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MSI hides connectors on back of motherboard

You can't see the power sockets on the new MSI B650M Project Zero AMD Socket AM5 motherboard, as they're on the rear of the board for tidy cable management.

MSI hides power connectors on back of motherboard: MSI B650M Project Zero front and back

See if you can spot a single socket or connector on the latest MSI B650M Project Zero AM5 motherboard. Go on, have a good look at the photo above. If you’re having trouble, that’s because every single way of attaching cables to this MSI motherboard has been moved to the back of the PCB.

That doesn’t just mean the 24-pin ATX power socket has moved – all the SATA connectors, front panel pins, fan headers, and USB connectors are on the rear as well. Originally showcased at Computex 2023 earlier this year, the MSI B650M Project Zero has now been officially added to MSI’s motherboard roster, with retail availability expected shortly.

The idea behind this ‘back-connect’ motherboard design is to reduce cable clutter, making for a clean and tidy system at the front. This not only looks good, but also enables easy access to components and potentially improves airflow as well, as there are fewer obstructions.

Of course, we’re still a fair way from being able to build a PC with no cables at the front. You’ll still need to route power cables to your graphics card, and your CPU cooler’s power and RGB cables will need to be routed from the front to the back as well.

MSI hides power connectors on back of motherboard: MSI B650M Project Zero front

Most PC cases don’t give you unfettered access to the whole rear of the motherboard either, and you’ll struggle to wedge standard CPU12V and 24-pin ATX power connectors between your motherboard and your case’s motherboard tray, necessitating the need for 90-degree adaptors. However, MSI also has a new Project Zero case coming soon, which is designed specifically for these motherboards, and is detailed in the video below.

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That said, even with a traditional case and 90-degree adaptors, this design will still make for a tidier interior than usual, and most of the sockets and pins are sensibly located at the bottom of the board, where they can be easily accessed from a cable-routing hole in your case’s PSU cover.

In terms of specs, the MSI B650 Project Zero is a pretty basic micro-ATX Socket AM5 motherboard for AMD Zen 4 CPUs, such as the Ryzen 7 7800X3D. There are only two PCIe slots – a 16x PCIe 4 slot for graphics cards, and a 1x PCIe 3 slot for basic expansion cards. You also get a pair of PCIe 4 M.2 slots for SSDs, along with entry-level Realtek ALC897 audio. There’s no RGB lighting either, but the board looks good, being fully clad in silver heatsinks.

MSI B650M Project Zero specs

The MSI B650M Project Zero specs list is:

Dimensions (mm) 244 x 244
Chipset AMD B650
CPU socket AMD Socket AM5
Memory support 4 slots: max 128 GB DDR5 (up to 6400MHz)
Expansion slots One 16x PCIe 4, one 1x PCIe 3
Sound 7.1-channel Realtek ALC897
Networking 1 x Realtek 2.5 Gigabit LAN, Wi-Fi 6e, Bluetooth 5.3
Cooling Five 4-pin fan headers, VRM heatsinks, M.2 heatsinks
Ports 4 x SATA 6Gbps, 2 x M.2 4x PCIe 4, 2 x USB 2, 2 x USB 3, 3 x USB 3.2 Gen 2, 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 USB Type C, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 USB Type C, 3 x audio

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a motherboard with the connectors mounted on the back – the Asus TUF Gaming B760M-BTF WiFi D4 was announced earlier this year, and sported similarly rear-mounted sockets and headers. However, it’s still a rarity, and we’ll be interested to see if the idea catches on, particularly when it comes to case design.

The MSI B650M Project Zero hasn’t made it to retail yet, but if you’re looking to buy a new motherboard, make sure you check out our full buying guides to the best AM5 motherboard and best Z790 motherboard, where we take you through several options at a range of prices.

One solid Socket AM5 option is the MSI B650 Carbon WiFi, which gives you loads of features and great looks, and has had a substantial price cut since our initial review, offering decent value for money.

Are you tempted by the prospect of a cable-free motherboard at the front? Share your thoughts on the Custom PC Facebook page, via Twitter, or join our Custom PC and Gaming Setup Facebook group and tap into the knowledge of our 400,000+ members.