Assembling the perfect combination of computer hardware has been the main theme since the invention of the computer. Everything from physical limitations, bottlenecks, connectivity, and aesthetics is considered when choosing the right hardware. How do you choose the perfect hardware that connects all the components of the computer and makes them work in harmony? Yes! We’re talking about the motherboard. Motherboards are often difficult to choose from as they come in different sizes, chipsets, and aesthetics, and offer different connectivity. ATX motherboard, Micro ATX motherboard, and Mini ITX motherboard are the three most common types of motherboards.
Mini-ITX motherboards are not that big in height and width compared to Micro-ATX motherboards. However, the Mini-ITX only has one PCIe lane, which is an advantage due to its smaller size. The Mini-ITX has a much smaller case than the standard ATX or Micro-ATX motherboard types.
Use of ATX, Mini-ITX, and Micro-ATX
- Surf the Internet
- Less intensive processing and multimedia work and desktop PC work.
- Inexpensive, low-cost playsets.
Is Micro-ATX the same as Mini-ITX?
Size is the main difference between Standard ATX, Micro-ATX, and Mini-ITX motherboards. The industry sizes are as follows:
- Standard ATX: 12.0″ x 9.6″.
- Micro ATX (mATX): 9.6″ x 9.6″.
- Mini-ITX (mITX): 6.7″ x 6.7″.
- Standard ATX motherboards are larger and can therefore have more PCIe lanes. This feature means that standard ATX motherboards are best suited for multi-GPU setups or computers that use multiple PCIe input devices.
- Micro-ATX motherboards are similar to standard ATX motherboards, but Micro-ATX motherboards are a few inches shorter. The benefit of Micro-ATX is that these motherboards can fit into smaller form factor cases when needed.
- Mini-ITX is an even smaller motherboard, shorter in length and height than Micro-ATX and Standard-ATX. Micro-ITXs typically have only one PCIe lane and are compatible with much smaller form factor cases.
ATX vs. Micro-ATX vs. Mini-ITX
As you can see in the image above, ATX is the largest form factor of the bunch at 305×244mm. The Micro ATX is slightly shorter at 244 × 244mm, but very close. Finally, there is the Mini-ITX motherboard. At a tiny 170 × 170 mm, it’s the smallest of the group.
When it comes to the size itself, the only thing you have to worry about is whether your case is big enough to fit the motherboard. You don’t have to worry about the case is too big, however, as modern cases have a standardized design that’s designed to accommodate any motherboard that can physically fit inside.
One of the main differences between Mini ITX and the two types of ATX motherboards is the number of RAM slots that the motherboard comes with.
That is, Mini-ITX motherboards only have two RAM slots, while Micro-ATX and ATX motherboards typically have four. If the high-end ATX motherboards have 8 RAM slots, they are considered highly advantageous.
However, currently, Mini-ITX motherboards can only accommodate up to 32GB of RAM when a 2×16GB kit is installed. In contrast, most Micro ATX and ATX motherboards support at least 64GB, although some Micro ATX models can reach up to 128GB, while certain ATX models can reach up to 512GB.
Another very noticeable difference between the three motherboard form factors above is the number of PCI Express slots they come with.
ATX motherboards definitely have the upper hand in this department, as most come with three PCIe slots, although some high-end models can boast up to five. Meanwhile, Micro-ATX motherboards typically only have one PCIe slot but can have up to three, with Mini-ITX models sticking with a single PCIe slot.
Obviously, the extra PCIe slots can come in handy if you’re looking for a multi-GPU setup or thinking about installing expansion cards, e.g. Sound cards, capture cards, internal modems, etc.
ATX motherboards are the best choice if you want to build a high-end workstation or gaming CPU. ATX motherboards come with four RAM slots that allow you to expand your PC’s memory as much as you like. Each slot can run 32GB of RAM.
This seems like a lot of RAM for gaming; As in many benchmarks and tests, it is claimed that even 8GB and 16GB of RAM have no difference in performance and frame rate. But if you have if you are a developer or are building this PC for your professional work, even 32 GB of memory would not be enough for you.
Developers often get annoyed when ram-intensive applications slow down their PC. Another highlight of this motherboard is that it has 7 PCIe slots that support multi-GPU and other PCIe cards. This feature is not available on other motherboards.
ATX offers the best performance in each category and can add a variety of additional upgrades to a PC. These motherboards are the largest and tend to be more expensive than their competitors due to their versatile upgrade compatibility.
The Micro-ATX motherboard is the best choice for building a cheap gaming PC. The Micro ATX motherboard has almost the same specifications as the ATX motherboard; The only difference between them is the size and availability of PCIe slots.
