TODAY'S BEST DEALS
Two minute review
Here is the MSI Trident 3 10th configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: Intel Core iF (GHz base, GHz boost, 12MB cache)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX Super
RAM: 8GB @ 2,MHz
Storage: 1TB Seagate Barracude @ 7,RPM
Ports (front): 2 x USB-A; 1 x USB-C; 2 x mm Audio
Ports (rear): 1 x DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI, 1 x DVI, 1 x LAN, 4 x USB , 1 x USB Gen 1, 3 x Audio jack
Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 6 2x2, Bluetooth
Gaming PCs are magical things, aren't they? They come in all shapes and sizes and can be some of the most powerful pieces of technology on the market, or just scrape by with the minimum. The fact that you can pick up an entry-level prebuilt gaming PC like the MSI Trident 3 10th and upgrade it at a later date with more powerful hardware means that you can continually keep up to date – but sometimes the "entry level" is a bit too low.
The MSI Trident 3 10th that was sent to TechRadar for review is the bare minimum spec, packed with an Intel Core iF, an Nvidia GTX Super, and just a 1TB hard drive. We can't find this model listed anywhere, but once it does make its way to stores, it will start at $ (about £, AU$1,). Considering the version with an Nvidia GeForce GTX Super, the same processor, but paired with a way faster GB SSD will set you back $ (about £, AU$1,), that's the model we'd recommend. It is $ (about £90, AU$) more, but the experience will be so much better with that SSD.
Fortunately, this is also one of the smallest gaming PCs we've ever used. When you lay the computer down on its side, similar to a console, it's only a bit taller than the PS4 Pro, not as deep and just a bit wider. All told, it's just inches tall and has a similar footprint to any console other than the Nintendo Switch. The days where you need a giant tower to partake in a bit of PC gaming are over with the MSI Trident 3 10th.
The computer has this all-black, angular design that is way less edgy and "gamer-y" than we'd expect an entry-level gaming PC to have. The only lighting here is a red LED near the power button that, well, indicates that the thing is turned on.
At the front of the device, there is a healthy amount of ports, with two USB-A, a USB-C and separate mm audio jacks for audio in and out.
Here’s how the Corsair One a performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
Cinebench R 3, points
3DMark Time Spy: 4,| Fire Strike: 10, | Night Raid: 34,
Geekbench 5 Single Core: 1,
Multi Core: 5,
PCMark 10 Home: 4,
Total War: Three Kingdoms: fps (p, low); 31 fps (p, ultra)
Metro Last Light: fps (p, low) 37 fps (p, ultra)
However, with this small form factor you lose out a bit one of the best parts of PC gaming: upgrade-ability. You can technically crack this chassis open, but it's not the easiest thing in the world. Once you pop off the bottom panel, remove the screws and then slide the top of the chassis off, you can then access the internals.
However, with how complex and compact the MSI Trident 3 10th chassis is, we wouldn't recommend novice PC users even try – which further makes it harder to recommend the entry level model. That version with a Super and a GB SSD keeps looking more and more tempting.
Which of course leads us to performance. If you pick up the entry level model of the MSI Trident 3 10th, you're going to have a bit of an exercise in patience. At this point, Windows 10 is clearly designed with SSDs in mind, as the flash-based drives get cheaper and cheaper seemingly by the day. As such, once you boot into Windows, you're going to have to sit and wait for a couple minutes, while the startup tasks finish up in the background. We find that the disk is pinned at % for the first two minutes or so as the computer starts up.
That's just the hard drive life, however, but it's something to be aware of going in, especially if you're accustomed to using something like a modern laptop.
Once the system warms up a bit, however, the desktop performs exactly how we would expect it to. The Nvidia GeForce GTX Super in this device is perfect for medium-high settings in the latest AAA games, but where this GPU really excels is in esports. This graphics card will absolutely cut through the likes of Overwatch, Valorant, League of Legends or whatever your multiplayer poison is – just don't go in expecting miraculous frame rates in Call of Duty: Warzone or Battlefield V.
For the most part, our gaming benchmarks line up with the Surface Book 3 of all things, with the MSI Trident 3 10th coming in with a Time Spy score of 4, to the Surface Book 3's 4, Microsoft's pro-level laptop is similarly suited mainly for lightweight casual and esports games at p, so that tracks.
