When you are thinking of building a PC whether its a gaming PC, Workstation, or even desktop. You might be confused to make a decision for the best available options whether it’s a mouse, keyboard, and a chair.
Just Like all of the other components the motherboard is one of the most important parts of your computer. If we talk about computer technology a couple of years back we used to have very simple motherboards with limited features and limited ports to connect external parts to it.
However, Nowadays everything in your system will go through your motherboard so whether you are looking for a gaming system or a workstation the performance of your system will be dependent upon your motherboard.
Selecting the best motherboard for you could be a little confusing task as just like all other components of your computer, motherboards also come in different sizes which is known as Form Factor.
The Form Factor is based upon the size of your board, dimensions, number of ports, and your power supply’s type.
Motherboards are available in a big variety in the market but the most common and mostly sold options are ATX, Micro ATX and Mini ITX.
Although their size is considered as the biggest factor that differentiates them, there are lots of other factors that make one board differ from the other.
Short Introduction of ATX and ITX
ATX: It stands for “Advance Technology eXtended”, Basically it is a motherboard and power supply configuration specification which was developed by intel back in 1995 to improve the previous standard just like AT design. ATX is the most common motherboard design which consists of some others in smaller sizes known as MicroATX and FlexATX.
ITX: It is a motherboard technology that has been developed by VIA Technologies. ITX or Mini ITX usually is in the small size that is used with the small configured computer system. This technology is designed for low power consumption architecture that provides you a fanless cooling experience.
The MicroATX is 25% shorter in length as compared to the Standard ATX while both variants are similar in the width. The dimensions of Micro ATX is 9.6’’ x 9.6’’ (244 x 244 mm).
Mainly the MicroATX was designed to provide backward compatibility to the sATX. The Mounting ports and the I/O panel are pretty Identical with Standard ATX so it’s suitable to fit in the larger ATX cases as well.
Intel is using the similar power connectors for MicroATX that enable it to use power supplies of the standard ATX model.
Along with the power supplies, intel is using a similar chipset that allows both of these variants to use many of the same components.
Smaller in size Micro ATX motherboard offers fewer expansion options.
This motherboard comes with support for 2 memory slots and a number of 4 PCI or PCIe expansion slots.
Fewer ports won’t be a drawback as each slot supports up to 32 GB of Ram so in total it is capable to hold 64 gigs of memory, which makes it pretty suitable to run every available game in the market.
Since 2006 all of the new models of Micro ATX come with Dual GPU support just like the standard ATX models that enhance the user’s high-end gaming experience.
The Mini ITX form factor was developed in 2001. It is mainly designed to be used in small configured computer systems as we can guess by its name as well.
It comes in a squared design with dimensions of 170 x 170 mm.
Initially, they have designed a less power consuming system that doesn’t utilize fans for cooling purposes.
Basically removing fan cooling helps you to minimize the power consumption along with that it was designed to provide the noise-free environment, for example, no fan experience would be a suitable option for cinema purposes where fan’s sound could be a little distracting.
It comes with four mounting ports just like the ATX and Micro ATX motherboard that enables it to ideally fit it any bigger in size cases of ATX and Micro ATX as well.
Also Read: B450 VS X470 Best Motherboard for AMD Processor?
The Mini ITX comes with the support of 2 RAM slots that can handle a total of 32 GB RAM with 16 GB gigs of memory support for each slot. The support of 32 gigs of ram with a system with a smaller size is pretty nice to have that makes it capable to fulfill the requirements of a gaming pc.
Dual GPU functionality is something that you would be missing with Mini ITX as it has a single PCIe slot so you will be allowed to use only a single GPU with it.
Mini ITX vs Micro ATX:
As we went through the details of both Micro ATX and Mini ITX let’s compare both of these boards as per the following important factors.
As we all know size is a very considerable factor for most of the users, Some of the users are sticky with smaller systems while on other hand some users are interested in a bigger system having more functionality.
Both of the models offer a squared motherboard design with the following dimensions.
