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MSI Project Zero Motherboard Hides Ports for a Super Clean Build

MSI Project Zero motherboard
(Image credit: chi11eddog / MSI)

A previously unseen MSI branded motherboard has been spotted. The super-clean board seems to be covered in armor with many internal ports hidden from view. Twitter's chi11eddog shared four leaked images of this new MSI motherboard and they reckon it might be the foundation of 'MSI Project Zero'. Right now all we have are these images, so keep the salt close to hand.

The source reckons that the new motherboard is based on, or is an extension to, the MSI MEG Unify design, with the various modifications to its appearance and layout. The design language matches closely with the MSI CoreLiquid S360 AiO cooler, observed the leaker, so that could easily fit in a complete MSI Project Zero build with suitable GPU, memory, and case. 

If this is MSI's attempt to go minimal, someone should have told the designers responsible for the etchings all over the armor in multiple finishes and textures. Some covers for any unused PCI slots and unpopulated DIMM slots would be welcome too. One wonders whether the designers could have done something about moving or covering the lonely capacitor between the CPU socket and DIMM slots.

(Image credit: chi11eddog / MSI)

If you pixel peep at the images above and below you can see that MSI has embossed Project Zero into this motherboard on at least two places. As well as the MSI dragon motif, we can also see a section of the motherboard which is inscribed "warning: for professionals only." Lastly­, this high-end MSI MEG series motherboard has easy access power and reset buttons beloved of tinkerers who sometimes wish to test and optimize certain aspects of a build before installing a system into a case.

(Image credit: chi11eddog / MSI)

With the MSI Project Zero motherboard having most of its connectors either hidden under armor or squirreled round the back, a very clean build can be put together. As well as the visual appeal of such a build, some enthusiasts tout the streamlined internal design as a bonus for smooth airflow, benefiting the cooling of the system as a whole.

MSI's Project Zero product has leaked in the wake of the similarly dark and minimal Gigabyte Aorus x Maingear Project Stealth desktop PC build. This rival project centered around, and was largely enabled by, the Z690 Aorus Elite Stealth motherboard, which also features armor to hide the majority of the usual PCB connectors and components. Moreover, all the usual front edge connectors were migrated by Gigabyte to the back; power supply connections, audio, USB and front panel headers.

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • BillyBuerger
    Like with the Gigabyte one posted recently, the idea is nice. I like clean builds. But I feel like this could be executed better. The side mounted ATX power and SATA ports is good. But the back mounted USB, audio and CPU power will only work with cases made for this. So while it is ATX, it's really not compatible with ATX cases and is basically a new standard or revision to the standard. If they side mounted more of the other connectors then it would be more compatible with existing systems. Maybe only do 2 or 4 SATA ports on the front side to make room for Audio, Front Panel and more USB headers there as well. For the CPU power, having it side mounted on the top would likely still work with existing cases but then new cases could include a cover or easily hidden area like many now having along the front side of the motherboard now and that would be nice and hidden as well.
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