Just like the recently reviewed Asus ROG Strix GL12CX, the MSI Trident X (starts at $1,999; $2,499 as tested) is a gaming desktop for the esports enthusiast or professional. Any gamer would enjoy its power, but its slim vertical design and easy-access, standard components are aimed at the esports world and those who move their towers often. The professional or aspiring esports player is a tiny niche, but the tournaments watched by huge audiences around the world do need to be played on PCs that guarantee smooth, high-settings gameplay. The Trident X is a much better value than the Strix given their similarities, but if you’re looking for something a bit less specialized for similar performance and slightly less money, the Corsair Vengeance Gaming PC 5180 is, by a narrow margin, our Editors’ Choice.
An Esports-Focused Design
For a powerful gaming system, the Trident X is quite slim. The last esports-focused desktop we tested, the Asus ROG Strix$3,299.99 at Newegg, takes on a much more traditional desktop-tower shape, while the Trident X is tall and skinny. It measures just 5.1 inches across, while standing 15.6 inches tall and 15.1 inches deep. That’s a much smaller footprint than the cube-like Vengeance$2,399.00 at Corsair (13.8 by 10.9 by 15.7 inches, HWD), even if it’s a couple of inches taller.
In terms of design, I noted some positives and negatives. Overall, the shape is pretty sleek-looking, and it has some eye-catching, though generally tame, accent lighting. The case stuns on first glance, but you’ll see a good bit of not-so-premium plastic when you look closer, especially on the front panel. The left panel is metal, with only a grated cutout for the graphics card and some lighting toward the top of the case. The metal door is a bit dull, but MSI does provide an alternative glass panel for this side of the case that you can install. It is a much better solution for enjoying the high-end parts.
The right side panel is tinted glass, with a cutout window for a case fan that features eye-catching circular RGB lighting. It’s hinged at the rear and held shut magnetically, so opening it up is as easy as tugging on the corner. This is easier than the left panel, for which you need to remove two rear screws for interior access. The easy-open door at least makes it simple to tinker with cable routing, but it’s pretty plain on this side on the interior. On the whole, I find the aesthetic design is much better than that of the ROG Strix, and the skinny design is appealing, but the Corsair Vengeance has the slickest look of the three.
Because of the skinny shape and vertical orientation, the component accessibility is much better than you might expect in a compact PC. The left and right panels co-host most of the parts, with the graphics card and an M.2 SSD on the left, and the hard drive, CPU (behind the fan), and power supply on the right. Even fitting the power supply inside such a compact case deserves a nod, as a PC this slim will often use an external power supply brick. This, instead, is an industry-standard SFX-form-factor power supply, so you can even swap it out down the road should you need more wattage.
As for what you’ll find inside, well, MSI spared little expense. This unit (model 9SE-002US) is outfitted with an Intel Core i9-9900KBest Price at Amazon processor, the MSI Ventus OC version of Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2080 graphics card, 16GB of memory, a 512GB M.2 SSD, a 2TB hard drive, and a 650-watt power supply. There are two other SKUs available: One with a Core i7-7700K, an RTX 2080, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a 2TB HDD ($2,299), and another with a Core i7-7700K, an RTX 2070, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD ($1,999).
Though it may stand slimmer than the rest, the Trident X is otherwise the same as your standard desktop. You’ll find several ports on the front panel for easier access, including USB 3.1 (Type-A), USB 2.0 (Type-A), USB 3.1 (Type-C), and a headset jack…
Around back, you’ll find two more USB 2.0 ports, a Gen 1 USB 3.1 port, two Gen 2 USB 3.1 ports, and another USB Type-C port.
Together, it’s not an excess of ports, but there’s enough to plug in all of your gaming peripherals, plus several high-speed data-transfer options.