Micro-ATX: 9.6’’ x 9.6”(244 x 244mm)
Mini-ITX: 6.7” x 6.7” (170 x 170mm)
MicroATX is a little bigger than the ITX variant and of course, bigger in size will also allow it to offer more functionalities. The Bigger size of mATX allows it to have Multi GPU functionality which is a lacking feature in Mini-ITX
Smaller Size of Mini ITX gives it little advantage as it could be fit easily in the Micro-ATX case because the mounting pins of both systems are similar. While Micro-ATX wouldn’t be able to fit in ITX’s case and the same goes for the Power supply as well.
RAM and Storage:
Talking about the storage, mATX offers support for a higher number of SATA ports enables you to connect multiple hard drives at a time for larger storage which is somewhere lacking in ITX.
For the RAMs as we discussed above it’s clearly a big edge to mATX due to its support for up to 64 gigs of RAM with its 2 slots while ITX can hold a total 32GB of memory which is 16 GB for each slot.
If you are planning to run Multi-GPU on your system then it is a clear call for you to go with Micro ATX as it comes with 4 PCIe Slots while on the other hand mini-ITX offers only 1 single PCIe slot.
To maintain a short size of Mini-ITX only a single PCIe lane was added. So by graphics cards, you will not be able to add any other peripheral device to it which is the biggest drawback for some of the users.
Design and Cooling System:
Talking about the design first, It’s a clear edge for the Mini-ITX motherboard as it offers a unique compact design with its smaller size. While the mATX’s look won’t be that much fancy unless you spend some money to buy expensive cases for it.
ITX is mainly designed to provide a less noisy cooling fanless system. But If you are concerned with proper cooling then it’s not an issue anymore for you like lots of people are using custom liquid cooling solutions along with that there are Liquid-cooled single-slot graphics cards available that could solve this issue and make this system super unique.
Portability is another demanding feature for some of the users, If you are someone who probably moves a lot then there is a big plus one for Mini-ITX as the smaller size motherboard would be the ideal option for you.
ATX vs Micro ATX vs Mini ITX
As we went through the details of both Micro ATX and Mini ITX now let’s compare both of these boards along with the Standard ATX as per the following important factors.
Considering all of the factors that make difference between these variants the Size is considered as the first most important factor that makes huge differences between these models.
Standard ATX: 12.0’’ x 9.6’’ (305 x 244mm)
Micro-ATX: 9.6’’ x 9.6”(244 x 244mm)
Mini-ITX: 6.7” x 6.7” (170 x 170mm)
As the width of both ATX and mATX is the same but height is the only factor that makes some difference between both of these variants. The extra height gives an edge to the ATX motherboard that allows it to have some extra PCIe Lanes and RAM slots.
Extra Height also gives an advantage to the ATX to make it more suitable for multi-GPUs setup when users want to utilize multiple PCIe slots.
While the MicroATX comes with the dual GPU support but fewer expansion slots will cause some limitations to it.
Mini-ITX motherboard is the smallest in terms of both height and weight. It’s smaller size allows it to feature one single PCIe lane. On the other hand smaller size of ITX gives it the advantage to have more small form cases along with that its ideal to be fit in ATX and Micro-ATX motherboard’s cases as well.
The smaller size of mATX than the sATX with similar mounting ports enables it to be fit in the Standard ATX cases along with the small Micro-ATX cases.
After the Size definitely RAM is 2nd most considerable factor for a motherboard. Motherboard’s RAM Capacity and the number of slots could change your mind among these options as well.
The both Standard ATX offers four RAM slots while the both Micro ATX and the Mini ITX offer 2 RAM slots only.
Mini-ITX comes with the two slots which are capable of handling a maximum of 32 GB RAM which means one slot can handle up to 16 Gigs only. While both ATX models offer you 64 GB total RAM capacity.
Less Ram storage won’t be a downside for Mini-ITX as it’s pretty capable to run every game just because nowadays games could be playable with 16 GB RAM.
The PCIe slot is the factor where you will feel the difference among these variants. Here the ATX Motherboard will be the leading one as it offers 7 PCIe slots.
