Are Vertical Laptop Stands Bad For Your Computer?

Vertical laptop stands are a popular desk accessory for a good reason. You can close your laptop and put it on display while still using it and taking up less desk space. 

Vertical laptop stands are separate from regular laptop stands. Normal laptop stands just elevate your laptop in the open position. Vertical laptop stands require your laptop to be closed. (Here are the benefits of normal laptop stands).

When using your laptop in the closed position, a common question is: is this bad for my laptop?

Vertical laptop stands are safe for most use cases, however, if you are a power user or gamer, you might be throttling your laptop’s performance by obstructing the airflow in the closed position. 

dell xps 15 laptop rear exhaust ventilation

This mainly depends on where your laptop’s intake and exhaust vents are. Reducing the cooling capacity can result in your laptop running hot during intensive tasks and limit performance. 

Let’s get into the details of what you should know before using your laptop in the vertical/closed position. 

Key Takeaways

  • Your laptop being vertical is not the risk, your laptop being closed is the actual risk. The issues we touch on in this article are for anyone using their laptop in the closed position. 
  • Most people will be fine using their laptop in the closed and vertical position
  • Power users could hinder performance by limiting the cooling capacity of their laptops in the closed position. 
  • Computers being overheated for long hours can reduce the longevity of your hardware. 

Are Vertical Laptop Stands Safe?

Yes, most of the time you will be fine using a laptop in the vertical/closed position. Power users might experience some performance limitations if the laptop is not able to cool as effectively.

I currently use my Dell XPS 15 in the closed position. It sits under my monitor shelf and is connected to my setup with a Thunderbolt docking station. 

Let’s touch on the main risks of using your laptop in a closed position on a vertical stand.

Overheating Is The Main Risk

The only real problem that can arise when using your laptop closed is that it can run a bit hotter. 

Most computers like to stay at an optimal operating temperature under 80 degrees Celcius. If your laptop runs too hot, your computer will automatically throttle its performance as a safety measure. 

The automatic throttling of performance is what keeps your laptop safe from any immediate damage. However, using your laptop at these upper limit temperatures day after day could reduce the longevity of your laptop. 

Know How Your Laptop Keeps Cool

To find out if your computer can cool itself well enough, find out where your air intake and air exhaust ports are. Airflow is everything here. 

You can find this information on your manufacturer’s website, or you can simply look for the ventilation panels around your laptop. 

Place your hand near each vent while your laptop’s fans are on and feel if the air is being pushed out or pulled in. Most laptops pull cool air from underneath the laptop and exhaust the hot air backward, towards the sides, or through the keyboard.

If you find that your air exhausts through your keyboard, all that air will have nowhere to go when the laptop is closed. This could result in throttling performance. 

Some laptops are actually designed to be operational when closed with clever vent designs. 

On my Dell XPS 15, the exhaust vent is right below my screen. When I close my screen, the hinge design keeps a gap open so the hot air still has a place to go. 

Keep The Ventilation Ports Obstruction Free

There is one more thing to think about when you want to use a vertical laptop stand safely. Ensure the vertical stand does not obstruct a large area of your intake or exhaust vents. 

If you slide your laptop into a vertical stand, and that stand is covering up the intake or exhaust vents, you are effectively choking your laptop of cool air again. 

Find a vertical laptop stand that keeps your vents mostly open to allow good airflow. 

Main Benefits of Vertical Laptop Stands

Why should we consider vertical monitor stands in the first place? If they sometimes have the potential to reduce performance or longevity, why use them at all? 

Let’s talk about the main benefits you get when using a vertical laptop stand. 

Space Efficient

Using your laptop in the closed and vertical position makes it much more space efficient on your desk. Instead of your full laptop base area being required, you need a relatively slim line of space instead. 

Vertical laptop stands can free up a ton of desk space so you can have more room for your keyboard/mouse and allow for more decorative items. 

BenQ E-Reading Desk Lamp Image

This is one of the methods we talk about in our article on ways to make more space on your desk

Show Off Your Laptop

Laptops can be very beautiful devices. Manufacturers try to make their laptops attractive as possible. 

 High-end laptops usually have a beautiful aluminum finish and a clean logo placed at the center. 

Another reason to use a vertical laptop stand at your desk is to show off this craftsmanship. I love having good-looking devices on display at my desk. It just improves the look of your entire desk!

If you use laptop skins you can show off that new look with a laptop stand.  

Easily Conceal Your Laptop

We have a dedicated article on how to hide your laptop on your desk. 

We touch on using a vertical laptop stand as an easy way to hold and hide your laptop behind your monitor or something else at your desk. 

