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MSI Aegis X Mini-ITX Barebones Gaming PC Review

Setting Up The Comparison

It’s been a while since we’ve reviewed a barebones PC, and all of the old data uses older hardware. MSI Aegis X is thus compared to current hardware as both a motherboard and a case/power supply combo.

Comparison Motherboards

MSI Aegis XFatal1ty Z170 Gaming-ITX/ac
PCB Revision1.01.03
ChipsetZ170Z170
Voltage Regulator5 Phases8 Phases
100.0 MHz BCLK100.0 (+0.00%)100.0 (+0.00%)
I/O Panel Connectors
P/S 211
USB 3.0/3.16x 5 Gbps Type A10Gbps Type C (1) Type A (1) 6x 5 Gbps Type A
USB 2.02None
Network11
eSATANoneNone
CLR_CMOS ButtonNone1
Digital Audio OutOpticalOptical
Digital Audio InNoneNone
Analog Audio53
Video1x HDMI2x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort
Other Devices2x Wi-Fi Antenna2x Wi-Fi Antenna
Internal Interfaces
PCIe 3.0 x1611
PCIe 3.0 x1 / x41x half-mini PCIe (filled)1x half-mini PCIe (filled)
USB 3.0/3.11 (2-ports)1 (2-ports)
USB 2.0None1 (2-ports)
SATA 6.0 Gb/s46 (Shares 2x SATA-E, 1x M.2)
SATA ExpressNone1 (Uses 2x SATA)
M.2 Interfaces (Transfer Modes)2x PCIe 3.0 x41x PCIe 3.0 x4 / SATA 6Gbps (1x SATA-E, 2x SATA shared)
4-Pin Fan23
3-Pin Fan1None
FP-Audio11
S/PDIF I/ONoneNone
Internal ButtonsNoneNone
Internal SwitchNoneNone
Diagnostics PanelNoneNone
Other DevicesNoneNone
Mass Storage Controllers
Chipset SATA4x SATA 6 Gbps6x SATA 6 Gbps (Includes M.2, SATA-E)
Chipset RAID Modes0, 1, 5, 100, 1, 5, 10
Add-In SATANoneNone
USB 3.1 10GbpsNoneASM1142 PCIe (2x Rear Panel Ports)
Networking
Primary LANKiller e2400 PCIeWGI219V PHY
Secondary LANNoneNone
WiFiKiller Wireless-AC 1435: 802.11ac dual-band + BT 4.1BCM4352 PCIe: 802.11ac dual-band + BT 4.0
BluetoothBy Killer 1435 comboBy BCM4352 combo
Audio
HD Audio CodecALC1150ALC1150
DDL/DTS ConnectNoneDTS Connect
WarrantyOne YearThree Years

The design of MSI’s Aegis X presents somewhat of a challenge to case selection capabilities, as we haven’t tested a riser-card case specifically designed to cool gaming graphics cards since the original ASRock M8 of 2013. Nearly the same height as the Aegis X, Corsair’s Graphite 380T is the smallest gaming case we had on hand.

To help demo its Aegix X, MSI included a pair of Toshiba 128GB M.2 drives in RAID 0. Unfortunately, our comparison system doesn't have two M.2 slots. A recent upgrade in our test software suite made this the perfect time to switch to our new test drive, which is a single 256GB version of the drives MSI had included. Retail-boxed Toshiba NVMe M.2 drives come with a PCIe adapter card that we wouldn't need, and are sold under the OCZ brand.

MSI also included its GTX 1080 Armor OC for the demo, and with all those other changes to the system configuration I ran out of excuses not to upgrade. It's both more powerful and shorter than the GTX 970 we were previously using.

