Introduction, Design Features
Small-form-factor (SFF) desktops come in a accumulation of shapes and sizes. We’ve seen all from a engineer Gigabyte Brix Gaming UHDMSI TridentFalcon Northwest Tiki. Most SFFs on a market, including those customarily mentioned, have rather compulsory shapes as distant as PCs go, with true sides and squared-off corners.
But customarily like in roughly any other category of tech gear, there customarily has to be someone who goes about it in a opposite manner. The dissenter, in this case, is MSI. We aren’t certain what MSI’s accurate impulse was when it designed a new Aegis 3 SFF gaming desktop. But we’re flattering certain it was along a lines of not wanting to demeanour like a other guys.
By that metric, it’s a large win. One peek during a Aegis 3 is adequate to remonstrate us that MSI achieved that goal…
What a Aegis 3 is supposed to demeanour like, we couldn’t say, yet it’s really different. (Our initial impression: an angrier Alienware, focussed on heavenly domination.) And on a opening front, it’s any bit as fearsome as it looks.
The $1,599 Aegis 3 we’re reviewing, privately SKU VR7RD-013US, is a top-end pre-configured indication that was accessible for sale during this early-April 2017 writing. That income buys we a 1440p-ready gaming appurtenance that needs zero some-more than a guard to strike a grid. The cost includes a gaming-grade keyboard and mouse. Inside, you’ll find an Intel Core i7-7700 “Kaby Lake” quad-core processor, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB solid-state-drive (SSD), and a rather atmospheric 3TB tough expostulate for delegate storage.
A crowd of SFF models on a marketplace contest directly with a Aegis 3, yet one in sold that stands out is a Lenovo Ideacentre Y710 Cube. A new Editors’ Choice winner, a Ideacentre Y710 Cube has a squatter pattern than a Aegis 3, yet it packs a same distance of components, and it goes for an roughly matching price. They’re dual of a few pre-built gaming desktops we can find with an integrated lift handle. The hoop competence not seem like a outrageous deal, yet if you’re a visit LAN-party-goer, or have a need to pierce your setup around, we should take all a assistance we can get.
The irritable extraneous pattern of a Aegis 3 looks like it was desirous by Independence Day. Its illusory entrance is distinct anything we’ve seen before. The box itself is pointed upward, while a bottom of a territory anchors it all down. You’ll be pulpy to find any 90-degree angles on a thing.
The Aegis 3 stretches a clarification of an SFF to a limit. The extraneous is 17 inches long, 14.8 inches tall, and 6.7 inches wide. Compare that to a mid-tower, such as a Lenovo Ideacentre Y900 Razer Edition, that is 19.8×18.9×8.1 inches. An SFF like a Falcon Northwest Tiki is significantly some-more compact, during 13.3×13.5×4 inches. Much of a additional distance of a Aegis 3 is attributable to a pointed design, yet that doesn’t indispensably forgive a width.
One thing’s for sure, though, and that is a Aegis 3 can customarily be oriented one way. Don’t devise on laying this territory on a side and slipping it into your TV cabinet.
The RGB LED box lighting in a Aegis 3 is clustered into 5 ubiquitous zones. Four banks of LEDs are built adult a front row of a tower, raised gloomy silhouettes of a black air-vent grates in front of a desktop while a lighting is on. The final territory is a LED frame resplendent by a window on a right side of a case. Within, we can see a video label in all a glory. The GeForce GTX 1070 in a examination territory was an MSI Gaming model, with a tradition heatsink pattern and dual-fan setup. It looked great, yet that’s all we can see by a panel. Seeing a rest of a interior requires a bit of disassembly. (More on that in a Components territory entrance up.)
The box lighting on a Aegis 3 is distant some-more modernized than what we saw on a Lenovo Ideacentre Y710 Cube, as good as on many other SFF gaming desktops that have upheld by a hands. We cruise it looks fantastic, yet it could use a bit some-more in a approach of program customization. As we can see in a pre-installed MSI Mystic Light setup software, we can change a lighting to any tone we want, yet a environment relates to all zones; we’d like to see them be away customizable…
In terms of effects, we can select from tone cycling, breathing, and an audio visualizer, yet that’s it; Mystic Light offers no options to emanate your own. We do like, however, that a lighting can be incited off completely. When it’s incited off, a customarily lighting on a extraneous of a Aegis 3 is MSI’s gaming-shield logo, and a power-button LED on a front of a unit.
The energy supply in this SFF is housed in a base, that accounts for many of a system’s 18.9-pound weight. All that weight down there helps with complement stability; it feels resolutely anchored. Underneath it are 4 block rubber feet that keep a complement from shifting around. As we can substantially theory from a shape, a energy supply is a slim model, with 450 watts of sum output. That should be adequate energy to accommodate many fathomable video-card upgrades down a line. It didn’t mangle a persperate powering a GeForce GTX 1070 in a exam system.
The black box extraneous is primarily plastic. The disproportion to this is a solid-metal lift hoop during a behind of a unit. The hoop is magnificently sturdy, and we felt assured carrying a complement around a room. The territory tips brazen when we lift it, so customarily be clever not to strike it on anything. The competing Lenovo Ideacentre Y710 Cube is easier to lift by a handle, that is center-mounted and so improved balanced. Still, we’re happy a Aegis 3 has one. You competence not cruise many of a lift hoop until we have to pierce a machine.
