MSI Trident 3 Review: The Smallest Gaming PC
I've always been a fan of small form factor gaming PCs and here's my MSI Trident 3 Review. I've always had this thing for like small gaming PCs. Just like really powerful computers in these really small form factors. I've been searching for a very long time and I think I finally found something that's really good, the MSI Trident 3.
MSI Trident 3 Review
Build & Design
What makes the Trident 3 special is the fact that it's a very, very small gaming computer. It's 5.5 liters, which is very similar in size to a Mac Pro. Obviously, the, shape is completely different, but just in terms of volume, the Trident 3 is around 5.5 liters. The official volume from MSI's website is 4.72 liters, and technically it is, because they're measuring the physical space it occupies. But I feel like it's 5.5 because I'm including the angular cut-away gap on each side. Regardless, it's a small case.
On this post, I’m going to review the Arctic edition. They make another version that's all black, it's like the regular one. It has a GTX 1060, has a smaller power supply, everything else is about the same but because the GPU is weaker in that one. I mean, some people might love the look. I prefer something a little cleaner, a little more minimal but, I like it just because it's small, and because it's white and because it has a single RGB light. For just, I don't know, you can play with colors and stuff. But overall, I think the design is good. It’s just not perfect to me.
The best thing about this small gaming PC is it's 5.5-liter size. There's other ITX cases that are also really small. The one that comes to mind that's probably the most popular in terms of like, small ITX cases is the NCASE M1. It's a 12-liter case. There's another ITX case that's even smaller, it's the DAN Case A4-SFX, and that thing is 7 liters but it's really difficult to get your hands on it.
The MSI Trident 3 is 5.5 liters, it's really small. You can open it up, it's not recommended because there's a sticker that says you shouldn't but, when you do, you can have access to the RAM, the CPU and the GPU. You can put up to 32 GB of RAM in here. There's also upgradable storage, but you have to go in underneath. There's an M.2 stick, and there's a 2.5 Inch SATA Drive.
Ok, I have to be completely honest, when I saw this PC, I thought, there's a Desktop i7, there's a GTX 1070 in a case that's very small which could mean that this can't go very well. It's either gonna be super-hot, or super loud, or a combination of the 2. Turns out, the performance is really strong It's not the fastest thing out there, but most Triple A titles, you're looking at wicked smooth frame rates on ultra-graphics at 1080p. Some weaker titles will let you play with good frame rates in 4K but most importantly, every single game that I enjoy playing.
Overwatch and Player Unknown's Battleground. Those two games run incredibly well on this system. You can to stay near 120 frames-per-second with really nice-looking graphics. VR obviously works well with this, because it's a GTX 1070 and you have the ports up front for easy access if it's going to a home theater set-up or something.
Video editing is also really nice on this machine. It's a great performer. So, the big question is, how good is the thermal performance? Because cooling a PC of this size with this kind of performance is not an easy task. A lot of small form factor enthusiasts struggle with that whole, like, “do we make it louder, and make it cool better”, or “do we keep it quieter and let it run hotter”. But these guys, they did a pretty good job. Looking at the temperatures, the idle and load temperatures are a little warm, nothing bad, it's definitely in-spec of what Intel recommends. You won’t also see any kind of Thermal Throttling, but it does run warm.
The good thing is that the fans are incredibly quiet. When it's idle, it's almost silence but even under load, this is one of the quietest systems I've seen with this kind of performance. They're doing this through good, automated fan-control but, if there was one complaint I had about the thermal management, I just wish that this thing had user-controllable fans, like I want to be able to ramp it up and down depending on whatever I’m doing.
It comes with a mouse, and keyboard, with controllable RGB lighting. It's not my cup of tea, but, they're actually pretty comfortable to use. It's a membrane keyboard, it feels nice, even though it's free, I’m not gonna lie it feels better than most membrane keyboards made by big name accessory makers.
The mouse feels less awesome, but it's not bad, it's got a weight adjustable system. But either one of these peripherals are just kind of like, bonus accessories. They're very viable, I just wouldn't go competitive MLG with them.
The AC adapter is big, it's 330W, but it's just how the Trident is able to keep its size. The power supply is external and you can always hide it to keep your setup relatively clean.
The Arctic edition of the Trident 3 starts at $1500, which is, in my opinion, a very fair price for what you're getting. I mean, obviously you can build a regular PC, with a GTX 1070 for cheaper than this. There's no doubt. If you don't care about the size of your case, you can get similar performance to this for $1200-$1300. It would have better upgradeability down the line than this but it would be a heck of a lot larger. So, for MSI to stick all this stuff into a 5.5-liter case, and include a mouse and a keyboard, for $1500, I think it's fair.
So, some final notes, I've toured with several, small gaming PCs, the Corsair One is an awesome machine, very quiet, very well-cooled, but it's a little big, at 12 liters. The Asus GR8 series, or "great", I’m not sure how they pronounce it but it's a pretty powerful system. The fans are way too loud and Zotac makes some small form-factor boxes, which are pretty quiet and small. They're running lower wattage i5 CPUs which don't really take advantage of the GPUs, and they're not as good for video editing.
So overall, I really like this system, if you can tell, I have a few complaints about it, like, I don't love the design. I wish the thermal controls were a little better. There’s also some bloatware, not a ton, but, if you don't like removing that stuff, it is there.
Overall, great system. Now, most people who pick up something like this, or kind of, (are) in the market for something like this would stick it in their media center, like under their TV. Kind of like a console like, to replace a PS4 or something. I'm one of the weird people that would use this as my regular PC because I like small gaming PCs and silent. I'm just weird like that but for people that are just in the market for this kind of device, this is a good one.