The Bottom Line
- + Water-cooled CPU
- + Upgradable components
- + Connectivity
- + Excellent gaming performance
- - Proprietary motherboard
- - No Thunderbolt 4/USB4
- - Chassis fingerprints easily
- - Expensive at full spec
Should you buy it?AvoidConsiderShortlistBuy
Introduction and Pricing
Right after we wrapped up testing on the Alienware R15 just a little over a week ago, the system we have for review today landed at our doorstep. The MEG lineup is the peak of MSI's gaming motherboards and their prebuilt desktops. It just so happens they just launched their 13th Gen PCs, so we have the opportunity today to look at the MEG Trident X2.
The specifications for this prebuilt gaming machine start with the motherboard, which is built on the Z790 platform from Intel. The CPU is the Core i9-13900KF, a 24-core, 32-thread part offering eight performance cores and a boost capable of 5.8GHz. 16 Efficient cores are also available, offering a boost clock of up to 4.3GHz. Cooling for the CPU is handled by an MSI AIO solution at 280mm. Memory support is over four slots; included are two 32GB sticks at 4800MHz flipping over to storage; MSI did choose a Samsung Gen4 NVMe solution for storage.
MSI pulls from its stock for the GPU, a Ventus model RTX 4090 with 24GB of GDDR6. From here, we move to onboard hardware, starting with LAN; this category offers both 1Gbe and 2.5Gbe from Intel, as is the onboard WiFI6E solution. The Realtek AL897 handles audio.
The I/O includes a good amount of USB connectivity split between the rear and top of the chassis. Overall, we have nine USB ports, the separation being one Gen2x2 on the rear, three Gen2 on the rear, and two USB 2.0 once again on the back of the chassis. Additional connectivity includes a PS/2 port and HDMI on the motherboard; the GPU offers three DP and one HDMI.
The MSRP for this machine comes in at $4699.99 at the time of writing, and MSI includes a one-year warranty.
Trident X2, BIOS and Software
Packaging and BIOS
The X2 did arrive in a rather large box packed in dense foam. Pulling the machine from the packaging, MSI wrapped it in a rather nice bag to keep scratches off the chassis.
As you can see from our image above reflecting everything, the Trident is a very glossy machine that takes some of its design cues from the MEG Ace line of motherboards.
The chassis I/O connections can be found on top; these include two USB 3.2 using Type-A, one using Type-C, and a 3.5mm headphone and mic port.
The side panel offers good ventilation for the AIO cooler sitting behind it. This side of the chassis is removable, allowing entry.
The front of the chassis is glossy as well but does offer an M-Vision control panel off to the left side.
The rear of the chassis offers an inverted design, with the GPU sitting a the top, the motherboard below, and PSU at the bottom.
Opening up the chassis, we meet the 280mm AIO attached to the side of the chassis.
Removing the AIO, we get into the motherboard area. Memory sits to the left side, WiFI top right, next to an empty m.2 slots. The chassis does have a few daughterboards coming off the motherboard, one to the left controlling the fans and one tucked behind GPU. The board itself appears to be similar to a Micro-ATX form factor.
Up top, we take a closer look at the Ventus GPU. MSI has shrouded the top of this card to the chassis, likely to allow fresh air to move straight to the card.
Included with the Trident X2, we have the power cord, an extra PCIe 5.0 power cable, toolless rails, and a SATA cable. In the middle, they have included a cleaning cloth to clean the fingerprints off the chassis.
The BIOS is similar to their motherboard line, using the Click BIOS 5. As you can see, the main page does offer information on the hardware, along with the option to change boot priority at the top.
If we push into the menu system, the settings menu gets us to the advanced settings.
The Overclocking menu can be found in advanced settings, offering power limit controls and ratio overrides.
The boot menu allows changing of boot order along with fast boot controls.
Hardware monitor offers complete control over the fans with the ability to set curves for each.
MSI Center is the software platform for Trident X2, which gives us a hardware monitor that includes the CPU and GPU and all fans in the menu to the right.
