Excellent connectivity. 4K and VR capable. Very quiet GPU fans. 64GB RAM. Easy storage upgrades.
Ostentatious styling isn't for everyone.
- Bottom Line
With 4K- and VR-capable components, the MSI Aegis Ti3 is powerful enough for intense gaming, but the bold design of this desktop PC might not appeal to everyone.
The MSI Aegis Ti3 (VR7RE SLI-054US) ($3,999) has bold styling that would be right at home in an esports tournament. And with its top-end components including an Intel Core i7 unlocked processor and dual-SLI GTX 1080 graphics cards, it has the muscle to back up the promises its body makes. It's a head-turning aesthetic choice compared with the understated Origin Neuron, our latest top dog for high-end gaming PCs. While its style may be a bit over the top, your inner teenager will be happy it's on your desk.
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Hyperbolic Game Style
There's no getting around the audacious styling of the Aegis Ti3. Its imposing black-and-red case measures 20.1 by 6.7 by 19.9 inches (HWD), so you'll need substantial space on top of or under your gaming desk. It also weighs a hefty 31.5 pounds, but there is a handle grafted on the top for help when you need to relocate it. The grooved front panel, forward-tilted body, and accent lights are as outré as other gaming rigs like the Asus ROG GT51 (which is larger in every dimension) and the Acer Predator G1 (which is smaller overall). The Origin Neuron is more compact, and a bit more tasteful, with glass doors and a simpler aluminum case. The Aegis Ti3's styling wouldn't look out of place in a poster on a 10-year-old's wall, but it is a bit much if you're a 35-year-old who can afford to buy such a plaything.
As is the case with most gaming desktops, the case is adorned in myriad accent lights. There is a set of preset effects available through the included Mystic Lighting software (for example, the lightning setting makes all of the lights flash like the bar on top of a police car), and you can select a single RGB color for the case overall, or customize individual sections on the case. But you can't control the lighting on the included keyboard and mouse as you can with the Alienware Aurora. An Android or iOS phone app can be used as a remote to change lighting effects between the presets. Headphone hangers swing out from each side of the chassis, a flashy but useful feature also found on the Acer Predator line of gaming desktops.
There is plenty of room for I/O ports on this large rig. Traditional or USB headphones get plugged into the convenient connectors on the front panel. There are two USB Type-A ports (one USB 3.0/3.1 Gen1, and one USB 3.1 Gen2), a headphone jack, a microphone jack, an HDMI-out VR Link port (more on that below), and a USB-C port for newer peripherals like speedy external SSDs. On the back panel, you'll find an Ethernet port, a PS/2 mouse/keyboard port, six USB 3.0/3.1 Gen1 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, surround audio jacks, jacks for the Wi-Fi antennas, and the HDMI-in VR Link port. The two Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics cards have a total of six DisplayPorts, two HDMI-out ports, and two DVI ports. 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 handle wireless connections, and the Wi-Fi adapter features Killer Wireless-AC 1435 optimization for better latency and lag reduction.
Using an included HDMI cable, you can hook one HDMI-out port on one of the GTX 1080 cards to the VR Link port, which passes a video signal to the port on the front panel. That way, you don't have to reach behind the desktop to plug in a VR headset. The Corsair One Pro has a similar HDMI port on its front panel, which is more convenient than the rear-mounted connections on larger desktops like the Digital Storm Velox. It's very convenient if you use multiple VR headsets or like to unplug and store them when not being used.
Top Memory and Storage
Part of the reason for the Aegis Ti3's price tag can be attributed to its class-leading 64GB of RAM (the maximum supported) and 4TB of storage. The system has two 512GB M.2 PCIe SSDs installed in a RAID 0 array for booting, plus a 3TB 7,200rpm SATA hard drive for storage. As a result of the SSD drives, boot times can be measured in seconds. The memory and SSD space here are double compared with systems like the Alienware Aurora, though that system is almost $400 less. For a couple hundred dollars more, the 2017 version of the Falcon Northwest Tiki came to us with 32GB of memory, but also had a 2TB SSD array and only one GTX 1080 card, which affected its 3D performance in testing. The Aegis Ti3 comes with a one-year warranty.
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Plenty of Power, and Quiet Operation
In a continuation of the flamboyant design, MSI's "one-button overclocking" feature is enabled by pushing a backlit shield with a dragon on the front panel. When this option is turned on, the clock speeds of both the CPU and GPUs increase a preset amount. You'd expect the fan speed to increase in overclocked mode as well, but the Aegis Ti3 surprised me with the opposite behavior. When the system has no 3D load, the fans on the GTX 1080 cards stop turning. They only start to spin when playing 3D games or running our 3D benchmarks. That is astonishing, since most other gaming desktops have a constant hum from the cooling fans on their graphics cards. Since it's so silent, we would likely just leave overclocking on. That bodes well for gamers who want the smoothest gameplay at all times, but it also means that the overclocking button itself is somewhat superfluous.
The system is backed by an unlocked 4.5 GHz Intel Core i7-7700K processor and the dual GPU configuration. That's similar to the setup in the Digital Storm Velox, our previous top pick for gaming rigs. You're set for the next half-dozen years with this setup, as these components are close to the top end. The Aegis dispatched all of our benchmark tests with aplomb. In particular, it smoothly played our two gaming benchmark tests, Heaven at 61 frames per second (fps) and Valley at 80fps, with ultra quality settings at 4K resolution. That was a lot smoother than the CyberPower Gamer Master Ultra and Falcon Nortwest Tiki, both of which have single GTX 1080 card setups. While the Aegis was competitive, it came up just short of the Velocity Micro Raptor and Origin Neuron, both of which have a pair of GTX 1080 Ti cards and were faster at 4K gaming. To be sure, you'd likely be satisfied with the Aegis' 3D performance, but there are faster systems for a similar price tag.
It also fared well on our multimedia and day-to-day performance tests. A score of 4,136 points on the PCMark 8 Work Conventional test shows that it is speedy on tasks like office-document editing, web browsing, and video conferencing. It took only 44 seconds to complete the Handbrake video-encoding test (anything below 1 minute is blazing fast), and 2:13 to complete the Photoshop test (under 3 minutes is top of the mark). While the Velocity Micro Raptor Z95 was fastest on the Cinebench and Handbrake tests, and the Origin Neuron and Digital Storm Velox were the winners on the Photoshop test, the Aegis was still quite competitive on all tasks. It's a speed demon PC that will finish most workplace tasks quickly, so you can get back to gaming.
Big, Bold Gaming
The MSI Aegis Ti3's quiet, smooth 4K gameplay (thanks to dual GTX 1080 GPUs), unlocked Core i7 processor, VR-friendly design, 64GB of RAM, and speedy storage are all attractive, future-proofed features for the hardcore gamer. Ultimately, it's a high-powered, $4,000 gaming PC with an outrageous design that will likely appeal to the kid in you. The flashy design won't please everyone, however, and it can't outperform the Origin Neuron as our top pick for high-end gaming desktop PCs.
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Joel Santo Domingo is the Lead Analyst for the Desktops team at PC Magazine Labs. He joined PC Magazine in 2000, after 7 years of IT work for companies large and small. His background includes managing mobile, desktop and network infrastructure on both the Macintosh and Windows platforms. Joel is proof that you can escape the retail grind: he wore a yellow polo shirt early in his tech career. Along the way Joel earned a BA in English Literature and an MBA in Information Technology… More »
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