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MSI’s new motherboard could transform gaming RAM forever

The new MSI Z790 Project Zero Plus is shown with a flat Kingston DDR5 CAMM memory module, which screws into place, rather than DIMMs.

PC component maker MSI has just unveiled a new ATX motherboard that abandons the usual memory sticks we’ve known for decades, and replaces them with a new flat-mounted CAMM2 RAM module. It’s a concept that has potentially huge implications for the PC gaming RAM market if it takes off, meaning we could just be screwing future memory upgrades into our motherboards, rather than clicking them into slots.

We first spotted the potential to make the best gaming RAM on a desktop CAMM2 module in January 2024, but this is the first time we’ve seen a major desktop PC motherboard maker commit to it. What’s more, the new MSI Z790 Project Zero Plus motherboard that sports the socket is a full-size ATX model, rather than a mini-ITX board, showing that this new memory standard is being taken seriously beyond the small form factor world.

MSI revealed the new motherboard in a post on X (formerly Twitter), which shows an illustrative image of the Z790 Project Zero Plus fitted with a prototype Kingston Fury Impact DDR5 CAMM2 module. MSI says this module “demonstrates the compact size, thin profile, and potential OC [overclocking] performance,” of such a setup, implying that laying out your memory chips in this way can help you squeeze more performance out of them.

If the PCB is lying flat, there’s certainly room to build upwards when it comes to heatsinks, and in this configuration, the memory will be in the right position to benefit from the standard front-to-back airflow systems found in most of the best PC cases.

MSI Z790 Project Zero Plus motherboard with CAMM2 Kingston RAM shown in X Twitter post screenshot

Having the memory module lying flat would also help prevent your memory from clashing with large CPU air coolers, or with a large AIO cooler radiator installed in the roof of your case. However, I was expecting the first CAMM2 desktop gaming products to be mini-ITX motherboards, where having flat-mounted memory would really help when it comes to saving vertical space in compact cases.

We’ve seen plenty of mini-ITX boards that use laptop SO-DIMM modules, for example. It’s a surprise to see CAMM2 already making it to the world of ATX motherboards, but an exciting one nonetheless. This Kingston module also uses full-speed DDR5 memory, rather than the slower, low-power LPDDR5 memory used on LPCAMM2 modules in laptops so far.

It remains to be seen whether CAMM2 will take off as the new desktop standard for memory, and even if it does, there’s likely to be a decent cross-over period with the DIMMs we’ve known since the 90s. One of the advantages of sticking with the same format is that gamers can save some money by transferring their old memory to a new motherboard when they upgrade, and that becomes impossible if it uses a completely different module standard.

MSI says the new motherboard and Kingston memory module will be previewed at Computex, and we hope to get a closer look at it then. In the meantime, if you’re thinking of buying a RAM upgrade, check out our full guide on how to build a gaming PC, which includes guidance on how to install memory modules.