MSI has developed an interesting Mini-ITX rig for gamers. The Nightblade barebones box comes with a variant of MSI's Z87I Gaming motherboard, a 600W PSU with 80 Plus gold certification, and a custom steel chassis that measures 16.6" x 10.9" x 6.9". The total system volume is only 16 liters, and the whole thing weighs just 17.2 lbs. It looks pretty good, too.
Despite its compact dimensions, the Nightblade can accommodate dual-slot graphics cards up to 11.4" long. MSI says even its high-end Radeon R9 290X graphics card will fit. There's also room in the chassis for one 3.5" hard drive, dual 2.5" SSDs, and one slim optical drive. MSI's product page mentions a tower-style CPU cooler, as well, but it's unclear whether that's included with all configurations.
Although the introductory press release describes only one version of the Nightblade, MSI appears to have plans for multiple variants based on different CPU platforms. MSI will be using its own mobos, of course, and there's some good integration with the chassis. The Nightblade has an OC Genie button up front, allowing users to activate the motherboard's auto-overclocking functionality without cracking open the case. There's also a front-panel LED tied to the mobo's wireless card.
The Haswell-ready Z87 board in the initial Nightblade config serves up 802.11ac Wi-Fi in addition to a wired Killer NIC. It also includes a headphone amp for the integrated audio and a CMOS reset switch for the rear cluster. There's plenty of SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0 connectivity, of course.
On the cooling front, the Nightblade relies on a 92-mm rear exhaust fan. Two more fans can be added to the chassis, and at least one of those can be a larger 120-mm unit. MSI's product page isn't entirely clear on the details, though it does boast that the rear fan can reach 4,000 RPM. The fan speed is controlled by temperature-based intelligence, at least, but it sounds like strong cooling performance was prioritized over low noise levels.
MSI says the Nightwing will be available next week. Versions offered in the U.S. will reportedly cost $599 and ship with a SteelSeries headset, which is a little expensive for what you get. The Z87I Gaming mobo sells for $190 and the headset costs about $70, so you're paying quite a premium for the case, PSU, and CPU cooler.
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