MSI's Computex Boards Include Project Zero with Rear Connectors and Z790 Max Refreshes

MSI MEG Z790 Ace Max
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

MSI brought a ton of motherboards  to Computex, the annual hardware trade show in Taipei. Among its wares are upgraded Z790 Max motherboards and its Project Zero motherboard and case that support connections at the back of the PC.

Most of these aren't coming until at least Q3 2023, but that means we'll see a bunch of faster connectivity and clean build options later this year.

Z790 Max Motherboards and USB4 PD100W Expansion Card

There are four new Z790 Max models, supporting 12 and 13th Gen Intel Core, Pentium, Gold and Celeron processors in LGA 1700 sockets. They are the MEG Z790 Ace Max, MPG Z790 Carbon Max Wifi, MPG Z790 Edge Max Wifi, and MAG Z790 Tomahawk Max Wifi.

The MEG Z790 Max Series adds Wi-Fi 7 and 5 Gb Ethernet LAN compatibility, though the LAN is limited to just two models: the Ace and the Carbon. These boards will be tool free, with M.2 "Frozr" shields using magnetic designs instead of screws. Additionally, MSI is promising an exclusive "DDR5 enhancement technology" it calls Memory Boost. On signage at its Computex booth, it showed up to DDR5-7600 on overlock on the Ace and Carbon, with DDR5-7200 with an OC on the Tomahawk and Edge.

These boards will have Lighting M.2 Gen 5 PCIe slots and USB 3.2 Gen 2 x2, while the Z790 Ace Max will get Thunderbolt 4. The Ace Max, an E-ATX board, will have the most advanced power system with MSI's 24 Duet Rail power system. The MPG boards, — the Carbon Max and Edge Max — appear to be standard ATX boards, with the Carbon packing 19 power phases and the Edge using 16 mirrored power arrangements.  The Tomahawk will have the same arrangement as the Edge.

In most other regards, these four boards are similar to the existing Ace, Carbon, Edge and Tomahawk, but with faster networking, the tool free M.2 covers and faster DDR5 overclocking.

The company didn't announce pricing for the Z790 Max line, but it suggests that they'll launch near the end of Q3 2023.

MSI also has a new expansion card, the USB5 PD100W, which MSI reps at Computex told Deputy Managing editor Paul Alcorn will likely be included with at least one of the new motherboards. The card has two USB 4.0 Type-C ports that support up to 40 Gbps and display support, with up to 100W power charging for one port and 27W for the other. There are also two DisplayPort 1.4 input ports, possibly for capturing from other devices.

The expansion board could come to retail, those spokespeople said, but MSI wouldn't commit to that. In its official listings, MSI doesn't have a price or release date. 

Project Zero

MSI also brought its own take on the rear-connect motherboard, Project Zero. This appears similar to Gigabyte's Project Stealth using a special case that supports connections on the rear, or perhaps Asus' DIY APE standard. It appears MSI is using its own design, though. Reps told Paul Alcorn that MSI changed its designs to avoid patent issues.

The Project Zero board on display at Computex is a take on an AMD B650M board, which MSI partnered with a Ryzen 7 7700X. It was sitting in a take on its own case, the MAG Vampiric Project Zero with a  a 270-degree panoramic glass window.

MSI Project Zero in case

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The motherboard will launch for $219, while the case's price has yet to be determined. We should see these components in Q3.

Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Threads @FreedmanAE and Mastodon

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  • MrN1ce9uy
    I don't see where rear connectors should even be considered. There's very little room on the backside of cases as it is, now you want to put even more cables back there? That means cases will have to be wider than usual, which is not necessarily something I'd be interested in.