When you build a gaming computer, you get almost absolute control over the cooling of that system. The components can have enough room to breathe, water cooling is possible, and there’s always a way to stuff more fans in there.

Consoles are a different beast altogether. The designers have to create something compact, with components squished together as tightly as a laptop. The cooling systems are usually completely custom, but have to be built to tight profit margins.

Unfortunately, console makers tend to get it wrong on the first go. Many first-generation consoles have cooling that is simply inadequate. Thanks to heat issues, the first Xbox 360 models had one of the highest failure rates in the history of consoles as a whole. Even when the issue isn’t that severe, too much heat can lead to shorter lifespans (though almost always out of warranty) and poor performance. Let’s not even get started on the noise!

Usually, by the time the slimmer, cooler revision is launched, there’s no particular reason to worry about this issue. Even then, it’s worth considering that keeping your console’s temperatures down might extend its life and make it quieter than it already is – slim and quiet or not.

Aftermarket console coolers are also worth investing in if you live in a hot place with no air conditioning or have to use your console in cramped places where airflow might not be the best. Let’s look at a few potential choices for the various popular consoles out there. Perhaps one of these could literally breathe new life into your beloved gaming machines.

Lictin Xbox One Cooling Vertical Stand

Microsoft sure learned their lesson with the Xbox 360 debacle. Even first-gen Xbox One consoles have been mostly trouble-free, although they can get pretty loud. If you haven’t sprung for the quieter and cooler S model, then an affordable cooling stand like this one from Lictin might be a good compromise.

This stand is so much more than just a way to cool your Xbox, though. It’s incredible value for money. It’s compatible with all current models of Xbox One and includes lots of additional features. The package also includes the cabling you need, two 600mAh controller battery packs, and extra features on the stand itself.

The stand has two cooling fans built into the bottom, out of sight. They enhance airflow through the side vent, with the console in a vertical position.

The stand is powered by USB, which means you can power it from the console itself. You don’t have to worry about losing a port though, since there’s also a neatly-integrated USB hub in the base.

In addition, there are two controller charging stands with charge indicators. You need to attach the provided battery packs or similar ones from another brand for this to work, though. You can’t recharge AA batteries within these controllers. On the back of the stand are slots for physical game storage.

This cooling kit is a little more expensive than the general cheap solution, but the inclusion of the battery packs and the way it makes your whole system neater and more cohesive more than makes up for it.

OIVO PS4, PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro Cooler

This is exactly the same basic product as the Lictin above, but for the PS4 and lacking the battery packs. That also means its quite a bit cheaper. It makes perfect sense since, unlike the Xbox, the PS4 DS4 controller comes with a built-in lithium battery right off the bat.

Obviously, the mold is completely different too, since the PS4 models have their own unique shapes. Interestingly, the makers of this stand claim it can charge controllers more quickly than the console itself; with two clear indicators showing you the battery status of each controller.

It’s pretty awesome that this one stand will work with all three PS4 designs. That means if you change to a Slim or a Pro in the future, you don’t have to buy all-new accessories.

There are specific noise reduction claims from the makers of the stand, saying that, depending on which console you have, noise can be as little as 50dB. To an owner of the base PS4, this sounds like heaven, since it seems as loud as an airplane once you start loading up heavy hitters like Horizon Zero Dawn.

Richer-R Mini Cooling Fan Cooler for Xbox 360

The first generation of Xbox 360 consoles had catastrophic heat problems. These caused problems severe enough that major components came loose from the motherboard, leading to the dreaded red ring of death. The last hardware revision has certainly solved that issue definitely, but I have personally experienced even the newest model of Xbox 360 suffering from heat-related issues that cause slowdowns and major noise.

Titles from later in the 360’s lifespan are particularly troublesome and even a few hours of something like Skyrim or Fallout New Vegas is enough to bring my latest model Xbox 360 to its knees. One easy fix has been to use the Xbox in vertical mode with a small desk can pointed at the vents. It’s hardly an elegant solution though, which is why this exhaust fan from Richer-R caught my eye. Basically, it discreetly goes over the exhaust vents of your Xbox and helps expel hot air to prevent that lethal buildup of heat.

