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Motherboard Form Factors [All Types & Difference]

The common motherboard form factors are Mini ITX, MicroATX, ATX, and E-ATX. ATX is the most common one of all.

When building a PC, choosing the correct motherboard is crucial, as it serves as the foundation that connects all the other parts of your computer. One of the most important factors to consider when selecting a motherboard is the form factor.[1] This article will explore the significance of choosing the correct form factor and the different types of available motherboard form factors.

Key Takeaways

  • Choosing the correct motherboard form factor is essential for your PC as it acts as a foundation that connects all other components.
  • The common motherboard form factors are Mini ITX, MicroATX, ATX, and E-ATX. ATX is the most common one among all, which is widely used in various applications.
  • The choice of motherboard form factor depends on your specific needs and requirements. Mini ATX is recommended for compact PCs; Micro-ATX and ATX are suitable if you want more expansion options. Lastly, E-ATX is ideal if you are building a high-end workstation.

Importance of Choosing The Right Form Factor

Motherboard Form Factors
Motherboard Form Factors – Image Credit (Pinterest)

Choosing the correct form factor is crucial since it directly affects the size and shape of your motherboard. This factor, in turn, determines what kind of case your motherboard can fit into.[2] Additionally, the form factor impacts the number and type of expansion slots available on the motherboard, including PCIe and RAM slots. Moreover, selecting the correct form factor ensures compatibility with other components and provides the necessary features for your PC build.

Types of Motherboard Form Factors

Several motherboard form factors are available, but we will focus on the most common ones: Mini ITX, MicroATX, ATX, and E-ATX.

Mini ITX

Mini-ITX Form Factor Motherboard
Mini-ITX Form Factor Motherboard – ASRock B650E PG Motherboard (Image By Tech4Gamers)

Mini ITX is the smallest form factor, measuring 6.7โ€ x 6.7โ€ or 170mm x 170mm. It is an excellent choice for small form factor builds, such as home theatre PCs or compact gaming rigs.[3] Due to its small size, it has limited expansion options, typically only one PCIe slot[4] and two RAM slots. However, it is a cost-effective option for those looking to build a compact PC, but it may not be suitable for more demanding applications.

Advantages Disadvantages
Smallest motherboard form factor, making it ideal for compact builds. Limited expansion slots, limiting the potential for upgrades.
Lower power consumption due to the smaller size and fewer components. Limited memory slots limit the amount of memory that can be installed.
They can be quite portable, making them easier to move from room to room or travel with. It cannot accommodate the largest graphic cards.
Similar layout to the ATX and Micro-ATX form factors for easy compatibility with other components. Limited availability of some motherboards due to the smaller size and less demand than ATX form factor.

MicroATX

MicroATX is a slightly larger form factor than Mini ITX, measuring 9.6โ€ x 9.6โ€ or 244mm x 244mm.[3] It provides more expansion options, typically up to four PCIe slots and four RAM slots, making it a good choice for gaming PCs or small workstations. MicroATX motherboards are also compatible with most ATX cases,[4] making them a versatile choice for those who want more options.

Advantages Disadvantages
Smaller size, making it suitable for smaller form factor builds. Fewer expansion slots than the ATX form factor, limiting the potential for upgrades.
Lower power consumption due to the smaller size and fewer components. Fewer memory slots than the ATX form factor, limiting the amount of memory that can be installed.
It can fit in any case that is designed for an ATX motherboard. Limited availability of some motherboards due to the smaller size and less demand than ATX form factor.
Still large enough that high-end cooling systems can be used for maximum performance or to minimize noise.  

ATX

ATX Form Factor Motherboard
ATX Form Factor Motherboard – ASRock Z790 Riptide (Image By Tech4Gamers)

ATX is the most common form factor, measuring 12โ€ x 9.6โ€ or 305mm x 244mm.[3] It offers ample expansion options, typically six PCIe and four RAM slots. ATX motherboards suit most builds, from mid-range gaming PCs to high-end workstations. Moreover, they are also compatible with a wide range of cases, making them an excellent choice for those who want more flexibility in their build.

Advantages Disadvantages
Plenty of room for expansion with multiple expansion slots. Large size, making it unsuitable for small form factor builds.
Standardized layout for easy compatibility with other components. Requires a more significant case to accommodate the motherboard.
A large number of memory slots. Higher power consumption due to the larger size and number of components.
Availability of a wide range of motherboards, making it easy to find compatible components.

