Two minute review
Here is the MSI MPG Trident A 11TG configuration sent to Ditching for review:
CPU: 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-11700F (octa-core, 16MB cache, up to 4.9GHz turbo)
Graphic: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti (8GB GDDR6)
RAM: 32GB DDR4 (3200MHz)
Storage: 1x 512GB m.2 SSD, 1x 1TB SSD
Optical drive: No
Ports: 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, 5x USB 2.0 Type-A, 4x audio jacks, HDMI/DisplayPort (on-board), 1x HDMI / 3x DisplayPort (on GPU)
Connectivity: 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 5.2, Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200
Weight: 12.3 pounds (5.58 kg)
Mate: 5.4 x 15.6 x 16.1 in (13.7 x 39.6 x 41 cm; W x D x H)
division. That’s what this is: It’s something that tears our reviewing muscles in half. Because on the one hand, the MSI Trident A 11TG is a perfect little gaming PC, combining a very competent 11th generation CPU, fast graphics processing, lots of RAM, a neat little case and (critically) everything is done for you. And on the other hand, the compact design ideals of the Trident A mean that the end product is, at least in part, paralyzed. And that’s a shame.
We can trace all the nagging problems back to that case. While it cleverly compartmentalizes each of the core heat-producing bits of a desktop PC, it seems to be underestimating its processor’s heat requirements. It comes with a crappy cooler, so it gets hot enough to hit the throttle with some regularity – all this despite the fans being so loud you’d swear the Trident was ready to take off at any moment.
Its compact size – MSI locks it in at 10 liters and it feels small – doesn’t stop it from upgrading as most components are fully stock. But again we face a compromise. To squeeze everything into such a confined space means using a compact PSU, and the 450W unit installed here (which is tasked with powering a power-guzzling RTX 3060 Ti) has to be at the very tip of its draw limit. to sit. So you can upgrade, but only if you are looking for another SFF exchange. Grr.
In any case, this can be difficult in the pre-installed configuration. Our benchmark tests may have been a hair behind where they should be with this combination of kit, but taking a small step back is forgivable given the case’s limitations. In-game it feels slick and takes almost any challenge out of the way, barely wincing (okay, loudly screaming) when running titles in 1440p. It definitely has it where it counts.
Considering it’s a powerful computing solution at a time when such things, if not hard to come by, are at least hard to build yourself, there’s a lot of value in the Trident A 11TG, especially if you can find it for an un-googled price . You can game hard on it, it’s a platform to build on, and it’s smaller than your average desktop PC. Get some good headphones and a dollop of forgiveness for its poorly cooked CPU, and you’ll be in good shape.
Price and availability
It’s not hard to find the MSI MPG Trident A 11TG: MSI has shipped this to a wide range of dealers, some outside the specialist space: in the UK you can find it at AO and Box, for example. And it’s not super expensive, at least not in the context of desktop PCs with the right GPUs in 2022, with a retail price of £1,599.
However, keep in mind that the Trident A 11TG discussed here appears to be a UK-only configuration. MSI’s Trident offering in the US and Australia is limited at the time of writing to the 10th Gen Edition if you want this shell, which is now starting to show its age, and the Trident 3 Series, which has a different housing. has – something that would probably change our opinion about it greatly.
Is it expensive? Uh, maybe? New? You could probably build something similar for less, if you can get your hands on the parts – but in today’s market that’s a big ‘if’. In the context of pre-built 3060 boxes, it’s a decent price – and much cheaper than the Corsair One, although it has much higher specs.
Can small form factor design and high performance PC hardware really coexist? Uh, yes: the Corsair One, to come back to just one example, does the job superbly, and there’s a huge sector of the enthusiast market that takes pleasure in cramming as much power into the smallest space as possible.
The M SI MPG Trident A 11TG fits into the category, cutting off a lot of size at each of the edges compared to most thick desktop PC cases, although the overall effect is more of a thin PC than an overtly small one. It’s not super light, it’s not / that / small, and it’s not, at least in this reviewer’s opinion, particularly beautiful, with some unnecessary gamer angles and a touch of RGB that isn’t big enough to be spectacular or small enough be subtle. Basically, it’s a PC designed to fit a very specific niche. If you urgently need to reclaim a few inches of desk space, this is the solution.
The compressed design of the MSI MPG Trident A 11TG comes with some tricky trade-offs, and the most notable – the performance and cooling – we’ll save for later. This is a horizontally aligned PC that is forced into a vertical shell, meaning all ports are also vertically aligned – including the front I/O. Admittedly, this isn’t a deal breaker, and MSI was smart enough to put a highly regarded Type-C port on the front next to a pair of USB Type-A ports.
