MSI Vortex puts two GTX 980s in one cylindrical case

MSI has released the Vortex, a gaming tower that packs quite the punch. In fact, tower may not be the right word to describe this beast, as its cylindrical form measures just 10.5" tall and contains just 6.5L of interior space. Despite those constraints, MSI has managed to squeeze in hardware as powerful as two GeForce GTX 980s and an unlocked Intel Core i7-6700K processor.

The Vortex gets its name from its cooling system. A single top-mounted fan creates a vortex by drawing in cool air from the bottom of the case, and expelling it out three large vents on top. MSI says this solution is capable of adequate cooling and relatively low noise compared to most desktops. At idle, MSI says the Vortex emits under 22 dB of noise. At full load, that number rises to about 37 dB.

The Vortex comes in two configurations. The more powerful SLI-002 gets the aforementioned dual GTX 980s in SLI along with 32GB of DDR4 2133 MT/s RAM. The SLI-011 gets two GTX 960s in SLI and 16GB of RAM. Both PCs get the i7-6700K treatment. Dual 128GB NVMe SSDs in RAID 0 and a 1TB SATA hard drive handle storage duties. To power the rig, MSI includes a 450W PSU that's 80 Plus Gold certified. 

A number of color-adjustable LEDs adorn the Cylon-meets-Mac Pro exterior. The rear I/O complement is substantial for a case this size. The fun starts with four USB 3.0 ports, and two Thunderbolt 3 ports offer up to 40Gbps of bandwidth. Monitors can be hooked up to two HDMI 1.4 ports and two Mini DisplayPort 1.2 outputs. Network connectivity is provided by dual Killer Gaming Network E2400 NICs, along with Killer's Wireless-AC 1535 card.

This much power in such little space doesn't come cheap. The SLI-002 carries a suggested price of $3,999, while MSI asks $2,199 for the SLI-011. Both models are available now.

Comments closed
    • ultima_trev
    • 4 years ago

    Ah, a Mac Pro but with better hardware and much, MUCH better operating system. Me likes.

    • blastdoor
    • 4 years ago

    Interesting that there are Mac Pro clones out there. I wonder if the Mac Pro has been more successful than what I realize. I’ve been imagining that it’s been less successful than the 2009/2010 Mac Pro Tower, given all the griping I hear on the Internet about the “new” form factor AND the fact that Apple hasn’t updated the “new” Mac Pro in over two years.

    Personally, I actually like the “new” Mac Pro form factor quite a bit. I just wish they would offer a configuration with two Xeons and one GPU . And I wish they’d update the product more often. I realize that the pace of progress in Xeons these days is glacial, so maybe annual updates don’t make sense. But 18-24 month updates almost certainly make sense.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 4 years ago

    Lets update the connectivity standards please!!! HDMI 2.0 and Atleast display port 1.3 if not 1.4. Can we also get some USB type C connections?

    I love this design but these are all connections that will render this pricey thing inert in short order.

    I’d love to see this style of Case made available to consumers to build with! It clearly is highly efficient.

      • Deadsalt
      • 4 years ago

      DP 1.4 just got formalized. It will take 8 to 12 months for graphic cards to support this.

        • the
        • 4 years ago

        The main feature of DP 1.4 was the display stream compression. This was originally penciled into the DP1.3 spec but was removed at the last minute. GPU and display makers were already preparing DSC hardware at the time. As such, I’d expect a really quick transition from DP 1.3 to DP 1.4.

    • anotherengineer
    • 4 years ago

    “MSI has managed to squeeze in hardware as powerful as two GeForce GTX 980s and an unlocked Intel Core i7-6700K processor………………………MSI includes a 450W PSU that’s 80 Plus Gold certified. ”

    Well there you have it folks, an i7-6700k and dual 980s and no 800W+ PSU.

    • Kretschmer
    • 4 years ago

    $4K and 256GB SSD.

    Nooooope.

      • ImSpartacus
      • 4 years ago

      Yeah, couldn’t they have RAIDed two m.2 SSDs to get a full TB of flash storage? I think they had enough margin to do that. Even the Mac Pro was allowed 1 TB of flash storage.

      Maybe they were thinking about expandability? You can fit a lot more storage into a 2.5″ drive than an m.2 drive. You can cram 2TB of TLC into a 2.5″ SSD. I think m.2 SSDs are currently limited to half a TB (but maybe that’s just with MLC).

        • ronch
        • 4 years ago

        “Sorry, our margins are fixed. 1TB SSD capacity for $2,000 more. Thank you for contacting MSI support.”

    • ronch
    • 4 years ago

    $4,000. Good lord. For a computer meant to play games. You gotta be one of those Rich Kids on Instagram to be able to get one of these for your birthday. Would look cool in your yacht though.

    Seriously though, I wonder how much it would cost to just buy all those parts off the shelf and building your own, sans the fancy vacuum cleaner enclosure.

      • shank15217
      • 4 years ago

      about 3000?

        • ronch
        • 4 years ago

        Around $2,300.

    • EndlessWaves
    • 4 years ago

    Where’s the single 980 option?

