Steam Machine from Valve for several months did not show signs of life, so the producers decided to take matters into their own hands. To make the system as thin and stylish, as befits a mini PC for the living room, most manufacturers have chosen the mobile hardware. Of course, the components of the level of performance for laptops is high, but it is still inferior to “pure” desktops. But MSI has chosen a different path. New compact computer MSI Trident Taiwanese manufacturer uses a full desktop components, but it is quite compact – the amount is less than 5 liters. This mini PC can replace a video game console in the living room. All the details you will find out in our review.
Back in November 2015 at Valve had big plans for Steam Machines, but by the end of 2016 they were exhausted. News from the Steam OS and new systems virtually none. Therefore, manufacturers have to take the initiative in their hands, to shift the traditional game console in the living room. The Gigabyte, for example, presented a beautiful cuboid Brix with the GeForce GTX 950, the ZOTAC ZBOX updated their systems, just recently we tested EN1060 model.
But both systems have one thing in common: they rely on the mobile hardware equipment for laptops. Of course, this approach allows you to use the most cost-effective chip and simplifies cooling compact systems, but performance components for notebooks is still inferior to their desktop counterparts. This is especially true of games. On the other hand, NVIDIA is the new chips Pascal significantly moved forward in performance, and processors Skylake HK series is worthy of competing with desktop models. But MSI still decided to go another way. The Taiwanese manufacturer introduced a new line of compact computers Trident, which is no bigger game consoles, but relies on a clean desktop “iron”.
With dimensions of just 346 x 232 mm system did not larger than a magazine, although the thickness of 72 mm is much more like the weight of 3.2 kg. Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Xbox One slightly smaller in size. MSI Trident is based on a high-speed Intel Core i7-6700 processor with a high-grade graphics card NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 PCI Express format. Note 8 GB DDR4 RAM, 256 GB SSD for the operating system and 1-terabyte hard drive for gaming and collection of user data. Of course, there are modern interfaces including USB 3.1 or Type C, a mini-computer installed WLAN module and a Bluetooth. In our test configuration, we have pre-installed Windows 10 Home and game controller – it’s great for the regime Big Picture Mode on Steam. Among other interesting features, we note a high quality audio subsystem, RGB backlight stylish and quiet cooling system.
Of course, compared with the price of game consoles, “bite.” In Europe, MSI requests for a compact computer Trident 1.499 euros.
MSI Trident system can be purchased in a stripped-down configuration with the Core i5-6400 processor, the Intel SSD and a smaller volume, but at the price of 999 euros.
Below we evaluate performance, noise levels and energy consumption MSI Trident.
Before we move on to tests of MSI Trident system, let consider the hardware.
Mini PC Gigabyte Brix GB-GNI7HG4-950 used mobile processor Intel Core i7-6700HQ, but in the case of ZOTAC ZBOX EN1060, we received a full desktop CPU. Let the level of the Core i5. In the case of new mini PC MSI Trident uses Intel Core i7-6700. Of course, this is not a top model among desktop CPU, but very productive. The Skylake processor has four physical cores that can process two threads simultaneously thanks to Hyper-Threading. Base frequency is 3.4 GHz, but thanks to Turbo Boost the cores can increase the clock speed to 4.0 GHz depending on load and temperature. The CPU features 8 MB L3 cache and 1 MB L2 cache. The instruction cache and the data is 32 KB per core. TDP Intel specifies for the level of 65 watts.
New fan Silent Storm 2 provides discharge excess heat. The fan blades have a special shape to reduce air turbulence, increase air flow and reduce noise. In addition, the fan is much larger than other systems – the diameter is 75 mm. MSI is added to the radial fan system with thick copper heat pipes.
The Skylake processor relies on integrated graphics. It was significantly improved compared to the previous generation, with 24 Executive units operate at a clock frequency of from 350 to 1,150 MHz, but gaming performance is still not enough. Therefore, MSI has added a discrete graphics card.
