Microsoft’s latest next-gen console, the Xbox Series X (along with its smaller cousin, the Xbox Series S), has arrived. And with it comes a whole bunch of internet con artists trying to meme people into believing the new console is plagued by terrible issues.
You might, for example, have seen clips passed around the internet that showcased the Xbox Series X literally smoking. The posts would have you believe the blazing graphics of the Series X are so demanding they can cause an Xbox to catch fire, but the reality is much simpler than Xbox consoles spontaneously bursting into flame. What actually appears to be happening is that people are piping vape smoke into their new $500 consoles to give off the appearance of a fire to troll fans on social media.
Seeing people spread the video of the Xbox Series X console with smoke coming from it and.. it's just vapor smoke https://t.co/0D52mz0MLt— Nibel (@Nibellion) November 11, 2020
(Please note that it probably isn’t a great idea to intentionally fill your brand-new console with water vapor, either, for what I’d hope are obvious reasons.)
The meme has gone far enough that Microsoft itself has dignified it with a response:
We can't believe we have to say this, but please do not blow vape smoke into your Xbox Series X.— Xbox (@Xbox) November 11, 2020
The hoax is vaguely plausible. Microsoft did have to deal with the “Red Ring of Death” issue back in the Xbox 360 days over a decade and a half ago, and the idea of gadgets catching fire isn’t completely unheard of. For example, Ring just recalled some of its video doorbells today, and there’s the infamous Samsung Galaxy Note 7 debacle that saw the entire product get recalled and removed from the market due to concerns over it catching fire. But gadgets that tend to ignite are typically battery-powered, with the fire risk usually coming from the onboard battery — not something that you’d have to worry about with an Xbox Series X.
Similarly, another viral post has been going around claiming the fan on the Xbox Series X is so powerful that the drafts it produces can suspend a ping-pong ball in midair over the console, like some sort of kinetic sculpture.
Here, too, there’s some actual science that makes the possibility plausible. You might have even seen a similar demo in a middle school science class, where a hair dryer is used to levitate a ping-pong ball (thanks to some physics — specifically, Bernoulli’s principle, which describes the relationship between speed and pressure of a fluid flow).
And while that science is real (and does work with something that pushes air as fast as a hair dryer does), unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that the Xbox Series X’s fan — sizable though it may be — actually puts out the kind of airspeed needed to suspend the ball.
Given how new the Xbox Series X is, it’s possible there might be some issues that crop up, just like any other new piece of hardware. There appear to be some isolated incidents of disc drive issues, for example. But as with any other viral hoax on the internet, it’s always good to take reports of problems with a healthy grain of salt, no matter how compelling they sound.
Update, 6:38 PM ET: Added Microsoft’s own tweet on the matter.