HomeGamingMSI Aegis RS review (2022, Alder Lake)

MSI Aegis RS review (2022, Alder Lake)

MSI makes good use of its own components in its Aegis RS mid-tower gaming computer. Our reasonably priced ($2,499) Costco review unit 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 purchase it. All in all, the Aegis RS is a great way to get aftermarket looks and quality without building it yourself, a prospect made doubly difficult by today’s silicon shortages. It wins the Editors’ Choice award as an excellent high-end gaming rig ready to ship.

Quality aftermarket hardware

The Aegis RS is only sold pre-configured, so you can’t order a bespoke one, but there are plenty of models available – a quick look on Amazon shows around half a dozen silicon-based” Alder Lake”. (Last year’s model used 11th-gen “Rocket Lake” chips.) The Costco tower tested here, the 12TD-259US, is suitable for all types of games, from 4K resolution AAA titles to esports, in largely thanks to its 8GB GeForce RTX 3070. The card is more powerful than the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti but significantly less expensive than the chart-topping GeForce RTX 3080 Ti found in some Aegis RS models.

PC Mag Logo

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

Left corner MSI Aegis RS

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The Aegis RS is built inside MSI’s MPG Gungnir 110M mid-tower chassis. Steel and a generous dose of tempered glass enhance its appeal to aftermarket builders, and provided gaming is your goal, 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 there), revealing three 120mm RGB fans and a washable dust filter.

MSI Aegis RS top ports

(Photo: Molly Flores)

You’ll find another dust filter on top, this one attached magnetically. 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 functional

Accessing the interior of the Aegis RS is as simple as removing the thumbscrews from each side panel. The blacked-out main compartment looks professional, with reasonably tidy wiring. Airflow exhaust is provided by a rear 120mm fan and two 120mm fans on the top-mounted CPU liquid cooler (an MSI MAG CoreLiquid 240R). The system performed without excessive noise during our testing; fans faded into the background.

MSI Aegis RS with side panel removed

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Just below the RGB-lit CPU water block is the first of the motherboard’s four M.2 slots, which housed our review unit’s sole storage drive. It is substantially covered with a heat sink.

Internal cooling MSI Aegis RS

(Photo: Molly Flores)

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

MSI Aegis RS rear view

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The motherboard has extensive connections, starting with the Wi-Fi 6E of its integrated Intel AX211 board. Wireless antennas, not connected in our photos, should be plugged into the gold sockets on the backplane for optimum 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), 2.5Gbps Ethernet, and surround audio jacks. There are three USB 2.0 ports and a PS/2 port for legacy devices. Unfortunately, Thunderbolt 4 cannot be found.

MSI Aegis RS Rear Ports

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The motherboard’s HDMI and DisplayPort video outputs don’t work because the Core i7-12700KF processor in our review unit lacks integrated graphics. (This goes for any Intel chip with KF or F suffix.) The GeForce RTX 3070 card has one HDMI video output and three DisplayPort video outputs. Notice how the card is supported by a stand in the inside photo; this avoids excessive strain on the PCI Express slot.

The other side of the tower has the traditional storage bays (one 2.5-inch and two 3.5-inch), all of which are empty.

MSI Aegis RS interior right

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The MSI MPG A650GF power supply, a 650 watt unit, can also be seen here. It’s fully modular, although you can’t tell by looking at it; MSI seems to have connected all cables. 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: MSI Aegis RS review

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

What’s odd about this configuration is that it requires expensive DDR5-4800 memory, but it’s equipped with an MSI Spatium M370 SSD, an older non-DRAM PCI Express 3.0 device that isn’t truly a speed demon. I’d rather trade DDR5 for DDR4, a faster PCIe 4.0 drive, and Thunderbolt 4. As I noted earlier, however, the MSI is nonetheless reasonably priced.

For our benchmark tests, I pitted the Aegis RS against four other gaming desktops, whose baseline specs appear in the table below.

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

Content creation and productivity testing

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 in the main test with a score of 8,378 points, more than double the score we consider to indicate excellent daily productivity. However, it falls far short of our hopes in PCMark’s storage exercise. The MSI didn’t feel sluggish in everyday use, but a faster SSD would improve responsiveness in disk-intensive tasks like video editing.

Our other three benchmarks focus on the CPU, using all available cores and threads, to gauge a PC’s suitability for CPU-intensive workloads. Maxon’s Cinebench R23 uses that company’s Cinema 4D engine to render a complex scene, while Primate Labs’ Geekbench 5.4 Pro simulates popular applications ranging from PDF rendering and speech recognition to machine learning. Finally, we 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 latest productivity test is PugetBench for Photoshop from Puget Systems(Opens in a new window), which uses the Creative Cloud 22 version of Adobe’s popular image editor to benchmark PC performance for content creation and multimedia applications. It is an automated extension that performs a variety of general and GPU-accelerated Photoshop tasks, ranging from opening, rotating, resizing and saving an image to applying masks, gradient fills and filters.

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

Graphics and game testing

For Windows PCs, we run both synthetic and real game testing. The former include two DirectX 12 game 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). The GFXBench 5 cross-platform GPU benchmark, which we use to evaluate OpenGL performance, is also in this group.

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

The Aegis RS is clearly capable of 4K gaming, with smooth frame rates in our real-world tests. You may need to dial back the detail settings for some titles to exceed 60fps, but it’s either do it or spring for a much more expensive GeForce RTX 3080 or 3080 Ti. (The Aegis is available with either card.) The sweet spot for the GeForce RTX 3070 is maxed out 1440p gaming; that’s overkill for 1080p.

Gaming excellence ready to ship

The $2,499 Costco version of the MSI Aegis RS ticks the right boxes for an enthusiast-level gaming desk. It doesn’t need anything ready to be a great rig for 1440p or even 4K gaming, thanks to its Core i7 “Alder Lake” processor and GeForce RTX 3070 graphics card. MSI 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 dampen 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 luxury gaming desk.

MSI Aegis RS (2022, Alder Lake)

The essential

Updated with 12th Gen Intel silicon, MSI’s Aegis RS gaming mid-tower is high performing and a solid value.

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