It works in both vertical and horizontal mode and attaches with a sucker. You can use a free USB port on the Xbox to power it. It’s a cheap, simple, and elegant solution for a console that’s still used by millions of people all over the world.

XFUNYUSB Auto-sensing Cooling Fan Xbox One Console

The Xbox One might not have that fatal thermal flaw of the previous generation model, but that doesn’t mean Microsoft couldn’t have done a better job of keeping it cool. This fan from Xfuny is designed to keep the temps and noise down, but like the new Xbox itself, is a smarter device than those that have come before it. Why? Because this cooler has a temperature sensor that measures how hot the console is getting. If the mercury goes over 35C it kicks in with a vengeance, but stay under that temperature and you won’t notice it. That’s perfect for when you only want to watch some Netflix and the console is just idling. Even when the fan is running, it’s pretty quiet by all accounts. This is thanks to a motor that uses fluid as lubricant. The fan clips into place and has been made to look like a part of the Xbox One.

Most people report that it works pretty well, but there are a few reports of DOA units or ones that don’t last long, so keep an eye on that for a quick RMA.

MoKo Xbox One S Cooling Fan

The Xbox One S is already a pretty cool and quiet console. It’s been redesigned with smaller, more power-efficient components. This should mean a quieter machine with less chance of an overheat. That doesn’t mean your console can’t use a helping hand! Some of us live in hot climates, and gamers who put in long hours in multiplayer or while playing epic single player games can still give these S consoles pause.

I immediately liked the look of this MoKo cooler for the S as soon as I saw it. The S has a generous vent along the one side that covers that entire panel of the console. The MoKo consists of a triple-fan setup that improves the airflow through this main vent. The fans have two speed settings as you require and runs off a USB port. It also acts as a port replicator with two USB ports on its own front. The left hand port only provides power, so that’s good for charging a controller fitted with a battery pack. The other handles data too, so you don’t lose the port you’ve used for the cooler.

The main downside to these is that you have to manually switch them on and off. Apparently they still run when the Xbox is off, since it provides power from USB when in sleep mode. It’s a minor pain, but for some it might be worth opting for more expensive solutions.

LinkStyle PS4 Cooling Fan

I’m still rocking an original base PS4 and let me tell you – that sucker can get hot and LOUD. One major issue us how much dust and other crud gets sucked into the vents. So I have to whip out the vacuum cleaner brush attachment at least once a month to prevent the fans from switching to “screaming banshee” mode on me. The bottom line is that the original PS4 doesn’t have the best cooling solution out of the box. This five-fan monster bolts onto the back of the console where no one is going to see it. This ONLY works on the original base PS4.

It has an automatic mode that’s temperature sensitive and the fans will switch off if they aren’t needed in that mode. It’s interesting, because the five fans are different sizes. This is the only way to make a rear exhaust solution, however, since the vents vary in size as well.

LinkStyle sells a similar solution for the PS4 Pro, which might need it more, actually. So that’s worth checking out.

Mcbazel DOBE Nintendo Switch External Dock Set Cooling Fan

Does the Nintendo Switch need extra cooling? This is a question that worries me as a fairly recent buyer of this handheld wonder. I’ve already seen the horror stories of Switch consoles with cracking plastic backs thanks to excess heat.

The Switch console itself is actively cooled, with a single exhaust at the top and intakes at the bottom. When it’s in the dock, lower vents aren’t well-exposed. This cooler connects to the dock and forces cooler air into those vents. One advantage of this is that you don’t have to remove the fan every time you want to dock or undock the Switch, which is the case with coolers that go directly on the exhaust of the console. Is there any proof that this will delay or prevent that heat-related damage some people are getting from heavy docked play? There’s no evidence at all, but at this price it’s worth playing it safe.

You can also check out my article on best cases and covers for Nintendo Swtich.

Ideashop Xbox One S Vertical Stand Cooling Fan

This is another cooler designed specifically for the Xbox One S, but it takes a different approach than the top-mounted design we’ve seen before. This is specifically an additional exhaust booster, meant to make hot air leave the console more quickly and thus reduce any heat build up.

