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A casual vivisection

Taking apart the Aegis 3 is very simple. On the back of the machine, you remove one screw and then gently pull backward to dislodge the top panel of the case. This offers you access to the DVD-RW bay and a 2.5" drive bay which is empty on our particular machine. This step also voids your warranty, as you'll have to break the "factory sealed" sticker to remove the top panel. Given how easy it is to access this bay I feel like it could be pretty handy for various uses, like drive cloning. It's a shame MSI puts even this basic expansion option behind a warranty-voiding seal.

Remove two more screws and the left side (right side, from the back) slides off. This gives you access to one SO-DIMM slot and the M.2 socket. Both slots are occupied on our sample, but that isn't the case for every model of the Aegis 3. The side panels are attached very securely to the machine with slots on the bottom, front, and top. That makes them feel very solid while attached, but it also makes them a real pain to get back on.

Remove another two screws and you've got the right side (left, from the back) off. This opens up the main chamber of the machine where all the magic happens. The graphics card is the exact same model I saw in the Trident 3 some time ago, save for being a 3GB version of the GeForce GTX 1060 instead of a 6GB model. Toward the left you can see the bracket that holds the 3.5" hard drive. There's actually a second space and a pre-installed SATA cable there for another hard drive. That means you could, in theory, have two 3.5" hard drives, a 2.5" drive, and an M.2 SSD in this machine. Quite a bit of storage for the volume this thing takes up.

I didn't completely disassemble the whole machine—mostly because you can see everything worth seeing in this shot here. On the left is the blower-and-riser assembly into which the graphics card installs. Obviously, toward the bottom of the image is the graphics card itself. If you look carefully in the picture above, you can pick out the other SO-DIMM as well as the M.2 Wi-fi card next to it. Removing those four screws around the CPU socket allows you to remove the small heatsink responsible for cooling the CPU, revealing the standard LGA 1151 socket assembly.

Don't let the small size of the cooling hardware fool you, though. The Aegis 3 is not susceptible to the same cooling issues that the smaller Trident 3 suffered. Its GPU temperature hovers around 72° C in the most taxing scenarios, while that tiny little radiator-and-blower arrangement keeps the CPU under 85° C even under a stress test. The coolers remain quiet, too. I couldn't hear the computer at all while gaming. Targeted stress testing with OCCT did produce a bit of noticeable fan noise, but I wouldn't call it loud by any means.

Disassembling the Aegis 3 is remarkably straightforward, and I have to give MSI due credit for that. It's a compact, clever design. However, MSI talks quite a bit in its marketing for this machine about how upgradeable it is. The company even put out a video tutorial. While it is very easy to upgrade, opening the machine to upgrade it will void your warranty. I think it's a little bit shady of MSI to advertise the machine as upgradeable in light of the fact that it'll void your warranty if you do. I suppose it's not likely that you'll have to upgrade the machine within its one-year warranty, though.