MSI's First AMD AM5 Motherboard And PSU With ATX12VO Break Cover

atx12vo motherboard connector2
Once upon a time, the components in your PC required a wide variety of voltages. The ATX standard defines 3.3V, 5V, and 12V connections as well as -12V and 5V standby power connections. Only some of this is actually used today. Virtually all modern PC components just take 12V and convert it to whatever voltage their components actually require. This is due to both advancements in power delivery circuitry and the fact that most modern PC components require enough power that delivering the current over 3.3V or 5V becomes problematic.

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ATX12VO Main Power Connector pin-out. Image: Intel

If everything is 12V, what's the point of having these other power wires? Not much. That's why Intel released the ATX12VO standard in July of 2019. Not to be confused with the ATX 3.0 12VHPWR connector, this alternate version of the ATX standard throws out the old fat ATX 24-pint power connector in favor of a slimmer ten-pin connector that only supplies 12 volts. This drastically simplifies power supply design, as the transformer box in the bottom of your PC no longer has to output multiple separate voltages for various components.

hero msi 12vo products

ATX12VO is an Intel standard, so you might not expect it to appear on AMD motherboards. Well, you'd be mistaken—ATX itself is an Intel standard, after all. The first company to show off a Socket AM5 motherboard designed for ATX12VO is MSI, who has at least a pair of boards on the way: the MSI PRO B650 12VO WiFi for Socket AM5, and the MSI PRO H610M 12VO for LGA 1700.

These boards popped up during a factory tour given to German site HardwareLUXX, who also got to look at the company's still-upcoming Project Zero hardware which we reported on back in October. Ironically, it doesn't look like the Project Zero hardware will be built for the ATX12VO standard.

msi b650m project zero motherboard frontback
MSI B650M Project Zero Socket AM5 Motherboard

Both of the upcoming motherboards appear to be entry-level offerings, but it probably doesn't matter because they're not likely to appear on store shelves either way. MSI told the site that the upcoming hardware is primarily aimed at system integrators, and that it will also be offering its own-branded power supply to go along with the new motherboards. After all, you can't run ATX12VO off of a standard ATX PSU.

Indeed, that's why ATX12VO hasn't really penetrated the market despite being unveiled in 2019. There are really no downsides for consumers—you end up with cheaper and more efficient power supplies, cooler-running and quieter systems, and drastically less cabling to manage. It's possible that ATX12VO motherboards could be slightly more expensive than standard ATX boards, but fairly unlikely as it's much easier to step down from 12V to 5V or 3.3V on the motherboard if necessary, and in any case the cost should equalize. Hopefully we see more ATX12VO adoption in the DIY market in 2024.