While the top-mounted cooler we saw before doesn’t increase the footprint of the One S in vertical mode, this one does. On the plus side, the additional space means they are able to offer us four USB ports. It seems that all three carry data, with three of them USB 2.0 rated and one set at USB 3.0. So that’s the one best used for storage.

The fan includes a stand as part of the design and so you can only really use it in the vertical mode. The upside of this is that the whole thing is quite neat. It makes your Xbox more stable in the vertical config and the USB cable is neatly hidden away at the back.

Unfortunately, the fan does not start up or switch off by itself. You need to turn it off manually, even when the Xbox is in sleep mode. At least there’s a big, easy-to-access power button on the front.

So, when it comes to performance, most people are very positive. Some users who had been experiencing lockups when using their S for many hours of mixed use (gaming and video) report that the issue is resolved. The fan moves a lot of air, but does so at a reasonable noise. Only a minority of people say that it’s too loud.

The price is pretty reasonable, so if you use your Xbox One S for gaming and as your media center during the day, it’s a good choice for making sure it never locks up or overheats.

Insten USB Cooling Fan for PlayStation 3 (20GB & 60GB Models)

The Xbox 360’s first generation hardware was rightly crucified for the major design issues that led to hardware failure, but that doesn’t mean the early PS3s were flawless. PS3 users had to contend with the dreaded YLOD, or Yellow Light of Death.

This was a significant issue with the early models of PS3, so why would anyone care? Well, because the first-generation 20GB and 60GB PS3s were actually much better than later models in some ways. Sony had to seriously cut costs to get sales up. One of the biggest cuts they made was removing the PS2 hardware from the PS2. Therefore, only these early models have proper, hardware-based PS2 backwards-compatibility.

This makes these consoles sought-after, since the PS2 library is massive and filled with beloved titles. Yet there’s no easy way to use a PS2 with modern HDMI TVs.

You can see the conundrum, since those first-gen consoles can be like ticking time bombs. They run on hotter, less refined hardware and don’t have the best internal cooling design of the PS3 family. This cooler from Insten is therefore quite a niche product, but one with a very important purpose.

It only works with the 20GB and 60GB models sporting four USB ports; integrating with the front of the console well.

Does it actually help? Some users say it doesn’t make enough airflow by itself to be of any use. Others who are experiencing heat issues with their console say it’s brought it back to life.

Can this prevent the YLOD? There’s no way to ever prove it, but reducing the average temperature of the system across its lifespan may slow down the issues that lead to the YLOD.

OSTENT USB Cooling Cooler Fan for PS3

Here is another cooler designed for the PS3, but not one limited to the first-gen models. It attaches directly to the front of the console, taking up a USB port, but it replicates that port on its own front, so no IO is lost.

This is not compatible with the new PS3 Slim models, so don’t buy it if you have one of those! There are four fans in total, which Ostent describes as “low noise”. Customers seem pretty happy with the cooler in general, especially since it’s for a series of models that are getting harder to get accessories for. Simple to fit, appears to work as designed, and it’s cheap – sounds like a risk worth taking.

Don’t Lose Your Cool

The temperature of your console might not be something you’ve ever paid attention to, especially if it’s never caused any glitches or other problems. The truth is that your built-to-a-price console might spend its life teetering on the right side of the knife-edge, with just a slight nudge needed to cause disaster. Improve the cooling and you could make it last through the entire generation and perhaps even beyond. It’s a small price for big potential gains!

Then again, some people are pretty much convinced that some aftermarket coolers can actually make things worse or, at best, do nothing at all. I’m going to stay out of that debate, but you should be aware that aftermarket coolers are not universally loved. They’re pretty cool though. See what I did there?

Hopefully, future generations of console are going to work perfectly without the need for aftermarket cooling. Heck, the Xbox One X already uses liquid cooling, which may be a sign of things to come. Components are getting more power efficient as well. There’s already a revision of the chipset in the Switch that uses way less power and makes less heat. The ink on that console has barely had time to dry!

That doesn’t mean we should forget the hot but classic generation of consoles that have provided us with so many hours of joy. Unless those same future consoles ship with perfect backwards compatibility, we still need a way to eke more life from these aging machines. There are still plenty of healthy SNES, NES, and older consoles around. Will the same thing be true of more recent machines 20 years from now?