CES Hands-On: MSI Vortex “Trashcan” Form Factor Gaming PC

By Published January 07, 2016 at 8:00 am

The Star Wars Destroyer case mod was an obvious draw to MSI’s suite at CES 2016, thus far unrivaled in its seemingly monolithic artistry, and served as a magnetic pull for the company’s new products. That’s common in Convention Land – a fabled realm stocked with bags of chips and bottles of water – and a means for companies to generate outside interest in the passerby attendee crowd. The Destroyer was covered in our previous video and article; today’s content shifts focus to MSI’s new “Vortex” product, named for its approach to thermal dissipation through a vertical shaft.

MSI Vortex Specs – Small Form Factor Gaming

Cylindrical in design, the Vortex enclosure somewhat resembles Apple’s “trashcan” form factor PC. A bottom intake push fan passes air into the tri-chamber case, then accelerated and exhausted by a top-mounted, large blower fan. As the air travels upward in smoke stack-like fashion (consequently, this is called the ‘stack effect’), it passes through the inward-facing, opposing heatsinks for two MXM GPUs and the CPU, all three installed in neighboring chambers. The potential for heat generation is substantial in a small enclosure such as the Vortex’s, but facing components inward and toward each other – perhaps against initial judgment – should theoretically improve dissipation potential.

Not that it much matters, but the name itself – Vortex – isn’t exactly indicative of a desirable cooling scenario. Associating trapped, circulating air with a tight enclosure by product name doesn’t seem the most thought-out.


MSI is planning to offer the Vortex in two primary SKUs. The cheapest, somewhere in the vague ~$1800 to $1900 price-point, will include dual GTX 960s (opposing compartments, MXM) and an unspecified, socketed CPU. The CPU will be user serviceable. The higher-end SKU will host dual GTX 980s in an identical arrangement, but with no price yet known. We will reserve commentary on pricing and value until a time at which all specifications are final and known, and until a time at which we’re permitted to open the enclosure.

The Vortex seems most at home in a living room environment, where its modern aesthetic would act a status symbol for buyers hoping to show-off their weirdly shaped, new gaming box.

More coverage as launch approaches. MSI is targeting 2Q16.

Writing, Presenter: Steve “Lelldorianx” Burke.
Film, Video Editing: Keegan “HornetSting” Gallick. 

Last modified on January 07, 2016 at 8:00 am
Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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