What are differences between ATX and mini-ITX motherboards? There are three most commonly used form factors by the computer makers when it comes to motherboards. These are:
- Standard ATX
- Micro ATX and
- Mini ITX motherboards.
If you are new to it, you would surely want to know the difference between these form factors, that includes, size, price, compatibility, features, et al.
The standard ATX form factor motherboard was developed in 1995. This is one of the most stable and organized motherboards. The design is based on the traditional AT model that was typically used before that. The case of a standard ATX looks much similar to baby AT, its predecessor.
Over time, several notable upgrades were made to the newer models of ATX motherboards. These include:
- Addition of several ports that are strategically and more intelligently placed. This prevents overlapping and interferences.
- The integration of I/O ports in the newer ATX motherboards also makes it different from the older AT models.
- There is also a significant increase in the number of drive bays in the new ATX cases noticed.
The power supply on the ATX model is low at 3.3 volts as compared to 5 volts of the previous model. This means that the system will not only consume less power but at the same time it will generate much less heat.
The reversed arrangement of the fans in the design brings fresh air in instead of blowing it out. The power switch is also more developed and can be turned on and off using software.
The newer versions of the ATX motherboards come with different components and in different sizes.
Mini ITX motherboards, on the other hand, is a form factor that was first introduced in 2001. This is the smallest of all motherboards and are designed to use in computers that typically do not use any fans in the cooling system.
The best aspect of the mini ITX motherboard is that it is more energy efficient and consumes low power. It, therefore, does not allow quick buildup of heat. Moreover, it operates noiselessly while running.
The mini ITX motherboards come with four mounting ports which line up with the ATX motherboard ports. Not only that, the expansion slots of the mini ITX motherboards are pretty similar to the expansion slots of the ATX motherboards.
The features of the mini ITX motherboard design includes:
- One expansion slot
- Two RAM module support.
If you upgrade your system to 32 GB RAM using two 16 GB cards, the mini ITX motherboard will be good enough to support the latest games and perform at its peak.
The compact design of the mini ITX motherboard, however, comes with a specific downside. The PCIe slot is very tight because it is located at the edge of the chassis. This means that it will not fit bulky graphics cards.
Apart from the architectural designs, the two types of motherboards, ATX and mini ITX, differ from each other in several other different aspects.
Differences between ATX and Mini ITX Motherboards
1. Differs in size
The size is the most significant difference you will notice between ATX and mini ITX motherboards. The standard ATX motherboard comes in 305 by 244 mm size.
The mini ITX is the smallest and comes in 170 by 170 mm. This is therefore suitable to use in smaller cases. It will therefore not need a huge space to install and use.
2. The price variance
Price is an important factor to consider when you are building a new PC. However, it is not always true that a bigger form factor, like the standard ATX, will cost you more. Since the standard ATX motherboards are used more commonly and are sold more, it is also cheaper than mini ITX motherboards.
The mini ITX motherboards are more compact but may also come with a higher price tag as compared to a standard ATX. It all depends on the individual components and the quality of it used in making the motherboard.
3. Layout variance
This is one of the most notable differences that you will find between mini ITX and standard ATX motherboards. The standard ATX is the best one to use due to the higher number of PCIe slots, 7 to be precise.
The mini ITX motherboard, on the other hand, will have only one PCIe slot and only one expansion slot. However, these slots are found on the edge and therefore will not allow using larger graphics cards.
4. Different RAM capacity
The RAM or memory capacity is also different in the two types of motherboards. The standard ATX can hold up to four memory modules.
The mini ITX motherboard, being the smallest in size, can hold up to two memory modules only. This means that the memory capacity of a mini ITX motherboard is half the memory capacity of a standard ATX motherboard.
As for the availability of these two types of motherboards, the mini ITX motherboards are not readily and easily available. This means that you will have to search a lot for one that will match your needs and designs.
Meanwhile, the ATX form factor motherboards are more commonly used in mainstream computers. This makes it easily available in almost any computer store.
If you look at the compatibility of the two motherboards, the mini-ITX motherboards will normally work in combination with smaller components of a small form factor PC. These will have low configuration and specification.
The standard ATX motherboards will come with more RAM, PCIe, and SATA slots and can hold a lot of different components making it more compatible than the mini ITX boards.
The mini ITX motherboards are used in compact small form computers, that are even smaller than a standard laptop. It includes using it in handheld computers, tablets, smartphones, home theater systems, digital video recorders and cable boxes.
The standard ATX motherboards, on the other hand, are used in larger computers that need to perform at a very high speed.
Which is Better – ATX or Mini-ITX Motherboards?
This is very subjective. Since both come with its significant pros and cons, you will need to consider them all to find the one that you should choose for your computing needs. As for the standard ATX motherboard, the advantages are as follows:
- It is most upgradable
- It will support up to four memory slots
- It ensures better airflow
- It will be cooler and
- It will support up to 6 PCIe slots.
As for the downsides of a standard ATX motherboard, it includes:
- It is least portable being larger in size and
- It will not fit into anything less than a mid-tower case.
On the other hand, when you compare the pros and cons of a mini ITX motherboard, the merit list of it includes:
- It is most compact
- It is very portable and
- It is visually pleasing.
As for its demerits it is not very compatible and expandable. Also, all types of GPUs will not fit into a mini ITX motherboard and it will have a very poor overclocking performance.
All these differences suggest that, if you are building your first gaming computer or want to use it for video editing, you will be benefited if you use a standard ATX motherboard. It is extremely beginner-friendly and will not generate a lot of heat.
Therefore, if you want a motherboard that is customizable, affordable, and use your system for high-end tasks, you should definitely go for a standard ATX motherboard.
On the other hand, if performance is not as vital a requirement to you as much as minimalist design and portability, then a mini ITX motherboard will be a much better option for you to choose.
The Final Thoughts
Therefore, all these indicate that both, a standard ATX and a mini ITX motherboard, are different from each other in different aspects, and reasons as well.
Both will work well according to its features and based on certain conditions, and fail in some. Just figure out what you want it to do for you so that you choose the right form factor motherboard between the two to build your PC.