And in this case we got a full size graphics card. However, due to space restrictions, the mini-PC inside the video card installed cropped. For this reason, MSI chose the GeForce GTX 1060. The graphics card is based on Pascal architecture, which NVIDIA introduced in may with the GeForce GTX 1080. But here we use not the top-end GPU GP104, GP106. This chip is less complex, but the heat and power consumption is much lower. Which, incidentally, is allowed to release a graphics card with a short PCB. On the chip there are 4.4 billion transistors on an area of about 200 mm2. Chip offers to 1,280 stream processors, which are divided into two clusters GPC (graphics processing clusters) or ten multiprocessors. Each of the multiprocessors SMM contains 128 stream processors. Have a GeForce GTX 1060 each SMM uses 8 texture units, which gives 80 TMU.
There are some changes in the memory subsystem compared to the older models. 256-bit interface has been reduced to 192 bits, that is, one 64-bit controller has been removed. As before, there are eight raster operations pipelines by 32-bit controller that gives the sum of 48 ROP. The GeForce GTX 1060 may be equipped with 6 GB of GDDR5 memory, but MSI opted for a less expensive version, the memory which is cut in half. However, the system focused not on 4K monitors and TVs are Full HD in the living room, so it is unlikely that such a step will negatively affect gaming performance. Compared to the reference version of the Founders Edition MSI slightly increased clock frequency. If the reference NVIDIA is working on 1.506/1.708/2.002 MHz, version MSI Trident we receive and 1.759 1.544 MHz, the memory frequency has not changed. In practice, GPU even worked at higher clock frequencies.
Note that MSI chose a video card its own production ITX MSI GeForce GTX 1060 3G OCV1, which is currently only available in Asia.
Processor and graphics card installed on the motherboard of own production, which was specially developed for MSI Trident system. As with other high-end MSI motherboards, it uses high quality components Military Class IV. Directly on the motherboard installed high-quality audio chip. As in the case of laptops, allow for speed and performance 2.0 Audio Enhancer and Audio Boost 3. The operating system is installed on a 256 GB SSD. To be more specific, use the Kingston drive that connects via the SATA 6 GB/s, despite the M. 2 format. Storage library of games and user data, an additional 2.5-inch hard disk capacity of 1 TB. As for RAM, you’ll have to settle for one strap 8 GB, albeit at a fairly high frequency of 2.400 MHz. Recall that regular processors Intel Skylake working memory 2.133 MHz. Plank Kingston memory is lagging CL 17-17-17-39. To the new mini-PC MSI Trident connects the external power supply is 230 watts.
Computer volume of 4.72 l can be mounted horizontally under the TV or vertically adjacent. In the front provides additional ventilation holes to get enough air even in a vertical orientation. With the GeForce GTX 1060, mini PC MSI Trident meets the minimum requirements for the use of VR points, such as the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift. They can be connected directly to the front panel, because here MSI brought not only the desired port USB 3.1 and HDMI output. The latter is connected to the graphics card through the VR extension cable Link through the body. USB ports on the panel input/output support fast charging, which allows you to charge your smartphone or tablet with maximum speed, even when MSI is off the Trident.
In the left corner front lights are present on the LED-strips that can light up in various colors. In addition to shades you can choose different effects. For example, you can put a permanent glow, ripple or effect sound to light. All these options are available through the Gaming Center. In the utility there are numerous monitoring options, including the level of CPU and SSD, network cards, activate the WLAN. Using the utility you can directly start the game. In addition, the VR mode when connected VR points automatically close unnecessary programs such as Skype or Drobpox, freeing up additional resources. Finally, the package includes the full version of the game Mafia III external power pack and a game controller.
With stand mini PC, MSI Trident has dimensions of 354 x 251 x 98 mm, it is slightly larger than the usual gaming console. When the system is installed on the stand, she picks up fresh air from below.
