Hands on: Corsair Bulldog review

By Reviews on May 20, 2017

Hands on: Corsair Bulldog review


The Bulldog, like its namesake, is squat, powerfully built and can pack in some serious muscle if you know what you're doing.

Its red and black custom chassis is larger than the Steam Machines that are destined to grace living rooms later this year, but even so it's far less conspicuous than a full-size desktop. It's a heck of a lot quieter too, thanks to the vents that encircle the case and the liquid cooling system that's running inside.

Best of all, storage space will never an issue. You can easily fit one 3.5-inch HDD and one SSD or three SSDs inside the storage bay without running into any issues.

But its whisper-quiet noise output, mini-ITX form factor and potential 4K capabilities don't come without compromise: the Bulldog isn't exactly petite. It's larger than any other game console or Steam Machine, and requires a relatively open space to push warm air into.

And again, it's worth reiterating that the Bulldog isn't a complete system on its own – you'll need to supply your own CPU, RAM, GPU and storage.

Hands on: Corsair Bulldog review

Features and performance

For its size, there's a lot of room inside the case to work. Airflow was a major focus for Corsair, and veteran builders will appreciate the added effect of having parts of the case easily accessible.

The Bulldog's capability for mods is its secret weapon. Some Steam Machine systems come with preconfigured parts, so there's no way to upgrade them down the road. Bulldog is different in that, at any time, you can swap out an old component for a quick tune-up or drop in extra parts from a spare rig.

In terms of performance, I saw the Bulldog steamroll its way through The Witcher 3 on almost all of its settings set to ultra, before deft-handedly taking on GTA5's grueling benchmark test in 4K. The latter had a bit of pop-in and some screen tearing, I noticed, but I chalked that up to the fact that G-Sync was turned off.

Ultimately however, performance will come down to the parts you can spare or are willing to invest in. The upside of creating a massively powerful gaming rig in the living room is that it can easily process Ultra-HD video from Netflix or YouTube, once more content starts coming down the pipeline in the coming year or two.

Check out Lapdog, dawg

Bulldog isn't the only dog in Corsair's kennel. Similar to the Roccat Sova, Corsair's Lapdog is a lap desk that supports a ten-keyless keyboard and any USB mouse and connects via a 15-foot braided USB cable to the Bulldog.

It's designed to be sturdy enough to withstand the force you exert by typing and moving the mouse without falling off your lap, but not overly burdensome that it feels like a 20-pound weight is on your legs.

Corsair doesn't have an exact release date for the Lapdog, but is targeting a price of around $89 (about £60, AU$115).

Early verdict

With Steam Machines in their staging area while Valve puts the finishing touches on SteamOS, Corsair's Bulldog is primed to steal a spot in gamers' living rooms. An intelligently designed chassis and even smarter cooling systems keep the Bulldog running quiet, while its miniature PSU has the capacity to fuel all but the hungriest of GPUs.