ATX vs. Micro ATX vs. Mini ITX: What’s the Difference?

Choosing the right motherboard is essential when building a computer. There are three main form factors to choose from ATX, Micro ATX, and Mini ITX. So which one is right for you? This article will compare ATX vs. Micro ATX vs. Mini ITX and help you decide which motherboard is best for your needs.

The motherboard is the main component of a computer. It is the central nervous system that connects all the other parts of the computer. The motherboard is what allows the CPU, RAM, storage, and other components to communicate with each other. Moreover, the motherboard also provides expansion slots for other components such as graphics cards and sound cards.

The form factor of a motherboard is the physical size and shape of the board. The three most common form factors are ATX, Micro ATX, and Mini ITX.

Here is the size list of all these motherboards

  • ATX: 12.0” x 9.6” Inches / 305 × 244mm
  • Micro ATX: 9.6” x 9.6” Inches / 244 x 244mm
  • Mini ITX: 6.7” x 6.7” Inches / 170 x 170mm

What is Form Factor and How does it Affect Performance?

The form factor is one of the most important considerations when choosing a motherboard. The form factor determines the size and shape of the board and the number and type of expansion slots.
The three most common form factors are ATX, Micro ATX, and Mini ITX. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

ATX is the largest form factor and provides the most expansion slots. It is ideal for gaming computers and workstations.

Micro ATX is smaller than ATX but still provides enough expansion slots for most users. It is a good choice for desktop PCs.

Mini ITX is the smallest form factor and has very few expansion slots. It is best suited for small form factor PCs or HTPCs.

The size of the form factor also affects the performance of the motherboard. A larger form factor board can dissipate heat better and provide more space for components. However, a smaller form factor board is more efficient and uses less power.

ATX Motherboard

ATX
ATX (Image credit: Gigabyte)

An ATX (Advanced Technology eXtended) motherboard is the largest form factor and provides the most expansion slots. It is an ideal motherboard for gaming computers and workstations. An ATX motherboard is 12 inches by 9.6 inches (305 x 244mm). It has seven expansion slots and four RAM slots.

The ATX form factor was first introduced in 1995. The main advantage of an ATX motherboard is that it provides more space for components. This allows for better cooling and more expandability. The main disadvantage of an ATX motherboard is that it is more expensive and requires a larger case.

As I mentioned above, it has four RAM slots, and every slot can handle 32 GB of RAM, so in total, you can install 128 GB of RAM. It has seven expansion slots which include three PCIe x16 slots for graphics cards, one PCIe x4 slot, two PCI slots, and one M.2 slot.

The ATX form factor provides better cooling and more expandability than the other form factors. However, it is more expensive and requires a larger case. Performance-wise, ATX motherboards are the best as they can handle more powerful components with ease. If you are building a gaming computer or a workstation, then an ATX motherboard is the best choice for you.

The main advantage of an ATX motherboard is that it provides more space for components. This allows for better cooling and more expandability.

Pros

  • Wider space for better cooling
  • More expansion slots
  • Can handle more powerful components

Cons

  • More expensive
  • Requires larger case

Micro ATX Motherboards

micro atx
micro atx (Image credit: Asrock)

A microATX (mATX) motherboard is smaller than an ATX motherboard. It is 9.6 inches by 9.6 inches (244 x 244mm). It has four expansion slots and four RAM slots. The microATX form factor was introduced in 1997. The main advantage of a microATX motherboard is that it is less expensive and requires a smaller case. The main disadvantage of a microATX motherboard is that it has fewer expansion slots.

It takes less space in a PC case as it is smaller than an ATX motherboard. It can handle up to 32 GB of RAM and has four expansion slots which include two PCIe x16 slots for graphics cards, one PCI slot, and one M.2 slot.

The microATX form factor is less expensive than the ATX form factor and requires a smaller case. However, it has fewer expansion slots. Performance-wise, microATX motherboards are good for budget builds as they can handle most components with ease. If you are building a desktop PC on a budget, then a microATX motherboard is the best choice for you.

