Water cooling system inside a gaming PC case
Phuwadach Pattanatmon/Shutterstock

Despite the name, a desktop PC doesn’t have to be on a desk. That huge tower PC would fit nicely on the floor, sure. But you should think about ventilation and dust so that your gaming PC doesn’t overheat.

Carpet Can Block Airflow

Modern PC cases usually aren’t completely flat on the bottom. They have feet so that their base is off the floor a bit. There’s airflow underneath the case. All PC cases have fans that expel hot air and vents that allow entry for cool air; some cases even have additional intake fans that further facilitate drawing in cool air.

That’s how it’s supposed to work, anyway. If you place your case on some thick plush carpeting, the carpet might block some of that airflow. This is very bad if the air is supposed to flow into or out of the computer through the bottom of the case. It’s bad even if air doesn’t flow into or out of the case here, however—if your PC sinks into the carpet a bit, heat can build up underneath due to the lack of airflow.

Of course, if you have short carpet on your floor, the PC may be able to sit on that carpet with plenty of airflow underneath. And, if you don’t have any carpet at all, this isn’t a concern. Your PC will be just at home sitting on a flat floor as it would on a flat desk.

Before placing your PC on the floor, be sure to think about airflow. Avoid placing your tower PC on thick carpet. If the carpet is a problem, consider putting it on a platform or stand on the carpet. You can buy rolling stands for precisely this purpose that also make it easier to move your desktop around. Heck, even laying a piece of wood on your floor and placing the PC on the wooden platform will solve this problem, although it may not be pretty.

Your PC Will Suck in More Dust on the Floor

Dusty PC case fan
Kritsapong jeantaratip/Shutterstock

Your floor almost certainly has more dust, hair, and other detritus on it than a desk or table. This matters—your PC’s fans pull air in and blow air out. Those fans can suck dust, dirt, and other junk into the PC.

This happens no matter where you place your PC. Even if you have your PC on a desktop, you’ll want to dust it occasionally with some compressed air. But your PC will likely suck in more dust and debris when it’s on the floor. Dust gets in the way of cooling your PC, and it will run hotter if it needs to be cleaned out.

It’s easier to dust and clean around a PC that’s on a desk, too. If it’s in a corner, how often are you going to move the PC’s case, vacuum, and dust the cables back there? It’s easy to put off cleaning and have dust build up where your PC is sitting.

If you do keep your tower PC on the floor, remember to dust it out regularly—probably more often than you’ll need to if you keep it on a desk. It depends on how dusty your floor is, but you may want to check every few months. You should also remember to clean around and behind the case to avoid dust buildup.

Aside From That, the Floor is Fine

Issues with ventilation and dust—both of which lead to overheating—are the main reason geeks usually advise against placing a desktop PC on the floor. But, if you’ve got both these things under control and have thought it through, is there really a problem with leaving your PC on the floor? No, not at all. It’s fine.

The floor may even be preferable in some situations. There’s a good chance you have more space on your floor than your desk and placing your tower on the floor will free up some space. Some people with heavy PC towers may be concerned about them toppling off a desk and falling on children or pets.

Of course, your circumstances may be different. If there’s a risk of flooding, for example, your PC is safer if it’s off the floor.

All these considerations are most important with gaming PC or workstation that generates a lot of heat. If you’ve got a low-power desktop that doesn’t generate much heat, ventilation isn’t as big an issue. Modern, light desktop PCs are often small boxes that would easily fit in a corner of your desk, anyway.

Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor in Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for nearly a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6 and Chicago's WGN-TV, and his work has been covered by news outlets like The New York Times and the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than 500 million times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
Read Full Bio »