MSI offers its own version of the PC concept with a minimum number of cables in the system’s working area, called Project Zero. The idea is already being actively implemented in practice and is becoming widespread. It’s time to take a closer look at how the developers propose to make conventional desktops more tidy and convenient to use.

Forming a request

Experienced users will surely remember the days when desktop PC system units in the classic version were chunky white boxes, or at best, they were decorated in ivory colors. The generally unremarkable and frankly boring-looking boxes were usually placed next to the desktop, where they reminded you of themselves by the crackling of hard drives when they were actively accessed. The diversity and literal color of the system’s internal components, which was relevant at the time, was hidden behind the faceless, utilitarian design of PC cases.

Old PC

A real manifestation of techno-rebellion and islands of aesthetic freedom at the numerous IT exhibitions of the time were the modder stands where enthusiasts shared their ideas of beauty in the context of the external design of system units. The works of dremel virtuosos, top-level welders, glassmakers, carpenters, and avid electronics engineers fascinated and aroused genuine interest.

Expositions with such projects have always become showstoppers, gathering a large number of people to watch the incredible transformations. Therefore, the demand for original visual forms of PCs that go beyond the standard ones was formed long before ordinary users had the opportunity to own such a system.

MSI Project Zero system review: zero tolerance for PC clutter

Initially, component manufacturers tried to quench the urge for visual transformation by offering their products in black. It worked for a while, but the emergence of cases with a transparent side panel that allowed you to see the inside of the PC required more radical solutions. The system of organizing interface and power cables appeared even before the “transparent” trend, and with its beginning, it became even more important.

But with the advent of chassis with a panoramic view of components, system units are “opened up” to the fullest, and therefore the aesthetic requirements for the overall assembly are changing. MSI offers its solution as part of the new Project Zero concept.

MSI Project Zero concept

To simplify the process of assembling a PC and get rid of additional wires in the working area of the system, MSI developers suggest using motherboards with connectors placed on the back of the PCB.

MSI Project Zero concept

The Back-Connect design covers the main power connectors, SATA interface connectors, internal USB, fans, RGB/aRGB, and control connectors. It includes all elements that require additional wiring. The latter can be switched exclusively behind the chassis panel.

Project Zero motherboards

At the start, the company offers three Project Zero motherboards for AMD Socket AM5 and Intel LGA1700 platforms. These are two mATX form factor models based on the popular AMD B650 and Intel B660 chipsets, as well as a full-size modification based on Intel Z790.

To realize the original idea of the Project Zero concept, in addition to a suitable motherboard with connectors on the back, a case is also needed to allow for the necessary switching. With the ATX format remaining unchanged, compatibility requirements include additional holes in the chassis tray to allow for the necessary cables to be connected to the motherboard. You will also need a little more space from the chassis panel to the side wall. This extra distance is required to allow for the use of cables with standard “vertical” connectors.

Project Zero cases

When presenting the Project Zero concept, in addition to motherboards, MSI immediately offered several cases of its own design that allow for the implementation of the turnkey idea. The company simultaneously presented three models: MSI MAG PANO M100 PZ, MAG PANO 100 PZ, and MSI MEG MAESTRO 700L PZ.

At the moment, the list of compatible cases already includes more than two dozen models from partners such as Corsair, InWin, Thermaltake, CoolerMaster, Phanteks, Jonsbo, and others.

MSI B650M PROJECT ZERO motherboard

The current range of Project Zero motherboards is still small, but any of the available models allows you to realize the original idea of the developers. The choice of a particular device depends on the platform and the overall format of the PC.

MSI B650M Project Zero

Let’s take a look at one of the corresponding boards on the example of MSI B650M PROJECT ZERO. Obviously, to make it easier for potential users to navigate, the “Project Zero” designation appears directly in the model name. So there is no room for error here.

MSI B650M PROJECT ZERO is based on the AMD B650 chipset and is therefore designed to work with any processors for the Socket AM5 platform. The board complies with the mATX form factor and has classic dimensions for this standard – 244×244 mm.

