MSI Aegis RS (2022, Alder Lake) in review

MSI relies on its own components in its mid-tower gaming desktop Aegis RS. Our affordable Costco review unit ($2,499) features an Intel “Alder Lake” Core i7-12700KF processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 graphics, 32GB of DDR5 memory, and a spacious 2TB solid-state Drive. It’s backed by a two-year warranty, and you don’t need a Costco membership to buy it. Overall, the Aegis RS is a great way to achieve aftermarket looks and quality without having to build it yourself – a prospect made doubly difficult by today’s ongoing silicon shortage. It deserves an Editors’ Choice award as a great, high-end, ready-to-ship gaming rig.

Quality aftermarket hardware

The Aegis RS is only sold pre-configured, so you can’t order it individually, but there are many models available – a quick look on Amazon shows about half a dozen based on “Alder Lake” silicon. (Last year’s model used 11th Gen “Rocket Lake” chips.) The Costco tower reviewed here, model 12TD-259US, is good for all types of games, from AAA titles with 4K resolution to esports, thanks mainly to its 8GB GeForce RTX 3070 card, which is more powerful than the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti but much more affordable than the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti found in some Aegis RS models.

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As for the competition, I’ve seen the $2,149 HP Omen 40L (model GT21-0385xt) and $2,649 Alienware Aurora R14 on their respective websites, although both have half the memory (16GB) and less storage space (a 512GB SSD plus 1TB HDD) and only a one-year warranty compared to our MSI’s two-years. It’s a good start for the Aegis RS.

MSI Aegis RS left angle

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The Aegis RS is housed in MSI’s MPG Gungnir 110M mid-tower chassis. Steel and a generous helping of tempered glass increase its appeal to aftermarket builders, and assuming you want to game, its looks are on point. The front panel is uniquely split, with tempered glass on one side and an airflow grille on the other.

MSI Aegis RS right angle

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The front panel detaches by pulling from the bottom (there’s a finger grip underneath), revealing three 120mm RGB fans and a washable dust filter.

MSI Aegis RS top ports

(Photo: Molly Flores)

There is another dust filter on the top, which is magnetically attached. Top-mounted ports include one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, and headphone and microphone jacks. Power, reset, and LED mode buttons are also within easy reach. The tower’s RGB lighting can be controlled in the MSI Center app.

Spacious and easy to maintain

Accessing the interior of the Aegis RS is as simple as removing the thumbscrews from either side panel. The blacked-out main compartment looks professional, with reasonably neat wiring. Airflow is exhausted by a 120mm fan on the rear and two 120mm fans on the top-mounted liquid CPU cooler (an MSI MAG CoreLiquid 240R). The system ran without excessive noise in our tests; The fans blended into the background.

MSI Aegis RS with side panel removed

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Directly below the RGB-lit CPU water block is the first of the motherboard’s four M.2 slots, which housed our test unit’s only storage drive. It is usefully covered by a heat sink.

MSI Aegis RS internal cooling

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The ATX motherboard is an MSI Pro Z690-A Wi-Fi. Its Intel Z690 chipset enables CPU overclocking, which is important since this Aegis features a multiplier-unlocked Intel K-series processor. The chip isn’t overclocked by default, but you can do it through the BIOS or in an app.

MSI Aegis RS rear view

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The motherboard has ample connectivity, starting with Wi-Fi 6E from its onboard Intel AX211 card. Wireless antennas that are not connected in our photos must be plugged into the gold sockets on the backplane for optimal range. For wired connectivity, you’ll find five USB 3.2 ports (two Gen 1 Type-A, one Gen 2 Type-A, and one Gen 2×2 Type-C), 2.5 Gbps Ethernet, and surround audio jacks. There are three USB 2.0 ports and a PS/2 port for older devices. Unfortunately, Thunderbolt 4 cannot be found.

Connections on the back of the MSI Aegis RS

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The mainboard’s HDMI and DisplayPort video outputs do not work because the Core i7-12700KF CPU of our test device lacks integrated graphics. (That goes for any Intel chip with a KF or F suffix.) The GeForce RTX 3070 card has one HDMI and three DisplayPort video outputs. Note how the card is supported by a bracket in the interior photo; this prevents excessive stress on the PCI Express slot.

On the other side of the tower are the traditional storage bays (one 2.5″ and two 3.5″ bays), all of which are empty.

MSI Aegis RS inside right

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Also shown here is the MSI MPG A650GF power supply, a 650 watt device. It’s completely modular, although you can’t tell by looking at it. MSI seems to have all the cables connected. The power supply has a removable dust filter under the tower. Overall, the interior of the Aegis RS is well laid out and easy to work with.