Micro ATX also supports 4 RAM slots, which is more than enough to meet your storage needs. The most attractive and outstanding factor of this motherboard is that it is cheaper than both of its competitors. Micro-ATX motherboards are the most used and requested by consumers because they have all the features available for gaming.
These motherboards don’t support multi-GPU, and if you were going to build a PC with more than one GPU, this isn’t the right choice for you. Due to its handy size, the Micro-ATX mainboard fits in almost all cases. The smaller size reduces the built-in features a bit but gives you more room for customization.
Newer micro-ATX motherboard models now support dual GPUs, but prices are as high as ATX models, so ATX would be the best option if you’re looking for multi-GPU support. This motherboard has the same components as the ATX motherboard to be able to swap between them if needed.
Mini-ITX motherboards are the smallest and are mainly used by users who want an easy-to-move or portable PC. The Mini ITX only supports two RAM slots, which means that a user can only get a maximum of 32 GB of RAM when pairing two x16 GB of memory on their motherboard.
That would be more or less adequate for a gaming PC, but when it comes to a workstation or professional PC, this motherboard would lack that. The Mini ITX offers only a single PCIe slot, which means you can only run a single GPU on this motherboard. It would be fine for some gamers who want their PC to be smaller, but keep in mind that high-end gaming isn’t possible on this type of motherboard.
If we talk about the price of this motherboard, you will be surprised to know that this motherboard is more expensive than a dual-function Micro ATX motherboard. The motherboard with such a price tag is that it is the latest addition to the motherboard types and has a minimal size. You can build a small factor gaming PC with this motherboard. The components of this motherboard are not similar to the other two as ATX and Micro ATX use the same components.
Which motherboard form factor should I choose?
Gaming computer motherboard
If you are a gamer and want to build a gaming PC, we recommend the Micro-ATX motherboard. This motherboard fits all cases but also supports all components and upgrades that today’s games require with 4 RAM slots and 4 PCIe slots connected to the motherboard. A user can expand the storage up to 64GB, which is not even required for gaming.
For mid-budget gaming, this motherboard is the best as it’s also the cheapest of them all. These motherboards are the most compatible when it comes to the other components you need to buy to complete your gaming PC. However, if you want to experience high-end gaming with VR support and all the modern technology.
If you are planning to build a PC for your professional needs and development purposes, the ATX motherboard is best for you. Modern editing and rendering require large amounts of RAM and graphics memory. This motherboard is a complete solution as it has 7 PCIe slots and 4 RAM slots to meet all your needs.
You can pair 2 GPUs to have enough visual memory for your purposes, with the Ram slot supporting up to 32GB. This motherboard would be for you if you want to use all PCIe slots. If you don’t need to use all the slots, it’s best to stick with Micro ATX as it’s the same as ATX but only the number of PCI slots missing.
Motherboard for desktop computers
If you are looking for a motherboard that fits well with your daily and personal use, the Mini ITX would be your best choice. Although you can have the Micro-ATX motherboard with many more features, the size of this PC would be significant.
The Mini-ITX PC has a slim and elegant design and also increases the portability of the PC. It only has two RAM slots and a single PCIe slot, which is enough for a desktop PC. The motherboard fits easily into a desktop PC while the others have a hard time getting in.
ATX has dimensions 305 244 mm, while Micro ATX is 244 × 244 mm. ATX is also more flexible with regard to the number of expansion slots available to board-mounted hardware. The Micro ATX has three expansion slots, and ATX has four. Both can use a Multi-GPU setup.
Suppose we do an ATX vs. Micro ATX public opinion pool. Most people go with the Micro ATX motherboard because it matches the needs of most people. The seven expansion slots vs. four expansion slots are not important for PC players and casual users. Whether for cost, form factor, or tabletop, Micro ATX is more attractive than ATX. The overclocking technology and allowing claims allow for higher performance.
The ATX Micro-ATX was selected specifically to support ATX. Both were intended to withstand each other well. The mounting points of Micro-ATX boards can readily adapt to full-sized ATX boards, and the IO panel is consistent with it too. Therefore, we determined that the Micro-ATX could be properly used in full-size ATX cases.
If you purchase a swapped-out motherboard, while others upgrade theirs, your previous motherboard has to remain an unchanged size. You can not upgrade or alter its size post-purchase in any way.
Well, that depends. If you’re a light user, you won’t notice any difference when it comes to gaming, content creation, or a significant workload.
There are pros and cons to each type of motherboard design. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference which one you choose for your build. If you’re in the market for a new board, take the time to read up on all the different options available and choose the one that best suits your needs.