But you can install the enclosure horizontally. In this case, fresh air is drawn through the body horizontally, for the graphics card there are additional ventilation holes. Front accessible two 3.5-mm audio output sockets for headset, two USB 3.1 a quick charge function and an HDMI output. The latter can be used only when connecting the extension cable VR-Link within the body of the card. Which is very convenient if you plan to connect to the mini PC VR glasses. Affordable and modern USB 3.1 Type C, but without the support of Thunderbolt 3.
As we have noted above, video cards have their own vents. MSI chose the GeForce GTX 1060 3G OCV1 own production, which is significantly shorter than the same MSI GeForce GTX 1060 X Gaming, but buy this video card still in Asia. Compared with the Founders Edition, it uses a proprietary cooler and staff operating at a higher clock frequency. The Taiwanese manufacturer has installed 3 GB of GDDR5 memory, but also planned and a graphics card with twice the VRAM.
At the bottom of MSI Trident can only see the vents and stickers indicating the installed components. Mentioned video card of class GeForce GTX, Intel Core i7 processor and wireless card with two ranges.
On two sides, or top and bottom in a vertical orientation, a compact mini-PC available only vents through which air is blown inside the case.
The left side is the power button. It lights up during operation, and LED strip around. The color and lighting effect is regulated via the utility. Namely, the illumination of the Mystic Light can be controlled via the utility Gaming Center, where there are additional configuration and monitoring functions.
Rear systems available rest interfaces. Namely, five USB ports, Type A, four of whom work at less than the speed standard 2.0. There is connection of an external 230-watt power supply with Gigabit LAN, and three 3.5 mm audio ports. Also the rear panel connects the VR extension cable Link for the signal to pass through HDMI from a discrete video card in the front port. Additional HDMI port is for output of the graphics core Skylake.
MSI GeForce GTX 1060 3G OCV1 provides HDMI, DisplayPort and DVI. For better ventilation 3D graphics card top slot stub perforated.
Open MSI Trident very easily. You must first lower side panel, which simply attaches with latches, then Unscrew the two screws, then remove the top. I wonder what graphics card and processor are located in their own segments cooling. The graphics card connects to the motherboard through a riser card.
Video card is a shortened version of GeForce GTX 1060, which in retail sales in Europe is not yet available. It cools one large 85-mm fan, a simple aluminum cooler uses a single heat pipe. There is an additional 6-pin PCI Express power, which in this case is connected via the motherboard.
Cooling CPU Intel Core i7-6700 provides the fan with a diameter of 75 mm. Its impeller has a special shape which prevents air turbulence, the resulting system is quieter and more efficient. Below we’ll look at how in fact the situation it will be in practice.
Mini PC MSI Trident staff is equipped with a WLAN module and Bluetooth, which is connected via the M. 2 slot. The Intel module supports the 802.11 ac standard and works on 2.4 GHz or 5.0 GHz supported Bluetooth version 4.2.
As we mentioned, the graphics card connects to the motherboard via riser card inside the mini-PC provides two individual segment cooling for CPU and GPU. As for memory, the inside has one strap DDR4 SODIMM format. Of course, the installation of only one plank fits further upgrade of memory, the user can simply add a second module. On the other hand, the regular memory runs in single channel mode, which limits throughput and therefore performance.
MSI has invested in the supplied stand to install MSI Trident system. It is possible to see additional ventilation slots that provide the proper level of ventilation inside the case.
Mini PC is powered by an external PSU with a capacity of 230 watts.
Compared to the same MSI Ti Aegis, MSI Trident system is much more compact. But inside there is a powerful SLI configuration of two GeForce GTX 1080. In any case, performance is enough for smooth gaming from the couch on your TV Full-HD.
Hardware MSI Trident has shown itself from the best side mini-PC needs to go all modern games in full detail. Will be interesting to see whether this is so in practice.
