I’m a bit of a gamer. Obviously, I spend my time doing a lots of things, but relaxing with a good game is one of my favorite hobbies. I don’t have any horse in the race as far as Xbox vs. Playstation goes, but I tend to prefer Playstation simply because it has more exclusive titles I’m interested in. Exclusive titles at all are arbitrary and frankly annoying, but it is what it is.
Anyway, I owned a PS4 for some time before selling it in anticipation of the PS5 release. I sold it several months ahead of time before the value would have dropped further, and while I waited, I just went stuck to PC and Switch games. I thought I was pretty smart until the PS5 was actually announced and I hated it.
To be fair, I do admire the idea of making a game console an interesting piece of design. Funnily, I think this was Microsoft’s intention with the Xbox 360 many years ago, but they have since moved on to big black boxes while Sony dove into the deep end of unique character with the PS5. I think the design of the PS5 could be very appealing to many people, but it’s not for me.
Here were my simple criteria in order of importance:
- Make the PS5 look better in my living room.
- Sacrifice as little performance as possible.
- Don’t spend a ton of money.
Making the PS5 look better in my living room.
The main goal was making the PS5 look better. Hiding it completely was always the direction I was leaning towards, but I still explored other options just to make sure I couldn’t find anything better. As an aside, I think it would be interesting if Sony offered some alternate frame options similar to the Samsung Frame TV. I’d be happy with alternate finishes, sure, but I think the real opportunity is alternate shapes. The white covers of the PS5 are oversized without much of a functional reason as far as I can tell, so I think they were already almost there. Of course, this would be expensive and with the PS5 still fairly hard to find available, I won’t hold my breath for anything like this.
Anyway, as far as changing how the PS5 looked, it seemed like my main options were replacement outer shells or stickers. Neither of these grabbed me because even with these options, I would still be left with a more fundamental problem: the PS5 is pretty huge. The PS4 Pro was large, but not that large. I suspect it easily fit on pretty much any media center shelf. Not so with the PS5. We like to keep our living room fairly compact, so in that small space there was no ignoring the looming, whirring behemoth game console. No, I quickly decided there was no salvaging this as far as my living room was concerned, and resolved to hide the PS5 completely.
I have a hard time considering a project complete unless it is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. I don’t demand perfection (as you will see), but I dislike purely utilitarian things – I want form and function if I’m going to have to live next to it and see it everyday. This ruled out simply putting the PS5 on an open shelf. While this would have probably worked and mitigated my issues with the console, I didn’t want to just mitigate the issue. I wanted to fix it.
Sacrifice as little performance as possible.
So, I could stick the PS5 in a box and call it day, but the other crucial aspect was making sure the console would still run. The PS5 is powerful and therefore hot. I needed a way to hide it but also make sure it could intake and exhaust air. Naturally, my first thought was the most straightforward: holes.
I didn’t want an open TV stand, but if the TV stand was relatively closed off yet allowed for air to pass through, that seemed like it would work. I began googling, “vented tv stand”, “media center airflow”, “TV stand… with holes?”, etc. I found some options (although surprisingly, not as many as I expected), but I was still struggling. BDi’s media centers were particularly appealing, until I saw the price. To be clear, I’m sure their products are very good, and they look great, but roughly $3000 was a tough sell, especially when I lived on a third floor apartment with no elevator at the time, and I would need to cart this massive hard wood piece up the stairs.
Okay, so what about cheaper options? Well, believe me when I say I looked. I did find one or two options in the few hundred dollar range that were kind of similar to BDi’s offerings, but they just weren’t grabbing me. Their style was either too far off from what I wanted, reviews weren’t very good, or the dimensions wouldn’t work. I found one other furniture maker out of Spain who made beautiful pieces with ventilation, but the price wasn’t too much less than BDi, and I wasn’t eager to have something shipped that far.
I was a bit at a loss, but sometimes constraints breed creativity. My final criteria led me to my ultimate solution.
Don’t spend a ton of money.
While I didn’t mind spending some money on a solution, I wasn’t looking to spend thousands or even hundreds really. The PS5 itself cost me $400 USD. A $1000+ media cabinet, while cool, felt extremely disproportionate to what I had already invested in being able to play games. It might have also been different if I had a lot of other media equipment, but I don’t. This purchase would be almost exclusively for the PS5. I needed something lower cost.
Unsurprisingly, IKEA is a favorite of mine and my partner’s. Their furniture is pretty inexpensive, but has held up mostly quite well for us (except their couches), and it fits our style. We actually already had an IKEA Besta on legs that we were using as our TV stand at the time, so I decided to look no further.
I had seem some interesting hacks where people cut out parts of IKEA doors and replaced them with speaker fabric or rattan, but this ultimately didn’t appeal that much to me. For one, I didn’t really have the tools needed to get clean cuts. My other problem was, while this method would get air into the TV stand, it wouldn’t get it out. Especially for the PS5 that can run somewhat hot, I worried this just wasn’t going to cut it.
I started thinking about my computer and how hot air was circulated through it: fans. I started looking into this and was pleasantly surprised to learn that needing to move air through cabinets is not as niche a problem as I thought. In fact, there is a whole company pretty much dedicated to it: AC Infinity. I did think about just doing this myself with some computer fans and a microcontroller. After all, that’s basically what their products are. At this point though, I wasn’t 100% sure that adding fans would work to adequately cool the PS5, so I didn’t really want to add even more prototyping and development time. Down the line, I’d like to come back to an even more DIY approach here, but for the moment, I decided to go with a simple setup from AC Infinity.
a.k.a. Getting a firsthand lesson in how IKEA furniture is made.