ATX vs Micro ATX vs Mini ITX

Motherboards: ATX vs Micro ATX vs Mini ITX

Do you have the knowledge that it takes to build your PC? Are you ready to pick out the best motherboard that will fulfill your needs? Selecting a motherboard can be a confusing task due to the abundance of choices which lead to confusion about the exact type that suits you and your requirements. To the untrained eye, the most apparent difference between the ATX, Micro ATX, and Mini ITX would be their size, but there is more than meets the eye.

Many things set these motherboards apart, and our article highlights these differences to help you distinguish between them in a more educated manner. This post discusses the crucial factors that matter the most when selecting a motherboard for the purpose you require them to fulfill. Each variant is intended for a particular purpose; therefore, it is vital that you choose the correct one.

Let’s examine the basics:

ATX VS Micro ATX VS Mini ITX – Basic Features

Dimensions

Dimensions

Firstly, as we previously mentioned, the sizes of the ATX, Micro ATX, and Mini ITX are different, which is apparent in their physical dimensions. Still, they all meet the required standards, which makes them compatible with most computers’ chassis. Each motherboard has equally spaced mounting screws located on edge following the typical design for PC cases.

Usually, most chassis include multiple form-factor motherboard mounting, which will allow you to easily install your ATX, Mini ITX, and Micro ATX in the PC tower.

Following are the Motherboards’ standard dimensions:

ATX VS Micro ATX VS Mini ITX
ATX305 x 244 mm12.0 x 9.6 inches
Micro ATX244 x 244 mm 9.6 x 9.6 inches
Mini ITX170 x 170 mm6.7 x 6.7 inches

The ATX is physically the largest among the three. However, in terms of the width, the ATX and Micro ATX are the same, but the similarities end there because the Micro ATX is shorter than ATXl considering tower PCs. To explain further, the Micro ATX will easily fit an ATX chassis, but a PC case with a Micro won’t be able to house an ATX motherboard.

Therefore, the form factor is an essential initial consideration when purchasing a motherboard. Ensure that the motherboard you go with is compatible with the PC case you have selected because incompatibility will be a costly mistake that should be avoided at all costs, especially for beginners.

Installation

Thankfully, installing the motherboard in a PC chassis is a simple task that most people can do by themselves. However, there are some minute details that one should be careful about to avoid any mounting and performance issues.

ATX is an abbreviation of Advanced Technology Extended, a standard created by Intel to ensure that various ATX components are physically and electrically compatible. The computer chassis and the power supply must follow the ATX standard and fit together.

VIA Technologies created the Mini-ITX, which is considered a smaller ATX. ITX is short for Information Technology eXtended.

Connectivity

Connectivity

It is important to remember that the dimensional differences between the Mini ITX, Micro ATX, and ATX play an essential part in nearly all aspects of this comparison. The size of each motherboard determines the number of chipsets and slots they can have on the PCB. The Mini ITX features only a single PCIe slot since it is the smallest among the three. Small-sized motherboards may only offer one built-in LAN and fewer connections for peripheral and limited storage device connections.

Most modern motherboards also have WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity because it has become a necessity. A majority of them come with the newest WiFi-6 and BT 5.1 connectivity. However, smaller motherboards might not offer these features.

Heat Transfer and Cable Management

The three motherboards make the best of the space available by adjusting all the components on board. However, the ATX motherboard, the largest of the three, offers the best heat transfer capability with bigger heatsinks on the chipset and VRM. Furthermore, the space allows for better cable management through the strategic placement of headers, which reduces any management issues.

But if you are comparing the Mini ITX vs. Micro ATX, their compact size means lesser space to cool down, which may require a high number of fans or AIO cooling with increased efficiency. The cable management on these motherboards is more complex.

Price

Price

The actual prices may be surprising to learn because the smallest motherboard – the Mini ITX, isn’t the cheapest. In fact, it might be the most expensive in terms of the starting prices. While the ATX and Micro ATX motherboards are priced around the $50 to $60 starting price range, the Mini ITX starts at $100. Remember that the Mini ITX is only preferable if you are building a compact gaming computer.

The Micro ATX motherboards are the cheapest among the three, but the ATX motherboards have the best value for money due to the higher number of PCIe slots.

ATX VS Micro ATX VS Mini ITX – Overview

Now we will be providing a quick overview of the motherboards, as well as the specifications they offer:

ATX Motherboards

If you are building a workstation or a top-notch gaming PC, then ATX motherboards are a great option because they come with four ram slots, allowing you to increase your computer’s memory to your needs. You can run up to 32 GB ram on each slot.

While it may be too much Ram for gaming, various tests and benchmarks show that 8 GB and 16 GB ram offer minimal frame rates and performance differences. However, 32 GB of Ram might not be enough for a developer or PCs intended for professional work.
Another unique standout feature of the ATX motherboard is the 7 PCIe Slots that can support PCIe cards and Multi-GPU.

