LAS VEGAS - It might look like a really futuristic coffee pot, but MSI's strikingly compact Vortex is in fact a full-fledged gaming PC. In addition to being small enough to plop on a shelf, the Vortex supports high-end processors and graphics cards, and can even connect to multiple 4K displays.
Looks-wise, the Vortex is the definition of a conversation-starter. This small cylinder of a PC sports an attractively futuristic design, with a silver-and-black body that's highlighted by MSI's signature streaks of red. MSI's mini-monster weights just 6.5 liters, so lugging it to a LAN party shouldn't be terribly difficult.
The Vortex looks cool enough, but what's packed inside its tiny frame is even more impressive. The miniature tower supports up to dual Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti graphics cards in SLI formation, offering plenty of muscle for 4K gaming. The Vortex utilizes MSI's 360-degree Silent Storm Cooling to stay cool under pressure, and those seeking total immersion can hook the PC up to multiple 4K displays.
The benefits of the Vortex's powerful guts became clear the second I started playing a bit of The Witcher 3 in 4K on a huge TV while kicking back in a comfy chair. The game's lush forests and realistic character models looked much more stunning than what you'd see on the PS4 or Xbox One version, and yet I was still playing the game in the same cozy living room environment that I would be on consoles.
The Vortex also get's Nvidia's "VR Ready" seal of approval, meaning you'll be able to use your Oculus Rift or HTC Vive on it.
The Vortex's stunningly small design and desktop-grade specs make it one of the most head-turning gaming PCs we've seen at CES, and we're looking forward to seeing how it handles the latest GPU-taxing games. MSI has yet to announce a release date or starting price, though I'd expect something this compact and powerful to go for a premium. Stay tuned for our full review once the desktop launches later this year.