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Monday, May 23, 2022

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Corsair's Bulldog PC: Liquid-cooled, 4K living room gaming

Also, Lapdog keyboard shell

The Witcher 3 looks nice in 4K. This is neither something unexpected nor something my six-year-old, 30-inch living room television would be able to teach me. But I visited with computer hardware and peripheral developer Corsair to see its new Bulldog PC kit hooked up to a 4K television and it was impressive.

Impressive because Bulldog is designed to be a living room PC, which means a small form factor and that it can’t scream along like a banshee. And, to its credit, the muscular, pitbull-shaped living room solution was dang quiet while playing things like Witcher 3 and Project Cars at 4K, 30-60FPS.

Its cute shape, which gives it good ventilation, coupled with some liquid cooling solutions help keep the Bulldog running quiet. It’s here where the do-it-yourself options present themselves because Bulldog isn’t a fully boutique “have-’em-build-it-for-you” PC. Nor is it meant to be comparable to many console-quality, non-upgradeable Steam machines, which take up a large mind share of living room PCs.

The entry level Bulldog kit is $400. This will not get you 4K gaming, of course. You get the chassis, Mini-ITX motherboard, CPU cooler, and power supply. Where you go from there is up to you. You add CPU, RAM, hard drive, and graphics card. Maybe you want 32GB of DDR4 and a liquid-cooled Titan X. If you have a 4K TV I assume you can afford it, despite assurances that 4K TVs like the monster set we demoed on are now “affordable” at $1,800, or the same price as my weekend trip to the ER for a badly broken finger (yes, typing one handed is slow. Wiping lefty is also uncomfortable.)

If you’re going from scratch and buying everything fresh, you’re looking at anywhere from $939 to $2249 (on the high, liquid-cooled Titan X end) to put together a nice little living room PC.

If you’re interested in dropping a liquid-cooled GPU solution into some other non-dog-shaped computer, perhaps your own, that’s possible too. Corsair is selling the GPU liquid-cooler in a separate kit that will support all current and upcoming AMD and Nvidia graphics cards.

Corsair also announced the Lapdog, which is not a laptop, but rather a big old tray you can set on your lap. It has a giant mouse pad area and Corsair’s mechanical gaming keyboards can dock with its powered USB hub (go ahead and charge your phone from it, too). It’s wired, which is a weird compromise between living room form factor and PC gaming precision. Also $90 (or $200 with a keyboard packed in).

I like living room PC gaming. I have a nice, old tower hooked up to the aforementioned 30-inch living room television. I don’t notice the noise, whether I’m playing a new game on high settings or just using it mainline Dinosaurs on Netflix. Usually I just use a controller, or the wireless mouse and keyboard sitting on the coffee table. That’s me. Poor, simple me. Corsair’s cool tech might be for you, though.

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