Micro ATX vs Mini ITX vs ATX – What’s the Difference?
by Stephen P
Planning to build a pc by yourself? Choosing the Best Motherboard for your needs is quite tricky as you cannot easily say which type of motherboard suits you. Looking at these motherboards, one only thinks that the only difference between them is size, but assuming this is only wholly wrong.
There are many differences among these motherboards, which we will explain to you in this post. 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.
Before moving any further, let’s have a look at the sizes of these motherboards.
ATX: 305×244 mm or 12.0” x 9.6”
Micro ATX: 244 x 244mm or 9.6” x 9.6”
Mini ITX: 170 x 170mm or 6.7” x 6.7”
ATX vs Micro ATX vs Mini ITX
After looking at these measurements, you can see that the biggest motherboard among these is the ATX, and following it up is the Micro ATX, and the smallest among them is the Mini ITX. ATX and Micro ATX motherboards share the same amount of width and look very similar to each other.
The only thing which is not similar in these motherboards is their length. The reason for the ATX motherboard to be lengthier is that it has more PCIe Slots. It is increasing the Installment of more PCIe cards in it. Whereas the Mini ATX is smaller in size and much cheaper than its competitors.
Let’s have a quick overview of these motherboards and their specifications, and then we will move on to their pros and cons.
ATX motherboards are the best option if you will build a workstation or a high-end gaming CPU. ATX motherboards are equipped with four ram slots that can allow you to expand your PC’s memory to your extent. Each Slot is capable of running 32 GB ram.
This looks like quite a massive amount of Ram for gaming purposes; as conducted in many benchmarks and tests, it is stated that even 8 GB and 16 GB ram has no difference in performance and frame rates. But if you are a developer or are building this pc for your professional work, then even 32 GB of memory would not be enough for you.
Developers are often annoyed when Ram’s extensive apps make their PC slow. Another major highlight of this motherboard is that it has 7 PCIe Slots, supporting Multi-GPU and other PCIe cards. This feature is not available on the rest of the 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 than their competitors due to their Versatile support of the enhancements.
Here’s a quick look at the Pros and Cons of ATX motherboards.
✓ More PCIe Slots
✓ High-end Performance
✓ Up to for 4 ram Slots, making it the best if you use ram eating applications.
✗ Large in Size
✗ Most Expensive Motherboard between its competitors.
Micro ATX Motherboards
The Micro ATX motherboard is the best option for building a budget Gaming PC. The Micro ATX motherboard shares 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 fulfill your memory needs. The most appealing and highlighting factor of this motherboard is that it is cheaper than both competitors. The Micro Atx motherboards are the most used and demanded by consumers, as it has all the features available in it for gaming purposes.
These motherboards lack the support of Multi-GPUs, and if you were about to build a pc with more than one GPU, 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 somehow reduces the onboard features, but it can give you more space for customization.
The new models of the micro ATX motherboards are now supporting dual GPUs, but the prices are as high as the ATX models, so the better option would be ATX if you are looking for Multi-GPU support. This motherboard has the same components as the ATX motherboard to be changed with each other if needed.
Now have a look at the PROS and CONS of this motherboard, so you can identify that you need this motherboard or not.
✓ Ram 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 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 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. 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 onto their motherboard.
This would be pretty much enough for a gaming 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 some gamers who want their PC to be in a smaller size, but keep that in your mind that High-end Gaming is not possible on this type of motherboard.
If we talk about this motherboard’s pricing, you would be amazed to know that this motherboard is more expensive than the Micro-ATX motherboard with double features. 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 gaming PC by using this motherboard. This motherboard’s components are not similar to the other two as ATX and Micro ATX share the same components.
Now, look at the PROS and CONS of this motherboard to accurately overview this motherboard.
✓ Less 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 have 2 RAM Slots
✗ Looks Odd in typical PC cases
✗ Expensive then Micro ATX Motherboards
ATX VS Micro ATX VS Mini ITX
So, let’s head over to each motherboard form factor’s different pros and cons in correlation with each other. First of all, if you are actively looking to build a high-end rig that would serve you for a couple of incoming years and you can afford pricey Motherboards, it would be best to buy an ATX motherboard. These motherboards’ looks are also far superior to micro-ATX or mini-ITX motherboards, as they often come with premium features like the top of the line overclocking, RGB lighting, etc.
On the other hand, if you are looking to build a budget rig and still don’t want to lose any performance or have compatibility issues, it would be best to buy a mid-end micro-ATX motherboard.
These motherboards are still the norm in society, and most people tend to buy micro-ATX motherboards due to lower prices and good compatibility with cheap cases. When it comes to mini-ITX motherboards, you first got to make sure that you need such a motherboard because finding compatible components can be complicated. Even if you end up with everything except a single principal part, you will have an incomplete build.
Moreover, there is not a lot to choose from when it comes to mini-ITX systems. The airflow in small cases is also inferior to regular cases, and you might have to look at liquid cooling solutions. As for the looks, mini-ITX motherboards do look pretty nice and cute, especially those fitted with custom liquid cooling solutions. You could also use a mini-ITX system as an HTPC system, and it would look pretty nice in the TV lounge.
ATX VS Micro ATX
ATX motherboards are known to be standard among the community due to their broad compatibility and great features. You can install these motherboards in most mid-tower cases, which means that if you want to do mainstream gaming with the right cooling solutions, it would be better to buy an ATX motherboard. The ATX motherboards usually have a rectangular shape, while the micro-ATX motherboards have more like a square shape. It is due to the difference in the number of PCIe slots each motherboard offers.
Now, talking about motherboards’ availability, most of the high-end motherboards provide ATX form factor, and you would not see a lot of high-end motherboards that provide micro-ATX form factor. Therefore, if you want to have a high-end system, it would be better to go for an ATX motherboard.
