Aftershock PC’s are no strangers here at PowerUp! where we’ve reviewed some incredible builds over the years. Now, the company is launching the latest addition to its line of compact gaming PC’s and it’s called the Vault Mesh. We got to be one of the first outlets in Australia to get hands on this small powerhouse before it goes on sale in September 2021. And let me tell you, I am really excited.
But why you may ask? Well, ever since the launch of the Xbox Series X last year, PC gamers have been pining for a build that is just as small, quiet and powerful. The reality is that’s not entirely possible because the Xbox is a singular device made with one use case – gaming. PC’s on the other hand aren’t just for gaming and unlike the Xbox, have so many varied components that aren’t custom built for any single case.
The Vault Mesh is as close to the Xbox as I’ve seen so far – at least in terms of size where it’s just a wee bit bigger than Microsoft’s console. The big difference of course is the price and unmatched customizability that can make the Vault Mesh a far more powerful than the Xbox(depending on your wallet).
Starting price is expected to be around $2000, the Vault Mesh can be configured with any full size Nvidia GeForce or AMD Radeon graphics cards, AIO liquid cooled AMD or Intel processors, up to 128GB RAM and a whopping seven SSD’s. You can also get glorious RGB lighting and put the Vault Mesh in your living room for some big screen 4K120 gaming goodness with real ray-traced – take that XSX & PS5!
Aftershock Vault Mesh Review
The first thing we gotta talk about is the size of the Vault Mesh. It’s built in the aptly named SSUPD Meshlicious case, a name earned by the all-mesh panel design. This design choice is to maximise air flow to cool the potentially powerful components you can fit inside it’s 14.2l of internal space. It’s very smartly designed to allow for a multitude of build styles and components.
It stands 360mm tall, 245 mm long and 166.4 mm wide which for a PC, is pretty dang small. However, it’s definitely not light, not with all those beefy components inside it which makes the Vault Mesh feel, well, like a vault. Moving it between my desk and living room for the purpose of testing reminded me that small as it is, it’s not really what you’d call portable.
The frame is built with a solid, powder coated steel and comes in either Black or White. I suspect the white wouldn’t look so hot after a few months of dust build up though. The fine mesh looks great and allows your RGB components to shine through. Our unit came with plenty of adjustable lighting in the case, RAM sticks, AIO and intake fans that make it look like a Pixar disco robot.
I noticed the lack of screws on the exterior of the case which is yet another wonderful design choice that makes the Vault Mesh look very clean and posh. Removing the front, top and side panels is done with only your fingers thanks to the slide-to-lock mechanism. Behind the front panel, you can install up to 280mm radiator which sucks in generous amounts of air to keep things nice and chill. Our test unit had the same tied to an Aftershock Spectra Glacier Mirror AIO water cooler for the Ryzen 7 5800X.
The case supports a range of Mini-ITX motherboards as well as ATX, SFX-L, SFX power supplies. It can take two 3.5-inch Hard Drives and a whopping seven 2.5-inch Solid State Drives if you are using a SFF GPU but only three when using a full-size one. Speaking of GPU’s, our test unit has a full-on Gigabyte RTX 3080 Gaming OC which is bonkers. The case can fit most four slot graphics cards up to 336mm long but be wary of card thickness too.
The top panel has a USB Type-C and Type-A port flanking the discrete power button but no headphone jack. This was a bit frustrating since it’s a stretch to have to plug in headphones round the back. Another frustrating thing about the case design is accessing video ports when you use full-size graphics cards.
The access is underneath the case with less than an inch of wiggle room between the card and the surface the Vault Mesh is sitting on. This means ordinary HDMI or DisplayPort cables plugs won’t fit without awkwardly propping the Vault Mesh to make more room for the cable lead to pass. You’ll need an L-shaped adapter to mitigate this which isn’t ideal but just something to be aware of.
The unique design of the Aftershock Vault Mesh case allows for some serious components to fit while staying very well ventilated. This allows it to perform as well as any ATX build. Our review unit shipped with a water-cooled AMD Ryzen 7 5800X processor with 8-cores and 16 threads. Graphics is provided by a Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming OC with 10G or GDDR6 memory and three fans. For memory we have 32GB of DDR4 Corsair Dominator RGB, 1TB Aftershock M.2 NVMe SSD plus 2TB HDD for storing Call of Duty: Warzone. Cooling is provided via a 280mm radiator with two 140mm fans – both with RGB of course.
The Vault Mesh had no problem chewing through any load I threw its way while staying cool and collected. With a score of over 10,000 in Geekbench and 15,000 in Cinebench, the Vault Mesh wiped the floor with anything I’ve ever reviewed including the insane Alienware Aurora R11 that had a liquid cooled Intel Core i9-10900 and an RTX 3090.
In games, the RTX 3080 did come in behind the RTX 3090 as expected but not by much – proving no one really needs to buy that card just for gaming. The Vault Mesh scored an incredible 16,727 in 3DMark TimeSpy, 32,000 in FireStrike and 11,471 in Port Royal’s ray-tracing benchmark. These numbers are academic of course but what about real games? See for yourself in the results below.
The Vault Mesh managed to run every game in my test suite well above 60FPS in 4K with everything turned up, including ray-tracing. The only exception was Metro Exodus Enhanced edition but honestly, that is an outlier and I probably had done something in my test.
I was fortunate to have an LG C1 65-inch OLED on hand(look out for that review) and tested the Vault as a living room gaming machine. The Vault had no problem outputting the requisite 4K 120Hz in glorious HDR to the TV’s HDMI 2.1 ports. The experience is nothing short of breathtaking and truly showcases why anyone would pay the premium to get the Vault Mesh over a console.
And don’t worry about noise because there barely is any. This does of course depend on the choice of fans and other components you choose but my test unit wasn’t bad at all considering the parts. For sure, you can hear it when gaming but not in an obnoxious gushing fan noise way like with laptops or even the PlayStation 4 Pro. The Vault Mesh sounds like a room fan with a low hum that isn’t displeasing nor distracting.
And the best part is that the Vault Mesh remains impressively cool as promised. When running CPU heavy benchmarks, aside from a few spikes, the 5800X kept at a max 70C. In games, that hovered between 58-64C depending on the game. The Gigabyte RTX 3080 peaked in the mid 70C’s during my prolonged 4K gaming sessions. This is a far cry from the Hypergate Mini that I reviewed a while back that was borderline overheating and leaves me with no concerns for the longevity of this machine.
Once again, Aftershock has delivered a fantastic product with the Aftershock Vault Mesh. While most people won’t necessarily afford the configuration I had for review which is well over $4000, the options go as far as your wallet does. Even a configuration with an RTX 3060 and Intel i5-10400 can still give you exceptional big-screen gaming for much less. And you can always upgrade stuff when you get extra cash, something you can’t do with a console.
I absolutely love the Meshlicious case used here; it’s handsome, compact and surprisingly easy to maintain. I do worry about dust build-up but since it’s so easy to open up and give a good blow, that shouldn’t be a problem for anyone. I highly recommend this and I’d be very surprised if the Vault Mesh didn’t become one of Aftershock’s best sellers. Seriously, why buy a bulky ATX tower when you can have all the performance this gives?
So before stock inevitably runs out, I say to you in my most emphatic Gandalf the Grey voice: “Fly you fools!”
Aftershock PC Australia kindly loaned us an early sample of the Vault Mesh for the purpose of this review.