The MSI Trident X is a powerful, thin gaming PC that you can upgrade later with off-the-shelf parts.
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)
The MSI Trident X is a powerful gaming PC in a thin chassis. It uses standardized parts, so you can upgrade it later, though you’ll need a screwdriver to do so.
- Excellent gaming performance
- All standardized parts
- Compact design
- Too much bloatware
- Needs tools to open
When you buy a pre-built machine, you likely want something that will deliver excellent performance out of the box and, hopefully, not eat up too much space. It’s a plus if you can upgrade it down the line, too. The MSI MEG Trident X ($2,299.00 to start, $2,799.00 as tested) with 10th Gen Intel Core processors and Nvidia GeForce RTX graphics delivers on all of those fronts in a thin, vertical tower that can tackle even the most demanding games, making it one of the Best Gaming PCs. It’s a full package, including a keyboard and mouse (though you’ll want to replace these at some point).
It’s not all buyer-friendly — the small design requires tools, and you’ll want to remove some bloatware. But out of the box, this thing is ready to eat frames.
MSI MEG Trident X Design (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
This is a compliment, I swear: The MSI MEG Trident X design looks like a console trying to be a gaming PC. The design, while non-traditional, has some of the benefits of both platforms.
The 15.6 x 15.1 x 5.1-inch computer is a black box covered in aggressive angles. There’s no mistaking this for anything other than a gaming rig. The front has two RGB light stripes, and there’s more lighting coming from the sides, with venting holes for the GPU and the CPU cooler.
You can’t detach the stand on the bottom, so this PC is all vertical, all the time (in that way, it looks like a PlayStation 4 in a stand). That base has a few small fans that take air in through the bottom and push it up and out the top of the system.
The slim design features several compartments that aren’t necessarily how a PC is traditionally built. The right side has the mini ITX motherboard, covered by a low-profile 120mm CPU cooler with an RGB light ring. If you were to take the side panel off, that’s where the PSU is mounted, too. On the right side, the GPU takes over the top half of the case. It’s connected to the motherboard by a riser cable that goes around the case and ultimately mounts vertically. Below is the other side of the power supply, providing ample room for intake.
The computer ships with aluminum side panels, with venting that highlights the GPU and CPU cooler (and has room for PSU cooling). But MSI also includes a glass side panel that you can swap if you prefer it. This requires some tools, though. You’ll need a Phillips head screwdriver to remove the right-side panel, and then screw on two hinges for the glass door in their places. Then you can drop the tempered glass cover in. There’s not much to see except the RGB light ring from the CPU fan, but it is far easier to open then removing screws all the time if you expect to tinker often.
When compared to its competitors, the Trident X is more compact than it seems on first glance. For instance, the Corsair Vengeance a4100 is 17.7 x 15.6 x 8.3 inches and the HP Omen Obelisk is 17.1 x 14.1 x 6.5 inches. The boutique CLX Ra is 20.5 x 20.5 x 9.5 inches.
MSI MEG Trident X Specifications
|Processor||Intel Core i7-10700K|
|Motherboard||MSI MEG Z490I Unify (Mini ITX)|
|Memory||32GB Samsung DDR4 2933 MHz|
|Graphics||MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Ventus OC (11GB GDDR6)|
|Storage||1TB Western Digital PC SN730 PCIe NVMe SSD|
|Networking||Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200, Bluetooth 5.1|
|Front Ports||USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type C, USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, USB 2.0 Type A|
|Rear Ports (Motherboard)||2x USB 2.0 Type-A, 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, Thunderbolt 3, 1x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A, RJ45 Ethernet, 5x Audio jacks, Optical S/PDIF out|
|Video Output (GPU)||3x DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 1.4|
|Power Supply||FSP FSP650-57SAB 650W SFX|
|Case||MSI MEG Trident X|
|Cooling||120mm RGB CPU fan|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home|
|Dimensions||15.6 x 15.1 x 5.1 inches / 396.2 x 383.5 x 129.5 mm|
|Other||Clutch GM11 Mouse, Vigor GK30 Keyboard|
|Price As Configured||$2,799.00|
MSI MEG Trident X Ports and Upgradeability
There’s a decent port selection on the front of the Trident X: a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type C port, USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A,and USB 2.0 Type-A, as well as separate headphones and microphone jacks. Both Type-A ports are colored red, and while they are labeled on the chassis, I wish they were different colors to make it easier to tell the difference at a glance. On the rear of the case, you get two USB 2.0 Type-A ports, a pair of USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A, RJ45 Ethernet, a whopping five audio jacks, and optical S/PDIF out. The GPU provides the video outputs: three DisplayPort 1.2 and an HDMI 1.4 port.
The computer’s odd layout doesn’t make it any less customizable.the motherboard is on the right side of the case, but the 120mm fan covers most of it, so you’ll need to remove that to make upgrades to RAM or the storage that comes with the PC. On the left side lives an extra M.2 slot on the back of the motherboard, making it easy to add an extra drive. To replace the GPU, you’ll likely want to remove the top (two screws) and the left side (another two screws). I found getting the left side off a bit challenging thanks to a clip holding it in for support, but with some time and effort, I got it to slide off. There aren’t any proprietary parts here, so you could change everything out as long as it fits in the case (the SFX power supply, for instance, is a special consideration).
MSI MEG Trident X Gaming and Graphics
MSI equipped our review unit with its own GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Ventus OC, which lets you play most games at their highest settings, and many games in 4K.
When I played Control at its highest settings (including its top-end ray-tracing options) at 1080p, the game stayed between 60 and 70 frames per second during intense battles for control points. As I wandered the Oldest House, it often stayed slightly above 70 fps.