Compact. Powerful. Silent. If you were going to make one of those "Pick two" triangle charts for living room PCs, I imagine it would have those three slots on it.
Simply put, airflow is one of the biggest challenges facing living room PCs. People want power, but they also want the thing to be quiet--and small.
Which is why I'm intrigued by the new Corsair Bulldog. Is it more powerful than most of the other living room PCs we've seen? Sure. Is it more upgradeable? Almost certainly.
But most of all, it's quiet.
Why this matters: PC vendors have been laboring mightily to crack the living room market, but most candidates up to now have been lacking in some way. This model seems designed not to disappoint. For the DIY crowd, the Bulldog opens up quiet performance not previously available.
4K in the living room
Let's get this out of the way: Depending on what you plan to do with your living room PC, Corsair's Bulldog may be overkill. Early on in my demo, Corsair showed me a graph that positions the Bulldog between Steam Machines and desktop PCs in terms of power, so that should give you an idea of its capabilities. This is a gaming machine, aimed to drive high-end performance in the living room.
That positioning is a bit of a cheat on Corsair's part. Sure, most Steam Machines are aimed at the "console crowd," but there are certainly powerful, upgradeable Steam Machines too--Falcon Northwest's Tiki is an excellent example, as is Origin's ridiculously overpowered Omega line. Corsair's Bulldog is merely one of the most powerful living room PCs I've seen.
But damn is it powerful. The model used in our demo was plugged into a 4K TV, and its Titan X spit out a bunch of top-shelf games (Project CARS, Witcher 3, Grand Theft Auto V) in the neighborhood of 30-60 frames per second. Let me reiterate: This is a living room PC. Playing high-end games. At 4K resolution. At 30-60 frames per second. That's impressive.
Corsair's advantage is that the Bulldog is whisper-quiet, even at 4K load. And that's thanks to a ton of ventilation and some custom-designed parts.
"Custom-designed parts?" you might say. "But wait, I thought this thing was upgradeable!"
The Bulldog is an interesting piece of tech. Basically what Corsair has done is split the difference between "custom-built, boutique PC design" and "DIY computer using stock parts." You buy the Bulldog as a $400 bundle containing the chassis, mini-ITX motherboard, liquid CPU cooler, and 600-watt power supply.
Corsair didn't reveal much about the motherboard except for two things that you should care about: It's DDR4 and it'll run Intel's upcoming Skylake CPU. Skylake is the CPU beyond today's Broadwell chips and is expected to bring significant performance improvements when released later this year.
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