ATX vs Micro ATX vs Mini ITX (Which to Pick?)


Are you planning to build a pc by yourself? Choosing the best motherboard for your needs is quite a difficult task as you cannot say easily that which type of motherboard suits you. Motherboards can vary in features, cost, and size. The main thing that first-time builders struggle with, is knowing what the difference is between motherboard form-factors (or sizes). Here’s a quick overview of these motherboards and their specifications

TypeProsCons
ATXHigher RAM capacity: up to 32GB each slot.
More PCIe slots.
High-end performance.
Better overclocking capabilities.
Large in Size.
Most Expensive Motherboard between its competitors.
Micro ATXRAM Slots Availability.
Best for Budget gaming
The Cheapest and most demanded among all its competitors.
Size:
This motherboard is capable of fitting in every case with almost every feature.
Does not supports a Multi-GPU setup.
Fewer PCIe Slots, making it difficult for a user who needs to add more PCIe components like Sound cards, etc.
New models do support Multi GPU but are very expensive as compared to the typical Micro-ATX motherboard.
Mini ITXLess Power Consumption
Portability: Smaller in Size means less weight and more ease to carry your pc anywhere.
Latest Technology: Many new processors come with the support of the ITX motherboard as they are new gen motherboards.
Only 1 PCIe Slot.
Only has 2 RAM Slots.
Looks Odd in typical PC cases.
Expensive then Micro ATX Motherboards.

Now that you’ve gotten to know some basic information about the three form factors, let’s take a look at how they compare with each other in different aspects. The most important factor when choosing between these motherboards is that for what purpose you need them. These motherboards are designed specifically for their assembled purposes.

ATX Motherboards

ATX provides the best performance in every category and can support a high number of additional upgrades to a PC. These motherboards are the biggest and are tend to be more expensive due to their versatile support of the upgrades.

ATX motherboards are equipped with four RAM slots which can give you the option to expand the memory of your PC to your extent. Each slot is capable of running 32 GB of RAM.

Micro ATX Motherboards

The Micro ATX motherboard is the best option for you if you want to build a budget PC. The Micro ATX motherboard shares almost the same specifications as the ATX motherboard, the only difference between them is of the size and availability of PCIe slots.

Micro ATX also has the support of 4 RAM slots which is more than enough to fulfill your memory needs. The most appealing and highlighting factor of this motherboard is that it is very much cheaper as compared to others. The Micro ATX motherboards are the most used and demanded by consumers, as it has all the features available in it.

These motherboards lack the support of Multi-GPUs and if you were about to build a PC with more than one GPU then it is not the right choice for you. The Micro ATX motherboard is capable of fitting in almost every case due to its convenient size. The smaller size reduces the onboard features but it can give you more space for customization.

Mini ITX Motherboards

The Mini ITX motherboards are the smallest in size and are mostly used by users who want an easy to move or portable PC with them. The Mini ITX supports only two ram slots which means that a user can only get a maximum of 32 GB of Ram if they pair up two x16 GB sticks on to their motherboard.

This would be pretty much enough for a PC, but when it comes to a workstation or pc to fulfill professional needs, this motherboard would lack in this. The Mini ITX only offers a single PCIe slot which means you can only run a Single GPU on this motherboard. It would be ok for someone who wants their PC to be in a smaller size, but keep that in your mind that a High-end workload is not possible on this type of motherboard.

If we talk about the pricing of this motherboard you would be amazed to know that this motherboard is more expensive than the Micro-ATX motherboard which has double features in it.

The reason the motherboard to have this much pricing is that it is the latest addition to the motherboard types and it is minimal in size. You can build a Small factor PC by using this motherboard. The components of this motherboard are not similar to ATX and Micro ATX who share the same components.

Differences

Now that you’ve gotten to know some basic information about the three form factors, let’s take a look at how they compare with each other in different aspects. The most important factor when choosing between these motherboards is that for what purpose you need them. These motherboards are designed specifically for their assembled purposes.

SIZE

TYPESIZE
ATX305×244 mm or 12.0” x 9.6”
Micro ATX244 x 244mm or 9.6” x 9.6”
Mini ITX170 x 170mm or 6.7” x 6.7”

As you can see above, ATX is the largest format of the bunch, measuring 305×244 mm. The Micro ATX is close behind measuring 244×244 mm, which makes it a tad shorter. Finally, there’s the Mini ITX motherboard, which is the smallest of the bunch at a diminutive 170×170 mm

As far as size itself is concerned, the only thing you need to worry about is whether your case is large enough to fit the motherboard. However, you don’t have to worry about the case being too large, as modern cases feature a standardized layout meant to accommodate any motherboard that can physically fit inside.

