Powerful parts don’t mean a larger computer. In the case of MSI’s Trident X Plus gaming desktop, standardized parts and some innovative case design means an Intel Core i9-9900K CPU and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti in a smaller case than competitors and at an economical price. With standardized parts, this machine is also easy to upgrade as long as you don’t mind working in cramped cases.
• Compact size
• Attractive design
• Off-the-shelf parts
• Strong performance
MSI’s Trident X Plus is a powerful, compact machine with standardized parts that you can upgrade. It comes at a price that’s affordable in comparison to similar desktops.
MSI’s new design is the rare combination of aggressive gamer aesthetics and simplistic class packed in a surprisingly small chassis. It’s a black monolith with two metal side panels, though one of them is replaceable with an included tempered glass door (I think the glass is far nicer). Of course, there’s also a bunch of RGB, with criss-crossing stripes on the front, RGB that’s easily visible through a window and lighting around the GPU. All of that RGB goodness can be customized (or disabled entirely if you’re not a fan) in MSI’s Mystic Light app.
The GPU and its lighting are on the left side of the case, while the fan is on the right side, providing some balance. You can learn more about how the parts are laid out in the upgradeability section below.
Ports and Upgradeability
There are a bevy of ports on both the front and back of the Trident X Plus. On the front are a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port, a USB 2.0 port and a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A port, as well as one headphone and one microphone jack.
On the rear, the motherboard has a suite of audio ports, including S/PDIF out, an Ethernet jack, PS/2 port, HDMI and DisplayPort, a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A port, USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port and a pair each of USB 2.0 and USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A. The GPU has three DisplayPorts, HDMI out and a VirtualLink port for VR headsets.
Most of these parts are totally user replaceable with off-the-shelf parts, but they’re packed tight in MSI’s case. If you have the tempered glass panel on, all you have to do is swing it open. Otherwise, each panel has just two screws.
The majority of the internals are accessed from the right side. The Mini-ITX motherboard is mostly obscured by the cooler, which includes a 12mm fan. The CPU and RAM are all under there. To the left of that is a fully modular power supply and there are two 2.5-inch hard drive trays that screw into a backplate.
On the left side, beneath the side panel, there’s a dual-fan NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. Below that is the back of the motherboard, where you’ll find the M.2 slot and a bracket for the cooler. The intake for the power supply is also on this side of the case.
Gaming, Graphics and VR
MSI’s version of the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is a bit faster than what we’ve seen in competing systems. It performed well when I played Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s “Gun Game” at 4K and the game’s highest settings, running between 75 and 85 frames per second (fps).
Keyboard and Mouse
Customers will get peripherals in the box. The keyboard is an MSI Interceptor DS4200 with membrane switches and backlighting. The mouse is the MSI Clutch GM10 with just two buttons and a switch for DPI adjustment.
Software and Warranty
MSI’s software load includes a number of gaming-specific utilities, including Dragon Center for system monitoring, device information and tuning your system. MSI also includes Nahimic for adjusting audio for games and music and Mystic Light to customize the system’s RGB lighting. But there’s also a bunch of extra stuff the company pre-loaded, including a trial of Norton Studio, PhotoDirector 8, PowerDirector, Minesweeper, Sudoku, a Translator app, Microsoft Jigsaw and Evernote. MSI sells the Trident X Plus with a one-year warranty.
MSI’s Trident X Plus puts a bunch of powerful parts in a compact chassis. And with almost entirely standardized parts, it’s easy for you to upgrade it later. And of the desktops we’ve tested with RTX 2080 Ti cards so far, it’s the most affordable option.