MSI Vortex G65 6QF – How do we slow it down?

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Computers are getting smaller. That’s been true since… 1994, or thereabouts, but there’s always one sort of person who wants a larger rig. More power, more operations per second, more pixels being shovelled down pipes at a very expensive screen. Those people who think that a monster PC is the way to go all-in for power need to take a look at the MSI Vortex G65 6QF. The very small, very compact MSI Vortex G65 6QF.

But don’t let its size fool you. The Vortex G65 is smaller than an office-sized wastepaper basket but it contains enough hardware to make a PC gaming enthusiast take a break from overclocking those cores they’re so obsessed with. It’s been designed with virtual reality in mind (as well as space-saving), as you’ll see from the specs listing — which are due for an upgrade already. It’s not a stretch to say that the G65, and its inevitable successor, is the PC you want to have if you want a living-room VR experience. But it’s not going to be cheap. Not at all.

Hollow leg

MSI Vortex G65 MainLet’s first go over the Vortex G65’s dimensions. It stands 27.8cm high, is just 19.1cm wide and is 20.25cm long. It’s shorter than your standard classroom ruler in every direction. If you happen to have one nearby you’ll get an immediate feel for how compact this PC is. Now here’s what MSI have stuck inside it.

MSI have stuck in a Core i7-6700K, dual Nvidia GeForce GTX 980s, 32GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive with a 256GB solid-state boot drive. There’s no optical drive, because there’s no space for one. There is a 450W power supply in there, and all the other bells and whistles from MSI (like their Nahimic audio, Killer-branded network gear, and enough rear ports to choke a donkey). Which isn’t unexpected, MSI makes their main living by cramming this sort of tech inside notebooks. A standing mini-tower’s not much of a stretch. Getting all of it working without melting the chassis and without the fans sounding like a jet taking off… that’s the part that you’re paying for.

All power to the reactor

MSI Vortex TopAs is customary with all of the computing hardware that passes through Stuff‘s doors, there were benchmarks. Because numbers are pretty. As long as someone else is doing all the counting. But while we used the Unigine Heaven and Valley tests, as usual, we were forced to make some changes. Previous test configurations were that the first test would run at a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080, with settings on High and 8x anti-aliasing enabled. The second test kept the resolution, popped settings up to Ultra and disabled the AA.

Except that we couldn’t, this time. The second test was cranked, to a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 with setting on Ultra. Anti-aliasing was left on 8x and we also flipped the Tessellation switch, setting it to Extreme — just to see if we could get the G65’s average frame rate to dip. Did we manage it? Er… not really.

With our first test, in the Heaven benchmark, the G65 scored 4,044. An average frame rate of 160.5 was the final result, with the test spiking at 274 frames per second. The ramped-up second test barely dinged the average frame rate, which sat at 108.9 fps — well above the 60fps we demand from our PCs. The second test’s score? 2,744.

Moving on to Valley, the first test scored 4,700 with an average frame rate of 112.3. The minimum didn’t dip below 30 fps and it spiked at 180.4. Valley doesn’t have a tessellation option so we just set it to Ultra and left the AA settings at 8x. Final score? 105.7 fps average, a score of 4,423 and a minimum frame rate of 39.5. Turning it up actually seems to make the G65 run a little faster.

Size isn’t everything

MSI Vortex PortsSo it has a lot of power under the hood and it has been crammed into a teeny little case. Should you buy one? That’s a question with a less obvious answer. The price will tell you whether you should be picking up the MSI G65 and the price is… substantial. We don’t have costing for this model specifically but the G65 6QE, which changes things up by including a 512GB solid-state drive (instead of 256GB, as is the case here) and 64GB of RAM (compared to 32GB) will cost you around R88,000. That’s a lot of money, measured against anyone’s bank account.

And you’re getting what you pay for: a marvellously-engineered desktop PC that won’t take up much space on a desktop and which will also offer you hardware support for any VR headset you care to name. A real VR headset, like the HTC Vive or the Oculus Rift, obviously. But if you’re dropping around R90k and you’re not getting all your peripherals and the screen and most (if not all) of these specs then you’re not shopping around hard enough. We could probably build a system from the ground up that runs faster and includes most of the extras you could want for about that budget (with extra storage and two screens included, to boot). It’d have a substantially larger footprint but we’d be okay with that.

Verdict

At the end of the day you’re going to have to ask yourself whether you want to build a VR PC from scratch or if you want to put MSI’s compact and highly-engineered unit next to your couch. It’s also possible to just order a full-sized PC with better specs and still come in under budget. The MSI G65 is an excellent piece of computing hardware and it’ll have its fans but when there are cheaper, better options out there we’re forced to follow the money. It’s solid tech but unless you’re really lazy (and rich) or want something very unusual (and you’re rich), you can get a better deal elsewhere.

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