Taking about the MicroATX it supports 4 PCIe Slots while the Mini ATX supports only a single slot.
With the more PCIe slots for both ATX versions, you might not feel a big difference. But If you have planned to run Multi-GPUs or are interested in any other peripheral device cards then there is a big downside for Mini-ITX.
Price of ATX, Micro ATX, and Mini ITX motherboards
Talking about the price tag you might be thinking that Mini ITX would be a cheaper one but unfortunately, you are wrong here with the compact design Mini-ITX is the most expensive in this list.
Micro ATX is considerably low in price due to the higher demand in the market because of its medium and ideal size while the Standard ATX option is still a little more expensive than the Micro ATX just because of being bigger in size and having some extra PCIe lanes as well.
Side by Side Comparison of ATX, Micro ATX, and Mini ITX
Which One You Should Buy?
Now as we have looked over the specifications, Pros and Cons, features, detailed comparison for Micro ATX vs Mini-ITX, along with that we have compared both of the motherboards with the standard ATX model. Now moving toward the important question is which one you should pick?
Which motherboard is the best for you is most likely dependent upon what type of PC you are looking for, your use indent and how many PCIe and RAM slots you are looking for.
If you are planning to build a gaming system then, then definitely we will recommend you to go with Micro-ATX motherboard.
Micro ATX is a very common and easily available option that offers the best value to the users. It offers 64 GB of RAM capacity with two of its slots which is more than enough.
Multi-GPU support was a lacking feature till 2006 but after that Intel integrated the Multi-GPU support with all of its new micro-ATX motherboards.
By using Dual-GPU in your system yet you will have some free slots for additional PCIe expansion cards. There would be only one reason to select the Standard ATX motherboard if you are looking to utilize more PCIe slots than Micro ATX or you are interested to have a quad GPU setup.
We are less likely to recommend you to Mini-ITX for gaming purposes unless you are planning to have a portable gaming PC. The compact design and the overcrowded area of Mini-ITX will demand the advanced cooling system to get rid of excessive heat generation.
If you are interested in having a small case with this small motherboard then you must have to keep the size of your graphics card in mind before purchasing.
If you are a professional user and looking for a system that could handle all of your heavy software.
Whether it’s video editing, graphics editing, or any programming related software where you might be processing numerous of the tasks, then we strongly recommend you to go with Standard ATX just because it provides you additional PCIe lanes and extra RAM slots.
Although Micro ATX yet remains the best option if the number of extra PCIe Lanes isn’t that useful to you and if you have a pretty average amount of tasks then Its recommended to go with mATX.
Mini ITX is not preferred when you are up to building a workstation as due to limitations in RAM capacity and lack of heat management system won’t make it suitable to use as a workstation. Although you can install a liquid cooling system but yet it wouldn’t be that much suitable for heavy usage.
If you are looking for a small portable workstation that could run limited numbers of professional software then you can prefer to use Mini-ITX but after installing a powerful GPU and a liquid cooling system in it.
If you are looking for a system that could be suitable for Day to day internet uses, multimedia, Office works, and little bit gaming then of course Micro ATX is going to be the perfect choice for you.
Micro-ATX is the cheapest option and a suitable option among these three. MicroATX offers support for 64 gigs of RAM and 4 PCIe Lanes So If in future you are interested to use this system for gaming purposes then its easy to upgrade by installing some new GPU and a cooling management system.
If you are looking for a small decent size PC with slim and sleek in design for your day to day usage then Mini ITX would be most ideal for you but keep in mind that you have to pay little more for ITX Motherboard.
So as we have been through all of the details and comparisons and we are pretty sure that you must have decided which motherboard you are going to have for your system.
As you know that all of these motherboards are different from each other and it could be a very straight forward selection for you on the basis of your usage.
Whether you are looking for a Gaming PC or looking for a Desktop PC for your day to day usage that doesn’t cover a lot of space, you are very well aware of which motherboards will suit you more.
Which motherboard have you selected for your system? And for what intent you have selected it? Please let us know in the comment section below!