Phanteks and MSI team up to offer front-panel USB Type-C ports

USB Type-C is, in the eyes of many, the future for computer peripheral and device connectivity. The port's high potential bandwidth and power delivery mean that it can handle just about anything one might want to throw at it, from video and audio to fast disks and quick-charging batteries. Despite this, motherboard and case makers have been slow to take up the cause of One Port To Rule Them All—at least as far as desktop PC cases are concerned. MSI and Phanteks have teamed up to kickstart that cause, and they've introduced a motherboard and case with support for front-panel USB 3.1 Type-C ports.

The front panel pictured above will first appear on Phanteks' Enthoo Elite case, and will be compatible with MSI's Gaming M7 motherboard. Presumably, MSI will be adding the front-panel connector to future motherboard models. There's no word yet on whether the front-panel connector is an industry standard or MSI's own design, though.

Given how competitive motherboard and case manufacturers tend to be, this partnership has the potential to trigger a flood of USB Type-C ports in PC chassis everywhere.

Comments closed
    • cygnus1
    • 3 years ago

    I’m kind of torn on how I want USB C handled on desktops. I don’t think it’s a great idea to have a ton of power being routed through the motherboard for external devices, and a single USB C port (with Power Delivery) can draw more power than the entire PCIe bus can draw. For most PSUs, that amount excess power is only readily available on the accessory 12V rails. So I think the ideal solution (if USB-PD is going to be supported) is honestly for the case mfr’s to embed powered USB hubs that take a SATA power connector and one or more upstream USB data connections. Let’s call that the high end solution, because it’ll add a decent chunk of $ to the BoM for a case. The el cheapo, most common solution I think is going to have to just be pass-thru USB C port(s) similar to what we have today for the Type A ports (with whatever internal connectors they want to standardize on), but that doesn’t support USB-PD.

    I definitely also see a market for 3rd party drive bay modules that are basically an aftermarket version of that gold solution. I know that’s what I want in order to add some full featured USB Type-C ports to my current system.

    • JosiahBradley
    • 3 years ago

    Do the pause buttons below the ports put them in power saving mode?

      • cygnus1
      • 3 years ago

      Not sure if I’m just too tired and missing the sarcasm, The clusters are labeled I and II, don’t see any pause buttons.

        • Bobs_Your_Uncle
        • 3 years ago

        And I’m pretty sure it’s intended as either sarcasm, a touch of snark, or a humorously phrased observation on “[i<]What the heck is the funky port labeling is supposed to mean?[/i<]" - at far left 2 ports are labeled with a single bar - | - at 2nd from left 2 ports are labeled with a double bar - || - mid-section features 2 unlabeled video ports - 2nd from right - audio ports labeled with a single bar up top & double bar below - at far right - a port (? or 2 position switch?) labeled with a Delta symbol up top & an inverted delta below, giving you this: | - Δ ||-∇ The R/L orientation is "off" with the Delta/inverted-Delta but, it's a reasonable read if you were pondering a "Play/Pause/Forward/Reverse" functionality. And I'll confess that I myself am a pretty tired, very sarcastic, SOB (Salty Old Bunny). (And the tired part is evidenced in the 3 edits I needed for formatting & speeling word words.)

          • cygnus1
          • 3 years ago

          Like I said, wasn’t sure if he was being sarcastic. I’m still not. Also, the thing on the far right with these arrows – Δ ∇, is not a port at all, it’s a volume wheel. I’d say those are fairly obviously meant to imply volume up and down. I’m actually still quiet curious about I and II labels on the port clusters and what they imply. The 2 video ports aren’t necessarily both video ports. The top one is almost definitely HDMI, but the bottom one is USB Type-C. I will bet most systems won’t support video out on that port.

    • UberGerbil
    • 3 years ago

    [quote<]One Port To Rule Them All[/quote<]... but is it USB 3.1 " Gen 1" (5 Gbps) or "Gen 2" (10 Gbps)? And does it conform to Power Delivery Profile 3, 4, or 5? Honestly, USB.org finally got the connector right... and screwed up literally everything else.

      • hasseb64
      • 3 years ago

      Amen!!!

      • EndlessWaves
      • 3 years ago

      Actually they dumped the profile system and now recommend just quoting watts, where specific wattage bands correspond to a given voltage and all lower voltages.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 3 years ago

    Hopefully this is a standard, because having front-panel Type-C ports will help drive adoption. A one-off motherboard/case combination that will probably run $400 (conservative on the price there) doesn’t really help much.

      • UberGerbil
      • 3 years ago

      Really, I don’t know why they couldn’t just stick normal USB-C ports on the motherboard and the back of the front panel let folks use regular USB-C-to-C cables to connect them up.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 3 years ago

        They haven’t done that for any other standard because it’s accommodated for multiple ports. I would hope they’d do the same here (though it doesn’t look that way from the photos in this post).

          • UberGerbil
          • 3 years ago

          But you could route everything over the internal USB-C connection and then split it out in the front panel.

            • cygnus1
            • 3 years ago

            That would mean you’d have to have a hub and power regulation in the front panel. The old way puts all that on the motherboard which is I’m sure preferred by case manufacturers.

      • ImSpartacus
      • 3 years ago

      I see it more as an indicator of progress.

      It’s doubtless that high end case/mono combos are hilariously low volume, but they provide a safe-ish environment for vendors to get that r&d worked out so “the rest of us” can benefit.

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