The Intel Core iF, is only a bit weaker than the full-fat Core iK. In Cinebench R20, you're getting a score of 3, points to the K's 3, Combined with the Geekbench 5 single-core score of 1,, you're losing about % performance, but way less temperature and fan noise than a full overclockable chip would bring.
Essentially, the MSI Trident 3 10th is ideal if your idea of a good time is sitting back and playing some League of Legends or World of Warcraft with friends, and you're not too concerned about maxing out all the graphics settings. And, with how popular esports are, that's probably a ton of people – and the MSI Trident 3 10th will work wonders for them.
Or, you can just use it as a media PC, as that GPU can easily handle 4K video, and the capacious hard drive is much more than something like the Apple TV offers.
Buy it if
You don't have a lot of space
The MSI Trident 3 10th is one of the smallest gaming PCs we've ever seen, not much larger than a gaming laptop – while being cheaper for equivalent hardware. If you don't have a ton of space, this is an easy choice.
You're into esports
There's a massive amount of gamers out there that only really want to play League of Legends or Counter-Strike. For people like this, the hardware on offer will be more than enough to ensure an excellent experience, without draining your wallet.
You're trying to save some cash
There are other gaming PCs with a similar footprint – MSI makes one itself – that are far more expensive for the hardware on offer. This is thanks in large part to flashy RGB lighting and liquid cooling, none of which this desktop offers. If you're looking for bang-for-the-buck, this is it.
Don't buy it if
You care about upgrade-ability
Because of how compact this PC is, it's kind of a pain to tear apart to service or upgrade. For that reason alone, it's probably best to get a higher-end version of the device, but if you want a PC that you can upgrade later, you may want to look elsewhere.
You need an SSD at the entry level
The entry level model of the MSI Trident 3 10th only has a hard drive and 8GB of RAM. For the money and considering the small form factor that's not really a bad deal, but Windows 10 with an SSD is a much better experience. If you can afford it, we'd recommend going with the $ model.
TODAY'S BEST DEALS
Jackie Thomas (Twitter) is TechRadar's US computing editor. She is fat, queer and extremely online. Computers are the devil, but she just happens to be a satanist. If you need to know anything about computing components, PC gaming or the best laptop on the market, don't be afraid to drop her a line on Twitter or through email.
Smaller form-factor PCs typically go one of two ways: First, you can prioritize the small part of the equation. This leaves you with something beautifully tiny, but at the cost of future upgrades—space-saving comes with the caveat of proprietary and non-replaceable parts. (See: Alienware Alpha.) Or you can prioritize future upgrades, which typically means a larger and less aesthetically pleasing machine.
The MSI Trident 3 is the rare machine that can do both—at least to some extent.
MSI Trident 3 vs. consoles
It really is tiny. Scale can be tough to judge in photographs, but at by by inches, the Trident is so small it’s hard to believe there’s a full-size PC inside. It’s smaller than my launch-version Xbox One for instance, and quite nearly smaller than the new Xbox One X. (It’s smaller depth, but the Trident is about an inch longer and maybe half an inch taller.) The Trident sits comfortably in “console-sized” territory, in any case.
And it seems even smaller than it is. The Xbox One’s blunt VCR-like chassis looks every inch its size. The Trident’s canted angles are needlessly flashy perhaps, but also slimming.
Speaking of flashy: I could do without the RGB lighting. That’s the one aspect I think detracts from the design, if only because it’s distracting. Given the small size of the Trident I assume most people will place it on something, be it a media center shelf, a desk, whatever. Having an RGB-lit “Y” shape on the front panel ensures the Trident won’t simply blend into the background, instead blink-blink-blinking away at you all night long.
It won’t bother everyone, and it’s also customizable—you can hop into MSI’s settings panel and turn the lighting off, “solving” the problem. There’s just not much point to it being there at all on a machine seemingly so suited for living room use, though.
I love the choice of white for the chassis, though. Most of MSI’s Trident models come in the company’s standard black-and-red color scheme—as “generic gaming machine” as you can get. The model we looked at comes in “Arctic White” though, with a red MSI badge and red labels on the front ports. It’s slick. I tend to prefer black boxes—I feel they hold up better over time—but there’s no denying that fresh out of the box the white Trident is an eye-catcher. Bonus: Less noticeable dust.
