MSI Aegis Gaming Desktop
If you're looking to get started with PC gaming, but have little-to-no confidence in your ability to cobble one together, your solution might be to go with an all-in-one gaming pc, built to be ready out of the box. In that case, MSI's Aegis desktop is worth checking out. Come inside for my full review!
I've been a gamer nearly all of my life, and aside from a few specific titles, the entirety of my gaming has been done on consoles. Obviously games like Command & Conquer/StarCraft, which are among my favorites, had to be played on a computer, but on the whole, I've been happy with my consoles. That's not to say I wasn't ever interested in more PC gaming, but I simply haven't had the luxury (or knowledge) to put a serious gaming PC together.
As such, I was interested in testing out the Aegis when MSI sent it my way...Interested and a little intimidated. While, I've done my fair share of tech reviews over the years, a gaming computer was an all new beast. Fortunately, MSI has designed the Aegis desktop to be specifically friendly to those just getting started on their PC gaming journey.
MSI has a history of crafting PARTS for gamers to put into their own computers, with a proven track record of sturdy and powerful motherboards and other internal hardware. Now they're taking what they've learned there to bring forth their own pre-built computer designed with gamers in mind.
Intel Core i5 6th Gen 6500 (3.20 GHz)
16 GB DDR4 1 TB HDD 128 GB SSD
Windows 10 Home 64-Bit
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 4 GB
1 x Front Gen1 Type-C USB 3.1
2 x Front USB2.0 (one w/ Super Charger 2)
17.05" x 14.81" x 6.69"
Prebuilt is the key here and there are a handful of options you can choose from when purchasing the Aegis. You can pick up a bare-bones version of the tower, so you can add in some of the specific parts you want, but the fully built models are ready to plug in and begin play (which is what I reviewed. The pre-built models range from i5-6400 processors with a NVidia GTX 960 graphics card up to an i7-6700 with a GTX 970. The choice is yours, but no matter which way you go, you're still getting quite a bit of power within a "tiny" machine.
Compact is one of the leading design choices behind the Aegis machine, as MSI wants to market this as a portable gaming unit for players to enjoy. This way they can easily transport it to friends' houses, conventions, tournaments, etc, without having to worry about lugging a larger unit around. This decision is ever present in the parts used inside, which take from a lot of laptop innards to make things more compact. It's kind of an odd choice, however, as the tower itself isn't that much smaller than a normal desktop. During my review time, I had the Aegis set up on my desk right next to my regular computer and it's only a little bit smaller.
Oftentimes when you see "prebuilt" machines, they're simple affairs with decent hardware shoved inside a plain case. MSI doesn't go that route, and offers up a desktop that looks the part of a gaming computer. When I first opened the box it came in, I was impressed with the design and look of the unit. It's angular design with red highlights, pointed tips, and bright red lights make for an swanky first impression. One look at the Aegis and it's obvious this isn't your standard computer and looks specifically crafted for fun times. I mean, it looks like it comes straight out of a science fiction movie/game.
The portability factor comes into play on the outer casing as well, with the addition of a carry handle on the backend of the unit. It seems like a strange addition, but the handle itself is built into the framework of the casing, making it surprisingly durable. I admit to some hesitation in first trying out the handle, worrying that I'd somehow twist it wrong or have it fall off on me, but it's sturdy. After lugging it back and forth a few times between home and work, it comes in handy and I never encountered an issue with it.
In terms of being portable, the Aegis really lives up to it's "plug and play" aesthetic. Despite being a little larger than you'd expect a portable PC to be, it's easy to detach, pick-up, and go wherever you want for game time. If you're looking for a PC that you can take with you for special events, the Aegis works wonderfully for it.
Play And Use
In terms of play and power, the innards of the Aegis are pretty formidable. As I mentioned, a few of the hardware pieces have been scaled down, using laptop components, in order to keep things compact, but they've made plenty of room for a full scale graphics card. As such, you can run your games at high settings with everything looking crisp and clear. I played through a handful of games and never encountered any stuttering or lag in the gameplay/visuals.
It was nice to be able to play more current games on high settings without any issue. As I mentioned before, my normal computer is largely functional, and that's about it. In my hands-on time with the Aegis I was delighted to be able to play through more recent titles and PC only games without any hiccups.
Not to mention that fact that it runs incredibly quiet. In the past month I’ve had it, I can’t say I’ve ever noticed a peep coming from it. No noise from the fans kicking on, and no internal sounds were noticeable as I switched from task to task, or opened up application after application.
The only real downside I encountered in my time with the machine, is the disc tray. It's hidden near the top, so as to be unobtrusive and blend in with the overall design of the case. When you pop it out, however, it feels incredibly flimsy. Seriously, I think I was going to break the thing by locking a disc into place too hard.
Considering how sturdy the rest of the Aegis is, it seemed like an odd oversight to leave the tray so flimsy. I mean, I know that most people these days tend to be almost entirely digital in terms of their gaming preferences (using steam and other such services), so the tray may not be utilized as much as it once was. Still, there are other uses for it, and I'd like to have a disc tray I don't have to worry about bending/breaking.
Aside from that and a few niggling issues with getting my V-MODA headphones to work with it (it's normally plug and play, but head to do some serious driver updates before they worked), I don't have much to complain about with the Aegis. Others, however, may take issue with the fact that the system really isn't easy to customize.
The insides are designed to work on its smaller scale idea, meaning it's packed pretty tight in there. Getting around to insert your own parts or upgrade the system will be much harder than working on a unit of your own initial design. That's kind of the point, however, with this built-in system. It's meant to be a system you can buy and immediately get to work with. It has enough solid hardware inside to allow for running the most recent games at great settings.
While it's not "future-proof" in regards to upgrading, the Aegis shouldn't be overlooked. If you're like me and looking to get a computer to play newer PC games (spending most of your time with consoles), it's the perfect solution. A bunch of technical know-how isn't required. I imagine it being an ideal solution for students in college, or even gamers who want a secondary machine to travel with, rather than unplug their primary gaming rig.