Comparison Cases

 MSI Aegis XCorsair Graphite 380T
Height14.8" (37.6 cm)14.1" (35.8 cm)
Width6.5" (16.5 cm)11.5" (29.2 cm)
Depth17.1" (43.4 cm)15.5" (39.3 cm)
Space Above MotherboardN/A5.9" (15.0 cm)
Card Length11.8" (30.0 cm)11.8" (30.0 cm)
Weight19.7 lbs (9.0 kg)12.3 lbs (5.6 kg)
Cooling
Front Fans (alternatives)1x 80 x 15mm (None)1x 200mm (1x 140 / 2x 120mm)
Rear Fans (alternatives)1x 92mm (on bottom) (None)1x 120mm (None)
Top Fans (alternatives)None (None)None (None)
Left Side (alternatives)None (None)None (None)
Right Side (alternatives)None (None)None (2x 120mm)
Drive Bays
5.25" External1x Slim ODD (Filled)None
3.5" ExternalNoneNone
3.5" InternalTwoTwo
2.5" InternalOne2 +2*
Card SlotsTwoTwo
Front Panel
Front USB 3.0/3.11x 10 Gbps Type C 2x 5 Gbps Type ATwo
USB 2.0NoneNone
AudioHead/micHead/mic
Fan ControlMotherboardThree Speed Manual
OtherTurbo ButtonNone
Noise Damping
SidesNoneNone
TopNoneNone
FrontNoneNone
Other FeaturesIntegrated 92mm CLLC Integrated 600W PSU H-L GUD0N Ultra Slim 8X DVDRW ASM1142 USB 3.1 10 GbpsNone

We used the same CPU cooler in both systems to make the thermal comparison as fair as possible, but how do we price that cooler if it’s not sold separately? Fortunately, the model it’s based on is available on eBay for $85.

Finished Test Configurations

MSI Aegis XASRock/Corsair Mini PC
CaseMSI Aegis XCorsair Graphite 380T
MotherboardMSI Aegis XASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming-ITX/ac
CPU CoolerMSI Aegis XAsetek 545LC
OpticalH-L GUD0N Ultra Slim 8X DVDRWNot Supported
PowerFSP600-40UGSBE: 600W, 1U, 80 PLUS SilverCORSAIR AX860i: 860W Modular, ATX12V v2.3, 80 PLUS Platinum
Baseline Price$500 $600
ProcessorIntel Core i7-6700K: Up to 4.20 GHz, Four Cores, 8 MB Cache
Memory2x Hynix HMA41GS6AFR8N-TF: DDR4-2133 C15, 2x 8GB (16GB)Patriot PVE416G320C6KGY at DDR4-2133 C15 Defaults, 16GB (2x 8GB)
GraphicsMSI GTX 1080 Armor OC: GeForce GTX1080, 1658-1797 MHz GPU, GDDR5X-10008
System DriveTOSHIBA OCZ RD400 256GB NVMe 1.1b SSD

We could have reduced our theoretical build tally by over $100 through the purchase of a lower capacity power supply, but re-using an old high-end unit that we already had on hand saved us actual money. New system builders could potentially get the ASRock/Corsair baseline configuration down to $400 if they chose a cheaper motherboard model as well, or even push overclocking potential on the expensive setup by starting off with a larger cooler. Of course they’d give up the slenderness of the Aegis X in the process along with a couple of its special features. Then again, we’ve recently seen the Aegis X at a promotional price of $360, and not everyone is die-hard concerning overclocking. Because of the plethora of pricing and configuration options, our conclusion will speak only in general terms concerning Aegis X value.

  • shrapnel_indie
    I know this is a bare-bones unit. However, what I don't know is is that FSP PSU one of their good designs or one that is lacking? even if the PSU is a 1U unit, it's important not to go too cheap (as in poor - bad quality) as is usually the case with a bundled PSU and case.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    18754217 said:
    even if the PSU is a 1U unit, it's important not to go too cheap (as in poor - bad quality) as is usually the case with a bundled PSU and case.
    If I was paying $500 for a "barebones" PC (case, PSU, motherboard), I would definitely expect a decent PSU.

    We're quite far from the $40 case with 'free' PSU category here.
    Reply
  • bloodroses
    18754308 said:
    18754217 said:
    even if the PSU is a 1U unit, it's important not to go too cheap (as in poor - bad quality) as is usually the case with a bundled PSU and case.
    If I was paying $500 for a "barebones" PC (case, PSU, motherboard), I would definitely expect a decent PSU.

    We're quite far from the $40 case with 'free' PSU category here.

    MSI is also a large name company. They would be rather foolish to use a cheap power supply in this case as it would hurt their reputation.
    Reply
  • thundervore
    Where are the dust filters?
    Reply
  • angrypat
    Alright, got the helmet, but where is the rest of the costume? Happy Halloween!
    Reply
  • Findecanor
    The trend is going for small size, stylish design, silence and dust filters. This has neither.
    Reply
  • DoomFace
    overall for a barebones, this looks like a good little unit to build around. definitely very niche product, but seems like it does what its supposed to very well.
    Reply