MSI Project Zero system review: zero tolerance for PC clutter

The CPU power supply stabilization unit has a 13-phase circuit (10+2+1), and the VRM subsystem power elements are equipped with massive radiator blocks for efficient cooling. This is especially true for the assemblies located along the interface panel. At one time, MSI was the first to introduce a single design of the power element heatsink that simultaneously serves as a protective cover. This radically increased the cooler’s dissipation area, allowing for a reduction in the heating of VRM assemblies. Later, the initial idea was consolidated and is widely used by other board manufacturers as well.

MSI Project Zero system review: zero tolerance for PC clutter

In the case of MSI B650M PROJECT ZERO, the board is generally perceived as a device in armor. The absence of connectors on the front side of the PCB allowed the developers to increase the size of the coolers, maximizing the effective area.

However, this did not affect the functionality, MSI B650M PROJECT ZERO has two 8-pin connectors for connecting additional CPU power. This allows you to count on the necessary power when using even top-end 16-core chips.

The four available RAM slots allow you to increase the total RAM capacity up to 256 GB if necessary. The possibility of using kits of up to DDR5-7600+ is announced. Perhaps such modes will be useful in practice in the case of Ryzen 9000 processors. The developers openly warn that the support for high-speed kits depends on the number of modules and their rank. The maximum performance is available for cases with a pair of peer-to-peer slots.

MSI Project Zero system review: zero tolerance for PC clutter

The MSI B650M PROJECT ZERO offers a minimal set of slots for connecting additional expansion cards – one PCI-E x16 and one PCI-E x1. The main full-size connector allows you to use 16 PCI-E 4.0 lines, although the actual configuration here will depend on the installed processor.

The compact PCI-E x1 is chipset-based and complies with the PCI-E 3.0 standard. The distance between this connector and the PCI-E x16 is sufficient for unhindered use, even if the system has a video card with a three-slot cooler.

MSI Project Zero system review: zero tolerance for PC clutter

There are two corresponding connectors for connecting M.2 drives. Both ports support PCI-E 4.0 x4. The SSD area is covered by a standard massive radiator, so even the fastest models of drives of the corresponding standard will receive effective cooling. Given the size of the aluminum profile, even the marketing name MSI Shield Frozr doesn’t feel like an exaggeration.

There are four interface connectors for SATA drives, which in this case are located on the back of the PCB.

Among the functional options of the MSI B650M PROJECT ZERO board, we note the presence of an AMD wireless communication module that supports Wi-Fi 6E networks and Bluetooth 5.3. The Realtek RTL8125BG controller (2.5 GB/s) is responsible for the wired connection. The sound subsystem is based on the 8-channel Realtek ALC887 codec.

MSI Project Zero system review: zero tolerance for PC clutter

The board has a fairly functional interface panel, which, among other things, includes a high-speed USB Type-C (USB 3.2 Gen 2×2) port with data transfer rates up to 20 GB/s. It is also worth noting the presence of Flash BIOS and Clear CMOS buttons for offline flashing and cleaning the CMOS memory, respectively.

MSI Project Zero system review: zero tolerance for PC clutter

In general, MSI B650M PROJECT ZERO offers typical equipment for mid-range models based on the AMD B650 chipset. An additional Wi-Fi module, high-speed USB Type-C, and an emphasis on cooling elements. The main difference between MSI B650M PROJECT ZERO and classic devices of this category is the placement of power and interface connectors on the back of the PCB.


The test system was assembled in the MSI MAG PANO M100 PZ case, so we will take a closer look at the “wireless” PC implementation on this example.

MSI Project Zero system review: zero tolerance for PC clutter

As you might guess, the PZ index in the model name is an abbreviation of Project Zero, which once again reminds us of compatibility with the new concept. Perhaps we should start this brief review by mentioning the price of MSI MAG PANO M100 PZ.

This model is already available in Ukraine at a price of 4600 UAH (~$112). So despite some additional functionality, we’re talking about a fairly affordable model, especially considering that the case comes with four pre-installed 120mm fans with ARGB backlighting. But we’ll come back to that later.