I personally love hiding things at my desk. I’ve hidden my desktop computer and hid my docking station which makes my desktop a lot cleaner. 

Drawbacks of Vertical Laptop Stands

There are some drawbacks when it comes to using vertical laptop stands. 

Improper Cooling

First, the issue that inspired this article in the first place, is improper cooling. Remember this only applies if your computer can only cool itself in the open position. 

For example, if you have exhaust air coming through your keyboard that is not diverted when the laptop is closed, you can have performance throttling.

Use over time at elevated temperatures can be tough on your computer’s hardware and could reduce its lifespan. 

If you use a vertical/closed laptop, keep an eye on your computer’s temperatures to get an idea if it is struggling or not. Use a tool like HWMonitor to display all temperatures. 

Power users will suffer the most from any improper cooling the laptop has in the closed position. 

No Access To Power Button

When you want to use your laptop in the closed position, you lose access to the power button. 

To access the power button on a vertical standing laptop, you have to remove the laptop from the stand and press the power button, then put the laptop back in the stand. 

This is an annoying process. Especially if you have a bunch of cables connected to your laptop. 

Solving This Issue Requires A Thunderbolt Dock

The best part about Thunderbolt docking stations is that they extend a power button onto the dock itself. We have a dedicated article on how to choose a thunderbolt dock with a compatible external power button.. That means you don’t have to open and close your laptop anymore to power it on.

Hide Docking Station (3)

In addition, these docking stations usually have a bunch of ports and power delivery from one cable! So your vertically mounted laptop can look even cleaner with a single cable connection.

If you plan on purchasing a Thunderbolt dock, just be sure it actually has an external power button, like the one below: 

Anker 577 Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station

This Thunderbolt 3 dock offers big port expansion with dual Thunderbolt 3 ports, 2 USB-C ports, 4 USB-A ports, an HDMI port, an Ethernet port, SD/microSD card slots, and a 3.5 mm AUX port. It provides unparalleled charging options and supports dual displays with high resolutions.

Check Price on Amazon

The only catch here is that your laptop has to have a Thunderbolt connection to be compatible. 

This is still a disadvantage because you must purchase another accessory for a vertical laptop stand to be convenient. 

My old Dell TB16 has a power button, and I would hate to use my laptop closed without it. 

Universal Holders Are Less Common

Every laptop has a different thickness. The most affordable vertical laptop stands are usually a fixed width which means it’s unlikely your laptop will fit perfectly. This is the cheapest to manufacture.

If your laptop doesn’t fit well, it can slide around when it gets bumped which can be pretty dangerous. 

I recommend either getting a laptop stand that is meant for your specific computer or using a vertical laptop stand that is actually adjustable. 

This laptop stand from Human Centric is beautiful and adjustable which means you can get a really nice fit. It can fit anything between 0.5 inches to 1.5 inches. That’s a huge range. 

HumanCentric Adjustable Vertical Laptop Stand

This wood vertical laptop stand saves desk space and has adjustable width for compatibility with most laptops and a sleek, minimalist design. The felt interior protects your device and the holder is weighted for stability and support.

  • Adjustable width from 0.5 - 1.5 inches
  • Minimalist design
  • Protective felt interior
  • Comes in leather & wood finishes
  • Silicone base is grippy
  • Pricey, but you get what you pay for
Check Price on Amazon

There are a few budget-friendly adjustable options like this one: 

Vertical Laptop Stand Holder, Adjustable

This 3-in-1 laptop stand holds your laptop while cradling other accessories vertically to keep your desktop organized and space-efficient. It's adjustable for laptops with a thickness ranging from 0.7 inches to 1.57 inches and has a non-slip silicone base to keep devices stable. The stand is made of ABS plastic.

Check Price on Amazon

Are Vertical Laptop Stands Worth It?

Now that we listed out all the pros and cons, are vertical laptop holders actually worth it?

If your computer is designed to still ventilate in the closed position, you will gain all the benefits and few of the downsides.  Just keep in mind that the ideal setup with a vertically mounted laptop is with a Thunderbolt docking station that gives you an external power button. 

Laptops that are not designed to ventilate in the closed position (such as keyboard exhaust designs) will hit performance limitations for power users. 

Find out how your laptop intakes cool air and exhausts hot air, and you will find out if a vertical laptop stand is right for you. If you are a casual computer user, you will not notice many downsides of using a vertical laptop stand.

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I'm a big time workspace enthusiast who is constantly experimenting with my setup. Sharing along the way to help people make their own desk setups more functional and inviting, whether it be for productivity or play!

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