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MSI Nightblade Barebone System Review

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MSI NightBlade Barebone System ReviewRemember the days when going to a LAN party you had to load up your heavy steel case, the IBM mechanical keyboard and that massive 17 inch CRT monitor. Well most of you probably don’t but I do, but still it is a hassle to grab your stuff and go. You got a full size case as you need all the space you can because you have the latest big ass graphic card in it. That quad motherboard that you never use the other slots and all the other crap you got stuffed into. What if I told you that you can get about the same performance from a full system that is less than half the size of a mid tower. The MSI Nightblade Barebone System packs all that into a tiny package, but can it perform. Let us find out.

[sc:sponsor sponsor=”MSI ” product_link=”http://us.msi.com/product/desktop/Nightblade.html#overview” product_name=”Nightblade” ]


We were lucky enough to get a review sample before the release date of MSI Nightblade Bare Bone System. I am pretty sure that our sample with be or is close to the final released product, but in case it is not you can get the feel of how the Nightblade looks and works. The MSI Nightblade is a bare bones system and all you need to do is install a CPU, cooler, memory, graphics card and your choice of storage. Everything else comes with the system, even a power supply. The power supply is a 600 watt 80+ gold that can deliver all the power that you need.

MSI-USA will carry the following two Nightblade models and both items will be only sold through NewEgg.com in the month of April.

Name  MSI & Dragon Shield Logo Slot-In DVD  SuperMulti
1200mm Side FAN for R9 290X/290/280x
Nightblade-012BUS Yes Included Not included Not included
Nightblade-012BUS Yes Not included Not included Not included


The system has a base of the Z87I Gaming Series ITX motherboard. Don’t let the size fool you as it is packed with features that includes Audio Boost to give you the highest quality audio possible. Killer E2200 Ethernet is on board for the fastest and smoothest gaming performance. Toss in the Military Class Components on the motherboard to keep your system stable while overclocking and running well for the long run.

MSI-Nightblade-03 MSI-Nightblade-02

The box that the Nightblade is shipped in displays the system on one side while on the other you get the MSI Dragon. Other than that the box has no other details about what is inside, but you should already know all about the system before you buy it anyways.




The Nightblade comes packaged very well with all the protective safeguards you would hope it would have.


Included in the box is another box about the size of a keyboard box (Yeah I was hoping for that too) that has all the extras you need to instal your hardware and other items.


First out the extra box is the installation guide, a manual for the Z87I motherboard, driver disks and two antennas for the wireless.


Of course you get the screws needed to install your hardware.


Here we are looking some covers for the some of the I/O ports, the red brackets are used to instal a 2.5 drive. At the top of the image we see the back plate for the include CPU Cooler. Yes that is right our MSI Nightblade came with a cooler. I guess MSI is wanting to make sure that I had a cooler that will work in the case, besides the stock cooler. I am not sure if this will be an option for the retail version but I will briefly go over the cooler just in case.


The cooler box is tucked away inside of the Nightblade and is well protected for traveling.


The cooler looks rather nice and to tell you the truth better than I expected. The MSI Nightblade is setup to use an Intel socket 1150 processor and the cooler matches this. The cooler stands at 4.75 inches tall the the tallest heat pipe point and is pretty much a 3.5 inches square. Six heat pipes are used along with a fan that has been sandwiched between the cooling fins.


The normal PWN power plug is available and a protective plastic cover was fitted over the base to keep it from getting damaged and to protect the thermal paste that was already on it.

(Confirmed: The MSI-USA Nightblade Does Not come with a CPU Cooler).

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  1. Your graphs are completely biased! how can you visually represent a .1 FPS difference by a bar twice as large? Even under the premise of testing different mobo response .1 FPS is small enough to call percent error in a scientific test. show the result accurately or at least express how little difference .1 FPS means in any situation. it means every 10 seconds you will have render 1 additional frame on one system versus the other.

  2. Thank you so much for this review, been waiting for something this in depth by someone who knows their stuff.

    I’m planing on getting a new desktop this year and this one caught my eye. I have 3 questions for you I hope you don’t mind.

    This should be perfectly compatible with current top tier nvidia cards right? Their size is a bit similar to amd but the titan is a bit longer.

    This has a 600w psu, which is good but not exactly stellar, when the gtx 790 (or any future nvidia card) I will want to upgrade to that. Will 600w be enough? If not, upgrading the psu is easy enough? Looks too cramped in there and I read somewhere this system uses shorter cables to fit everything better so I’m not sure if the regular cables on a 1000w psu would provide a problem.

    Last question is about the over clock button, how does this work exactly? No matter which CPU I out in there (say a haswell) the button will automatically over clock it? Does it need any configuration? And is it the equivalent to bios over clocking or is it just software oc?


  3. Yes the Nightblade is compatible with the high end graphic cards. Actually the PCI-e slot is a Gen 3 one which means it is ready for the next level. Be sure that you get a full-size card that is within the maximum length of 290mm and 35mm thick.

    The 600w PSU is good for what most people would use. If you throw a Titian in the system you are probably going to be close. The way I look at figuring a power supply is to always take 20% off the “Stated” wattage which would take the 600w psu down to 480w. Then using a fairly descent psu calculator like this one at Enermax http://www.enermax.outervision.com/ you can get a level of wattage your system might pull. This is all guess work but it gives you a good starting point. I don’t think you could even get a 1000w psu into the case.

    The OC button is an OK feature as it did OC my 4770K by a small percentage. I am not sure what it would do with a “non OC ready” CPU. my guess is that it would just push it to the highest speed and keep it there without letting it ramp up and down The Windows GUI by MSI for overclocking was easy to use and did well, but the best way is still the old way and that is within the BIOS.

  4. Thanks for your reply, that may be the dealbeaker for me with this case, the PSU, that affects future compatibility, it’s rumored the gtx 790 may need more than a 600w psu and I am not sure how easy it will be to upgrade the psu in this case!

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