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MSI Vortex G25 – PC Review

MSI Vortex G25 – PC Review

MSI Vortex G25It’s not uncommon to see small PCs, but machines like the MSI Vortex G25 (G25 8RE-025UK) remain rare. Read our MSI Vortex G25 review to find out if this PC could be your next gaming rig.

MSI Vortex G25 Review – Design

The Vortex G25 is spectacularly tiny. It weighs just 2.5kg and it’s 43mm wide, so it’s barely any larger than most gaming laptops. However, you will end up paying plenty for such a tiny system: it costs £1,999 in the UK and $1,999 in the US.

The G25 is small enough to carry to LAN parties, its plastic exterior is strong enough to withstand being carried around, and it has a vertical stand and rubber feet so it can be used horizontally.

The G25 may be tiny, but it still has decent connectivity. It’s got four USB 3.1 ports and a type-C connector. Two HDMI ports and a Thunderbolt socket bode well for VR headsets. There’s Gigabit Ethernet, and on the inside is Gigabit Ethernet and Killer 802.11ac wireless.

The side panel with the rubber feet also has a 100mm VESA mount, so the G25 can be attached to the back of a monitor. Tool-free screws can be used to remove the rear panel, too.

It’s certainly far smaller than the last small-form-factor PC we reviewed. The CCL NebulaX is a mini-ITX machine, which means a tiny motherboard, and it used a tall and narrow case. That makes it about as lofty as a mid-sized ATX tower, even if it’s far more compact.

The MSI is obviously far smaller than the CCL, but both can be carried to LAN parties or sequestered in a living room with relatively ease. The CCL offers more versatility in some areas: it has proper desktop parts that can be accessed and replaced, and it has more ports. It’s also cheaper than the G25: it costs £1,657, while MSI’s machine arrives at £1,999 or $1,999.

MSI Vortex G25MSI Vortex G25 Review – Components

Removing the side panel reveals exactly how MSI has made the Vortex G25 so small. This machine relies on a mobile graphics chip and a modified laptop motherboard. It uses low-profile cooling hardware and laptop memory.

The mobile core used in this machine is the GTX 1070. It has 2,048 stream processors, a few more than the 1,920 in the desktop version of the card, but that’s countered by a clock speed of 1,443MHz – a bit lower than the 1,506MHz desktop variant.

Still, the increased stream processor count should see the mobile card achieve parity with the desktop part. The G25’s tight confines don’t preclude this machine from overclocking, either: that original speed of 1,443MHz has been improved to 1,650MHz.

MSI Vortex G25CCL’s machine uses the desktop version of the GTX 1070. That card is overclocked from 1,506MHz to 1,532MHz, and both have 8GB of memory.

The MSI’s graphics card may be mobile, but the hybrid G25 deploys a desktop processor. The Core i7-8700 is a Coffee Lake chip, which means it’s got six cores rather than the four included in last year’s Core i7 parts. It’s clocked to 3.2GHz with a Boost peak of 4.6GHz, but it’s not overclocked.

The 16GB of memory runs at a middling 2,400MHz. There’s a 256GB SSD, but it’s a slower SATA model, and there’s a 1TB hard disk. CCL’s machine had a 500GB Samsung SSD and a 4TB hard disk.

The Core i7 processor stacks up against the CCL’s AMD Ryzen 5 1600. That chip may be a mid-range part, but it’s also got six cores and a base speed of 3.2GHz. Only its peak of 3.7GHz can’t match the MSI.

MSI Vortex G25 Review – Performance

MSI Vortex G25

MSI Vortex G25The mobile GTX 1070 and its small overclock delivered solid performance in gaming benchmarks. It ran through the 1080p tests with minimums of 65fps or better, and at 1440p it ran at 48fps or faster.

No matter what current title you’re playing at 1080p or 1440p, then, the tiny MSI Vortex G25 will handle the graphical demands. It’ll also run games on widescreen displays and on VR headsets.

It won’t run most games well at 4K, though. Its Crysis 3 and Fallout 4 minimums of 24fps and MSI Vortex G2521fps are slow. Even if the average heads beyond 30fps, those sluggish minimums mean you’ll still see slowdown.

The mobile GTX 1070 in the MSI trades blows with the desktop card inside the CCL NebulaX, with both machines taking the lead in minimum and average framerate tests at 1080p and 1440p.

There’s very little between the two systems in gaming tests – both are fast. MSI’s Dragon Center tool overclocks the GPU a little more and add a couple of frames to results, but it’s not a game-changer.

We can’t dispute the Core i7 chip’s speed despite its lack of overclock. Its Cinebench result of 1,371cb was a couple of thousand points ahead of the Ryzen 5 chip inside the CCL machine. Its single-threaded Geekbench score of 5,153 is excellent, and more than 1,000 points beyond the CCL rig. It’s faster in multi-threaded tests, too.

The Core i7 processor’s higher Turbo speed clearly has a big impact here. It means that the tiny MSI machine will handle almost any CPU-intensive task, from office tools to database applications and streaming. Web browsing and games won’t tax the CPU, either.

The SSD, though, is merely mediocre. Its read and write speeds of 545MB/s and 517MB/s are fine for a SATA drive. However, the CCL machine had a larger Samsung SSD that ran through those tests at 3,364MB/s and 1,648MB/s.

We discovered mixed thermal performance. We had no issues with its quiet idle and web browsing operation, and its peak CPU and GPU temperatures of 84°C and 75°C are fine.

However, the MSI produces a high-pitched fan noise during gaming. It’s similar to the noise produced by most gaming laptops – no surprise considering the G25’s internals. A headset or speakers will drown the noise out, but it’s irritating, especially if you use the G25 in a living room.

That’s one area where the larger CCL machine performs better: it was always whisper-quiet, even in tough gaming tests.

MSI Vortex G25 Review – Conclusion

MSI Vortex G25The MSI Vortex G25 is a unique and intriguing system. Its tiny design means that it’s easy to fit into small spaces and carry to LAN parties, and it’s got the pace to keep up with rivals in games – and outpace machines like the CCL NebulaX in application tests.

However, the tiny size does have negatives. The G25 has very little versatility, and it’s louder than the CCL. It’s also hundreds of pounds more expensive than its mini-ITX rival.

And that, more than its lack of versatility or its loud fans, is the G25’s biggest issue. For hundreds of pounds less you could get the CCL NebulaX. It’s larger, sure, but it’s more versatile and much quieter. Or, for this money, you could buy a GTX 1070-based gaming laptop – it’ll offer similar speed and, of course, it’ll also have a screen, keyboard and mouse already included.

The MSI Vortex G25 is worth a look if you want a tiny desktop machine to keep beneath the TV or take to LAN parties. But the high price and numerous alternatives mean that rivals will be better for most people – whether they’re desktops or true laptops.

The MSI Vortex G25 costs £1,999 in the UK and $1,999 in the US. Do you like the idea of your gaming PC being this small? Join the discussion on our Facebook and Twitter pages. And, if you need some more inspiration, check out our guide to our favourite laptops or click here to read about the best desktop PCs.

The Good

  • Tiny, good-looking case
  • Rapid gaming performance
  • Solid application speeds

The Bad

  • Not much build versatility
  • Loud in gaming scenarios
  • Expensive

The Specs

CPU: 3.2GHz Intel Core i7-8700
Memory: 16GB 2,400MHz DDR4
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB
Motherboard: MSI Bespoke Z370
Storage: 256GB Samsung PM871 SSD, 1TB Hitachi Travelstar 7K1000 HDD
Warranty: 1yr RTB



Review Date
Reviewed Item
MSI Vortex G25

About Author

Mike Jennings

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