    Better yet, where’s the R9 Nano option so I’m not tied to a G-sync monitor? (although I guess that’s a moot point if you can throw this much cash at your hardware).

      • ImSpartacus
      • 4 years ago

      I think Fiji can’t fit on an MXM board. These are laptop GPUs so they need to fit on MXM.

        • shank15217
        • 4 years ago

        Who said they are laptop gpus?

          • ImSpartacus
          • 4 years ago

          EDIT Anandtech has press pictures showing that the vortex clearly and obviously uses laptop mxm gpus. [url<]http://anandtech.com/show/10151/msi-vortex-mac-pro-like-sli-pc-gamers[/url<] [s<]I don't think we've received a formal confirmation that they are mxm (i.e. laptop) gpus, but it's effectively guaranteed. [/s<] You simply couldn't fit full desktop-style boards in that form factor and maintain the "vortex" style cooling. The Mac Pro had to use mxm-like custom boards to make everything fit. The only two laptop Nvidia gpus that are marketed without the "m" branding are the laptop 980 (downclocked desktop 980) and laptop 960 (really a 970m). It just so happens that the vortex just happens use those two gpus and only those two gpus. Also, the desktop 980 will use 165W. Get two them and a 95W cpu and you're looking at 425W right there (need to add ram, hard drives, etc). The vortex only has a 450W psu. The laptop 980 uses around 130W, so that gives back around 70W. Now there's plenty headroom with that 450W psu. So yeah, they simply couldn't accomplish a product like with standard desktop gpus. It's just not happening.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 4 years ago

        Fiji’s package (on the interposer) is smaller than just about anything else in its performance class.

        Besides what’s a “laptop GPU” or a “desktop GPU” when these are just GM204 chips (whether they’re cut-down GM204 as in the GTX 980M or full-fat GM204 as in the “desktop” version of the GTX 980 that Nvidia sells for notebooks nowadays)?

          • ImSpartacus
          • 4 years ago

          Sure, it’s smaller than “anything else in its performance class”, but you don’t see “anything else in its performance class” (i.e. gm200) being put on mxm-b, do you? No, we see gm204 on the Nvidia side and only the pitiful Tonga the amd side.

          Do you think amd enjoys having to compete against gm204 with Tonga?

          Just ignoring the lucrative gaming laptop market, if fiji could fit on mxm-b (or a similarly sized custom form factor), then Apple would eat that shit up. Apple is using Tonga in its iMac and Tahiti in its Mac Pro. Apple, alone, would be enough of incentive for amd to get fiji in an mxm-b-sized form factor.

          Despite a massive incentive to do so, amd hasn’t done it. So I must conclude that amd simply can’t do it, for whatever reason.

            • the
            • 4 years ago

            Apple has just gone stupid with Mac Pro updates. They skipped Sandy Bridge-EP as well has Haswell-EP. Broadwell-EP should be dropping soon for the PC market so that is when I’d expect Apple to update the Mac Pro line.

            Of course, Apple has skipped several generations of GPUs too. Hawaii was out on the PC side before the new Mac Pro actually started shipping to customers. The last nVidia card Apple used in the Mac Pro was GT 120 back in the Nehalem days.

            What Apple should be doing is regular updates with each processor [i<]and[/i<] GPU refresh. That'd be two updates a year following current release patterns but Apple has moved to updating the lineup once every two years. It really is a poor technology showing and it is no wonder why so many professionals have fled Apple's platforms.

    • EndlessWaves
    • 4 years ago

    I can’t believe you quoted that guff about internal space. For a non-upgradable system who cares how small it is inside?

    External volume is approximately 7.9L (a 10.55″ cylinder with a 3.805″ radius).

    • Chrispy_
    • 4 years ago

    Apple lawsuit in 3…2…1…

    It’s a Mac Pro trashcan clone in so many ways it’s not even pretending to be different. Well, apart from the aesthetic I guess, but it was always going to look different to the beautifully clean Mac Pro; it adheres to the Asus/Asrock/Gigabyte/MSI design school classic of GUNMETAL AND RED MECHA CYBERDRAGON AGAIN YES I KNOW BUT THIS STUFF SELLS IN ASIA NO MATTER HOW TASTELESS YOU THINK THIS IS ABD ASIANS OUTNUMBER YOU EUROMERICANS THREE TO ONE SO SHUT UP AND BUY THIS STUFF ALREADY THANKS.

      • DrDominodog51
      • 4 years ago

      The lawsuit will probably be over the cooling system. Apple did the same cooling system in the 90’s on a PowerPC Mac.

      • ImSpartacus
      • 4 years ago

      Is that why they do it? It’s popular in Asia?

      I knew that those crazy asians were obsessed with core count on their phone (thanks MediaTek, I really needed 10 low power cores in my mid-range phone…), but not the nasty “gamer” aesthetic.

      • Srsly_Bro
      • 4 years ago

      Sup?

    • the
    • 4 years ago

    So basically a Mac Pro?

      • derFunkenstein
      • 4 years ago

      Better than my Mac Pro’s dual D300s for sure.

