The MSI Trident 3 Arctic packs crazy gaming power into a tiny case

Matt Burns

Here's the skinny: This computer is skinny. The MSI Trident 3 Arctic is a gaming rig in a surprisingly small package. During testing the found the computer capable of running the latest VR hardware and games even though the tiny computer lacks the traditional cooling found on standard cases. The MSI Trident 3 Arctic is a gaming console killer.

Specs:

  • Windows Home 10
  • Intel Core i7-7700 3.6GHz 8M Cache
  • H110 Chipset
  • MSI GTX 1070 8GB GDDR5
  • SO-DIMM DDR4 2133 MHz 16GB (8GB*2)
  • 13.63"x 2.83"x 9.15"
  • 6.9 Lbs

Review:

Gaming companies have long offered computers in different form factors. Generally, the bigger the case, the more powerful the computer. And that's still the situation here in relation to the MSI Trident 3 Arctic. This is not the most powerful or well-equipped computer MSI offers. Instead, the company packaged a competent system into a package the size of an Xbox One. Basically, this is a computer built around an MSI GTX 1070 and that's fine with me.

The case itself is the interesting part. It's small-ish and is best served by sitting it vertically. If sat on its side, the cooling fans seem to struggle though I didn't notice any graphical degradation. The design is striking. It looks like if the Nvidia Shield was a computer. And white.

Even though the overall goal was clearly to make a small computer, there are plenty of ports throughout the system. The front panel sports the usual assortment of USB and audio ports while the backside features nearly as many inputs and outputs as the Trident's bigger siblings.

Even though the system is packed in a small form factor, it's still upgradable. Users will be able to replace components including the GPU, memory, storage drives -- everything but the processor. This system ships with a custom-built MSI motherboard and to pack the latest Kaby Lake CPU into the system, the CPU is integrated directly into the board.

There's a trade-off to the size though. The 330W power supply is external so users will have to deal with a large power brick that gets a bit warm.

The system lives up to its specs. With an Intel Core i7-7700 running at 3.6Ghz and a MSI GTX 1070 8GB there's a lot going on here and performance was never an issue during testing.

The system purrs -- and when I say purrs, I mean it runs smoothly though when under load though there is an audible hum as the fans do their best to keep the Core i7 and 1070 as cool as possible. It doesn't matter if the content is a standard game or virtual reality headset, I found the Trident 3 Arctic to handle everything with enough ease that I can soundly state this computer can handle any game you can throw at it.

It's not perfect, though. This is a system that you might not want in your bedroom or living room. Even though my testing computer was not that old, the fans were on constantly during gaming and they will likely get noisier overtime. This computer is clearly designed with the living room in mind and to me, after a bit of testing, the Trident Arctic 3 borders on too loud for a quiet living room.

Is it a good value? No. Of course not. Pre-built computers are rarely the best way for a gamer to spend their money. If saving cash is a priority, a similar system albeit in a larger case can be made for $300-$500 less than the Trident 3 Arctic's $1449 MSRP. Corsair, Zotac and VoodooPC offer small form factor computers, but this one from MSI is several hundred less thanks in part to GTX 1070 rather than the 1080. Even still, most graphic reviews have pegged the 1070 to be a capable alternative to the 1080, so gamers could be wise to save the cash.

I have a hard time recommending pre-built systems because of the cost yet this system from MSI is a bit different. It's just so small that your guests will think it's a gaming console rather than being a full-fledge gaming computer. And that's what it is. It's a full gaming computer available for less money than its direct competitors and in some cases, even smaller than other small form-factor computers.

The MSI Trident 3 Arctic is powerful little beast. If you can handle a little fan noise and need the smallest gaming computer possible, this could be the PC for you.