MSI Project Zero system review: zero tolerance for PC clutter

Thus, MSI MAG PANO M100 PZ is compatible with the mATX form factor, allowing you to use boards of this format, or more compact Mini-ITX. Here it is worth emphasizing once again that Project Zero does not provide for any format changes, so the case is compatible with any board of the classic layout. Although, of course, the full potential of the PZ case is revealed with models that correspond to the Back-Connect design.

The abbreviation PANO in the name of the case also has a certain semantic load. The MSI MAG PANO M100 PZ provides a panoramic view of the system’s internal contents through the transparent front and side tempered glass panels. Minimal bezels at the junction create the effect of a seamless panorama. This technique is a new trend in the design of “open” enclosures.

This design really allows you to radically improve the view of the system interior, compared to what models with only a transparent side panel offer. Of course, such openness makes sense if the system is properly decorated. However, the user’s attempts to decorate their PC with aesthetically pleasing components will not be in vain.

MSI MAG PANO M100 PZ has overall dimensions of 440×235×405 mm. The case has an interesting asymmetrical profile of the front and top panels. The internal space is open with a separate zoning for the power supply. Since the front wall is a “view” wall, there are seats for three 120mm fans on the right side wall closer to the front.

MSI Project Zero system review: zero tolerance for PC clutter

The same number of 120 mm fans or a pair of 140 mm fans can also be mounted on the top panel. It is possible to mount radiator blocks of the liquid cooling system with a length of 120-360 mm. The rear wall has a single seat for a 120 or 140 mm fan.

It’s nice that MSI MAG PANO M100 PZ is already equipped with four proprietary 120mm fans with additional ARGB backlighting as standard. In addition, the case is also initially equipped with an additional hub for connecting and synchronizing the backlighting of the standard fans. Usually, these are additional options for models of this class.

MSI Project Zero system review: zero tolerance for PC clutter

The main switching section is located behind the right side panel. Immediately pay attention to the presence of technological holes around the perimeter of the chassis tray, which allow you to connect the necessary interface and power cables to the motherboard. This is a key requirement for chassis when using motherboards with Back-Connect design.

MSI Project Zero system review: zero tolerance for PC clutter

According to the developers, the placement of connectors on the back of the PCB not only eliminates cables in the working “view” area, but also simplifies the assembly process. This is a debatable issue, but at least partially true. For example, 8-pin power connectors located in the corner of the board are indeed much easier to connect from the back. This usually becomes a challenge, especially when a large CPU cooler is already installed.

MSI Project Zero system review: zero tolerance for PC clutter

The other system connectors are also easier to access and connect the appropriate cables. In general, however, PC assembly is a process that usually does not require repeated iterations. It is unlikely that the simplification of cable connections will be the decisive factor when using motherboards with Back-Connect. Rather, it is an added bonus.

The presence of a compartment for conductor management does not exempt from the need to organize them, but the degree of organization here depends on the personal requirements of the system owner. MSI developers have provided certain options to simplify the process – technological holes for ties.

It is worth noting that the side panels are fastened with technological fasteners without additional duplication with screws, so when organizing cables you should lay the conductors quite neatly. The available distance of 33 mm from the pallet to the panel allows you to do this.

After assembling the PC, a look at the overall interior is aesthetically pleasing. The visual internal tidiness of the system is exactly what you expect from Project Zero. Yes, indeed, it is not possible to get rid of all the wires 100%. The power cable for connecting additional power to the video card is still clearly visible. But in this case, the cable, partially hidden in the power supply compartment, fits into the overall visual line.

A radical solution here is to use a motherboard and graphics adapter with special internal power connectors. Such solutions are already available, but then we are not talking about universality. If we are talking about compatibility, then the implemented design is optimal. Unless you want to use an adapter with additional lighting.

MSI Project Zero system review: zero tolerance for PC clutter

The clearly visible hoses of the liquid cooling system are not overlooked either. But for the operation of the overall circuit, these are already mandatory elements. In addition, the white braided hoses reflect the ambient light, creating an additional filling element in the system design.

