MSI Concept ‘Project Zero’ Motherboard Has No Visible Connectors
(Image: @Chi11eddog)With Computex happening this week a lot of interesting PC projects have appeared online. One of the trends we’re seeing emerge is a move towards hiding all of a PC’s cables. The result is not only a much cleaner appearance, but improved airflow. We previously covered an ambitious project from Gigabyte known as Stealth DIY. It involves a custom motherboard with all its connectors on the back, fitted into a custom case. The result is a case/motherboard pairing that is bereft of all connectors when viewed through its side window. Gigabyte even added a custom GPU to the kit that also has its power connectors mounted behind it. Now MSI is joining the “no visible cables” party with a motherboard called Project Zero.
The motherboard in question has a unique appearance, as there are no visible power connectors. Four photos were posted by Twitter user Chi11eddog, and the Project Zero label is prominently displayed on the VRM shield above the CPU socket. It’s not clear which motherboard family it belongs to, but OP suggests it’s a MEG Unify board. It certainly looks like nothing in the company’s current lineup. In the image above, you can clearly see the 24-pin PSU connector as well as a USB port. There’s also six SATA ports along the edge in the usual spot, but behind the motherboard. Front panel I/O looks to be sandwiched in the corner, so there mayA be some kind of adapter to make installation easier.
The board is clearly a high-end product. We’ve noted the cheeky “For Professionals Only” warning label on the bottom. However, it also has onboard power and reset buttons. This means it’s designed to be run on an open-air test bench. That’s the domain of power users who are always swapping parts, and overclockers. It’s also useful if you want to make sure your rig can POST before putting it in the chassis. In the Twitter photos it’s pointed out that the board’s I/O shield has a dragon logo that’s exactly the same as the company’s 360mm AIO CPU cooler. This makes us think perhaps there’s a “whole system” in the works, with a custom chassis as well.
It looks strikingly similar to Gigabyte’s Stealth PC, as mentioned previously. The only difference is Gigabyte also offered a compatible ATX case. On Gigabyte’s version, the motherboard connectors were set at a 90 degree angle to the board. So they had to be pushed through cut-outs in the chassis. This would make it a lot easier to plug in cables since it can all be done from right side of the chassis. MSI’s design has the connectors parallel to the motherboard, which seems like it’d be tough to connect some cables. The ones on the side, facing the front of the chassis, are fine. But the CPU fan/AIO pump and CPU auxiliary power are behind the motherboard, facing up. That seems like a nightmare to build with.
Hopefully MSI releases more info on this project, preferably with a compatible chassis. We’re all in favor of a cleaner chassis, especially for the airflow benefits. But if it’s too difficult to build, it’ll just be one step forward, one step backwards. Ideally, it’d be preferential if motherboard manufacturers can make a board that is easier to hide cables with, that doesn’t require a custom chassis. EVGA is leading the way it seems with its right-angle connectors for almost everything.