Although it didn’t inspire me to name it the way thedid, I’ve grown quite fond of MSI’s Trident X compact gaming desktop. It’s fast, fits on my overcrowded desk, has pretty lights with fans that are seen but not heard and hasn’t given me any trouble since initial bootup. Even the base configuration has sufficient power to spiral downwards in Flight Simulator at 1440p and play the much slower-moving Deliver Us the Moon in 4K HDR.
There are limited prebuilt configurations to choose from, except if you’re Amazon; there, you can buy it with either 32GB or 64GB memory and tons of different combinations of the NVMe or 2.5-inch SSD, plus a single hard disk. Otherwise, it comes with the 8-core Intel Core i7-10700KF and an MSI GeForce RTX 2070 Super Ventus or 2080 Ti graphics card.
In theory there’s also a 10-core Core i9-10900K configuration, but I couldn’t find the current model for sale anywhere. The line starts at $2,299, but if you like the case and don’t need the power, the similar (but not identical) MPG Trident 3 starts at $1,049 with a Core i5-10400F and a GTX 1660 Super. Some bundles come with MSI’s Vector GK30 keyboard and Clutch GM11, which feel a little too low-budget for this system.
The configurations are different in the UK, but as far as I can tell the entry Trident X model is £2,299. And it’s not available in Australia at all.
MSI MEG Trident X (10SF-863US)
|Price as reviewed
|10.4 liter mini ITX (15.1 x 5.4 x 15.6 in/38.4 x 13.0 x 40.0 cm)
|MSI MEG Z490I Unify and 650 watt PSU
|3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K
|32GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,932MHz (2 slots)
|8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super (MSI Ventus)
|1TB SSD (1 NVMe slot); 2 open bays for 2.5-inch storage
|6 x USB-A, 2 x USB-C (1 x Thunderbolt 3); on GPU 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0b, on motherboard 1 x DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI)
|1 x 2.5Gb Ethernet, Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200 (802.11ax)
|Windows 10 Home (1909)
It’s a great configuration for gaming in 1440p; 4K performance depends on the game, but if you use Nvidia’s DLSS upscaling (and aren’t distracted by the overprocessed look like I am), you can play quite well at high resolution. In Shadow of the Tomb Raider both DLSS 4K and 1440p delivered around a comfortable 90fps or so. If you want solid 4K, the 2080 Ti is the way to go. But the $2,299 system should give you enough power and room to grow.
You can overclock the CPU, GPU and memory with MSI’s Dragon Center utility, which offers a lot of control over the voltage and frequency parameters. Long-term, you’ll be able to upgrade the storage, memory and graphics card; it has a 650-watt power supply, which should be able to handle most upgrades. Replacing the PSU may be tricky, as is usual in compact designs. Ditto for size constraints on the possible graphics card choices, since there’s only room for a single-slot card.
Most of the components are accessible on one side of the system; only the graphics card and some of the NVMe SSD are on the backside of the motherboard on the other side. It’s about as expandable as you’d expect for a PC its size — two 2.5-inch bays, two dual-channel RAM slots, an NVMe slot — and everything is relatively easy to reach. It’s got four lighting zones, visible on the side fans, the front strip and through the top vent.
Opening the case requires removing just two screws per side. While I prefer thumbscrews rather than having to hunt down a screwdriver, it’s hardly onerous. You can also replace one side with a tempered glass door that has a mesh section over the fan. The one drawback is you can’t lay it on its side like you can with the Trident 3, at least not without rigging something up; there are fans on both sides and you don’t want to block the airflow.
People have complained about spotty Wi-Fi connections with this line, which matches my experience with the same Intel AX200 chipset in laptops. However, I didn’t have any issues with it in the Trident. One nice perk that I don’t see much on desktops is a USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 port.
There are flashier compact gaming PCs, but this one strikes a great balance among performance, design and price.
|Corsair One Pro
|Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (1909); 3.3GHz Intel Core i9-10940X; 64GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,667MHz; 11GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti; 2TB SSD
|HP Envy 32 All-in-One
|Microsoft Windows 10 Home (1909); 3.0GHz Intel Core i7-9700; 32GB 2,667MHz DDR4 SDRAM; 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q; 1TB SSD+32GB Intel Optane
|MSI Trident X
|Microsoft Windows 10 Home (1909); (oc) 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,932; 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super Ventus; 1TB SSD
|Origin PC Big O (PS4 Edition)
|Microsoft Windows 10 Home (1909); 3.8GHz AMD Ryzen 9 3900X; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM tk; 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super; 1.5TB SSD (2TB SSD for console)