E-ATX

E-ATX is the largest form factor, measuring 12โ€ x 13โ€ or 305mm x 330mm or larger.[3] Being the largest form factor, it provides even more expansion options.[5] Typically, it offers up to eight PCIe slots and eight RAM slots. E-ATX motherboards are suitable for high-end builds, such as gaming rigs or workstations requiring much processing power. However, it may not fit in all cases, so it is essential to check compatibility before purchasing.

Advantages Disadvantages
Plenty of room for expansion with multiple expansion slots. Large size, making it unsuitable for small form factor builds.
A large number of memory slots (as many as 8). Requires a larger case to accommodate the motherboard.
A larger surface area allows for better heat dissipation. Higher power consumption due to the larger size and number of components.
Extra space allows for multi-GPU setups. Limited availability of some motherboards due to the larger size and less demand than the ATX form factor.

Different Motherboard Form Factors Comparison

Motherboard Form Factors
Motherboard Form Factors

To help you compare the different motherboard form factors, we have created a comparison chart below:

Form Factor Size (mm) RAM Slots PCIe Slots SATA Ports Expansion Capabilities Suitable For
Mini ITX 6.7โ€ x 6.7โ€ 1-2 1 2 Limited Small form factor builds with limited expansion capabilities
MicroATX 9.6โ€ x 9.6โ€ 2-4 2-4 4 Moderate Budget builds, and compact gaming systems
ATX 12โ€ x 9.6โ€ 4+ 2-6 6 High Mid-range to high-end gaming systems and workstations
E-ATX 12โ€ x 13โ€ or larger 6-8 4-8 6-8 Very High High-end gaming systems, workstations, and server builds

Which Form Factor Should You Go For?

When selecting the correct motherboard form factor, your specific needs and requirements will play a significant role. Mini ITX will be an ideal option if you’re building a compact PC. However, MicroATX or ATX may be better for those looking for more expansion options. On the other hand, if you’re planning to build a high-end gaming rig or workstation that demands a lot of processing power, then E-ATX is likely the way to go. Whatever your choice, it’s crucial to consider the motherboard’s compatibility with the case you want to use before making a final decision.

Conclusion

Summing up, the motherboard form factor is an essential factor to consider when building a PC. Generally, the four most common motherboard form factors are Mini ITX, MicroATX, ATX, and E-ATX. Choosing the correct form factor for your motherboard depends on your needs and requirements. It’s crucial to consider the size and compatibility of your chosen motherboard with the case you plan to use. By better understanding the different motherboard form factors available, you will be better equipped to make an informed decision and build a PC that meets your needs.

More Helpful Resources By Tech4Gamers:

References:

  1. Tech4Gamers. 11 Things To Consider Before Buying A Motherboard. Retrieved from https://tech4gamers.com/motherboard-things-to-consider/
  2. University Information Technology Services. What does form factor mean? Retrieved from https://kb.iu.edu/d/ahvq
  3. HCC Learning Web. Chapter 2: Form Factors, Power Supplies, and Working Inside a Computer. Retrieved from https://learning.hccs.edu/faculty/stanley.young/cmpt-1411/cmpt-1411_text-book-ch2
  4. Personal Computer Systems. Motherboard. Retrieved from http://jtmk.psis.edu.my/ccna/ite_en/course/module1/1.1.2.1/1.1.2.1.html
  5. University of Massachusetts Amherst. Building Your Rig 101: Motherboards. Retrieved from https://websites.umass.edu/Techbytes/2013/12/03/building-your-rig-101-motherboards-2/

FAQs

What is the most common motherboard form factor?

The most common motherboard form factor is ATX, widely used in gaming, workstation, and enthusiast builds.

Can I use an E-ATX motherboard in a regular ATX case?

It depends on the case, as E-ATX motherboards are usually larger than standard ATX motherboards. You should check the specifications of both the motherboard and the case to ensure compatibility.

Are Mini ITX motherboards less powerful than ATX motherboards?

Not necessarily. While Mini ITX motherboards have fewer expansion options than ATX motherboards, they can still support high-end CPUs, GPUs, and RAM and are suitable for many gaming and productivity tasks.

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