I cannot remember the last time I went to a LAN gaming party, where gamers take along their computers and hook them up to the same local area network (LAN) for multiplayer games. It was probably close to a decade ago, when broadband speeds were much slower.
But despite dwindling interest in LAN parties, PC vendors continue to build desktop gaming PCs with LAN gaming features.
Take the MSI Aegis desktop PC, which has a sturdy metallic carrying handle at the back of its chassis to let you "carry this lightweight gaming beast around from one LAN party to the next", according to its product website.
The Aegis weighs around 10kg, which is relatively portable compared with the typical full-tower gaming PC that is over 20kg. However, rival Asus sells a smaller 6.5kg desktop gaming computer, the ROG G20.
Like most gaming PCs, the Aegis sports LED lights, which MSI dubs Mystic Light. Users can select a wide range of colours for these LEDs, along with a number of lighting patterns, using the preloaded MSI Dragon Gaming Center app.
I am not a fan of the Aegis' unusual plastic and metallic chassis, with its sharp corners and angular looks. But it does have a unique feature. Its power supply unit is a compact version that is smaller than standard models.
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-6700 (3.4GHz)
GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 4GB GDDR5
STORAGE: 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD
CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 4 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 4 x USB 2.0, PS/2, 2 x DisplayPort, 2 x HDMI, 2 x DVI, Gigabit Ethernet, headphone and microphone jacks
VALUE FOR MONEY: 2/5
It is integrated into the base of the chassis and is almost entirely isolated from the rest of the unit.
This design ensures that the heat from the power supply unit will have little impact on the other internal components. But the downside is that it will be tricky to upgrade the Aegis' GeForce GTX 970 graphics card. This is because the computer's power supply unit is rated at 350W, below the 500W recommended for a top-tier graphics card. Finding a sufficiently powerful and compact power supply unit for the Aegis will be difficult.
Powering the Aegis is the latest sixth-generation Intel Core i7 6700 processor.
While my review set had 8GB of RAM, the Aegis can support up to 32GB. It has an optical drive, though there is no Blu-ray drive option.
These hardware specifications ensure that the Aegis scores above-average in gaming benchmarks. In Crysis 3, it delivered around 65 frames per second (fps) at 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. This is not too far off from the 76 fps recorded by our self-assembled ST Digital PC with a faster GTX 980 graphics card.
MSI says that users can easily upgrade internal components such as storage drives.
By loosening a single screw at the back, I easily opened the top of the chassis to access the internal drive bays. The review set has space for a single 2.5-inch hard drive or solid-state drive (SSD), as it comes pre-installed with a 128GB SSD and a 1TB hard drive.
The pre-installed Dragon Eye app is intriguing. Launched with the press of a hotkey, it lets you watch Twitch or YouTube videos in a small window at the corner of the screen while you are running a game at the same time.
The idea here is that gamers can watch a game tutorial for hints if they are stuck in the game. Or they can pass the time viewing a video during the inevitable downtime that occurs during multiplayer gaming sessions because they are waiting for their friends to go online.
At $2,599, the Aegis is more expensive than a self-assembled PC from Sim Lim Square. In fact, you can configure a similar desktop gaming PC from local firm Aftershock PC for around $2,200, albeit without the Aegis' striking chassis.
In Singapore, MSI's distributor Corbell sells a higher-end version with 16GB of RAM and a larger 256GB SSD for $2,799.
•Verdict: The Aegis is not quite as portable as a gaming console. But it provides above-average gaming performance and some expansion options.