The main advantage of a microATX motherboard is that it is less expensive and requires a smaller case.

Pros

  • Less expensive
  • Requires smaller case
  • Can handle most components

Cons

  • Fewer expansion slots

Mini ITX Motherboards

mini ITX
mini ITX (Image credit: Gigabyte)

A mini-ITX (mITX) motherboard is the smallest form factor. It is 6.7 inches by 6.7 inches (170 x 170mm). It is the smallest motherboard in the market, and it is made for those who are frequent travelers. So whenever you want to go outstation or picnic, you can easily carry your PC with you. The mini-ITX form factor was introduced in 2001.

The main advantage of a mini ITX motherboard is that it is small and portable. The main disadvantage of a mini ITX motherboard is that it has fewer expansion slots and less space for cooling.

As far as performance is concerned, there is only one PCIe slot, so you can install only one graphics card. And it comes with two RAM slots that can handle up to 16 GB of RAM. The mini ITX form factor is the smallest form factor, and it is made for those who are frequent travelers. However, it has fewer expansion slots and less space for cooling.

However, its small size does not make it cheap, as it is more pricey than micro ATB boards. And it’s one of the reasons that people don’t prefer it.

The main advantage of a mini ITX motherboard is that it is small and portable.

Pros

  • Small and portable
  • Requires less space

Cons

  • More expensive
  • Fewer expansion slots
  • Less space for cooling

There are three main form factors for motherboards: ATX, microATX, and mini ITX. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

ATX vs. Micro ATX

ATX vs. Micro ATX
ATX vs. Micro ATX (Image credit: Gaming Authorities)

ATX motherboards are the most popular type of motherboard, and they come in various shapes and sizes. They’re generally larger than micro ATX motherboards, offering more features and options. However, they also tend to be more expensive.

Micro ATX motherboards are smaller than ATX motherboards, and they’re often less expensive. They offer fewer features than ATX motherboards, but they can still be a good option for budget-conscious shoppers.

You should know that extended motherboards are the first choice of famous gamers and system builders. While microATX motherboards are becoming more and more popular, they don’t offer the same features as an ATX motherboard.

When it comes to size, ATX motherboards are the largest option available. They’re designed to fit in full-size towers, and they usually have more expansion slots than microATX or Mini-ITX boards. If you’re looking for a motherboard that will give you the most features and options, an ATX board is the way to go.

However, ATX motherboards are also the most expensive option. If you’re working with a tight budget, you may want to consider a microATX or miniITX board instead.

Micro ATX vs. Mini ITX

Micro ATX vs. Mini ITX
Micro ATX vs. Mini ITX (Image credit: Gaming Authorities)

MicroATX motherboards are smaller than ATX boards, but they still offer more features than miniITX boards. They’re a good compromise if you want a smaller motherboard, but you don’t want to sacrifice too many features.

MicroATX boards are typically 9.6 inches square, while miniITX boards are just 6.7 inches square. That might not seem like much of a difference, but it means that microATX boards can have up to four PCIe slots while miniITX boards are limited to just two. There is very little difference between a Micro ATX and Mini ITX as they both are small in size, but the former is slightly larger and has more features.

One of the most important things to consider when choosing a motherboard is the form factor. The form factor is the physical size and shape of the board. It’s important to choose a form factor that will fit your case and have the right number of expansion slots for your needs.

The bigger size can provide some SAT ports, large space to pass the heat from them, and also some room for installing extra cooling fans. If you want to overclock your processor or graphics card, then a microATX motherboard can be a good choice as it can provide better cooling than a miniITX board.

Mini ITX is the smallest form factor available for a consumer motherboard. It’s just 6.7 inches square, which is about the size of a standard piece of paper. Despite its small size, miniITX boards still have all the features you need for a fully functional PC.

They typically have two PCIe slots, four SATA ports, and support for up to 32GB of RAM. Mini ITX boards are a good choice if you want to build a small PC, such as an HTPC or a gaming machine. You can also use a mini ITX board in a regular ATX case by using an adapter. This can be a good way to save money if you already have an ATX case that you like.

