We have already reviewed a Trident prior to the Trident X, the Trident 3, so what's different this time around? Not a whole lot, but we'll state that we're not too upset about that. The Trident has been upgraded since the last model, now sporting ninth generation Intel i7/i9 processors and both i7-9700K and i9-900K models are available, ours being the home of the lesser kind. One can argue whether an i7-8700K would have been the better choice, but this depends on what you play and what you otherwise use your PC for.
The rig also comes in multiple varieties of graphics cards, one with an RTX 2070, one with a 2080, and one with a 2080ti. Ours was sporting a 2080 (which we're guessing was a Ventus 8G OC model, MSI's budget card with two fans instead of three).
Speaking of components being unspecified, the motherboard isn't specified either but after some investigation, we found out that it's an MSI Z370 SPEL Pro Carbon AC that, in its core, is a Samsung MVe M.2 512 GB solid state hard drive with a Seagate Barracuda. The memory is also Samsung manufactured in the form of a 2x16 GB DDR 267Mhz. The raw components, without the chassis - that being the power supply, the cooling system and the sides of the rig (one made from metal and one from glass, the latter being fancier but also louder in the rig) - are worth more than £1600 / 1900 euros alone and then there's a Windows license to enjoy on top of it all - being a PC gaming enthusiast is not a cheap hobby.
A reason the Trident X is such a delight is its size. The tiny chassis is just a little bit bigger than a PlayStation 4 Pro yet still has an RTX graphics card living the good life inside, and it's almost shocking how quiet the rig is. We also have to give credit where credit is due to MSI for the command center software and the fact that it's super functional and easy to use.
The SFX power supply comes in either 450 watts or 650 watts, depending what the buyer chooses hardware wise, and we still can't fully understand how something so small can conjure enough power to the rig and the fans inside it to keep both an i7 CPU and an RTX graphics card going.
The chassis is perforated in plenty of places to help with the air flow and it's clear that the rig has quite a lot of passive heat distribution in combination with a big RGB fan, blowing air from the CPU while both the graphics card and the power supply have their own air intake perforations. With what the MSI marketing team has chosen to call Silent Storm Cooling 3, the fans don't just breathe out the air, they inhale it, letting the relatively open chassis take care of the rest.
The cooling works unexpectedly well. The CPU went as low as 36 degrees when running standard programs and 76 degrees at max capacity. This while the RTX 2080 went from 31 to 69 degrees, respectively. We were very impressed, considering how close the components all are to the other parts and how quiet the rig is in general.
In terms of performance, the Trident X will run Assassin's Creed: Odyssey at 1080p at 80 FPS, and just over half that number at 4K. It's similar numbers for more cerebral games such as Total War: Warhammer II, which hits almost 100 FPS in 1080p and just over 40 FPS in 4K, according to our tests.
The chassis is designed to be easily accessible from all sides, to make replacing and switching out motherboards, RAM, CPU and hard drives an easy task. While there's not much room in there, it's easy enough to move the components around without compromising the rig. The front of the unit is adorned with a discreet RGB light, a USB-C port, a USB 3.1 port, a USB 2.0 port and headphone and microphone jacks. The back offers two USB 2.0 ports, a 1.2 display port, an HDMI 1.4 port, an ethernet port, a port for optical audio, two USB 3.1 ports and a USB C port. Of course, the rig also has built-in wi-fi and Bluetooth 4.2 support as well.
MSI have, without a doubt, delivered an ultra-compact, well cooled and extremely quiet PC rig - three qualities we definitely enjoy about the Trident X. What's interesting, however, is the price of the components. If the prices of, say motherboards, processors and graphics cards drop dramatically in the future (as hardware tends to do from time to time), the Trident X will immediately become less attractive. If the grotesque trend of components getting more expensive continues, however, the Trident X could well be a viable option for gamers wanting to plug in and play.
The MSI Trident has improved significantly since the last generation, and while the price has gone up quite a bit too, so has the quality of the components. Only time will tell how pricing is compared to the rest of the PCs on the market but from where we're standing, the Trident X is a neat rig for people wanting a pre-built PC.
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