbox Series X footprint, the Xbox Series S measures 275mm x 151mm x 64mm, closer to past consoles. The device is shorter than its most powerful system console in their respective orientations, ideal to ensure suitable ventilation in smaller storage spaces.

Xbox Series X, Series S horizontal vs. vertical

Xbox Series S

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S support horizontal or vertical positioning, and there's no best way to sit your console. Microsoft has designed the consoles to function regardless of orientation, with no chance of damaging components or impacting performance. Our pre-release testing with Xbox Series X backs this, with little variation in cooling temperatures between positions.

How you position your next-generation console primarily comes down to the arrangement of your setup. For Xbox Series X, it's most crucial to keep the top exhaust clear, with at least a few inches likely providing ample height to keep the console cool. While the Xbox Series S leverages an entirely different cooling setup, save space around the black-accented fan. Over time it's also best to keep your console clean, with canned air to prevent dust clogging up the system.

Another thing to keep in mind is whether you need space for an external hard drive to expand your Xbox Series X|S storage. If you have an external hard drive connected to your system, you'll want to make sure there's space between the console and the drive. An external drive can also generate some heat, especially if it's being used to play any backward-compatible games from the original Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One libraries. External hard drives are primarily used for storage on these latest systems, allowing you to free up the console's ultra-fast SSD for current-generation games.

This is even more important as current-generation-only games launch on Xbox Series X|S, including titles like Bethesda Game Studios' Starfield and upcoming horror title The Callisto Protocol.

Xbox Series X/S


Samuel Tolbert
Freelance Writer

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.