There’s the proper way to set up a PlayStation 5. And then there’s the improper way, a method that has been utilized by such prolific users as (apparently) a PlayStation executive and (definitely) yours truly. Yes, I’ve had my PS5 upside down since the day I got my hands on it, in late October. To date, it has not exploded.
Sony is crystal clear as to how you’re supposed to set up a PS5. Look at all the promotional materials, the news coverage, the social media posts, the instructional manual, and even the box it comes in, and you’ll get the jist. You can situate it vertically, like so:
Or you can place it horizontally. That involves sliding an included base under the console, a la:
Clearly, mine is not set up like that. (See above.) The main motivation for my decision boils down to a mix of aesthetics and convenience. If you’ll pardon me for committing the highest crime of journalism and quoting myself:
See, one side of the console is mostly flat. One side isn’t. It’s almost natural to lay it on the former. And, while true that the packaging comes with a stand that levels things out if you lay it properly, that accessory is exactly that: an accessory. It’s not hard for one to picture, say, an eager child eschewing it some snowy holiday morning this winter in order to quickly get the PS5 up and running on its flat side. Without the stand, which one could miss, laying it the “proper” way feels like putting a t-shirt on backwards. It also just looks better with the disc drive on top.
When we ran that text in October, I couldn’t speak with certainty about the long-term effects of rocking an upside-down PS5. I’d only had the thing for a couple of days. Was the air vent blocked in some unnoticed way? Would the optical drive burn a hole through all the other technical guts? Would the GPU get nauseous after spending its life inverted? I still can’t say for sure. (Sony did not respond to inquiries as to why, exactly, inverting a horizontal PS5 is a bad idea.) But, two-and-a-half months later, I’ve yet to run into any notable issues. Plus, it’s not the first time PlayStation users have inverted their consoles: Who can recall flipping over their PS1 to give it an extra life?
That’s not to say this orientation is without drawbacks. To use the disc drive, you have to spit in the face of everything you’ve learned and insert your discs shiny side up. Most of my library is digital, so that hasn’t posed too much of a logistical challenge, though I’ll fully admit to occasionally popping in a game upside-up. (Hey, it’s hard to buck years of muscle memory!) Of the disc-based games I’ve played, all have copied over to my internal storage and run just fine.
The USB cable—used to charge the PS5’s DualSense controller—has proven more of a pain. Everyone’s fuddled with a USB input at some point, because obviously. When the USB port itself is flipped over, as it technically is with my technically upside-down PS5, that little game of “Argh, that’s the wrong way!” is exponentially more annoying. Ten weeks later, and I still get it wrong every time.
But even those minor grievances are worth the fuss. It’s no secret that the PS5 cuts a conspicuous figure. At 15 inches tall and 10 inches deep, the PS5 is a beast. It also cuts an inconvenient silhouette, with some comparing it to a mixed-use complex in Abu Dhabi, a malevolent obelisk in Mordor, or an oversized internet modem. Compared to the streamlined elegance of, say, the Xbox Series X or S—or even Sony’s own PlayStation 4—the PS5’s figure is a tougher fit. Even the trendiest, most avant-garde West Elm centerpiece would clash.
And then there’s the stand. Sorry, folks, but the stand is just ridiculous. Let’s suppose, for a moment, that you know nothing about the PS5. And let’s suppose that you, by some stroke of luck, beat the queues and found yourself in possession of a new PS5, despite the fact that legions of well-informed fans have tried futilely for months to snag one. And let’s suppose even further that you’re the type who eschews direction, who’s of the mind that you can figure out anything, including the most elaborate IKEA assembly, on your own, instruction manuals be damned.
You may first dismiss the stand—a flimsy, easily bendable piece of black-matte plastic—with “What the fuck is this?” indifference. You’d then place your console flat, because that’s just how industrial design works. (That there’s any room for confusion about it in the first place should be an indication that, hey, maybe an ancillary base isn’t the way to go.) With the flat side down, the disc drive is level, just the way nature intended. The curvilinear side, meanwhile, arcs up with the grace of a dolphin. An upside-down PS5 is markedly less of an eyesore than its properly situated relatives.
In short, the PS5 just looks better when you flip it like a pancake.
To be clear, I’m not recommending you walk away from this post and reorient your PS5 like the PS1s of yore. My console is running smoothly right now, but I don’t have a crystal ball. Will the thing sputter out in two weeks? Six months? A year? It’s all anyone’s guess. Hermen Hulst, if anything goes wrong with (allegedly) yours, please let me know ASAP.