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MSI Aegis X Mini-ITX Barebones Gaming PC Review

Test Results, Analysis, And Final Evaluation

Intel sets its Turbo Boost ratios differently depending on the number of CPU cores that are highly loaded, in order to maintain relatively strict thermal and power limits. Various manufacturers have added "Enhanced" boost ratio settings that force firmware to ignore the lower boost ratios, and pick the highest boost ratio no matter how heavy the load gets. The setting corresponds to the GamingApp "OC Mode" of MSI's Aegis X, and is enabled whenever the OC Mode button on the front of the case is deployed.

The ASRock comparison motherboard offers the same setting through firmware, under the label "Multi Core Enhancement."

Details of our hardware configurations can be found on the previous page of this review.

Synthetic Benchmarks

Since most real-world applications are hardly sensitive to a single, minor component performance deficit, synthetics are a much easier way to find any small flaws. We don’t see any noticeable differences in 3DMark or PCMark results.

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Sandra Memory Bandwidth favors the Aegis X, and that difference is reflected in bandwidth-dependent Sandra Cryptography. Perhaps the system will also take a win where it matters, in one of our real-world application tests?

Gaming Performance

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Though they might not be appreciable in actual game play, differences in Ashes frame rates at baseline speed are larger than I could have anticipated, particularly since both baseline settings are supposed to use Intel's standard Turbo Boost ratios. I could have blamed the difference in memory bandwidth, except that both systems perform similarly when using identical boost-ratio enhancements. F1 2015 is better known for being hampered by memory performance when set far below GPU limits, and its differences fall into line with the expectations set by Sandra Memory Bandwidth tests.

Timed Application Performance

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Less is more concerning time to complete a task, yet neither of these gaming configurations stands out noticeably in most of our productivity tests. The 7-Zip benchmark can be impacted by numerous things including drive and memory performance, and it's the one place where the Aegis X makes a clean break.

Power And Energy Efficiency

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Slightly lower power consumption at load gives the ASRock/Corsiar configuration a small lead in energy efficiency. Meanwhile, the Aegis X takes a performance lead that’s so small that only MSI would care to discuss it.

Temperatures, Noise And Acoustic Efficiency

I switched to the Crucial CT500MX200SSD1 drive and Gigabyte GV-N970G1 GAMING-4GD graphics card from our gaming case reviews to keep noise levels consistent with previous tests.

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A big fan at the front of Corsair’s case helps to maintain a lower CPU temperature. While the Aegis X produces less noise on average, its small average temperature deficiency leads to a slightly lower acoustic efficiency score.

Final Thoughts

MSI’s Aegis X performs on par with custom configurations while being a little narrower and offering a couple small features. One of those added features, its overclocking button, doesn’t really compensate for its lack of manual overclocking options. Non-overclockers will find this a non-issue, and instead look at the front-panel USB 3.1, 10 Gbps Type-C port. And while that port might not appear to be a major advantage, the fact that this type of front-panel port requires a local controller has prevented it from becoming a standard on retail PC cases. Most builders must instead add this feature to a case using a drive bay adapter, yet cases this small usually don’t have a drive bay into which a builder can place that adapter.

We won’t give MSI a supremacy award simply for adding a front-panel port that most motherboards have on the back, but we can see the usefulness of the Aegis X as a complete package. And while we don’t have a similar Barebones configuration from which to extract any precise value analysis, we did see a page back that the Aegis X price is roughly typical for its component set. Lacking any value or supremacy awards, our stamp of approval is viable for a product that passes all of our tests without presenting any major competitive deficiencies.

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Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware, covering Cases, Cooling, Memory and Motherboards. Follow him on Twitter.

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  • 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