There is not much difference in terms of features between microATX and Mini-ITX. The main difference is size, with miniITX being the smaller of the two form factors. If you’re looking for a small motherboard, a thin miniITX is the way to go. If you want a bit more room to work with, then microATX is a better choice.

ATX vs. Mini ITX

ATX vs. Mini ITX
ATX vs. Mini ITX (Image credit: Gaming Authorities)

As we already explained, an extended mobo tends to provide more space and yet more high Performance. The reason is that you can install more RAM and GPUs and you can do overclocking without any risk. So, an ATX would be a better choice if you are looking for the best possible gaming experience or you’re working with CPU-intensive applications.

While on the other hand, a mini ITX is designed to be more compact and portable. It is ideal for building a small form factor PC due to its size. But, keep in mind that you will have to compromise on some features like expandability and overclocking.

As far as the availability is concerned, you may not find a mini ATX board easily compared to extended boards. So, it might be a little difficult to find the right mini ATX motherboard for your needs. Also, if we pay attention to the physical look, then small boards do not look as good as the regular ones.

If we talk about compatibility, you will see that the mini-board consists of small components, and it is designed in such a way that it can easily fit in any type of case. On the other hand, the extended mobo is too big to be compatible with every type of case.

As we all know, a mini ITX is a smaller version of an ATX motherboard, and it offers fewer features than an ATX board. But, the question is, does it mean that a mini ITX board is not good for gaming? The answer is NO. You can definitely use a mini ITX motherboard for gaming, but you will have to make some sacrifices in terms of features and expandability.

Also, keep in mind that a mini ITX board is not suitable for every type of game. If you want to play the latest AAA titles, then you will need a powerful graphics card and a CPU that can handle the demands of the game.

And for that, you will need an extended motherboard to install more than one graphics card.
But, if you’re not into heavy gaming and you just want to play some casual games, then a mini ITX board will be more than enough for you. Also, if you’re looking to build an HTPC or a small form factor PC, then a mini ITX motherboard is the way to go.

ATX vs. Micro ATX vs. Mini ITX

ATX vs. Micro ATX vs. Mini ITX
ATX vs. Micro ATX vs. Mini ITX (Image credit: Gaming Authorities)

Now we come to the part where we will make a detailed comparison of three form factors, ATX vs. Micro ATX vs. Mini ITX, and we will also guide you about what mobo you should choose and why. So without further ado, let’s get started.

Let’s start with the pro features of all three boards. Then we’ll compare and contrast their differences.

ATX

The full form of ATX is Advanced Technology Extended. The very first ATX motherboard was introduced in 1995 by Intel. The biggest reason behind the development of ATX boards was to replace the aging Baby-AT standard. The idea was to make a board with better cooling, more expansion slots, and easier serviceability.

Now, an ATX motherboard is often wider than a MicroATX motherboard. The width of an ATX mobo is 12 inches or 305 mm. An ATX board usually has seven expansion slots, while a microATX has four or fewer expansion slots. You will also get four DIMM slots for RAM on an ATX motherboard which is double what a microATX board offers.

In addition to that, the power connector on an ATX mobo is also located at the edge of the board, which makes it easier to connect and disconnect the cable. The 24-pin power connector is placed at the edge on almost all modern ATX boards.

MicroATX

A MicroATX motherboard is often confused with the Mini-ITX form factor. But there is a difference between the two which we will discuss later in this article. The MicroATX was introduced by Intel in 1997 as a development of the ATX standard.

The width of a microATX mobo is 9.6 inches or 244 mm. As we mentioned earlier, a microATX board has four expansion slots which are three less than what an ATX offers. But the number of RAM slots remains the same at four.

Another difference between the ATX and microATX form factor is that on a microATX motherboard, the CPU socket and memory DIMM slots are often placed very close to each other, which can make working with the board a bit difficult.