The front panel is laden with ports, which also behooves living room use. Most noteworthy is a front-facing HDMI port, which MSI intends for easy VR usage. I haven’t had much reason to use my HTC Vive with the Trident, but I appreciate the gesture. At the moment, plugging in a VR headset means crawling behind my tower PC. Front-facing I/O is certainly more convenient.
You’ll also find mm headphone and microphone ports on the front, plus one USB-C and two USB jacks. And despite the machine’s small size, the rear also features a surprising number of ports—two more HDMI ports on the motherboard itself, five USB ports, gigabit Ethernet, power, Line-In, Line-Out/headphones, and microphone. Then there’s the graphics card, which features an additional two HDMI ports (for a total of five on the machine), two DisplayPorts, and one DVI.
Wrapping up the design, I’ll note that the Trident also comes with a stand, allowing you to run the machine vertically. This is the weakest part of the package though, with the stand apparently more concerned with aesthetics than keeping your PC intact. The stand neither snaps onto the machine nor screws into it, relying instead on the Trident’s weight and four tiny rubber pads to keep it upright. If you plan to toss the Trident onto a shelf? It might be enough. But if you have an unstable desk, pets, children, or are maybe just clumsy? I wouldn’t recommend running it vertical. Even a moderate nudge could send it teetering and (if you’re unlucky) toppling over.
MSI Trident 3 Arctic specs, price, and performance
Okay, so it’s console-sized. Now how does it stack up? And the answer: Pretty damn good. Actually, the Trident we looked at was loaded, for a machine this small.
Most Trident setups run with an Nvidia GeForce GTX , which is a perfectly serviceable card. (Actually, that puts it about on par with the Xbox One X.) The $1, model we looked at though takes the next step, somehow packing an 8GB GTX , plus an Intel Core i clocked at GHz, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and both a GB SSD and a 1TB hard drive. Again, that’s into a machine smaller than the original Xbox One.
It’s incredible. Sure, you’re not going to get the same performance as a full tower with a GTX Ti inside, but in a machine this size? Wow. As I said, even the Xbox One X tops out at GTX levels of power, which makes the Trident V3 more powerful than even the most powerful console on the market today. We ran the Trident through our usual battery of benchmarks, with impressive results—impressive if only because something this small put up scores similar to full-sized towers.
For instance, in Rise of the Tomb Raider at p with settings on Very High, the Trident 3 averaged frames per second. That’s right in line with other equipped machines like a equipped Gigabyte PC that we’ve looked at, which averaged frames per second. The same goes for Shadow of Mordor with the 4K texture pack installed— frames per second for the Trident V3, for the Gigabyte machine.
The Trident 3 even holds its own in lengthier benchmarks. That’s impressive. In-game benchmarks are usually only a few minutes long at best, so you don’t really see thermal throttling because the hardware doesn’t heat up enough for it to matter. But in one of 3DMark’s lengthier tests or our CPU-centric Handbrake encode you sometimes see heat dispersion problems you might’ve otherwise overlooked.
Not here. In 3DMark’s FireStrike Extreme test the Trident put up a score of , which compares favorably to the Gigabyte machine’s And in our Handbrake test, where we transcode a 30GB MKV file down to the Android Tablet preset, the Trident 3 did it in about 38 minutes and 46 seconds—only 16 seconds longer than the Gigabyte. All evidence points to there being no significant thermal issues. The machine gets hot for sure, but as far as I can tell it’s not significantly affecting performance.
“Okay, so then noise is an issue right? If it’s moving that much heat, obviously the fans must be distracting.” Nope! Surprisingly it’s both relatively cool and quiet. Not whisper-silent, to be sure, but at even moderate volumes my sound system drowned out the Trident’s fans—and that was with it on my desk. If you placed it across the room, you’d probably never hear it. It’s certainly quieter than ’s Xbox One model, and about on par with the new Xbox One X.
MSI Trident 3 upgradeability
But the most important aspect of the Trident 3: It’s not only small, but upgradeable. Properly upgradeable, mostly thanks to the aforementioned GTX See, most Trident models ship with a GTX —a low-power card. As such, they get away with running on a watt power brick.
That’s fine, as long as you only ever plan to replace the with an equivalent card, but even upgrading to a would likely cause problems under load with that diminutive a power supply.
