MSI, Maxsun Make Back-Connector Motherboards Based on Asus's DIY-APE Standard

Maxsun DIY-APE H610
(Image credit: Maxsun)

The "DIY-APE Revolution," the idea of relocating power, storage, and peripheral connectors to the back of the motherboard, has taken off. We get a sneak peek of the first DIY-APE motherboards from Asus, MSI, and Maxsun.

Asus' DIY-APE movement originated last year. It's a concept similar to Gigabyte's Project Stealth and MSI's Project Zero, which essentially moves motherboard connections to the back so DIY users can hide all the cables behind the case. 

While Project Stealth and Project Zero are proprietary projects, Asus appears to have opened DIY-APE to other hardware brands, even rival motherboard vendors. Due to the position of the connections, you can't just mount DIY-APE motherboards to a conventional case, which is why case brands, such as Lian Li, Cooler Master, Cougar, Phanteks, Jonsbo, and Sama have jumped on board the DIY-APE train.

One DIY-APE motherboard, the DIY-APE H610 King from Maxsun has just been unboxed by Chinese tech journalist Ancient Ape Official (we think that's how you translate it) in a video on Bilibili. The DIY-APE H610 King ships in an unorthodox form factor. The brand lists the motherboard with a new "YTX" design, which doesn't adhere to any official motherboard form factors. 

At first sight, it looks like a standard ATX motherboard sliced in half. The DIY-APE H610 King measures 245 x 175mm, so the closest form factor to Maxsun's motherboard is Mini-DTX (203 x 170mm). The motherboard features the H610 chipset, supporting both 13th Generation Raptor Lake and 12th Generation Alder Lake processors. Maxsun's motherboard supports processors with a TDP of up to 130W.

The DIY-APE H610 King is as clean as motherboards come. The connections, which include the 24-pin power connector, 8-pin EPS connector, SATA ports, fan headers, RGB headers, and USB headers, are on the rear side of the motherboard. The only header on the front of the motherboard is a fan header, which should correspond to the CPU_FAN header for connecting your cooling solution.

The motherboard's other attributes align with what you expect from an H610 offering. You receive two DDR4 memory slots, two PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slots (22110 + 2280), and a slot for CNVi WiFi cards. There's only one PCIe 4.0 x16 expansion slot, but tons of connectivity options, including four USB 2.0 ports, one USB Type-C port, four USB 3.2 ports, one DisplayPort output, one HDMI port, an Ethernet port, and three 3.5mm audio connectors.

On Ancient Ape Official's YouTube channel (opens in new tab) he has also tested out MSI's B650M APE WiFi motherboard for Ryzen 7000 processors. It's strange to find an MSI-branded APE motherboard, considering that the company has its own Project Zero. Nevertheless, the B650M APE WiFi has all the aesthetics of an MSI motherboard. However, it doesn't sport any MSI logos, only the DIY APE marketing. 

Unlike Maxsun, MSI stuck with the microATX form factor. The motherboard delivers four DDR5 memory slots, one PCIe 4.0 x16 slot, one PCIe 3.0 x1 slot, and two PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots. As you would expect, all the headers and ports on the B650M APE WiFi are on the back of the motherboard.

The reviewer recently looked at (opens in new tab) Asus' latest DIY-APE B760 Revolution, the direct replacement to the DIY-APE B660 Revolution. The motherboard checks in with four DDR4 memory slots, one PCIe 5.0 x16 expansion slot complemented with a PCIe 4.0 x16 expansion slot at x4, and up to four PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots for high-speed storage.

A quick search on Asus' website also showed support pages for another DIY-APE motherboard, the DIY-APE B660 Pro Max Plus OC. There could be more DIY-APE models in the works, though. Unfortunately, it's unknown if DIY-APE motherboards will make it to the U.S. market. All the reviews and previews so far are from China.

Zhiye Liu
RAM Reviewer and News Editor

Zhiye Liu is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Although he loves everything that’s hardware, he has a soft spot for CPUs, GPUs, and RAM.

  • bit_user
    Although I'm a big fan of cable management (mainly for airflow, since I don't use windowed cases), I lament the idea that PCs might become a lot harder to work in, just so they can look nice through a window.

    I also have some (now older) Lian Li cases that I really like, and I'd hate for them to become functionally obsolete before my next upgrade. That said, there are some legit improvements that can be made to the ATX layout, and I wouldn't mind a new form factor if it's truly better all-around.
    Reply
  • Co BIY
    Seems like the backside of the board would be a natural place to stick a bank of M2 storage.

    Even a few nice passive heatsinks under VRM ect...

    Glad people are being creative.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    Co BIY said:
    Seems like the backside of the board would be a natural place to stick a bank of M2 storage.
    That wouldn't be great for keeping it cool, though.

    M.2 is such a poor form factor for enthusiast desktop machines. Clearly, they were thinking about laptops, maybe servers, and not much else.
    Reply
  • AndrewJacksonZA
    Co BIY said:
    Glad people are being creative.
    +1
    Reply
  • Exploding PSU
    I like how it looks. I'm all in for super clean builds.
    Reply
  • Gillerer
    bit_user said:
    Although I'm a big fan of cable management (mainly for airflow, since I don't use windowed cases), I lament the idea that PCs might become a lot harder to work in, just so they can look nice through a window.

    On the contrary. Provided the supported cases have wide openings in the motherboard tray/harness in all the appropriate places, I think this will improve access and ease of maintenance.

    You can just pop off the back cover and the cables and connections will be right there, close - you don't have to remove any components or dig down to the dark bowels of the chassis to reach them. In a normal setup, if you wanted to access things in midboard like USB or SATA you'd have to remove the GPU at least.

    The improvement should be massive for custom watercooled systems where temporarily removing components may be wholly unpractical.
    Reply
  • DIY-APE
    In fact, the “Chinese tech journalist” is the creator of the DIY APE project.
    “DIY APE” is his brand.
    币六六零二号Revolution主板视频里没有说的“秘密” (qq.com)
    ↑Here is the story about DIY APE project.↑
    In the future, he will also release a special type of power supply.
    That special power supply will make DIY APE project more perfect.
    Reply
  • drajitsh
    bit_user said:
    That wouldn't be great for keeping it cool, though.

    M.2 is such a poor form factor for enthusiast desktop machines. Clearly, they were thinking about laptops, maybe servers, and not much else.
    Actually M2 SSD are a bad fit for servers too. Though they are used there.
    Around an yr AAP ago, when possible future gen 5 SSD were being discussed, proposed in one forum that E1.S be used for consumers also. My idea was that it had enough thermal headroom, but got flamed because such drivers would not have fit in laptops
    Reply
  • Pollopesca
    bit_user said:
    That wouldn't be great for keeping it cool, though.

    Can confirm that. My wife still has an ASUS Z170I PRO GAMING ITX motherboard with the M.2 on the back of the board. She's had two Samsung SSD controllers burn out from over heating. I had to cut a space out in the chassis to make room for a small M.2 heatsink. Still no airflow, but it helps considerably.

    I find it odd that this DIY-APE H610 King has been elongated just to accommodate a second M.2 (something that some ITX boards have already done) but neglected to add two additional RAM slots. Missed opportunity IMO. Could have just made an ITX board with the connectors soldered to the rear. ¯\(ツ)
    Reply
  • King_V
    Maybe I'm missing something here, but don't most people put the motherboard on a flat surface when installing the RAM and particularly the CPU cooler?

    So, with the power connectors on the back, won't that have the motherboard lifted, and thus, make flexing a greater risk when trying to install RAM or a CPU cooler?
    Reply