Mini-ITX

The Mini ITX form factor is the smallest of the three form factors discussed in this article. The Mini ITX was introduced by VIA Technologies in 2001.

A mini ITX board is often confused with a microATX board, but there is a difference. The width of a mini ITX mobo is only 6.7 inches or 170 mm. As you can see, it is much smaller than even a microATX board. A mini ITX board has only two expansion slots which are five less than what an ATX offers and three less than what a microATX offers.

The number of RAM slots is also reduced to two on a mini ITX board. But the good thing is that the CPU socket and memory DIMM slots are placed far apart from each other, which makes working with the board much easier.

So, these were the pro features of all three form factors. Now let’s compare and contrast their differences.

FeaturesATXMicroATXMini ITX
Width12 inches or 305 mm9.6 inches or 244 mm6.7 inches or 170 mm
Expansion Slots742
RAM Slots442
Power Connector24-pin20-pin20-pin

As you can see from the table, the biggest difference between the ATX and the other two form factors is the width. An ATX board is almost twice as wide as a Mini ITX board. The number of expansion slots and RAM slots also decreases as we move from ATX to microATX to mini ITX.

The power connector on an ATX mobo is also different from the other two form factors. An ATX board has a 24-pin power connector, while a microATX and mini ITX mobo have a 20-pin power connector.
Now that we have discussed the differences between the three form factors let’s discuss which one you should choose for your next build.

What From Factor is Best for You?

The answer to this question depends on what you are looking for in a motherboard. Let’s discuss the three form factors one by one and see which one is best suited for which type of user.

For Gaming Purpose

As a gamer, you need a motherboard to offer you the best possible gaming performance. That means you need a board with powerful features and plenty of room to add more components in the future. ATX motherboards are the best choice for gamers.

They offer the most features and expansion options. You can also find some high-end gaming motherboards in the microATX form factor, but they are usually more expensive than their ATX counterparts.

For Workstation

A workstation is a PC used for demanding tasks such as video editing, 3D rendering, etc. If you are looking for a motherboard for your workstation, you need to make sure that it has all the features that you need. MicroATX and ATX motherboards both offer a good selection of features for workstations. However, microATX boards are usually cheaper than ATX boards.

For Desktop PC

If you are looking for a motherboard for your desktop PC, you have two choices: ATX or microATX. Both form factors offer a good selection of features. However, microATX boards are usually cheaper than ATX boards.

Conclusion

There are three main types of motherboards: ATX, microATX, and miniITX. ATX is the most common type, and it’s what you’ll find in most desktop computers. MicroATX is smaller than ATX, and it’s often used in smaller form factor PCs.

MiniITX is the smallest type of motherboard, and it’s used in very small form factor PCs. So, which one should you choose? It depends on your needs. If you want a large PC with many expansion options, ATX is the way to go.

If you want a smaller PC that’s still expandable, microATX is a good choice. And if you want the smallest possible PC, miniITX is your best bet.

Do you have any questions about ATX, microATX, or miniITX motherboards? Let us know in the comments!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is micro ATX worth it?

MicroATX is a good choice if you want a smaller PC that’s still expandable. If you want the smallest possible PC, miniITX is your best bet.

What are the benefits of a mini ITX motherboard?

The main benefit of a mini ITX motherboard is that it’s smaller than other types of motherboards so it can be used in very small form factor PCs.

What is the difference between ATX and micro ATX?

ATX is the most common type of motherboard, and it’s what you’ll find in most desktop computers. MicroATX is smaller than ATX, and it’s often used in smaller form factor PCs.

What is the difference between micro ATX and mini ITX?

MicroATX is smaller than ATX, and it’s often used in smaller form factor PCs. MiniITX is the smallest type of motherboard, and it’s used in very small form factor PCs.


Umair Sajjad
Umair Sajjad is an Electrical Engineer. He is also a passionate gamer. He loves to write about tech and gaming. He has graduated from Superior University with Electrical Engineering Degree. He is writing about tech since 2015.