Since our model ships with a though, it also packs a watt supply. That’s not much more than the baseline Trident, and it still comes in ugly power brick form so you’ll have to find some extra room to stash it, but you might have a bit of headroom for overclocking if you’re careful. The GPU is also easily accessed, and can be swapped out for any other small form-factor card as long as you keep the power restrictions in mind. Three or four years down the line you should be able to plop in a GTX or whatever and be good to go.
The GPU isn’t the only part that’s upgradeable though. Two screws gets you into the case, which is enough to replace the RAM immediately. The CPU would take more doing, but you can dismantle the cooling system and swap it out if desired. That would only be in the event of complete failure though—the motherboard is proprietary, and given Intel’s fondness for switching CPU sockets lately you’re probably not going to be able to drop in a new-generation processor later.
I only have a couple complaints. Accessing the hard drives is a royal pain, requiring you to flip the machine over and remove the entire bottom panel. It’d be easier to just use an external drive I guess, but it’s annoying given the Trident’s 1TB drive. First thing I’d want to do is upgrade that, and it’s harder than it needs to be. More annoyingly, you void your warranty by tinkering. That’s not too uncommon with prebuilts, but there is indeed a sticker over one of the screws as you head inside.
If you want to really tinker? Sure, get a full tower or build your own. Still, if you want a small machine that remains a decent investment three or four years down the line? The Trident 3 gives you enough runway to upgrade the most important components a few times, and replace the most likely points of failure too. That’s better than a lot of machines its size (not to mention gaming consoles).
The MSI Trident 3 Arctic offers the power of an upper-mid tier PC in a chassis the size of the new Xbox One X—and with the ability to upgrade it even further in a few years with a hypothetical GTX or whatever. It’s attractive, it’s small, it’s (mostly) discreet, and it’s also surprisingly inexpensive. The equipped model we looked at retails for a mere $1, on Amazon. Doing some rough back-of-napkin math, I estimate you’d only save maybe $ or $ on a bare bones Mini-ITX build of your own, and while you’d gain some additional room for upgrades later it definitely wouldn’t turn out this sleek, nor manage heat this efficiently.
Whether you’re looking for a living room machine, a dorm-room PC, or something convenient to take to those LAN parties you and your friends are still (in !) having, the Trident 3 is definitely worth a look—specifically this GTX model. The units? Eh, I’d probably give those a pass. But this is one hell of a deal.
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Upgrading your Trident 3
I've been very busy (just moved and still in boxes for the most part).
The short answer is yes but I haven't had time to update the post with my findings.
If you've got a PCB (Printed Circuit Board or motherboard) version you can't upgrade your power supply (the motherboard will not allow more than W). So you're stuck with a GPU that has the same TDP (Thermal Design Power) without using Throttlestop or Afterburner.
See an example of the TDP values of popular GPU's in this image:
Example: my Trident 3 8th Gen i has a PCB version , I cannot upgrade my power supply (W) so if I want to upgrade my videocard ( mini ITX 6G), my best option would be the Ti mini ITX since it has the same TDP. Again, this is without using programs like Throttlestop and/or Afterburner.
A user on this forum (https://forum-en.msi.com/index.php?threads/) succesfully installed a mini ITX 6Gwith a Wpower supply using Throttlestop.
Throttlestop is a program that allows you to cut down the power to either the CPU and/or GPU as to prevent them taking in too much power. If you don't, your system will crash. Since I'm new to this, I'm not an expert in this program and would recommend to watch tutorials on Youtube as to how you can get this to work on your system.
The user also notes that after succesfully installing the mini ITX, he was able to switch to a Wpower supply without any programs. NOTE: this user has a PCB version .
So, if you've got a PCB version or higher you're able to make use of a W power supply and GPU's with a higher TDP, like the , or Ti (as seen in the chart) without having to use any programs (I think .
You can find out which version of PCB you have using CPU-Z: https://www.cpuid.com/softwares/cpu-z.html
Under the tab 'Mainboard' you will find your PCB version behind 'Model' which should also be 'MS-B'. Here's what mine looks like:
A small disclaimer in place here: I'm totally new into this computer stuff but read the forumtopics I've noted and decide for yourself if you think there's a chance you can get your Trident 3 an upgrade or not. There are probably a few forum members that know a lot more about this then me. Should you want any help, please ask them for extra help!
Msi trident 3 upgrading
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