      • Deanjo
      • 4 years ago

      The only thing that is “basically a Mac Pro” is the form factor. Everything in the MacPro is workstation class. Xeon, ECC, graphics, chipset, storage, etc. “Cheap” consumer class knock off is more like it.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 4 years ago

        Yeah, tell that “workstation graphics” story to the GPUs that load the same tired Radeon 7000 kexts in OS X and show up as “Radeon 7800 Series” graphics cards in Windows. The only thing workstation about the graphics chips is the name. The storage is fast, but PCs are (finally) catching up. The only thing really interesting about the four-core Mac Pro sitting on my desk is the fact it has ECC memory.

        That, and it’s fast enough in Windows to play Diablo 3 at 1440p.

      • cygnus1
      • 4 years ago

      Yes, but much uglier.

    • Gyromancer
    • 4 years ago

    Friend: “That’s a nice vacuum cleaner you got right there.”
    Guy: ” Yeah, it’s great at sucking up cat hair. It can also be used as a space heater and can even run some games with a few attachments sold separately. It’s a great purchase for $4,000.”

    • Omniman
    • 4 years ago

    How about just the case?

      • EndlessWaves
      • 4 years ago

      There’s the very similar, but slightly larger, Dune Case that’s currently trying to get funding:
      [url<]http://www.dunecase.com/[/url<]

      • ronch
      • 4 years ago

      Subtract the cost of all those components from $4000. I bet you’d still have a 4-digit number.

        • canoli
        • 4 years ago

        Probably closer to 2 grand leftover. A few quick searches I get $2270.

        GTX 980 (x2) = ~$1000
        i7 6700K + HSF = ~$450
        32G DDR4 RAM = ~$250
        128G SSD (x2) = ~$120
        1TB HDD = ~$70
        450W PSU = $80
        Z170 board = ~$300

        If you don’t mind spending 17-hundred for your case this rig can be yours!

          • derFunkenstein
          • 4 years ago

          where are you seeing $0.50/GB M.2 PCIe SSDs? Probably closer to $200 wrapped up in storage. And the graphics cards are going to cost more since they’re MXM modules with the “desktop” GTX 980 on them.

          The rest of your list is probably reasonable, considering that’s a custom-ish motherboard.

            • ronch
            • 4 years ago

            Still, full-length 980Ti cards ARE an alternative for anyone looking at buying this sort of specs. Nobody’s gonna insist on MXM.

          • ronch
          • 4 years ago

          So $1,700 for a case that looks like a poorly drawn squatting robot. No thanks. Hello Newegg.

    • nanoflower
    • 4 years ago

    450W PSU with two 980s? the 450W PSU must be only for the SLI-011 configuration as two 960s should be okay with that PSU. Either way that’s a hell of a price premium for a small form factor.

      • bhtooefr
      • 4 years ago

      It’s worth noting that they’re MXM 980s (the “GTX 980 Notebook Graphics”), so they might be lower TDP than a normal one, even though they’re otherwise the same specs.

        • ImSpartacus
        • 4 years ago

        It’s underclocked. It only needs around 130W, not the full 165W of the desktop 980.

      • ImSpartacus
      • 4 years ago

      The 2nd gen Mac Pro has a [url=http://www.macrumors.com/2013/12/31/teardown-of-new-mac-pro-reveals-surprising-amount-of-accessibility-circular-daugtherboard/<]450W PSU[/url<] and it can support 2 downclocked semi-custom tahiti GPUs and a 130W 12-core CPU. The Mac Pro is very similar to the Vortex and it runs just fine. Also, the MXM 980 uses MXM-B which is limited to 100W (just like PCIe provides 75W, remember the recent 75W 950s). But I think there's some magic that lets it pull around 130W (external power connectors?). 2x130W and a 95W CPU is only 355W. Plenty of headroom for hard drives, RAM and misc stuff. A lot of people are surprised to hear that they don't need even close to a 1000W PSU to do a multiGPU setup, lol. EDIT- Also, the MXM 960 is also different from the desktop 960. It's just a rebranded 970m: [url<]https://techreport.com/review/29208/zotac-zbox-magnus-en970-reviewed[/url<]

        • Pitabred
        • 4 years ago

        This. Even with two power-hungry R9 280Xs, 2 spinning drives, 3 different SSDs, a 3770K and a few CCFL bling lights, my system will only pull about 550W from the wall when running a high-end game. Given ~80% efficiency (it’s an 80+ Silver Corsair PSU, I think), that’s only 440W total. And that’s for the hardware of a few generations ago.

        Things are getting efficient any more, and that’s a good thing IMO.

        • the
        • 4 years ago

        The problem with the Mac Pro comparison is that you can actually load the Mac Pro beyond its PSU rating for brief periods of time. It really should have shipped with a 500 W or 525W unit.

          • ImSpartacus
          • 4 years ago

          I appreciate you mentioning that – I hadn’t previously heard of that phenomena.

          However, part of me trusts that Apple doesn’t put PoS PSUs in their professional machines. So it’s probably ok.

          Do you know of any analyses of reliability in light of this occurrence?

    • PainIs4ThaWeak1
    • 4 years ago

    [b<]FOUR GRAND?!?![/b<] KMA MSI.

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