MSI puts its own components to good use in its Aegis RS mid-tower gaming desktop. Our fairly priced ($2,499) Costco review unit has an Intel "Alder Lake" Core i7-12700KF processor, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 graphics card, 32GB of DDR5 memory, and a roomy 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 get aftermarket looks and quality without building it yourself—a prospect made doubly difficult by today's ongoing silicon shortages. It earns an Editors' Choice award as a great high-end, ready-to-ship gaming rig.
The Aegis RS is only sold preconfigured, so you can't custom-order one, but there are lots of models available—a quick glance 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 tested here, model 12TD-259US, is suited for all types of gaming, from AAA titles at 4K resolution to esports, largely thanks to its 8GB GeForce RTX 3070. The card is stronger than the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti but much less costly than the chart-topping GeForce RTX 3080 Ti found in some Aegis RS models.Our Experts Have Tested 39 Products in the Desktop PCs Category in the Past YearSince 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions. (See how we test.)
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, though each had half the memory (16GB), less storage (a 512GB SSD plus 1TB hard drive), and only a one-year warranty compared to our MSI's two years. It's a good start for the 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 elevate its appeal for aftermarket builders, and provided gaming is your aim, its looks are on point. The front panel is uniquely split, with tempered glass on one side and an airflow grate on the other.4.0Excellent$999.99See Itat Best BuyRead Our Lenovo Legion Tower 5i (2021) Review 4.0Excellent$2,162.00See Itat MAINGEARRead Our Maingear Turbo (2021) Review 4.0Excellent$1,199.99Check Stockat AmazonRead Our Dell G5 Gaming Desktop (2021) Review 4.0Excellent$1,479.99See Itat DellRead Our Alienware Aurora R13 Review 4.5Outstanding$4,599.00 See Itat Velocity MicroRead Our Velocity Micro Raptor Z55 (2021) Review 4.0Excellent$1,899.99See Itat HPRead Our HP Omen 45L Review 4.0Excellent$3,776.99See Itat AmazonRead Our Corsair One a200 Review 4.0Excellent$2,999.99See Itat AmazonRead Our MSI Aegis RS (2021, Rocket Lake) Review 3.5Good$1,709.99See Itat AmazonRead Our HP Omen 30L Review 3.5GoodRead Our MSI MEG Aegis Ti5 Review(Photo: Molly Flores)
The front panel comes off by tugging from the bottom (there's a finger grip down there), revealing three 120mm RGB fans and a washable dust filter.
(Photo: Molly Flores)
You'll find another dust filter topside, this one 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 in easy reach. The tower's RGB lighting can be controlled in the MSI Center app.
Accessing the insides of the Aegis RS is as simple as removing the thumbscrews from either side panel. The blacked-out main compartment looks professional, with reasonably tidy wiring. Airflow exhaust comes courtesy of a 120mm rear fan and two 120mm fans on the top-mounted CPU liquid cooler (an MSI MAG CoreLiquid 240R). The system ran without excess noise in our testing; the fans melded into the background.(Photo: Molly Flores)
Just below the RGB-lit CPU waterblock is the first of the motherboard's four M.2 slots, which held our review unit's lone storage drive. It's sensibly covered by a heatsink.(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 has a multiplier-unlocked Intel K-series processor. The chip isn't overclocked out of the box, but you can do so through the BIOS or in an app.(Photo: Molly Flores)
The motherboard has extensive connections, starting with Wi-Fi 6E from its built-in Intel AX211 card. Wireless antennas, not connected in our photos, must be plugged into the gold jacks 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 2x2 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 is not to be found.(Photo: Molly Flores)
The motherboard's HDMI and DisplayPort video outputs are nonfunctional because our review unit's Core i7-12700KF CPU lacks onboard graphics. (That goes for any KF- or F-suffix Intel chip.) The GeForce RTX 3070 card has one HDMI and three DisplayPort video outputs. Notice how the card is supported by a bracket in the interior photo; this prevents excess stress 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.(Photo: Molly Flores)
The MSI MPG A650GF power supply, a 650-watt unit, is also visible here. It's fully modular, though you can't tell by looking at it; MSI seems to have connected every cable. The PSU has a removable dust filter under the tower. Overall, the Aegis RS's interior is nicely laid out and easy to work in.
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 basic USB keyboard and mouse, though if you're spending this much for a gaming tower, investing in a better keyboard and mouse is worthwhile.
What's odd about this configuration is that it springs for pricey DDR5-4800 memory yet is saddled with an MSI Spatium M370 solid-state drive, an older, DRAM-less PCI Express 3.0 device that isn't exactly a speed demon. I'd sooner trade DDR5 for DDR4, a faster PCIe 4.0 drive, and Thunderbolt 4. As I noted earlier, however, the MSI is nevertheless fairly priced.
For our benchmark testing, I pitted the Aegis RS against four other gaming desktops, whose basic specs appear in the table below.
The NZXT H1 Mini Plus and the 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 huge HP Omen 45L. All except the NZXT use Nvidia's uber-powerful GeForce RTX 3090, so they should steal the Aegis' lunch money in our graphics tests. Let's get started.
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 an 8,378-point showing, more than double the score we consider to indicate excellent everyday productivity. However, it fell well short of our hopes in PCMark's storage exercise. The MSI didn't feel slow in daily usage, but a faster SSD would improve responsiveness in drive-intensive tasks such as video editing.
Our other three benchmarks focus on the CPU, using all available cores and threads, to rate a PC's suitability for processor-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 apps ranging from PDF rendering and speech recognition to machine learning. Finally, we use the open-source video transcoder HandBrake 1.4 to convert a 12-minute video clip from 4K to 1080p resolution (lower times are better).
Our final productivity test is Puget Systems' PugetBench for Photoshop, which uses the Creative Cloud version 22 of Adobe's famous image editor to rate a PC's performance for content creation and multimedia applications. It's an automated extension that executes 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 the case of Photoshop, better than those we saw when testing the Core i7-12700K at its debut. It's a powerful chip, leagues ahead of the NZXT's two-generations-back Core i7-10700K, and more than capable of any demanding task. The MSI was even quicker than the 16-core Maingear in Photoshop and Geekbench.
For Windows PCs, we run both synthetic and real-world gaming tests. The former include 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 that group is the cross-platform GPU benchmark GFXBench 5, which we use to gauge OpenGL performance.
Moving on, our real-world gaming testing comes from the in-game benchmarks of F1 2021, Assassin's Creed Valhalla, and Rainbow Six Siege, representing simulation, open-world action-adventure, and competitive/esports shooter games respectively. On desktops, we run the 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 Nvidia's DLSS anti-aliasing technology.
The Aegis RS is clearly capable of 4K gaming, with fluid frame rates in our real-world testing. You might have to dial back the detail settings in some titles to exceed 60fps, but it's either do that or spring for a much pricier 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; it's overkill for 1080p.
The $2,499 Costco version of the MSI Aegis RS ticks the right boxes for an enthusiast-grade gaming desktop. It needs nothing out of the box to be an excellent platform for 1440p or even 4K gaming, thanks to its "Alder Lake" Core i7 processor and GeForce RTX 3070 graphics card. MSI's aftermarket components give it a custom-built look and feel, and it runs quietly. Thunderbolt 4 and a faster SSD would have been nice, but their omissions don't hold back 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 deluxe, ready-made gaming desktop.4.0Editors' ChoiceSee It$2,499.00 at CostcoPrice as Tested $2,499.00View More
Updated with 12th Generation Intel silicon, MSI's Aegis RS gaming mid-tower is a great performer and a solid value.
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