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Now that Bulldog has been formally announced, we can talk to you about what exactly it is. Bulldog is essentially our answer to gaming in the living room. While consoles and most Steam Machines already announced can take you up to 1080p, the reality is that 4K televisions are getting awfully affordable, and the only way you can really game at 4K proper is with a high performance PC. That’s the problem that Bulldog solves.It’s important to note that Bulldog is still in active development, and everything in it is being refined and optimized. So what is Bulldog? Bulldog is a DIY kit that will include the following components: Bulldog Chassis The Bulldog chassis is designed to support essentially two liquid coolers working in parallel, based around a mini-ITX motherboard and an SFX12V form factor power supply. Though the copious ventilation in the design might suggest a case that would suffer from noise problems, the opposite is true: healthy airflow keeps the fans inside Bulldog from having to spin up, resulting in a system that’s actually quieter than a fully loaded console. Hydro Series H5SF Small Form Factor Liquid CPU Cooler We’ve developed a small form factor liquid CPU cooler designed specifically for Bulldog but that can also fit our Carbide Series Air 240 and Obsidian Series 250D cases. It utilizes a small radiator and a blower fan to pull ambient air from inside the chassis and cool the CPU. Under the Hydro Series H5SF, a mainstream K-series Intel CPU can be overclocked while still maintaining both low thermals and low noise. SF600 600-Watt SFX12V Form Factor Power Supply To ensure the high performance components that you install in Bulldog receive a steady stream of clean power while helping get case dimensions down, we’ve engineered a power supply in the industry standard SFX12V form factor. Our SF600 power supply is designed to achieve gold-level efficiency. It employs a 92mm fan that is larger than the 80mm fans used in completing SFX power supplies, letting the SF600 stay quiet and cool even under extreme loads. It’s also fully modular, making installation as easy as possible. Mini-ITX Motherboard with Next-Generation Intel Chipset While Bulldog is being demoed at Computex with a current-generation Z97 motherboard, we’ll be bundling a mini-ITX motherboard from a reputable brand that supports Intel’s next generation processors and chipsets by the time Bulldog goes to market. Note that Bulldog was designed specifically to take advantage of HG10-cooled graphics cards, but HG10 kits will be sold separately. For additional details on Bulldog, we’ve reproduced our forum FAQ below: What is Bulldog? Bulldog is a DIY kit that leverages Corsair's expertise in case, cooling, and power supply design to lay the foundation for a system that can handle 4K gaming quietly and efficiently in the living room or other spaces where a small form factor gaming machine would be desirable. What's in Bulldog? Bulldog kits will include the Bulldog chassis, the Hydro Series H5SF liquid CPU cooler, an SF600 600-watt SFX12V-form factor power supply, and a next-generation motherboard utilizing an Intel chipset. How much will Bulldog cost? We're targeting an MSRP of $399 for the whole bundle, but this will depend on a number of factors and is subject to change. Where will I be able to get one? Corsair.com's web store is your best bet, but we expect Bulldog to see etail and retail availability. When will it be available? We're targeting Q4 of 2015. Do any of the parts come separately? Yes! While you have to buy the Bulldog kit to get the Bulldog chassis, the Hydro Series H5SF cooler and SF600 power supply will both be available separately. What kind of connectivity and features will Bulldog have? Bulldog will sport two USB 3.0 ports on the front along with headphone and microphone jacks, all hidden behind a fold down door. Bulldog will not have a fan controller; I personally hate hearing a device's fans spin up under load, so Bulldog is engineered to be extremely quiet and cool, and our choice of high pressure, low noise 92mm fans on the chassis reflects that. What kind of material will Bulldog be made out of? Bulldog's internal structure will be built from steel, while we're going to use a stylized brushed plastic for the fascia and sides with a metal mesh. Our initial prototypes used a full aluminum outer body (the internal chassis was steel), but we found the aluminum impractical from both a cost and weight perspective. Isn't the HG10 a major part of Bulldog? Yes it is! An HG10-equipped graphics card completes the Bulldog experience. Bulldog was designed to incorporate a CPU cooled by a Hydro Series H5SF and a graphics card cooled by an HG10 bracket and Hydro Series H55 liquid cooler. While you can certainly use an air-cooled graphics card in Bulldog (and we've made allowances to ensure it will run well), an HG10-equipped graphics card is