Grab your gaming mouse, chicken and probably some napkins because KFC is serious about the KFConsole. Teased this summer with more details being served up today, the KFConsole is a real-life gaming system built from an Intel NUC, a talented modder and a little belief from Colonel Sanders.
It was easy to write the KFConsole off as a joke in June, when KFC posted a head-scratching video on its KFC Gaming Twitter account showing off what appeared to be a bucket-shaped PC but, as KFC put it, “equipped with a chicken chamber.” The restaurant known for fried chicken and now brilliant marketing (that tweet acquired 11 million organic impressions, according to KFC) claimed to be prepping its first gaming console just as gamers were getting ready for the release of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.
Originally, KFC promised a November 12 release date, but that was pushed back, in true gaming fashion. Today, KFC announced that it indeed created a KFConsole by tagging in Cooler Master to help create a bucket-shaped PC capable of playing games.
That bucket is actually an Intel NUC mini PC modded to look like and actually serve as fried chicken storage by pro modder and Cooler Master CMODX team member Tim “Timpelay” Malmborg. It was Timpelay’s job to sketch out some ideas and help make sure the final system looked as close to the renderings that went viral as possible -- and that includes that handy chicken chamber.
“The hardest part was definitely figuring out the entire internal layout to get it as compact as possible and still have sufficient cooling for the hardware,” Timpelay told Tom’s Hardware. “The cylindrical bucket design and the chicken bay [are] two separate features that by themselves [are] challenging to work with. And then combined with a high-performance PC, well, I had to spend days creating the 3D model for it.”
When we asked Cooler Master for the KFConsole’s full recipe, a rep would only tell us that it’s an “Intel NUC 9 Extreme Element at its core with a modified Cooler Master MasterCase NC100,” as well an Asus RTX graphics card and 1TB of Seagate NVME SSD storage. The Intel NUC 9 Extreme Compute Element we tested was specced with an Intel Core i9-9980HK CPU, but we haven’t gotten confirmation on what will make the KFConsole cook. The Intel NUC Compute Unit comes in i5, i7 and i9 options.
KFC said that after partnering with Cooler Master, development featured “multiple stages,” including custom case building, designing the cooling system and incorporating the chicken chamber.
Snack enthusiasts will be happy to know that the KFConsole’s chicken chamber isn’t all for show either. It’s supposed to keep chicken warm but is also part of the PC’s custom-built cooling system. Heat from the computer's components is transported to the chicken chamber, helping to keep your hardware cool and chicken warm. KFC’s announcement today said the console’s cooling system was built to “extract system heat through around the outside of the chicken chamber, ensuring that the hardware is kept at a regular core temperature while simultaneously delivering a piping-hot meal.” Now that’s finger-lickin’ efficiency.
As you can tell, this isn’t some half-baked build. And that’s because KFC really plans on releasing this. In a statement, Mark Cheevers, PR and social media lead at KFC UK & Ireland, discussed confidence in "the KFConsole as our flagship entry."
“It’s been so much fun reading articles and comments from hardware media reporting about this KFC console video stating that this is a complete troll triggering Xbox and PlayStation,” modder Timpelay told us. “Meanwhile, we were actually building it in the shadows.”
Steve James, global PR and influencer manager at Cooler Master, told Tom’s Hardware that Cooler Master has been working with KFC on the system since the restaurant's original tweet in June.
“The feedback from the KFC fans was too great not to make the console come to life,” James explained. “We met up with the team and exchanged some ideas and went on from there really.”
When asked if the KFConsole is viewed as a rival to Sony and Microsoft's next-gen consoles, the exec said, "We like to think we’ve built a competitive system with the specs we have in it."
It might seem odd for a PC components and peripherals vendor to be in bed (in the kitchen?) with KFC, but Cooler Master community and event manager Ann Ann Kao told us the partnership made sense to the vendor due to its connection with the PC modding community, which also includes the Cooler Master Case Mod World Series.
“These guys can recreate cars, superheroes, sharks, tanks into PCs, so a bucket was definitely doable,” Kao told us.
More details on the system's tech should arrive next month. We're also still waiting for details from the head chefs on how many KFConsoles will be fried up, price and availability.
Editor's note: We've edited this article since publishing to change confirmed specs information at the request of the vendor.