The antenna-like protrusions on any side of a Aegis 3 are fold-out headphone hangers. This is a good feature, and will go totally unappreciated until we comprehend how many space your headphones take adult sitting on your desk. We also smiled during how they demeanour like demon horns when extended, giving a Aegis 3 a flat-out immorality look.
The Aegis 3 has an HDMI pier on a front of a desktop, designed for joining VR headsets. If we have a VR headset, such as a Oculus Rift, we know that we need all a tardy we can get in a HDMI cable, so an HDMI pier in front of a framework is a large bonus. To use a front HDMI port, you’ll need to bond a enclosed “VR link” HDMI-to-HDMI wire from a video label to a VR couple HDMI pier on a behind of a desktop. This wire is enclosed with a Aegis 3.
On a front of a desktop, we also have a USB Type-C 3.1 port, dual USB Type-A 2.0 ports, and detached headphone and microphone jacks. The rectilinear energy symbol is on a right side. It has a white LED when a Aegis 3 is incited on. We’re always blissful to see front-mounted ports on desktops.
A slim visual expostulate pops out of a tip of a front panel; it was a DVD burner in a examination unit. We didn’t even comprehend it was there during first. It’s substantially not going to see many use, during slightest until we find your long-lost CD-ROM duplicate of TIE Fighter. (If we bought a 3.5-inch floppy chronicle of a game, you’re out of luck.) All that’s blank adult here is an SD label reader.
The behind of a desktop has a remaining connectivity. The energy wire thankfully connects to a bottom of a desktop, where a energy supply is located…
The 4 red-tinted USB Type-A ports on a motherboard row are chronicle 3.1, while a black ones are chronicle 2.0. The cluster of audio connectors includes S/PDIF and optical-out. A Killer E2500 Gigabit Ethernet jack and a bequest PS/2 pier spin out a organic pier list. The DisplayPort connector and HDMI pier on a motherboard are disabled, in preference of a video-out connectors on a commissioned video card. The MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1070 label in a examination territory had 3 full-size DisplayPort connectors, an HDMI port, and a DVI-D, like many cards of a class.
Internally, a Aegis 3 had an Intel 3168 wireless label with 802.11ac rope support, and Bluetooth 4.2. Neither had difficulty joining to a wireless devices.
Our examination territory SKU enclosed a gaming-grade keyboard and mouse…
The keyboard is a MSI Interceptor DS4200. We couldn’t find it for sale during a vital e-tailer, yet it’s a bill gaming keyboard that creates use of surface keys. The multi-colored backlighting is splendid and looks good in person, yet a colors aren’t customizable. In other words, it will always demeanour like a rainbow. (Maybe it’s not a fluke that during a finish of a rainbow keyboard’s wire is a gold-plated USB connector.)
MSI claims that a keys have a feel that is like a automatic keyboard, yet it felt rather rubbery to us, if reduction tear-jerking than a standard surface keyboard. It was a ideally serviceable keyboard for many situations, though. We generally favourite a built-in palm rest. The customarily bauble with a keyboard was a Euro-style Enter key.
This keyboard has no pattern program or dedicated by-pass keys, yet we can use a Fn pivotal during a reduce right in and with a F1 to F12 keys to activate several multimedia shortcuts. Pressing Fn+F11 enables Gaming mode, imagination pronounce for disabling a Windows key. The pivotal to a right of a Fn pivotal is dedicated to determining a dual levels of backlighting brightness, that can be tighten off completely. The braided wire is another nicety.
For an enclosed peripheral, we have no room to protest about a Interceptor DS4200. It’s not in a same joining as an aftermarket automatic keyboard, such as a Razer BlackWidow Chroma V2, yet it gets a pursuit done.
The enclosed rodent is MSI’s Interceptor DS B1. We did find this bill gaming rodent separately on Newegg.com for a tiny underneath $20. It has an considerable underline set for a rodent this inexpensive, including an tractable weight system. The figure fits medium-size hands customarily about perfectly. The figure is indeed ambidextrous, yet it’s designed for right-handers, given a dual ride buttons are on a left.
The tip side of a rodent has a silicone finish. The slides are rather slick, yet a fingers didn’t have a problem anticipating squeeze there. The ride buttons are within easy reach. The brazen symbol is textured, while a behind symbol is not, creation it discerning to tell them detached by feel alone. The corkscrew circle has pleasing notches on it, and a certain altogether feel. Scrolling is many silent, noise-wise, and a center-click movement is positive.
The red LED bling on a extraneous of this rodent is intense. The palm-rest trademark is lit, as are a side buttons and a dual clear-plastic strips flanking possibly side of a mouse.
You’ll spin a circle on a bottom of a rodent with your fingernails to disentangle a weight module. Inside are 8 2-gram weights, that we configure as we see fit.
