At CES, we had a chat with Corsair about the company's current products and upcoming releases for this year. Foremost among those upcoming releases is the company's Bulldog Mini-ITX PC barebones. The company says it originally wanted to launch the Bulldog last month, but it made the decision to hold off and refine the product further before unleashing it on the world.
Those refinements are supposed to make the Bulldog easier to build in and run cooler with a system inside. Compared to the version first shown at Computex, Corsair says it removed structural elements from the case that made it difficult to build in. It also added some baffles to the interior of the case that are meant to ensure intake fans aren't pulling in hot exhaust air from other components. The system's SFX PSU has also been repositioned to ensure better airflow.
One of our concerns with the Bulldog has been its potential noise levels, as Mini-ITX systems are rarely all that quiet. Surprisingly, a demo unit of the Bulldog running Star Wars Battlefront on a 4K TV was barely audible with my ear right up against the system. The demo units I got a look at used the company's dedicated Hydro Series H5 SF CPU cooler and a Hydro GFX GeForce GTX 980 Ti graphics card, and it seems like a similar cooling strategy will be necessary to get the kind of noise levels I experienced.
Although a living-room gaming PC is inevitably going to be compared to a game console, Corsair expects that Bulldog builders will end up at the opposite end of the price spectrum. The company thinks this barebones is best-suited as a way to bring 4K gaming to the living room. Although buyers can certainly make whatever they will of this case, a 4K-ready Bulldog with Corsair's Hydro GFX GTX 980 Ti and an equally powerful CPU inside could easily pass the $1500 mark. The resulting combination of quiet and power may prove to be a unique selling point, though.
I also spent some time with Corsair's Lapdog accessory to get a feel for how the company's complete living-room gaming solution works in practice. This combination keyboard holder and mousepad sits atop a generous contoured cushion. While it might look unwieldy, the Lapdog feels quite natural in use, and it could be compelling for those who want the full desktop gaming experience on the couch.
Corsair says the Bulldog will arrive sometime next month. The company will offer a package with the case, the H5 SF CPU cooler, and its SF600 SFX power supply for $299. A more complete barebones with a Gigabyte GA-Z170N Wi-Fi Mini-ITX motherboard will cost $399.