‘Alder Lake’ on DDR5: Testing the MSI Aegis RS

To recap, the $2,499 Aegis RS shown here combines an Intel Core i7-12700KF processor, an 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 GPU, 32GB RAM and a 2TB storage SSD. It includes a basic USB keyboard and mouse. However, when you’re spending that much on a gaming tower, it’s worth investing in a better keyboard and mouse.

The weird thing about this configuration is that it’s designed for expensive DDR5-4800 memory, but comes with an MSI Spatium M370 solid-state drive, an older, DRAM-less PCI Express 3.0 device that is not exactly a speed demon. I’d rather swap DDR5 for DDR4, a faster PCIe 4.0 drive, and Thunderbolt 4. However, as I mentioned earlier, the MSI is still quite cheap.

For our benchmark testing, I compared the Aegis RS to four other gaming desktops whose base specs are listed in the table below.

The NZXT H1 Mini Plus and the Maingear Turbo are small form factor towers, the latter with a 16-core AMD Ryzen 9 5950X. The other two systems are the Alienware Aurora R13 and the huge HP Omen 45L. All but the NZXT use Nvidia’s overpowered GeForce RTX 3090, so they should be stealing the Aegis’ lunch money in our graphics tests. Let’s start.

Productivity and content creation tests

Our first test is UL’s PCMark 10, which simulates a variety of real-world productivity and office workflows to measure overall system performance and also includes a storage subtest for the primary drive. The Aegis RS impressed with a score of 8,378 in the main test, more than double what we think is excellent day-to-day productivity. However, it fell well short of our hopes in PCMark’s memory exercise. The MSI didn’t feel slow in day-to-day use, but a faster SSD would improve responsiveness during drive-intensive tasks like video editing.

Our other three benchmarks focus on the CPU, using all available cores and threads to assess a PC’s suitability for processor-intensive workloads. Maxon’s Cinebench R23 uses the company’s Cinema 4D engine to render a complex scene, while Primate Labs’ Geekbench 5.4 Pro simulates popular apps ranging from PDF rendering and speech recognition to machine learning. Finally, we’ll use the open-source HandBrake 1.4 video transcoder to convert a 12-minute video clip from 4K to 1080p resolution (lower times are better).

Our final productivity test is PugetBench for Photoshop from Puget Systems(Opens in a new window), which uses the Creative Cloud version 22 of Adobe’s famous image editor to evaluate the performance of a PC for content creation and multimedia applications. It’s an automated extension that performs a variety of common and GPU-accelerated Photoshop tasks, ranging from opening, rotating, resizing, and saving an image to applying masks, gradient fills, and filters.

The Aegis RS’ numbers are close to or, in the case of Photoshop, better than what we saw testing the Core i7-12700K in its debut. It’s a powerful chip that’s miles ahead of the NZXT’s two-generation Core i7-10700K and is more than up to any demanding task. The MSI was even faster than the 16-core Maingear in Photoshop and Geekbench.

Graphics and gaming tests

For Windows PCs, we run both synthetic and real gaming tests. The former includes two DirectX 12 gaming simulations from UL’s 3DMark, Night Raid (more modest, suitable for systems with integrated graphics) and Time Spy (more demanding, suitable for gaming rigs with discrete GPUs). Also looped into this group is the cross-platform GPU benchmark GFXBench 5, which we use to measure the OpenGL performance.

Our real-world gaming tests come from the in-game benchmarks of F1 2021, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and Rainbow Six Siege, each representing simulation, open-world action-adventure, and competitive/eSports shooter games. On desktops, we run the games at their highest quality presets at 1080p, 1440p, and 4K resolutions, with the exception of F1, where we skip 1440p to try 4K with and without Nvidia’s DLSS anti-aliasing technology.

The Aegis RS is clearly capable of running 4K gaming at smooth frame rates in our real-world testing. You might have to dial back the detail settings in some titles to surpass 60 fps, but either do that or grab a much more expensive GeForce RTX 3080 or 3080 Ti. (The Aegis comes with both cards.) The sweet spot for the GeForce RTX 3070 is max 1440p gaming; for 1080p it’s overkill.

Gaming excellence ready to ship

The $2,499 Costco version of the MSI Aegis RS ticks all the boxes for an enthusiast gaming desktop. Thanks to the “Alder Lake” Core i7 processor and GeForce RTX 3070 graphics card, nothing is out of the box to be an excellent platform for 1440p or even 4K gaming. MSI’s aftermarket components give it a custom look and feel, and it runs quietly. Thunderbolt 4 and a faster SSD would have been nice, but their omissions don’t detract from this tower’s gaming potential or value. A standard two-year warranty seals the deal, making this Aegis RS an Editors’ Choice winner for a ready-to-use deluxe gaming desktop.

MSI Aegis RS (2022, Erlensee)

The final result

Updated with 12th Gen Intel chips, the Aegis RS Gaming mid-tower from MSI is a great performer and solid value.

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