The DS B1 has a 1,600dpi sensor. The DPI-switching symbol behind a corkscrew circle is reachable—just—with an index finger. There are 3 preset DPI levels, and yet we could tell a rodent became some-more or reduction supportive as we altered them, there was no revelation what a DPI levels indeed were. This rodent has no program front end, that is a biggest problem. It also doesn’t have a braided cable, yet we aren’t going to protest about that for underneath $20.
On second thought, blemish both of those complaints. This rodent was enclosed with a examination unit, and it was approach improved than many enclosed peripherals. Even if we had to flare over an Andrew Jackson for it, we’d still cruise it a excellent value. Again, you’re propitious if a keyboard and rodent is enclosed with a pre-built desktop these days during all, let alone ones that offer some-more than a unclothed essentials.
Core i7-7700K mostly seen in boutique gaming desktops, yet it is close.
The GPU inside a Aegis 3 VR7RD-013US examination indication is, as we mentioned, a special MSI Gaming book of Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1070. The MSI Gaming label has aloft core and boost clocks than a Founders Edition chronicle of a GTX 1070, that we customarily see in pre-built desktops, yet a disproportion is so slight that we doubt it translates to any genuine difference. The Founders Edition has a 1,506MHz core time and a 1,683MHz boost clock, while clocks of a a MSI Gaming Edition label in a examination territory were during 1,519MHz and 1,709MHz, respectively. There is a program overclocking underline in a preinstalled MSI Gaming Center software, yet in a testing, it combined reduction than 20MHz to a core and boost clocks. Again, that’s a disproportion substantially too tiny to notice.
The Aegis 3 uses notebook-style DIMMs for memory. There are customarily dual slots, any means of easy a 16GB hang for a limit of 32GB. Our examination territory had a dual-channel 16GB pattern around dual 8GB DIMMs, using during DDR4 2400 speeds. That’s an ideal volume of memory for gaming, and it runs copiousness fast.
The storage inside a Aegis 3 is singular to an M.2 Type-2280 (80mm) container on a motherboard, and a singular 3.5-inch brook for SATA drives. The M.2 container had a 256GB Intel SSD 600p PCI Express-bus expostulate installed. It had NVMe custom support, and it supposing really poignant performance. For storage, a examination territory had an abundantly sized 3TB tough drive. That’s appreciably incomparable than a 1TB and 2TB drives we typically see in pre-built gaming desktops. (Even a $4,999 Asus Republic of Gamers GT51CA we tested had customarily a 1TB drive.)
Getting to a courage of a Aegis 3 takes a Philips-head screwdriver and patience. Removing a desktop’s left row is candid enough, requiring a dismissal of dual screws. It slides to a behind with a peaceful tug. The underside of a motherboard is accessible over here, where you’ll find one of a DIMM slots for memory, in serve to a M.2 slot. The other DIMM container is on a other side of a motherboard.
The tip of a desktop needs to come off next; one screw binds it on during a rear. Remove that, and afterwards slip it toward a behind of a unit. (Just a cosmetic piece, not a hoop part.) To mislay a right side panel, a screw underneath a tip row needs to be dismantled first, and afterwards another screw during a behind of a desktop holding on a side panel. It finally slides to a rear.
That puts we face-to-face with a video card. Taking it out is a requirement to get to other components. The operation is rather delicate; a tie to a PCI Express container contingency be unbarred first, around a cosmetic tab. We were afterwards means to palliate a label out gently.
The CPU atmosphere cooling is rubbed by a singular fan, yet another fan on a bottom of a territory also draws out air…
The second DIMM container for memory is located right underneath a CPU fan. It competence be probable to mislay a memory procedure though serve disassembly, yet it would need nimble fingers.
The 3.5-inch brook is behind a motherboard. Let’s customarily contend we didn’t see an apparent approach to get a expostulate out of there, and we didn’t try. The expostulate got in there somehow, so it has to be possible. But it will engage a screwdriver and some forethought.
The Aegis 3 did pretty good when it came to thermal performance. The brawny heatsink and fan setup on a MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1070 GPU kept it underneath 65 degrees C during a 30-minute Rise of a Tomb Raider gaming session. In a Lenovo Ideacentre Y710 Cube we tested, a GTX 1070 Founder’s Edition label reached 79 degrees C. The GTX 1070 GPU silicon itself is rated for 94 degrees C, so to contend a MSI Gaming Edition in a examination territory was well-cooled is an understatement. Its fans were roughly inaudible to hear, as well.
The Core i7-7700 CPU surfaced 82 degrees C in a gaming session. That’s a tiny warm, yet not tighten to a indicate where a chip would stifle a performance.
The sound turn of a Aegis 3 is low and non-intrusive. You can hear a fans using in a still room, yet there’s no bemoan to pronounce of. There’s also not many of an boost in sound while gaming, positively not one that would provoke or distract. The customarily distrurbance we found was that a CPU fan, nonetheless quiet, did ramp adult and down too abruptly and too often. That said, a function isn’t conspicuous unless you’re listening for it. Essentially, if we installed an animation-heavy Web page that compulsory some CPU grunt, a fan immediately bumped adult a RPM for a few seconds, and afterwards ramped behind down customarily as quickly. We’d like to see a fan curves smoothed out to residence this.