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MSI MEG Trident X review: This fast gaming PC can squeeze into crowded quarters

It's speedy and small, with surprisingly quiet fans.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Although it didn't inspire me to name it the way the Corsair One Pro i200 did, 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.

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8.3

MSI MEG Trident X

Pricing Not Available

Like

  • Fast for its size and components
  • Surprisingly quiet
  • Looks like a gaming system, but not gaudy about it
  • Includes a USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 port

Don't like

  • Can't lay on its side

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 $2,299
Size 10.4 liter mini ITX (15.1 x 5.4 x 15.6 in/38.4 x 13.0 x 40.0 cm)
Motherboard MSI MEG Z490I Unify and 650 watt PSU
CPU 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K
Memory 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,932MHz (2 slots)
Graphics 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super (MSI Ventus)
Storage 1TB SSD (1 NVMe slot); 2 open bays for 2.5-inch storage
Ports 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)
Networking 1 x 2.5Gb Ethernet, Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200 (802.11ax)
Operating system 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.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

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.

Geekbench 5 (multicore)

HP Envy 32 All-in-One 7,511MSI MEG Trident X 8,917Origin PC Big O (PS4 Edition) 10,138Corsair One Pro i200 12,766
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench 5 (single-core)

Corsair One Pro i200 1,126HP Envy 32 All-in-One 1,252MSI MEG Trident X 1,294Origin PC Big O (PS4 Edition) 1,307
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench 5 (Vulkan)

HP Envy 32 All-in-One 47,354Origin PC Big O (PS4 Edition) 64,522MSI MEG Trident X 70,806Corsair One Pro i200 91,594
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R20 CPU (multicore)

HP Envy 32 All-in-One 3,202MSI MEG Trident X 4,789Corsair One Pro i200 6,197Origin PC Big O (PS4 Edition) 7,099
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

HP Envy 32 All-in-One 5,650MSI MEG Trident X 6,181Origin PC Big O (PS4 Edition) 10,144Corsair One Pro i200 12,979
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance

Shadow of the Tomb Raider gaming test

HP Envy 32 All-in-One 70Origin PC Big O (PS4 Edition) 91MSI MEG Trident X 130Corsair One Pro i200 138
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

3DMark Port Royal (RTX)

HP Envy 32 All-in-One 5,641Origin PC Big O (PS4 Edition) 5,921MSI MEG Trident X 5,982Corsair One Pro i200 8,723
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance

System configurations

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)
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8.3

MSI MEG Trident X

Pricing Not Available

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8.5Performance 8.5