Furthermore, in terms of performance and additional upgrades to a PC, ATX is the top choice. Although the ATX is one of the most expensive and the biggest motherboards, they are worth the investment due to their versatile enhancement support.

Let’s examine the Pros and Cons of ATX.

Pros

  • A higher number of PCIe Slots
  • Superior Performance
  • Ideal for PCs that have higher Ram consumption thanks to the four ram Slots.

Cons

  • Larger in size compared to the competition
  • These Motherboards are on the pricier side

Micro ATX Motherboards

Finding a budget motherboard with reliable performance is usually a challenge. If you are on a tight budget and you want the best budget motherboard for impeccable gaming performance, then the Micro ATX motherboard is the best option.

The best thing about the Micro ATX motherboard is that its specifications are nearly the same as the ATX motherboard. The only noticeable difference is the size and the availability of PCIe slots. With micro ATX, you get four ram slots that are ample for fulfilling memory needs.

The only major con of the ATX motherboards, including Micro ATX, is the lack of multi-GPU support, so Micro ATX isn’t the best choice if you plan to build a PC with multiple GPUs. The newer and more expensive Micro ATX models support dual GPUs, but we would rather recommend using ATX if you are looking for a motherboard with multi-GPU support.

The small size of the Micro ATX motherboard has its pros and cons. The compact and convenient size makes it easier to fit Micro ATX in any system. Due to the small size, Micro ATX does have limited onboard features; however, it offers more space for customization.

The main reason Micro ATX is most popular and recommended by gamers is that it is significantly less costly than both of its competitors. The fact that it offers all features required for gaming makes Micro ATX the most used and demanded budget motherboard on the market.

Pros

  • Ram Slots Availability
  • An excellent option for Budget gaming
  • Highly recommended by gamers
  • Compact size and efficient performance
  • Offers all features for seamless gaming

Cons

  • No multi-GPU support
  • The newer models with multi-GPU support are expensive
  • Insufficient PCIe Slots

Mini ITX Motherboards

Mini ITX motherboards are famous for their small and easily portable size that allows you to move and fit this motherboard in any PC conveniently. Gamers prefer using Mini ITX because it can support a maximum of 32 GB of RAM (you can pair up x16 GB RAM sticks onto your motherboard). However, if you want to build a workstation or pc to fulfill professional needs, Mini ITX isn’t the best choice.

Mini ITX is a good choice for gamers who want to keep their PC size small. However, high-end gaming is not possible with Mini ITX because it supports a single PCIe slot, so you can only run a single GPU on this motherboard.

Another reason why Mini ITX isn’t the best choice is the pricing; Micro ATX motherboard comes at a lower price with twice more features than Mini ITX. The most significant convincing factor of Mini ITX is its small size that allows you to build a small-sized gaming PC.

Pros

  • Compact and convenient size
  • Less power consumption
  • Lightweight and easily portable

Cons

  • Single PCIe Slot
  • 2 RAM Slots that only support a maximum of 32 GB
  • Not ideal for high-end gaming

ATX Vs Mini ITX Vs Micro ATX – Which Motherboard is the Best?

All three motherboards have their pros and cons; we have discussed three scenarios below to help you select the best motherboard accordingly.

Best Motherboard for High-Performance Gaming PC

If you want to find the best motherboard for building a high-performance gaming PC, you should know what level of powerful performance do you expect? If you want the best price vs. performance deal, then Micro ATX motherboard is the best choice as it offers sufficient RAM capacity and 4 PCIe slots perfect for high-end gaming. 

It is also ideal for heavy overclocking and adding to the overall aesthetics of your high-performance gaming PC. However, Micro ATX is not the best choice if you want a large number of PCIe outputs, such as multiple GPUs for mining.

Best Motherboard for a Professional Work PC

Depending on your work needs, the requirements of a professional work PC are similar to a high-performance gaming PC. If you are not looking for a motherboard for mass photo and video editing, then Micro ATX is a reliable choice. 

Micro-ATX motherboard provides sufficient RAM capacity and PCIe slots for a high-performing work PC.

Best Motherboard for a Desktop Home PC

If you want to build a desktop home PC, your requirements would probably be less focused on high-power performance and more focused on efficient performance and compact design. If that’s the case, then Mini ITX is the best choice for you. The only con of Mini ITX is its price, so if you are willing to compromise on the size, then the Micro ATX motherboard is a better choice than Mini ITX.

Conclusion

When it comes to the top four factors – features, size, performance, and price, the Micro ATX motherboard stands out from the other two motherboards.

We hope that our Micro ATX vs Mini ITX vs ATX comparison will help you choose the best motherboard according to your needs.

Have you used ATX, Micro ATX, or Mini ITX? Please share their performance experience and your recommendations in the comments section.

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Featured Image Credit: Gamingscan

Kylo is a tech geek who loves technology and spends time writing about it. He is also an avid gamer, completing his studies in Information technology. He is a co-founder of Reviewsed.