Coming from the established Trident line, the MSI MEG Trident X 12th that we had our hands recently is the latest generation of small form factor PC's from MSI and is easily one of the best gaming PCs you can buy. The 12th is a nod to the latest generation of Intel Core processors powering the Trident X.
Retailing for $2,499.99 and $3,699.99 for the top-end model with an RTX 3080 Ti which is what I have here for review. That’s a large amount of money but the sheer amount of performance and utility you get out of this small machine means you can use it to render 3D animated films and then move it to your living room for some true 4K@120, ray-traced gaming on your big screen TV.
Design & Features
Here are the specs for the PC sent to GamesRadar for review:
Processor: Intel Core i7-12700KF
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti
Memory: 16GB DDR5 at 4800MHz
Storage: 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD
Ports: Front: 1 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-C, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen1, Type-A, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x Mic-in, 1 x Headphone-out
Rear: 2 x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A, 4 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A, 1 x HDMI-out (2.1), 3 x DP-out (1.4a)
Dimensions (HxWxD): 5.40” x 15.61” x 16.16”
The Trident X is impressively svelte standing at 16.6 inches tall, 15.61 inches deep, and just 5.4-inches wide. To put that in context, the PS5 is 15.4 x 10 x 3.6-inches so that’s pretty darn close but the Trident X packs far more of a punch than that console and has the benefit of easily changing parts.
The Trident X is a rectangular slab with some edgy flourishes and sits on a wider base for stability – which means you can't lay it on its side without killing critical airflow. That’s fine though as it really doesn’t take up much space on a desk or TV cabinet. The case has two side panels that easily pop off to give you access to the innards and also comes with a tempered glass panel in the box in case you love looking at your hardware.
The front of the Trident X has a good selection of ports: USB Type-C, USB 3.2, and dual audio jacks. There's a distinctive thunderbolt-shaped RGB light strip as well as RGB on the internal case and cooler lighting which is customizable in MSI Center. At the back, you're well serviced too with a total of six more USB 3.2 as well as three DisplayPort and an HDMI 2.1 – perfect for playing games at 4K 120Hz on one of the best gaming TVs (or best gaming monitors, of course). Additionally, there's Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth and Gigabit Ethernet for networking.
Powering the Trident X is an air-cooled Intel Core i7-12700KF (one of the very latest and best CPUs for gaming), sitting on a Z690 MSI motherboard with 16GB of DDR5 RAM and a 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD. An 850W PSU ensures that the RTX 3080 Ti has plenty of power to run 4K games.
How does the MEG Trident X do on some industry tests? We've included these below to give you a feel of how it performs. All games were tested at Ultra or their highest setting.
3DMark Firestrike: 33711
3DMark Firestrike Extreme: 22074
Port Royal: 12550
PC Mark 10: 8673
Geekbench CPU: 1840 pts (single-core), 11642 pts (multi-core)
Cinebench R5: 18782 pts
Shadow of the Tomb Raider: 4K: 135fps; 1440p: 168fps; 1080p: 174fps
Shadow of the Tomb Raider (RTX on): 4K: 100fps; 1440p: 133fps; 1080p: 150fps
Red Dead Redemption 2: 4K: 95fps; 1440p: 106fps; 1080p: 121fps
Metro Exodus Enhanced: 4K: 95fps; 1440p: 121fps; 1080p: 123fps
Metro Exodus Enhanced (RTX on): 4K: 62fps; 1440p: 109fps; 1080p: 122fps
The Division 2: 4K: 77fps; 1440p: 144fps; 1080p: 192fps
Total War: Three Kingdoms: 4K: 50fps; 1440p: 101fps; 1080p: 150fps
It goes without saying that the Trident X is a performance beast. I wasn’t kidding when I said you can play big screen gaming at 4K 120Hz, something I was able to do in Destiny 2 with the Trident X paired with the excellent Sony A80J OLED. The new 12th Gen Intel’s are serious performers in both productivity and gaming especially when paired with DDR5 memory and a fast SSD for gaming.
In our usual benchmarks, the Trident X scored top marks, coming in only a little behind the much bigger Alienware Aurora R13 we recently reviewed. The system drive measured 6893MB/s and 5283MB/s read/write making Windows tasks and game loading quick and snappy.
Creative tasks like 3D animation and video editing will fly but I spent most of my time using the Trident X for pleasurable gaming. The MSI Ventus RTX 3080 Ti ran every game I had with laughable ease and I was often well past the limits of my 165Hz monitor in quite a few titles. Wolfenstein Youngblood and Doom Eternal even at ultra settings and ray-tracing often ran so fast it was almost nauseating.
More impressively, the Trident X does this while staying cool and relatively quiet; temperatures generally settle around the high 70s on the GPU and high 60’s on the CPU during my prolonged gaming sessions which is great. The fan noise is noticeable when under load but certainly far from unpleasantly so like Alienware Aurora.
You can tweak performance settings in the MSI Center though it does come with some performance presets that you can switch between at any time but I was happy to leave it in Balanced Mode which was perfect for performance and quietness.
Overall - should you buy it?
The MSI MEG Trident X 12th is a fantastic RTX 3080 Ti PC that works just as well in your living room as it does on your desk. It outperforms most prebuilt PC’s in this form factor and handily wipes the floor with current-gen consoles. The update to 12th Gen Intel processors and PCIe 5.0 plus the inclusion of DDR5 memory certainly future proofs this machine for years to come.
However, the Trident X costs as much as four next-gen consoles and is also $200 more than the bigger Alienware R13. That’s a lot of money and the argument can be made for a DIY build now that GPU prices are coming back to normal. That said, MSI is a well-established brand with great hardware quality control and support. So for what it is, this kind of power is well worth the money.
How we tested the MSI MEG Trident X
In my month-long period with the MSI MEG Trident X 12th, I stress tested the gaming PC with our industry-standard benching software, such as Firestrike, Time Spy, PC Mark 10, and CDM, while also using it as my primary gaming machine.
I don’t have a personal gaming PC so the MSI MEG Trident X 12th was my main rig connected to an ultrawide 34-inch QHD MSI monitor. I exclusively and judiciously used it to make headway on my understandably massive backlog of Steam, Xbox PC, Ubisoft Connect, GOG Galaxy, and the Epic Games Store for an encompassing overview of what this machine could do.
I also tested this PC when connected to a 4K OLED Sony TV over HDMI 2.1 where I benefited from VRR, HDR, and experienced living room PC gaming.
And if you fancy your gaming machines portable, be sure to check out our best gaming laptop guide right now too.