MSI Aegis 3 8th Gen System Review
Published: 28th September 2018 | Source: MSI | Price: |
It is easy to be dismissive of pre-built systems when you've learnt how to save a few quid by building it yourself, but the reality is that almost all of us have started our careers with a "take out of box, plug in, play" affair.
There is something enjoyable about the simplicity of them that we can't deny. After all, building your own takes time even if you're experienced and there are no issues with the hardware. The pricing of factory systems these days is so near to the price of buying the parts as separates that many of us would happily dispense with the stress and time involved for the small additional cost it takes to buy one. If you're fairly new to the world of PC Gaming then having something which already works is the basis upon which most of us learnt how to build them, and until the warranty runs out and you feel comfortable taking it apart you get a system that can be up and running in moments after the courier delivers it.
If you find yourself tight for space then your options for a pre-built system become much more limited. In fact such is the market's move towards high end gaming setups that normally getting a system as petite as the MSI Aegis 3 involves a massive compromise on hardware. The MSI Aegis 3, however, is small enough to fit almost anywhere and has no glaring weaknesses in the hardware setup.
The B360 chipset has plenty of features to get started with, whilst the three big areas that affect performance the most are well catered for. The CPU is the excellent six core, twelve thread Intel Core i7-8700, backed up by 16GB of DDR4 memory. Gaming is handled by the excellent MSI GTX 1070Ti, a graphics card which is more than capable of handling anything you throw at it, assuming you're running at the popular 1080 resolution. With some gentle settings tweaks you could happily run at 1440P too, should you own a particularly large display. The system itself feels very snappy to use thanks to the speedy M.2 drive which runs Windows 10, whilst the enormous size of modern games is handled by a 2TB data drive. Usually mechanical drives are sluggish and annoying to use, but the Aegis 3 is equipped with 16GB of Intel Optane memory which transforms the drives capabilities into those you'd expect from a decent M.2 drive. Fortunately this is set up out of the box as it can be a bit fiddly to get working first up. Okay you only really feel the benefit on the second boot because it has to learn which files you need and cache those, and yes if you're the type who chop and change what you play every two minutes you'll run into issues because it can't cache everything, but in general use it's transformative. Do note, of course, that it only benefits mechanical drives and regular SSD speeds, as M.2 NVMe drives are too fast to make use of them, as we've seen in our full Optane review.
Performance throughout our testing showed how well all these components work, and the careful choice by MSI has paid dividends. There was nothing we threw at it that it couldn't handle, and gaming in particular was excellent, being smooth and impressive all the time. Thanks to the RGB lighting all around the Aegis 3 chassis the system itself looks sleek and modern too. Internally the setup is not the cleanest we've ever seen, and the tiny dimensions limit the cooling of the CPU in particular, so it's probably good that the i7-8700 doesn't overclock. The placing of the GPU facing the vents definitely helps keep the card cool, it's just a shame that the CPU fan is such that it dominates proceedings when the going gets heavy. It is never ridiculously loud, and as long as you understand that a small case means small cooling and thus faster fans leading to more noise then it's all fine. You have to find a compromise somewhere, and at around a foot tall and deep it's not surprising that you can't squeeze a twin 120mm CPU cooler in there. Lastly the non-standard nature of the internals mean that the Aegis 3 isn't the type of system upon which you can learn how they're built, because it's so untypical. Think of it more like a laptop that you buy and use hard until you need a new one, and it all makes a lot more sense.
With Optane memory, speedy M.2 main drive, fast Intel CPU and great GTX 1070Ti graphics all wrapped up in a good looking chassis with plenty of RGB lighting, the MSI Aegis 3 wins our OC3D Gamers Choice Award.