Smaller form-factor PCs usually go one in every of two methods: First, you may prioritize the small a part of the equation. This leaves you with one thing superbly tiny, however at the price of future upgrades—space-saving comes with the caveat of proprietary and non-replaceable elements. (See: Alienware Alpha.) Or you may prioritize future upgrades, which usually means a bigger and fewer aesthetically pleasing machine.
The MSI Trident V3 is the uncommon machine that may do each—at the very least to some extent.
MSI Trident V3 vs. consoles
It truly is tiny. Scale might be robust to guage in images, however at 13.6 by 9.2 by 2.eight inches, the Trident is so small it’s arduous to imagine there’s a full-size PC inside. It’s smaller than my launch-version Xbox One as an illustration, and fairly almost smaller than the brand new Xbox One X. (It is smaller depth, however the Trident is about an inch longer and possibly half an inch taller.) The Trident sits comfortably in “console-sized” territory, in any case.
And it appears even smaller than it’s. The Xbox One’s blunt VCR-like chassis seems each inch its dimension. The Trident’s canted angles are needlessly flashy maybe, but in addition slimming.
Talking of flashy: I may do with out the RGB lighting. That’s the one facet I believe detracts from the design, if solely as a result of it’s distracting. Given the small dimension of the Trident I assume most individuals will place it on one thing, be it a media heart shelf, a desk, no matter. Having an RGB-lit “Y” form on the entrance panel ensures the Trident gained’t merely mix into the background, as an alternative blink-blink-blinking away at you all evening lengthy.
It gained’t hassle everybody, and it is also customizable—you may hop into MSI’s settings panel and switch the lighting off, “fixing” the issue. There’s simply not a lot level to it being there in any respect on a machine seemingly so suited to front room use, although.
I really like the selection of white for the chassis, although. Most of MSI’s Trident fashions come within the firm’s commonplace black-and-red shade scheme—as “generic gaming machine” as you will get. The mannequin we checked out is available in “Arctic White” although, with a pink MSI badge and pink labels on the entrance ports. It’s slick. I are likely to choose black packing containers—I really feel they maintain up higher over time—however there’s no denying that contemporary out of the field the white Trident is an eye-catcher. Bonus: Much less noticeable mud.
The entrance panel is laden with ports, which additionally behooves front room use. Most noteworthy is a front-facing HDMI port, which MSI intends for straightforward VR utilization. I haven’t had a lot purpose to make use of my HTC Vive with the Trident, however I admire the gesture. For the time being, plugging in a VR headset means crawling behind my tower PC. Entrance-facing I/O is definitely extra handy.
You’ll additionally discover three.5mm headphone and microphone ports on the entrance, plus one USB-C and two USB three.1 jacks. And regardless of the machine’s small dimension, the rear additionally includes a stunning variety of ports—two extra HDMI ports on the motherboard itself, 5 USB ports, gigabit Ethernet, energy, Line-In, Line-Out/headphones, and microphone. Then there’s the graphics card, which options an extra two HDMI ports (for a complete of 5 on the machine), two DisplayPorts, and one DVI.
Wrapping up the design, I’ll observe that the Trident additionally comes with a stand, permitting you to run the machine vertically. That is the weakest a part of the package deal although, with the stand apparently extra involved with aesthetics than maintaining your PC intact. The stand neither snaps onto the machine nor screws into it, relying as an alternative on the Trident’s weight and 4 tiny rubber pads to maintain it upright. When you plan to toss the Trident onto a shelf? It could be sufficient. However if in case you have an unstable desk, pets, youngsters, or are possibly simply clumsy? I wouldn’t advocate operating it vertical. Even a reasonable nudge may ship it teetering and (in the event you’re unfortunate) toppling over.
MSI Trident V3 Arctic specs, value, and efficiency
Okay, so it’s console-sized. Now how does it stack up? And the reply: Fairly rattling good. Really, the Trident we checked out was loaded, for a machine this small.
Most Trident setups run with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, which is a wonderfully serviceable card. (Really, that places it about on par with the Xbox One X.) The $1,450 mannequin we checked out although takes the subsequent step, by some means packing an 8GB GTX 1070, plus an Intel Core i7-7700 clocked at three.6 GHz, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and each a 256GB SSD and a 1TB arduous drive. Once more, that’s right into a machine smaller than the unique Xbox One.
It’s unbelievable. Certain, you’re not going to get the identical efficiency as a full tower with a GTX 1080 Ti inside, however in a machine this dimension? Wow. As I mentioned, even the Xbox One X tops out at GTX 1060 ranges of energy, which makes the Trident V3 extra highly effective than even probably the most highly effective console available on the market at the moment. We ran the Trident by way of our ordinary battery of benchmarks, with spectacular outcomes—spectacular if solely as a result of one thing this small put up scores much like full-sized towers.
