MSI has showcased a number of Project Zero motherboards during CES 2024, and Club386 is on hand to take a closer look. These are part of the recent trend which aims to hide all connectors and cables behind the board in order to offer a clean look. A novel approach to an old dilemma.
With the advent of glass side panels on PC cases, many users begun searching for new ways to conceal or improve the look of their cables. From aftermarket cables with individually sleeved wires to add-on chassis plates to hide behind, many solutions saw the light of day. I am personally a big fan of the former since I don’t mind seeing a nicely packed 24-pin connector.
That said, some users still want more and are willing to go the extra mile, adding 90° adapters and unplugging the chassis’ USB cables, all in the name of a completely stealthy build. So, in order to please this enthusiast segment, MSI has developed Project Zero motherboards. These boards see all their connectors – be it CPU power or front panel IO – relocated to the rear. This choice brings a dual advantage, because it simplifies the cable installation, since all are easily accessible from the back, while leaving the front clean for those who like it that way.
As you may have guessed, this special design requires a compatible chassis. For this reason, MSI has partnered with a bunch of case manufacturers to make compatible frames. For example, Corsair has its 6500X case and Phanteks has the NV9 Zero. Not to forget MSI’s own chassis.
Currently, MSI is planning to offer at least one model based on AM5 and LGA 1700 sockets. To be exact, we have a B650M Project Zero for AMD’s AM5 CPUs and B760M Project Zero plus Z790 Project Zero for Intel’s LGA 1700. We already covered the first two previously, but MSI may have changed a thing or two since then. Currently, these are still in the prototype phase, so we don’t have a definitive release date.
For a quick idea of what you can expect, the B650M Project Zero was announced as supporting up to 128GB of DDR5-7600 memory alongside one PCIe Gen 4 x16 slot and two Gen 4 M.2 SSDs, with the B760M Project Zero packing 192GB of DDR5-7800 RAM plus PCIe Gen 5 x16 and Gen 4 M.2 slots.
Additionally, MSI has also presented the X670 Gaming Plus WiFi and B650M Gaming Plus WiFi boards with a fresh paint job on their heatsinks. It reminds me of those game-streaming transitions. I must say, I like this new look.
To wrap things up, MSI is also proudly mentioning its MEG Z790 Ace Max motherboard which won CES 2024 Innovation award. A well-deserved prize for a board that has all the features one may need.