Powerful parts don’t mean a bigger computer. At the Trident X MSI gaming desktop ($1,999, $2,499 tested), standardized components and innovative casing design mean the Intel Core i9-9900K processor and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 in a race to the smaller house. Standardized parts are also easy to upgrade, as long as you don’t mind working in tight spaces.
- Compact size
- Charming design
- Off-the-shelf parts
- Great performance
- Not tool-free
- A Lot of bloatware
|Processor||Intel Core i9-9900K|
|Motherboard||Z370I Gaming Pro Carbon AC Mini-ITX|
|Memory||16GB DDR4 2,666MHz|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce GTX 2080 (8GB GDDR6)|
|Storage||512GB SSD + 2TB HDD|
|Networking||Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC, Bluetooth 4.2|
|Ports||Front: 1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C, 1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A, 1x USB 2.0 Type-A, 1x Mic in/1x headphone out Rear: 1x PS/2, 2x USB 2.0, 1x DisplayPort 1.2 out, 1x HDMI 1.4 out, 1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A, 1x Ethernet|
|Video Output||DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 1.4|
|Power Supply||650W 80 Plus Gold Certified PSU|
|Cooling||1x case fan, 2x GPU fans|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home|
|Extras||Optional tempered glass side panel, Mystic Light RGB design|
|Dimensions||15.6x15x5.1 inches (129.7×382.7×396.4mm)|
|Price As Configured||$2,499.00|
The MSI redesign is a rare combination of aggressive player aesthetics
and an optimized class in a surprisingly small body. It is a black monolith
with two metal sidewalls, although one can be replaced with the tempered glass
door closed (I think the glass is much nicer). Of course, there is also an RGB
set with crossed stripes, an RGB that is clearly visible through the window and
illuminates the GPU. All of these RGB properties can be customized (or
completely disabled if you are not a fan) in MSI Mystic Light.
The GPU and its lights are on the left side of the case, while the fan
is on the right side, which provides some balance. For details on installing
components, see the Upgradability section below.
At 129.7 x 382.7 x 396.4 mm (15.6 x 15.1 x 5.1 inches), the Trident X is compact and much smaller than the Asus ROG Strix GL12CX (18 x 15.7 x 7 ” (457 x 399 x 177), 8 mm) with same specifications, the MSI desktop weighs 9.5 kg.
UPGRADEABILITY AND PORTS
There are numerous ports in front and behind the Trident X. It comes
with a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C connector, a USB 2.0 connector and a USB 3.1 Gen 1
Type-A connector, as well as a headset and microphone connector.
There are several audio ports on the back of the system board including S/PDIF output, Ethernet connector, PS/2 port, HDMI and DisplayPort, USB 3.1 Gen 2 type A and USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port and a pair of USB 2.0 and USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A. The GPU has three DisplayPort ports, an HDMI output and a VirtualLink connection for VR headphones.
Most of these parts can be replaced by commercially available parts, but in the case of MSI, they are tightly packed. If you have tempered glass, just open it. Otherwise, there are only two screws on each plate (even though I’d rather have thumbscrews).
Most internal parts are accessible from the right. The ITX mini motherboard is largely hidden by a radiator with a 12mm fan. CPU and RAM are all below there. On the left is a fully modular power supply and the 2.5-inch hard drive has two compartments that are screwed to the back of the drive (only one of us was full).
On the left is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 with two fans underneath the sidewall. The M.2 slot and the radiator stand are located behind the system board. The power outlet is also on this side of the case.
GAMING, GRAPHICS, AND VR
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 version of MSI is slightly faster than the one we’ve seen in competing systems. It worked well when playing Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 “Gun Game” at 4K and the game’s highest settings running between 75 and 85 fps.
At Hitman‘s benchmark (1920×1080, ultra), Trident X ran at 143 constant frames per second and beat both the GL12CX and the average FHD desktops. At 4K, it ran the game at 78 frames per second, just a few frames ahead of the Asus’ computers at 4K.
The Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark is though in the highest presets. The GL12CX ran 77 fps at 1080p while the Trident X reached 89 fps. At 4K, the GL12CX was below the 30 fps threshold, but Trident X just hit it.
Both the GL12CX and the Trident X destroyed the Grand Theft Auto V with 1080p and very high settings of 102 and 105 frames per second. At 4K, however, the GL12CX rose to 28 frames per second, while the Trident X played 35 frames per second.
Both desktops got the perfect score in the 11 SteamVR performance tests, and thus, it was ready for Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.
Trident of X for the stress test subway time: last light reference points (1080p, the highest possible point) 10 times to simulate a loop that lasts about half an hour. The computer ran the game at an average of 106.7 fps for 10 rounds between 103 and 111 fps, but without a sharp drop. During the test, the processor ran at an average clock speed of 4.7 GHz and a processor temperature of 58.3 degrees Celsius. The GPU’s average temperature was 66.5 degrees Celsius.
The Intel Core i9-9900K, along with 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD and 2TB hard drive, offers incredible performance.
In Geeketch 4, Trident X (31,581) far outstripped our average gaming desktops (19,955) and was just ahead of the GL12CX.
Trident X copies 4.97 GB of files in our 12-second file copy test at 424 Mbit/s, faster than average but still slower than the GL12CX (757 Mbit/s).
It took 25 seconds for Trident X to find 65,000 names and addresses in an Excel macro test. He was second behind the GL12CX and far from the average desk.
In our Handbrake test, where we transcode 4K video to 1080p, the Trident X was 37 seconds faster than the GL12CX and 1 minute and 5 seconds faster than the average desktop.
KEYBOARD AND MOUSE
Although our pre-production review unit didn’t come with a mouse or keyboard, customers will get peripheral devices on the box. The keyboard is MSI Interceptor DS4200 with membrane switches and backlight. The mouse is an MSI GM10 switch with only two buttons and a switch for DPI control.
SOFTWARE AND WARRANTY
The MSI software includes a number of game-specific utilities, including Dragon Center for system monitoring, device information, and system optimization. MSI also includes Nahimic for customizing sounds for games and music and Mystic Light for customizing RGB system lighting.
The company also pre-installed a number of additional spam files, including Norton Studio, PhotoDirector 8, PowerDirector, Minesweeper, Sudoku, a translation application, Microsoft Jigsaw, and Evernote.
MSI sells Trident X win a one year warranty.
I tested a high-end MSI Trident X, a $2,499 computer with an Intel Core i9-9900K CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 GPU with 8 GB GDDR6 memory, 16 GB 2666 MHz DDR4 RAM, 2 TB hard drive and 512 GB M.2 SSD.
The base model costs $1,999, has a Core i7-7700K, RTX 2070 and 512 GB SSD, but no hard drive.
For $2299, you get the same Core i7 processor as above, along with the RTX 2080 and the smaller 256GB SSD with a 2TB hard drive.
MSI Trident X combines a series of high-performance components in a compact case. And with almost completely standardized components, you can easily upgrade them later if you have a very little workspace. So far, this is the cheapest option of desktop computers we have tested with the RTX 2080.
Your current option is the Asus ROG Strix GL12CX, a large PC with interchangeable SSD slot and Aura Sync RGB software. However, it is not only bigger, but it is also much more expensive: $1,300 more for a configuration like ours.
This makes Trident X an obvious choice in terms of appearance, price, high performance and upgrades potential.