For example, in Rise of the Tomb Raider at 1080p with settings on Very Excessive, the Trident V3 averaged 107.9 frames per second. That’s proper in step with different 1070-equipped machines like a 1070-equipped Gigabyte PC that we have checked out, which averaged 107.eight frames per second. The identical goes for Shadow of Mordor with the 4K texture pack put in—130.2 frames per second for the Trident V3, 129.2 for the Gigabyte machine.
The Trident V3 even holds its personal in lengthier benchmarks. That’s spectacular. In-game benchmarks are normally just a few minutes lengthy at greatest, so that you don’t actually see thermal throttling as a result of the doesn’t warmth up sufficient for it to matter. However in one in every of 3DMark’s lengthier checks or our CPU-centric Handbrake encode you generally see warmth dispersion issues you would possibly’ve in any other case missed.
Not right here. In 3DMark’s FireStrike Excessive take a look at the Trident put up a rating of 7828, which compares favorably to the Gigabyte machine’s 8313. And in our Handbrake take a look at, the place we transcode a 30GB MKV file right down to the Android Pill preset, the Trident V3 did it in about 38 minutes and 46 seconds—solely 16 seconds longer than the Gigabyte. All proof factors to there being no vital thermal points. The machine will get sizzling for positive, however so far as I can inform it’s not considerably affecting efficiency.
“Okay, so then noise is a matter proper? If it’s transferring that a lot warmth, clearly the followers have to be distracting.” Nope! Surprisingly it’s each comparatively cool and quiet. Not whisper-silent, to make certain, however at even reasonable volumes my sound system drowned out the Trident’s followers—and that was with it on my desk. When you positioned it throughout the room, you’d in all probability by no means hear it. It’s definitely quieter than 2013’s Xbox One mannequin, and about on par with the brand new Xbox One X.
MSI Trident V3 upgradeability
However crucial facet of the Trident V3: It’s not solely small, however upgradeable. Correctly upgradeable, largely because of the aforementioned GTX 1070. See, most Trident fashions ship with a GTX 1060—a low-power card. As such, they get away with operating on a 230 watt energy brick.
That’s effective, so long as you solely ever plan to interchange the 1060 with an equal card, however even upgrading to a 1070 would doubtless trigger issues underneath load with that diminutive an influence provide.
Since our mannequin ships with a 1070 although, it additionally packs a 330 watt provide. That’s not a lot greater than the baseline Trident, and it nonetheless is available in ugly energy brick kind so that you’ll have to search out some further room to stash it, however you may need a little bit of headroom for overclocking in the event you’re cautious. The GPU can also be simply accessed, and might be swapped out for every other small form-factor card so long as you retain the ability restrictions in thoughts. Three or 4 years down the road you must be capable of plop in a GTX 1470 or no matter and be good to go.
The GPU isn’t the one half that’s upgradeable although. Two screws will get you into the case, which is sufficient to exchange the RAM instantly. The CPU would take extra doing, however you may dismantle the cooling system and swap it out if desired. That may solely be within the occasion of full failure although—the motherboard is proprietary, and given Intel’s fondness for switching CPU sockets currently you’re in all probability not going to have the ability to drop in a new-generation processor later.
I solely have a pair complaints. Accessing the arduous drives is a royal ache, requiring you to flip the machine over and take away your entire backside panel. It would be simpler to only use an external drive I suppose, but it surely’s annoying given the Trident’s 1TB drive. Very first thing I’d need to do is improve that, and it’s more durable than it must be. Extra annoyingly, you void your guarantee by tinkering. That’s not too unusual with prebuilts, however there’s certainly a sticker over one of many screws as you head inside.
If you wish to actually tinker? Certain, get a full tower or construct your personal. Nonetheless, in order for you a small machine that is still a good funding three or 4 years down the road? The Trident V3 provides you adequate runway to improve crucial parts a number of occasions, and exchange the most certainly factors of failure too. That’s higher than lots of machines its dimension (to not point out gaming consoles).
The MSI Trident V3 Arctic affords the ability of an upper-mid tier PC in a chassis the scale of the brand new Xbox One X—and with the flexibility to improve it even additional in a number of years with a hypothetical GTX 1470 or no matter. It’s engaging, it’s small, it’s (largely) discreet, and it’s additionally surprisingly cheap. The 1070-equipped mannequin we checked out retails for a mere $1,450 on Amazon. Doing a little tough back-of-napkin math, I estimate you’d solely save possibly $200 or $300 on a naked bones Mini-ITX construct of your personal, and when you’d acquire some extra room for upgrades later it positively wouldn’t end up this modern, nor handle warmth this effectively.
Whether or not you’re in search of a front room machine, a dorm-room PC, or one thing handy to take to these LAN events you and your folks are nonetheless (in 2017!) having, the Trident V3 is unquestionably value a glance—particularly this GTX 1070 mannequin. The 1060 items? Eh, I’d in all probability give these a go. However that is one hell of a deal.