One of the most interesting PC designs to come out in recent years was that of the Mac Pro. Sure, it looked like a cylinder into which one might throw discarded objects, or its size/power limitations has meant it can’t extend into that high end workstation that some users require, but in terms of performance per liter, it caused quite a stir. Well it turns out that MSI has done something similar, but this time focused on the gaming community.

The Vortex isn’t new for CES, and there have been murmurings and images floating around for a while, although I must admit it has not been on my radar as of late and it wasn’t even mentioned when I visited MSI’s headquarters last year during Computex. But the design is similar to the Mac Pro – a custom internal design with one CPU and two GPUs in a triangle arrangement, sharing a heatsink arrangement that uses a single fan to extract the heat generated. I was told that the final designs would feature SLI configurations using GTX 960s, GTX 980s and GTX 980 Tis, and I would assume at this point there would be a high end Intel CPU using the Z170 chipset (because you can’t get SLI on other chipsets).

Connectivity is also similar to the Apple product, in that we have multiple Thunderbolt chips in play. These are combined with HDMI 2.0 to give three displays or users can daisy chain out to hubs and storage. The device looks plastic, but I am told is actually a thin metal despite that fact it also feels like plastic. But regardless of the material, the design is fetching for a ‘mini’ gaming machine. It is about the same size as the Mac Pro, and is stepped up from the ground to give an entry point for air to be drawn up through the device.

Because the fan is on top blowing up, there is no real fan filter to speak of. I postulated to MSI that my cat might sit on the top because it is warm, or during extended periods of ‘off’ time that dust would fall in and settle. I was told it shouldn’t be an issue, but the engineer did have a good think about it. If MSI have done all their work internally, it shouldn’t be too difficult for them to create a professional variant of this with ECC and FirePro/Tesla cards in an aluminium chassis for the prosumer ground.

I would like to get some hands on with the internals, and have requested a test unit along with the VR headset they were promoting alongside it, just to see how far a machine this size could push some of the more demanding VR titles. On pricing, if they do intend putting in dual GTX 980 Tis, we could easily see the top model push $1600-$2000, depending on the other internals.

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  • DanNeely - Friday, January 15, 2016 - link

    I've seen other articles explicitly claiming both custom desktop and MXM GPUs. Until MSI speaks up I think this is going to remain ambiguous. I suppose it's possible that they took a 980Ti and made a custom MXM form factor module with it which'd agree with both versions of the reporting; but half the tech press having gotten a garbled version of the story is more likely.
  • ruthan - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    I bet that sound system would be nice, vacuum cleaner included :)
  • WorldWithoutMadness - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    I don't why but I think it is ugly, Is it ugly irl or just bad angle?
  • ImSpartacus - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    It's ugly as sin and msi should feel bad for pushing that shit on us.

    I don't understand why they couldn't just rip off the Mac pro's aesthetic. It's fucking gorgeous.
  • Friendly0Fire - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    Eh, I think the current Mac Pro looks like a literal trash can and has no real redeeming quality aesthetically. I hear it's well engineered, but that doesn't make it any prettier.

    This tries to ape the Mac Pro but seems to lose the engineering benefits without being any prettier. Both designs could stand with a complete rethink.
  • ImSpartacus - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    What makes you think that this msi pos is poorly engineered?

    In spirit, it's using a cooling design very similar to the Mac pro, so I would assume that it's similarly well performing. The fact that uses beefy gpus makes me nervous, but at this point I'm only concerned that it's ugly af.
  • Friendly0Fire - Friday, January 15, 2016 - link

    Ventilation grills seem to have been added in various places, but there's supposedly still just one fan. To me that sounds like you'll lose the advantage of having all the air coming from one intake and going out of one exhaust. Granted, the Mac Pro does run pretty warm, but this MSI just has grilles and shit everywhere and the top of the machine trades off one big exhaust for three weirdly shaped ones.

    Maybe I'm wrong and it'll be really well cooled, but I'm far from convinced.
  • Dug - Friday, January 15, 2016 - link

    No redeeming quality? I guess it is in the eye of the beholder.
    When we received them at work, and actually got to handle them, it's amazing what went into that design.
    Especially when you watch the video on how they are made.

    Comapred to this MSI, the Mac Pro is a work of art.
  • milkod2001 - Wednesday, January 20, 2016 - link

    I must agree, even teen gamers must hate MSI designs.

    They could have just simply copycat Apple's design and throw only logo of evil gaming dragon or whatever it is there. No need for any silly shapes or LEDs
  • fireduckzilla - Friday, January 15, 2016 - link

    @worldwithoutmadness I think its just straight ugly from the other pictures I've seen. Nice concept though.

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