MSI has finally listed the company’s Project Zero motherboards with hidden connectors. Like Asus DIY-APE and Gigabyte Project Stealth, MSI’s Project Zero essentially moves all the onboard connectors to the back of the motherboard to facilitate cable management and for a tidier aesthetic.
MSI currently has two Project Zero motherboards in its arsenal: the B650M Project Zero for Ryzen 7000 processors, the new B760M Project Zero for Intel 12th Generation Alder Lake and more recent chips. The company also has the Z790 Project Zero in the pipeline, but we’ll get more into that model later.
The B760M Project Zero is a microATX motherboard powered by Intel’s B760 chipset. The motherboard supports Alder Lake and Raptor Lake processors right out of the gate. However, a minor firmware update will get the LGA1700 motherboard up to speed to house the latest Raptor Lake Refresh chips. The B760M Project Zero features a six-layer PCB manufactured with two-ounce copper and a 12+1+1 power delivery system to accommodate the most demanding Core i9 processors. The twin 8-pin EPS power connectors ensure the processor receives more than enough power.
MSI equipped the B760M Project Zero with four DDR5 memory slots. The configuration opens the door for 192GB of memory, using 48GB non-standard capacity memory modules. The official supported data rate is up to DDR5-7200 and beyond. As always, your processor’s integrated memory controller (IMC) decides if you can use faster memory, such as the DDR5-8600 memory kits designed for Raptor Lake Refresh parts.
Four SATA III ports with RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 support and two M.2 slots provide ample storage options. The primary M.2 runs at PCIe 4.0 x4 speeds and is connected directly to the processor. It supports M.2 2242, 2260, and 2280 SSDs. The secondary M.2 slot is also PCIe 4.0 x4, but it’s linked to the B760 chipset. In addition to NVMe SSDs, this slot also supports SATA-based drives.
There are three expansion slots on the B760M Project Zero. It has a PCIe 5.0 x16 expansion slot, one PCIe 4.0 x16 expansion slot limited to x4 electrically, and a PCIe 3.0 x1 slot. Only the primary PCIe 5.0 x16 is attached to the processor, as the other two expansion slots are coupled to the B760 chipset.
As for connectivity, the B760M Project Zero offers a 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet port based on a Realtek controller and Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3 connection via a wireless module installed in the M.2 Key-E slot. The motherboard’s rear panel USB ports include three USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports, one USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C port, and four USB 2.0 ports. There’s an HDMI 2.1 port and a DisplayPort 1.4 output if you use the processor’s iGPU.
MSI hasn’t revealed the Z790 Project Zero yet, but hardware leaker wxnod has shared the specifications for the upcoming motherboard. It leverages the high-end Z790 chipset, supporting both processor and memory overclocking. The Z790 Project Zero is a standard ATX motherboard and, thanks to the Z790 chipset, offers more space for added features.
Memory support and display outputs remain unchanged. However, the Z790 Project Zero has two more M.2 PCIe 4.0 x4 slots and two more SATA III ports. It has one additional PCIe 3.0 x1 slot as well. The wireless connectivity has been upgraded to Wi-Fi 7 and Bluetooth 5.4 instead of the Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3 combo on the B760M Project Zero.
The design of the USB ports differs from the Z790 Project Zero. It supplies one USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C port, two USB 3.2 Gen 2 (one Type-A, one Type-C) ports, six USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, and eight USB 2.0 ports.
MSI didn’t reveal how much the B760M Project Zero or the Z790 Project Zero will cost or when they’ll be available on the retail market. Given the recent listings, it shouldn’t be long before Project Zero hits the streets.
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