MSI Trident offers a lot despite its compact size and case volume of all of 4.72 L. Modern games no problem for a pair of Intel Core i7-6700 and MSI GeForce GTX 1060. Especially if you will be satisfied with the usual TV Full HD. In some older and less demanding games can be played without any problems and in high resolution 1440p. As for 4K, the performance is limited, not only due to the 3 GB of VRAM. In everyday scenarios, we get a decent performance compact computer with a fast SSD and CPU. The operating system boots in seconds, apps and games will start without delay. But the SSD is connected not through NVMe, and via normal SATA, which limits the average throughput level of 512 MB/s. MSI Trident System is equipped with additional 1-TB hard drive with a capacity of 131 MB/s.
For memory bandwidth the MSI Trident, too, leaves much to be desired. Inside includes a DDR4 module at a frequency of 2.400 MHz, but only one, so dual channel mode is not available. We got a memory bandwidth of all of 11.33 GB/s. In the test of compression 7-Zip the system has shown itself from the best side, providing a capacity of more than 21.000 MIPS. Performance desktop Skylake processor is clearly visible on the two tests Cinebench: we have received and 806 of 8.84 points, respectively. Compared to EN1060 ZOTAC ZBOX or Gigabyte Brix GNI7HG4-950 increase is very significant.
Despite its compact size, MSI Trident gives a decent level of performance, therefore we recommend to use it as a gaming system for the living room. Under normal office load the fan was working with a noise level slightly below the 35 dB(A). Under gaming load, the noise level remains below 40 dB(A), namely 39,7 dB(A), which is less than the competitors. MSI Trident system is fully loaded with Furmark and Prime95 tests, the cooling system worked almost to the limit, the noise level increased to 41.2 dB(A).
Power consumption under normal workload of the Windows remained quite moderate – a total of 28 watts under gaming load it is increased to 192,3 watts. Under full load the system consumes from the wall outlet before 223,7 W, which remains within the specifications of external power supply. For systems of this level of performance is power consumption is quite normal.
Despite the limited space in the casing and low noise, problems with temperature no. The processor and graphics card under full load remain in the green zone with temperatures of 76 or 72 °C, the same is true of the motherboard, SSD and HDD, the temperature did not exceed 51 °C. Under a load of office temperature on the MSI Trident noticeably smaller. Overall, temperature was throttling was not observed.
MSI Trident is a compact gaming PC in console format, it is relatively fast and quiet. With desktop components, namely the Intel Core i7-6700 and MSI GeForce GTX 1060 our test system, you can comfortably play all modern games. Performance is enough even for 1440p resolution, if limited to old or undemanding games. However, for the living room more important is the resolution of most TVs Full-HD. The GeForce GTX 1060 with 3 GB of memory in the game Grand Theft Auto 5 has provided greater visibility, a greater level of detail and higher frame rates than the console Microsoft Xbox One. With an SSD we get more than adequate performance in everyday applications. The operating system loaded in seconds, apps and games are usually started without delay. It is a pity that the SSD does not support modern NVMe Protocol, and a standard SATA interface. Storage library of games and user data provides hard drive 1 TB.
Despite its compact dimensions and all related to the complexity of the cooling system, MSI Trident worked nice quiet. Under ordinary load Windows it was barely audible, with noise level below 35 dB(A), in games the noise level did not reach the strap 40 dB(A). Other systems even with a lower performance usually run louder than the recently tested the mini-PC Gigabyte Brix GNI7HG4-950. The power consumption is on the usual level for hardware depending on the load it ranges from 28 to 223,7 watts. No problems with overheating in our tests we also found. The set of interfaces is varied, there is a modern port Type C. Is that it is a pity that he does not support the Protocol Thunderbolt 3, which can be very popular in the future.
In Europe it can be purchased at a price 1.249 euros, 350 euros more ZOTAC ZBOX EN1060, which runs slightly slower. But SSD, memory, and hard drive already preinstalled as the operating system, so they don’t have to buy separately. Depending on TDP and size of the components in the future you can upgrade – the system uses desktop components. For their quality, we award mini-PC is our reward “Great iron”.