MSI Nightblade Review
Published: 14th April 2014 | Source: MSI | Price: |
It's difficult not to resort to cliché when discussing the MSI Nightblade. 'Small but perfectly formed'; 'Pocket powerhouse', all the usual journalistic expressions spring to mind.
One of the biggest issues with any iTX based system is balancing the performance requirements of the gamer with the compact dimensions and thus reduced thermal capacity of the case. The selection of components within the Nightblade is fantastic. The MSI Z87i motherboard is one of our favourites and destroys any preconceptions you might have about powerful components only being large ones. The decision to utilise the outstanding i7-4770K with a mild overclock is another that shows you what is possible with the Nightblade. In fact with the CPU topping out around the 70° mark there is a little extra wiggle room should you want to be more aggressive with your overclocking. Even at this mild speed though it has plenty of performance for any task you care to thrust in its direction, and the Hyper-Threading helps in nearly every application.
There are always plenty of options in the graphics card department. Our review sample came equipped with an MSI R9 290 Gaming which has great performance in all of our gaming and 3D tests. There is no doubt that whether you want to take the Nightblade to a gaming convention or just round to a friends, it brilliantly blends the ease of portability you would require with enough performance to give you a smooth experience and to silence any doubters who believe that you need a titanic case to bring great performance.
The MSI Nightblade has quite a small foot print, much smaller than we were really expecting. Due to this though there isn't a great deal of room inside for anything other than the essentials, many may moan about the lack of a side panel window but with the fan mount that is very much needed for airflow there isnt room for one. There is also a bonus to not having a window, you dont have to look at the complete lack of cable tidying inside. The internals of the Nightblade really do look like a throw back back from a system built in 2010, cables everywhere and the inside of the case is bare steel. Its just not up to par and is far from the level of quality we have come to expect from MSI.
By covering all the basics with carefully selected components, yet leaving it up to the individual to choose the biggest bits of hardware, MSI have delivered a product which is far better than you might believe if you only saw that it was an iTX system and didn't look any further. It's well built, has enough cooling capacity, great default hardware choices and isn't so heavily branded that you are shorn of creativity. We're glad to award it our OC3D Silver award based purely on the components inside alone but we really do hope this is a product that will get developed further. With a decent design team and people intouch with what is expected nowadays the Nightblade could have a very bright future but for now it has fallen slightly short of the mark.