Additional features allow consumers to control the front OLED panel, making it a hardware monitor or allowing it to play video, be a clock, or display the weather.
Mystic Light controls the RGB on the chassis; this includes a single strip across the front of the chassis.
Graphics control allows you to boost the fan on the GPU.
Cinebench, PCMark and AIDA64
Cinebench is a long-standing render benchmark that has been heavily relied upon by both Intel and AMD to highlight their newest platforms during unveils. The benchmark has two tests, a single-core workload that will utilize one thread or 1T. There is also a multi-threaded test that uses all threads or nT of a tested CPU.
Starting with R23, as we always do, the Trident X2 offered up 2179 in single thread followed by 36304 in nT.
Above, we have the memory bench results for the Trident. Across the board, we ran around 60K with latency at 89.3.
PCMark gave us an overall score of 9769. The breakdown puts 12242 on essentials, 11490 for productivity, and 17988 for content creation.
Getting into 3DMark, CPU Profile gives us a single thread score at 1222, followed by 11395 at sixteen threads.
Timespy scored 30262 with the RTX 4090.
Speed Way scored 9833.
Running through the DLSS feature test, the RTX 4090 scored a base of 56.9 FPS and boosted to 191 FPS with DLSS turned on.
3DMark storage gave us a score of 3099 for the Samsung drive installed. Bandwidth was 531 MB/s.
Looking at our Cyberpunk 2077 benchmarks runs, the Trident X2 did quite well. We landed a solid 180 FPS at 1440p, followed by 144 FPS at 4K.
Tarting our comparison, we have the Alienware Aurora R15 with a nearly identical spec for our charts. Both systems are very close in R23.
Crossmark nods to the Trident X2, the largest difference coming in responsiveness likely due to the better NVMe solution.
CPU profile showed both machines to perform nearly the same, a slight nod for the Trident X2.
Timespy was slightly better on the Alienware system, though the Trident X2 was right on the heels.
Speed Way was identical between the machines.
Storage was a significant difference maker for the Trident X2 with its better NVMe.
UL Procyon was very close, and Office runs slightly better on the Trident.
The value between machines went to the Alienware by a hair, with both machines performing nearly the same, with the R15 just having the lower MSRP.
The Trident X2 is a well-built machine with a good bit of connectivity that includes all three iterations of USB 3.2 along with USB 2.0. Networking is also quite good; I like the addition of 2.5Gbe on this machine, along with top-end Wi-Fi. The power supply is fantastic and includes legit PCIe 5.0 cables, so we aren't messing with sketchy adapters from NVIDIA. Its platinum rating means we are a little more efficient while powering the beastly RTX 4090 Ventus.
On the flip side, we do have a few complaints that are personal preferences. The first is the glossy chassis. While only affecting the left side and front, these components are quickly marred with fingerprints which means if you touch the machine, you will need the included cleaning cloth to avoid scratching the exterior. Another is the addition of warranty void stickers on the rear of the unit; these are illegal in the USA and not good practice.
That out of the way, the Trident X2 performed quite well, in some cases, took the top spot in our charts when we compared it to the R15 from Alienware. MSI certainly offers a better storage solution with the Trident; this can be shown in Crossmark responsiveness and 3DMark storage. In gaming, we saw some solid numbers, with Cyberpunk showing 179 FPS at 1440p and 144 FPS at 4K high settings.
The BIOS is laid out quite well, especially for anyone who has used the Click BIOS. I will say options for tuning the system are limited, but you can control the power limits, allowing the CPU to boost higher in some circumstances at the cost of increased heat. I did not see any support for XMP modules, and the system would not boot our kit of 7200MHz Kingston, so upgrading the memory could be tricky.
There is no doubt that pricing is high. At $4699 MSRP, you certainly want to research before diving in. I did jump over to Newegg and attempted to build out this machine with the same components, staying with the same vendors MSI used. I built a similar system with minor changes to the chassis because the Trident uses its own for about $3800. Take note that you will miss the front OLED panel and MSI's included warranty and support.