the ideal way to get the most performance with the least noise. How do I get an HG10-equipped graphics card for Bulldog? There are a few ways. One is to buy one of our HG10 brackets and attach it to your graphics card with an H55 or H75 (single fan only) liquid cooler. Another is to buy an HG10 bundled with an H55 and, again, install it on your graphics card. Additionally, MSI will be offering graphics cards shipping with HG10s and H55s pre-installed for a small premium. Why wasn't the HG10 included with Bulldog? Because of the nature of HG10, specifically that brackets have to be customized for different reference cards, there's no one-size-fits-all bracket that we can bundle. It made more sense to us to make HG10 bundles available separately and offer customers options. Users who aren't comfortable liquid cooling their graphics cards or have non-reference cards that are incompatible with HG10 will still get a good experience with Bulldog. What is the Hydro Series H5SF? The Hydro Series H5SF is a unique closed loop liquid cooler for your CPU that was engineered specifically to fit in Bulldog, but is also compatible with the Carbide Series Air 240 and the Obsidian Series 250D. It employs a small radiator - smaller than even the H55 - and powerful blower fan. The blower fan has had a fan curve programmed to ensure it stays quiet while being able to cool even a modestly overclocked Intel Core i7. If you want to overclock further, the H5SF has that capacity, but the blower fan may have to ramp up to compensate. As an ancillary benefit, the H5SF's design allows it to pull ambient hot air into the blower and expel it out of the case, ensuring Bulldog stays exceptionally cool. The H5SF's smaller radiator results in its rated 150-watt cooling capacity, which is plenty for an overclocked Intel CPU, but it may still underperform the standard 120mm H55. What is the SF600? The SF600 is a power supply designed to meet the SFX12V standard. It has a capacity of 600 watts - more than enough for even the fastest single-GPU cards and mainstream Intel CPUs - and is targeting 80 Plus Gold level efficiency. The combination of high efficiency and a 92mm fan in such an impressively small power supply ensures the SF600 is able to deliver the power a Bulldog system needs without the PSU itself being a major source of heat or noise. What kinds of graphics cards are supported by Bulldog? Bulldog will support standard dual-slot graphics cards connected internally through a PCIe extension cable. Estimated maximum card length is 300mm.
NVIDIA’s Maxwell architecture is a wonderfully impressive piece of engineering for efficiency geeks, and it reaches near-apotheosis with the GM200-powered GeForce GTX TITAN X. This is an architecture that has very clearly been tailored and tuned to maximize gaming performance per watt, and while it loses some steam on the compute side to AMD’s more flexible but also more power hungry GCN architecture, it’s very hard to not be at least a little impressed by the monstrous TITAN X. Better still, across the board, NVIDIA’s Maxwell cards have left plenty of gas in the tank on release that a hypothetical HG10 would certainly help take advantage of. Can’t imagine why anyone would want to produce something like that. But since this mythical sea creature doesn’t exist, we have to look at how a GTX 980 and TITAN X overclock when under a reference card or under some kind of heretofore unannounced watercooling apparatus. I’ve had a decent amount of experience playing around with overclocking the GTX 980 (under reference and under water) and the TITAN X (again, under reference and under water), and there are some modest differences – especially with the TITAN X – compared to the Kepler generation cards. Last generation’s Kepler cards could have their overclocks tested fairly reliably with just 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme; if your VRAM clock was unstable, the sparks in Graphics Test 2 would flicker, and if your VRAM and/or GPU clock were unstable, the NVIDIA driver would crash. That’s not happening with the 980s or TITAN X. For sure, just completing a run of 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme or Ultra typically means you’re about 75% certain of a stable overclock still. But the TITAN X especially can seem deceptively stable and be having problems, and that’s why you expand your stability testing a little more – and pay attention to the testing. Likewise, my GTX 980s under water will rocket through 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme and then artifact or crash in something else. If you’re overclocking either card, it’s smart to first see what your top GPU overclock is, and then your top VRAM overclock, and then combine the two. You may have to notch one down; given how efficient NVIDIA’s memory compression is on Maxwell, the VRAM overclock is the safer one to reduce. As a stability testing procedure, I recommend