Microsoft is back this year, and with a vengeance. Their new Xbox lineups, with the economical, 1440p oriented Series S, aims to deliver high-level performance at an affordable price. Meanwhile, the Xbox Series X, the top-tier console, competes directly with Sony’s PlayStation 5. This console aims to deliver high FPS at 4K resolution and has the hardware to boot. You get a powerful AMD CPU and GPU, and a fast 1TB SSD. Because high-graphics gaming generates a lot of heat, the console houses a powerful fan inside the top grille.
That fan is quite impressive in itself. It is guaranteed to keep the console cool even under maximum loads, without any external cooling needed. As long as the environment is at normal humidity, temperature and ventilation is adequate, overheating won’t happen. Best of all, the fan is whisper quiet and generally inaudible even at full speeds.
The Xbox Series X’s fan, however, has one novel, unintended use, as uncovered by gamers
Since the console’s launch, Xbox owners worldwide subjected it to a variety of tricks and experiments. As always, there will definitely exist videos of people hilariously crushing their console under a high-powered hydraulic press, or dropping it from increasing heights. And then there are those that discovered that when the fan is on, it becomes a hovercraft for small objects like a ping pong ball. Just don’t ask us how someone would even stumble onto something like that.
While not exactly something Microsoft would want to market as a feature, the phenomenon is admittedly amusing. Just a few hours after the console’s November 10 launch, videos showing this went trending. After all, who doesn’t want to use their next-gen console as a futuristic zero gravity pad?
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The physics behind the phenomenon concern the architecture of the exhaust grille
The shape of the heatsink at the top of the console is what causes this airflow to occur. Instead of a simple, rectangular, flat face, the grille is concave. This means that airflow from the fan is uneven across the entire face, with the center offering the most. Therefore, according to Bernoulli’s Principle, the fast-moving air must have lower pressures. As the outer column has higher pressure but lower velocities, a difference in pressures makes a pocket for the object to sit in.
Of course, for this to happen the fans need to be operating at high speeds. At idle, the fans only spin up occasionally and at low RPM, so levitation probably won’t happen. Gleeful fans advise running a AAA title at the highest settings, and waiting for a few minutes till the CPU and GPU hit the maximum clock speeds. That, according to them, is when the fans kick in, just fast enough to raise the ball. In addition, non-uniform objects like a feather probably won’t stay in place for very long due to uneven air resistance.
The new discovery is so popular, some have started petitioning Microsoft to support it
A new viral petition in the Xbox player community emerged following this silly fan trick. Many fans want all the new Xbox’s to come shipped with a ping pong ball, complete with the green Xbox logo. This, they argue, may finally put an end to the console wars and overthrow Sony. After all, recent hoaxes and rumors indicate the PS5‘s fans might not ventilate as they should (though these have been mostly debunked).
Still, though, the PS5 can’t levitate anything with its fan. So, Xbox fans, take small victories wherever you can.