RAM Capacity

One of the key differences between Mini ITX and the two ATX motherboards is the number of RAM slots that the motherboard comes with. Namely, Mini ITX motherboards come with only two RAM slots, whereas Micro ATX and ATX motherboards usually come with four.

TYPERAM CAPACITY
ATX64GB RAM MINIMUM
Micro ATX64GB RAM MINIMUM
Mini ITX32 GB RAM (2×16)

Mini ITX motherboards can currently only accommodate up to 32 GB of RAM if a 2×16 GB kit is installed. In contrast, most Micro ATX and ATX motherboards support at least 64 GB, though some Micro ATX models can go as high as 128 GB while certain ATX models can go all the way up to 512 GB

But of course, those are again somewhat extreme cases that apply only to pricey cutting-edge motherboards. In any case, as far as RAM is concerned, there’s no need to worry about capacity, as even a Mini ITX motherboard will have most people’s needs covered.

PCIe Slots

Now, another very noticeable difference between all three of the aforementioned motherboard formats is the number of PCI Express slots that they come with.

TYPEPCIe Slots
ATX3-5
Micro ATX1-3
Mini ITX1

ATX motherboards have the lead in this department, as most come with three PCIe slots, although some high-end models can boast as many as five. Meanwhile, Micro ATX motherboards usually have only one PCIe slot but can go up to three, and Mini ITX models are stuck with only a single PCIe slot.

But of course, it’s not all about the number of slots in this case, as the question of free space arises once again. Many modern graphics cards are quite thick, as their bulky coolers could potentially obstruct some of the slots.

However, a graphics card could also potentially be obstructed by the case itself, if we’re talking a small form factor case, so that’s another thing to keep in mind.

PRICE

And finally, there is the matter of price. You would think that Mini ITX motherboards would be the cheapest due to their small size requiring less manufacturing materials, but the truth might surprise you.

More often than not, you’ll find that Mini ITX motherboards are the most expensive, at least as far as the starting prices are concerned.

TYPEPRICE
ATX$80 ONWARDS
Micro ATX$50 ONWARDS
Mini ITX$100 ONWARDS

Micro ATX motherboards usually start at about $50 and ATX motherboards usually start at about $80, whereas Mini ITX models start at about $100.

That said, Micro ATX motherboards are generally the best budget picks as it’s easier to find a quality Micro ATX motherboard at a lower price point. ATX motherboards, on the other hand, offer the best overall value for your money if you need the extra PCIe slots.

Breaking It Down By User

Now we are going to talk about which motherboard you should choose and equip on your PC. The choice of the motherboards would differ as to the Category changes. So let’s move on to the Categories and let us clarify which motherboard suits you the most.

Gaming:

If you are a gamer and are looking to build a PC for gaming purposes, then we suggest the Micro-ATX motherboard. This motherboard is not only capable of fitting in every case, but besides, it supports all the components and upgrades which modern-day games require. With four ram slots attached to the motherboard and 4 PCIe slots. A user can expand its memory to 64 GB which is not much even required for games.

For mid-budget gaming, this motherboard is best as it is also the cheapest among all. These motherboards are the most supported when it comes to the other components which you have to buy to complete your Gaming PC. Although if you want to experience High-End gaming with  VR support and all the modern-day Technology.

You can buy the ATX motherboard because they have the option to Install Multi-GPU. Although this requires a huge budget, this is the choice if you need high-end gaming. Although Micro ATX is best for gaming purposes nowadays.

WorkStation:

If you are planning to build a PC for your professional needs and developing purposes then the ATX motherboard would be the most suitable for you. The modern-day editing and rendering require a huge amount of RAM and Graphical Memory.

You can pair up 2 GPUs to have enough graphical memory for your purposes with each RAM slot supporting Up to 32 GB. This motherboard would be the most suitable for you if you want to use all the PCIe Slots if using all the slots is not your need then it is better to stick with the Micro ATX as it is the same as ATX but only lacks in the number of PCIe Slots.

General Use:

If you are looking for a motherboard that fits well in your daily and personal use then Mini ITX would be the best choice for you. Although you can have the Micro ATX motherboard which has many more features, then this one but the Size of that PC would be big.

The Mini ITX PC looks slim and sleek in design, and it also increases the portability of the PC. It has only two RAM slots and a Single PCIe slot which is quite enough for a desktop PC. The motherboard is capable of fitting in a desktop PC easily, whereas the others would struggle to get inside it.

The price of this motherboard is much more then the Micro ATX, if you are low on budget you can stick to the Micro ATX motherboard but keep that in your mind that the portability would not be an option anymore as the Micro ATX motherboard would require a tower case to be fitted in.

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