these steps: First, 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme will catch really unstable overclocks; assuming it doesn’t crash, artifacting will be most prominent in Graphics Test 2. Next, BioShock Infinite has an automated benchmark that’s been very handy. Run the benchmark at the highest settings you can; pay attention to the sunshafts in the very beginning coming through the glass. If your overclock is unstable, these will artifact. Tomb Raider also has an automated benchmark. Run the benchmark at the highest settings you can, and make sure TressFX is enabled. The shadows cast by Lara’s hair will flicker in an SLI system; that’s normal. But if your overclock is unstable, black triangle artifacts will materialize out of Lara’s hair. Finally, Far Cry 4. Seriously, just play the game for a minute or so. If your overclock is unstable, it’ll crash in a heartbeat. By using these testing methods, I’ve been able to pretty reliably run these cards at high speeds without issue. So what can you typically expect as far as overclocks go? What kind of performance increases are we looking at? First things first: either water cooling or just running your cooler at its highest speed will allow your card to maintain higher clocks for longer periods of time. Cooling the power circuitry efficiently results in the card drawing less power in general because the VRMs don’t heat up as much and thus don’t have to work as hard; for you, this means you’re less likely to hit the TDP wall, and a high overclock is easier to sustain. On a stock-clocked GeForce GTX 980, you can probably get your Core up to +200 before instability sets in, which results in peak clocks just north of 1450MHz. Because the 980 has a narrower memory bus and less VRAM overall than the TITAN X, you can also get some additional mileage out of the VRAM. Ballpark +300 on the Memory (for 7.6GHz GDDR5), but most of the 980s I’ve played with have been able to go up to +500 (for an even 8GHz GDDR5). The higher you push your core clock, the more benefit you’ll get out of pushing the memory clock; combined, I’ve been able to get 15%-20% higher performance out of the 980. The TITAN X is about 50% more card in general than the 980 and so it has a bit less headroom, but headroom it still has. +200 Core still seems to be the way to go, resulting in a peak clock of ~1420MHz. But I wouldn’t touch the memory. If you remember Kepler, 7GHz of GDDR5 on a 384-bit memory bus was next to impossible to saturate. Factor in Maxwell’s vastly improved memory compression, and performance gains from overclocking the memory become very minimal. If you want that last frame or two per second of performance, you can try it, but it’s imperceptible. Overclocking the Titan X can get you between 7% and 15% more performance. NVIDIA’s Maxwell-based cards are performance monsters, and once again NVIDIA has left plenty of gas in the tank for us to play with. We lose a lot of Maxwell’s trademark efficiency, but not all of it, and in exchange we can gain a very respectable amount of performance. Of course, if you put it under water, suddenly your temperatures look like this over the course of two runs of Unigine Valley: But why would anyone enable something like that?
You asked for it and we listened: introducing the Corsair Hydro Series HG10. The HG10 is a bracket designed for high-end reference graphics cards to allow you to mount a Hydro Series CPU liquid cooler to the GPU, substantially improving both cooling and acoustic performance. What makes our bracket unique is that in addition to allowing you to use liquid cooling on the GPU itself, it also cools the card’s memory and power circuitry. By using the stock radial blower that came with your graphics card’s cooler (or an aftermarket one sold separately), the heat from the card’s PCB is absorbed into the aluminum bracket and dissipated. With the reference cooler, AMD's graphics card runs until it hits 94C-95C and then throttles the GPU clock substantially. The fan is running at 48%, and it's loud. Switch over to the R9 290X equipped with an HG10 and Hydro Series H75, and the GPU is running at a borderline frosty (at least for a graphics card) 50C. The stock fan runs at a paltry 23%. At Computex we debuted the HG10 on AMD’s Radeon R9 290X. With just a Hydro Series H75 and two of our SP120 Quiet Edition fans, we were able to reduce the GPU’s load temperature from AMD’s spec of 95C to just 50C. Even reducing the fans to their minimum speed resulted in silent operation and a still healthy 18C improvement in GPU thermals compared to AMD’s reference cooler. Because the HG10 is designed specifically for reference boards to ensure proper cooling for all components, we’ll be releasing multiple editions. The first will be the A1, designed for AMD’s Radeon R9 290 and 290X, due in August. Shortly thereafter will be the N1 for NVIDIA’s GeForce Titan Black, Titan, GTX 780 Ti, GTX 780, and GTX 770. MSRP is $39.99.