If you want, it is also easy to see the cables for connecting the pump and the illumination of the SRO water unit. Against the background of the black PCB, the white conductors certainly contrast, but in general, the fragment is small and partially hidden next to the motherboard cooling system elements.

MSI Project Zero system review: zero tolerance for PC clutter

MSI MAG PANO M100 PZ allows you to use graphics cards up to 390 mm long. At the same time, only the classic horizontal way of placing the graphics adapter is supported.

MSI Project Zero system review: zero tolerance for PC clutter

The system controls are located on the lower part of the left side panel. This arrangement assumes that the system unit will be installed exclusively on the desktop. Trying to hide a PC like this somewhere in a niche next to the desk would probably be blasphemy.

The group includes a power button with an indicator, a 3.5 mm headphone/headset jack, a USB Type-A port, and a USB Type-C port, which allows the panel to implement USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 with data transfer rates up to 20 Gb/s. In the case of MSI B650M PROJECT ZERO, the external port supports USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gb/s). There is also an additional button on the panel labeled “LED”, which allows you to switch the ARGB-backlighting modes of the standard fans.

For an enclosure with a panoramic view, additional illumination is an almost mandatory element that creates or maintains the appropriate mood.

Test system configuration

  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 7600X (6/12; 4,7/5,3 GHz)
  • Motherboard: MSI B650M PROJECT ZERO
  • Memory: Kingston FURY DDR5-6000 32 GB (KF560C40BWAK2-32 2х16 GB)
  • Video card: MSI GeForce RTX 4070 SUPER 12G GAMING X SLIM WHITE
  • Drive: Kingston KC3000 1 TB (SKC3000S/1024G)

For the overall evaluation of the PROJECT ZERO concept, we used the following system configuration. The platform was built on the Ryzen 5 7600X processor. This is one of the most affordable 6-core models for the Socket AM5 platform. However, the capabilities of such a CPU are usually quite enough for mid-range gaming systems. It is relatively affordable and quite powerful. The liquid system MSI MAG Coreliquid E360 White was used to cool the processor.

MSI Project Zero system review: zero tolerance for PC clutter

The PC was based on the MSI B650M PROJECT ZERO motherboard, and we have already familiarized ourselves with its layout and basic features.

The system was also equipped with 32 GB of DDR5-6000 RAM. For these purposes, we used a dual-channel Kingston FURY DDR5-6000 Beast RGB (KF560C40BWAK2-32) 2×16 GB kit. White radiators are quite appropriate in such a system, and the additional backlighting also allows you to make the necessary visual accents. In general, DDR5-6000 kits are the best for AM5 processors.

The technical “composition” is perfectly complemented by the MSI GeForce RTX 4070 SUPER 12G GAMING X SLIM WHITE video card. The improved “seventy” is generally a very good option in its price category. Here we have a version with a more compact design of the 3-fan cooling system and a significant factory overclocking of the GPU. Of course, the White version of the adapter allows you to support the overall color scheme of the system.

A 1TB Kingston KC3000 drive was used for data storage. An SSD of this capacity is already the minimum required even for entry-level gaming systems.

MSI Project Zero system review: zero tolerance for PC clutter

The power supply for the platform was provided by MSI MAG A850GL PCIE5 WHITE. This is a brand new 850W modular unit with ATX 3.0 support and a standard 12V2x6 connector for video cards with a 12VHPWR connector. The PSU is quite compact and equipped with a hydrodynamic bearing fan. Compliance with the 80 Plus Gold certificate allows you to count on good efficiency indicators.

The white “version” of the unit is quite in line with the concept, however, in the current case the color of the PSU case itself is not so important, because of the separate compartment for this component, but the color of the bundled conductors is important.

MSI Project Zero system review: zero tolerance for PC clutter

As already mentioned, the system is assembled in the MSI MAG PANO M100R PZ WHITE case. It is an extraordinary mATX case with a “panoramic” view of the internal components of the PC through the transparent front and side panels. The “PZ” index in the model name indicates compliance with the Project Zero concept. Therefore, the motherboard mounting platform has the necessary holes to connect power and interface cables to the connectors on the back of the PCB.