Coming towards the price, ATX motherboards are usually pricier than the micro-ATX motherboards, and the reason for that is more than just the bigger size, a more significant number of slots, and other stuff. These motherboards often provide features like RGB lighting, etc. At the same time, micro-ATX motherboards are targeted towards budget users interested in a budget rig. As for the size, make sure that you own a compatible case before buying a full-sized ATX motherboard.
Next, we talk about generic features. Even most of the micro ATX Cases will provide you with enough slots for gaming. There is a chance that you won’t be able to install the dedicated sound card, LAN card, and other PCIe devices, as there are only two slots in a micro-ATX motherboard usually. On the other hand, the ATX motherboards provide lots of PCIe slots, and you can use add-in NVMe cards, sound cards, Bluetooth cards, and many more devices in such a motherboard.
ATX VS Mini ITX
ATX motherboards are usually considered the best for high-end rigs. However, there are often requirements that these motherboards cannot come over, and the biggest of them is their size. The size of an ATX motherboard is much bigger than a mini-ITX motherboard, and that is why if you are considering building a PC that you can easily carry around, a mini-ITX motherboard should be at the top of your list, as larger motherboards are not compatible with mini-ITX cases.
Now, as far the availability is concerned, there are not many mini-ITX motherboards, which is why you might have to search a lot, or the overall looks of the motherboard might not match what you had in mind. Meanwhile, most mainstream motherboards have the ATX form factor, and you can easily buy them anywhere.
As for compatibility, a mini-ITX motherboard usually works in conjunction with small components if you are making a remote form factor PC, whether you talk about the power supply, case, or cooling solutions. Moreover, mini-ITX motherboards are not typical and often provide low specifications, such as RAM slots, PCIe slots, and SATA slots.
On the other hand, the ATX motherboards can host many components, whether RAM sticks, or multiple graphics cards, or other stuff. Speaking of graphics cards, if you are going down the route of making a small form factor PC, you will have to keep in mind that mini-ITX cases can usually host graphics cards that are tailored to work with them, and you can’t install most of the mainstream graphics cards in a mini-ITX case. However, you can use a mini-ITX motherboard in a mid-tower case, although it destroys the motherboard’s necessity.
As for the pricing, the high-end ATX motherboards are usually pricier, but there is a good demand for mini-ITX motherboards in the market too, and since the design of these cases is unique, they cost a bit more than what should be the cost of such motherboards.
Micro ATX VS Mini ITX
There is not much price difference when it comes to Micro ATX vs Mini ITX motherboards. Both kinds of motherboards are targeted towards budget users, although there are some premium mini-ITX motherboards too. Usually, these motherboards are priced around a hundred bucks. However, you will find it a lot easier to find a micro-ATX motherboard because people typically want to have a larger case. The price of HEDT motherboards is higher than mainstream ones such as the Threadripper and Extreme-series Intel processors.
Now, as far the compatibility is concerned, a micro ATX case can support a mini-ITX motherboard. However, a mini-ITX case won’t be able to host a micro-ATX motherboard. The same goes for power supply and other components as well. Usually, mid-tower cases are large enough to host most high-end graphics cards, including those with a tri-fan design. However, the choice is minimal in a mini-ITX case, so if you want to buy a good gaming system, you should prefer buying a micro-ATX motherboard and other regular-sized components.
A particular difference between these two types of motherboards is that micro-ATX motherboards tend to provide a higher number of SATA ports, leading to more extensive storage. If you are going to own more than one or two hard drives, it would be better to buy a micro-ATX motherboard.
When it comes to looks, the Mini-ITX motherboards offer uniqueness, which is why you should go for a mini-ITX case if you want to spice things up a bit. Many people use custom liquid cooling solutions and single-slot liquid-cooled graphics cards in their mini-ITX system, which looks fantastic. On the other hand, if you buy a micro-ATX system, the looks will not be so suitable unless you purchase expensive mid-tower or full-tower cases.
The most significant advantage of a mini-ITX motherboard would be portability, so if you move a lot and go on various tours now and then, a mini-ITX system would be a perfect idea.
Which Motherboard Form Factor Should You Choose?
Now we are going to talk about which motherboard you should choose and equip on your pc. There are several types of PC, and motherboards’ choice 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.
Motherboard for Gaming Computer
If you are a gamer and are looking to build a PC for gaming purposes, we suggest the Micro-ATX motherboard. This motherboard is capable of fitting in every case, but besides, it supports all the components and upgrades that 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 needed for games.
For mid-budget gaming, this motherboard is best as it is also the cheapest of all. These motherboards are the most supported when it comes to the other components 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. However, Micro ATX is best for gaming purposes nowadays.
Motherboard for WorkStation
If you plan to build a pc for your professional needs and developing purposes, then the ATX motherboard would be the most suitable for you. Modern-day editing and rendering require a massive amount of Ram and Graphical Memory. This motherboard is a complete solution as it has 7 PCIe Slots and four ram slots to fulfill all your needs.
You can pair up 2 GPUs to have enough visual memory for your purposes, with the 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.
Motherboard for Desktop Computer
If you are looking for a motherboard that fits well in your daily and personal use, Mini ITX would be the best choice. Although you can have the Micro ATX motherboard with many more features, this one but the Size of that PC would be significant.
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 can easily fit in a desktop PC, whereas the others would struggle to get inside it.
The price of this motherboard is much more than the Micro ATX; if you are low on budget, you can stick to the Micro ATX motherboard but keep in mind that you would finish the Micro ATX motherboard’s portability would require a Tower Case to be fitted in.
We hope that this post would have clarified you, and now you would be able to choose the motherboard you need for your PC. If you like this Post, keep visiting our site for more info and tips regarding Tech and Computers.