The squashed nature of the case doesn’t really detract from the available area for I/O on the back, with a generous selection of five USB Type-A ports, a second Type-C, 2.5 gig Ethernet, onboard HDMI and DisplayPort and three audio connections available. The vertically aligned RTX 3060 offers three DisplayPort connections and a single HDMI.
A journey within reveals glimpses of genius. Each of the major components gets its own fuzzy section in the case, for example with the GPU (in this case an RTX 3060) in the top compartment drawing air from the right, and the PSU and motherboard in the bottom half, the CPU sucking air from the left and the PSU from the right. While there’s an extra slot for RAM and space for a 2.5-inch SSD, that’s about it — and there’s really no extra space to work with.
On a positive note, though, it’s technically possible to upgrade the MSI MPG Trident A 11TG, and you don’t always have to scour the market for specialty components to do so. A ready CPU upgrade or a graphics card short enough is needed. A lot of smaller desktops are more locked-down, so this ticks all the boxes for longevity – although only 450W comes out of the PSU, so you’ll probably need to find a compact enough boosted power plant before you can even consider bumping into bumps. one of the main components.
A note here on an aspect that didn’t affect the Trident’s score, but really deserves a mention: out of the box, our review unit absolutely stunk. It smelled strongly of—and we’ll admit, this isn’t a particularly useful comparison—the Sticky Toffee Pudding vape juice that was banned from this reviewer’s house once his wife got a whiff of the overpowering stench. Think burnt sugar. It may not affect every unit and it started to disappear soon enough, but worth noting.
Here’s how the MSI MPG Trident A 11TG performed in our series of benchmark tests:
3DMark: Night Raid: 49,463† Fire Attack: 20,870† Time spy: 10.232
Cinebench R20 Multicore: 3319 points
Geek Bench 5: 1528 (single wire); 6257 (multicore)
PCMark 10 (Home Test): 6658 points
Total War: Three Kingdoms (1080p, Ultra): 87.0 fps† (1080p, Low): 232.8 fps
Metro Exodus (1080p, Ultra): 76.09 fps† (1080p, Low): 148.26 fps
The MSI Trident A 11TG is a slick little performer. That’s about all you really need to know. It is well. The 3060 Ti struggles with graphics perfection, the 11th gen Core i7 CPU is strong enough to provide significant snap to everything it needs, there’s more than enough RAM and possibly not quite enough storage. It works well. But it really doesn’t stop there.
This thing is howling. Even when you’re idle, the fan noise is very apparent, presumably due to the limited airflow potential in the compact housing. When it works hard, it gets much louder; not so loud that it can’t be a living room PC, but you notice it when you listen to it. Worse, somehow it’s the middle ground, hitting some sort of harmonic resonance, turning the fans’ output (according to a guitar tuner app) into a perfect E-flat note.
The fans are a problem in a couple of other ways too: While the GPU gets a basic veil that can keep it more than frosty, the CPU is only offered the most basic stock cooler, something that isn’t quite as capable on heavy loads. In our benchmark tests, it proved to be an obvious bottleneck, reaching the thermal throttling point, particularly when running tests favoring a single core, and sometimes idling near 65 degrees Celsius. And then, conversely, there’s the lack of fans: there’s no airflow in the case except for fans attached directly to components, and thus no real exhaust. The heat floats upwards, as it were.
When reviewing something, it’s hard not to hammer home the negatives, so let’s get to the positives. It is not the case that, for example, the MSI Trident A 11TG cannot push games well. It really can: playing at 1080p was syrupy, and 1440p was pretty decent with everything we tried. It’s a pleasure to use.
Its package of communication extras, from Wi-Fi 6E to 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet, is fast enough that it won’t feel sluggish for the lifetime of this machine unless you decide to use it as a hardcore file server, which you really don’t. should do. The included storage is decent and fast, with just enough in place that it doesn’t feel stingy; the single stick of 32 GB of RAM is generous and leaves a slot open for expansion, although you miss out on the potential benefit of dual-channel memory.
And hey, it’s a fully featured desktop PC at a time when building your own PC might not be an option, or something you actually want to do. If a little noise isn’t an issue – or if you’re willing to find the right low-profile components to effectively cool this without the rattling noise – then the performance here could be even better than you’d expect from the limited limitations of a small PC. form factor.