Undoubtedly, compliance with the Project Zero concept does not affect the overall performance of the system. There is no doubt that the absence of cable clutter in the system’s working area is very pleasing to the eye, but the operating frequencies of the components are not increased because of this.

The capabilities of the components used are generally well known. However, the final PC configuration is very similar to what we usually recommend for optimal gaming PCs in our traditional “PC of the Month” section. That’s why we didn’t ignore the practical potential of the assembled platform and conducted a quick test.

The basic Ryzen 5 7500F/7600/7600X six-core chips remain very attractive options for midrange configurations. The CPU series offers a good price/performance ratio, and in general, in terms of computing capabilities, these models are usually sufficient in most cases. In the context of a gaming system, these chips usually look better than the 8-core Ryzen 7 5xxx chips, so for a new system, AM5 solutions are definitely a priority.

By the way, the already announced Ryzen 5 9600X with the new Zen5 architecture will probably be an even better option here. AMD promises a performance boost of ~16%, so given the 100 MHz higher operating frequency than the 7600X, the updated model can really be another hit. Especially if the company takes into account the current retail price of the Ryzen 7000 when setting the recommended price tags.

The new chips are expected to go on sale at the end of July. However, MSI B650M PROJECT ZERO is already ready to work with Ryzen 9000 – the corresponding BIOS version is available on the manufacturer’s website.

For optimal gaming PCs, we’ve been recommending the classic GeForce RTX 4070 12GB graphics cards for a long time. However, can the updated SUPER modification spoil such a configuration? If you have the financial means, using the enhanced version will only improve the system’s performance. We have already reviewed the GeForce RTX 4070 SUPER 12 GB in detail, so there are no revelations here either. The only thing worth noting is the tangible factory acceleration of the GPU in the case of MSI GeForce RTX 4070 SUPER 12G GAMING X SLIM WHITE. So the “slim” tuned version with a boosted GPU added a certain amount of bonus fps.

MSI Project Zero system review: zero tolerance for PC clutter

With the GeForce RTX 4070 SUPER, you can expect a comfortable number of frames per second in 1440p mode even in “heavy” projects with maximum graphics quality. Activating tracing can somewhat temper the optimistic figures, but DLSS support usually allows you to find a good balance between picture quality and fps.

Just for fun, we also measured the power consumption of the entire system under load. On average, when rendering the Cinebench R23 test scene in multi-threaded mode, when the CPU is mostly “stressed,” the PC consumed 195-200 watts. But during an active game in Cyberpunk 2077, where the video card also has a significant load, the total power consumption of the system increased to 370 watts.


MSI Project Zero is a system concept that has already moved from the experimental stage to practical implementation. The combination of a motherboard with connectors on the back side and a compatible chassis for appropriate switching really allows you to simplify PC assembly to some extent and get a system with a new degree of neatness. The absence of numerous wires in the workspace is pleasing to the eye and will surely appeal not only to demanding techno aesthetes, but also to ordinary connoisseurs of simple, elegant solutions. The visual order inside the system unit creates the appropriate atmosphere in the workplace, especially if the interior of the platform can be seen through the transparent panoramic panels.

MSI Project Zero system review: zero tolerance for PC clutter

The success of MSI’s idea will depend on the general perception of such a concept and real user demand. The company’s decision to demonstrate its advantages by using relatively affordable products during the active implementation of Project Zero seems strategically correct. This automatically increases the number of potential buyers. The idea of tidying up the system unit and making it an element of the room’s interior is a very attractive prospect, especially if it does not require significant additional costs.

The current range of motherboards with Back-Connect design, although still relatively small, covers the basic needs. The number of such models will surely increase as soon as it becomes clear that the concept is generally accepted by the market. MSI also offers several cases of its own production, and is probably trying to attract a wider range of manufacturers to support it. The latter is actively growing, given that Project Zero compatibility doesn’t require any extra effort. ATX standards remain unchanged, and the cable management system behind the side wall is usually provided from the start. Providing chassis trays with the right holes is a doable task that will allow case makers to stay on top of the current trend, especially since MSI already has competitors in the backplane motherboard design space.