Micro-ATX vs Mini-ITX vs ATX: Which Form-Factor is Right for You?

When building a PC, it is important to choose the correct components. One of the most important components is the motherboard.  As there are a handful of motherboards to choose from, it can be difficult to know which is the best option for you. 

In this article, we will be chatting you through these options, focusing on factors such as cost, size, and specifications.

Micro-ATX vs Mini-ITX vs ATX Which Form-Factor is Right for You

Motherboard Size Comparison

When choosing a motherboard, its size is important. 

If you choose a motherboard too small for your build, you will not be able to connect all the components needed. If you are creating a smaller PC, you do not need an overly large motherboard.

Here are the sizes of each motherboard:

ATX – 12 inches x 9.6 inches
Micro-ATX – 9.6 inches x 9.6 inches
Mini-ITX –
6.7 inches x 6.7 inches

When comparing the sizes of the motherboards, there is a significant difference, especially when comparing the Standard ATX to the Mini-ATX. As the Micro-ATX has the same width dimensions, it is quite similar to the ATX. However, its smaller height means it can fit into smaller builds. 

When looking at standard builds, the vast majority feature a standard ATX motherboard. It is a popular choice given its size, and it has enough sockets, and PCIe connections, which is important for a gaming PC. 

Even though the Mini-ATX is significantly smaller, it is still a great option if you are looking for a small form factor PC. It allows the tower to be more compact, and while it features fewer sockets and PCIe lanes, this is not a dealbreaker for some people.

The main reason why you need to look at the size of the motherboard is to ensure that the motherboard can fit into your PC case. PC cases are available in a number of different sizes, and you will want to choose a motherboard with the correct height and width. 

The larger the PC case is, the more you will be able to customize the components and the build. Larger cases allow you to use all the components you want, without worrying that there will not be enough room.

However, larger PC cases are not always the best option as they can be quite heavy, and will take up a lot of space. Some people prefer to have a smaller form factor, which is understandable. 

We would recommend researching the type of PC you are looking to purchase, along with the types of components you need. This will then give you a better idea of the type of motherboard that is the best option for you. 

Motherboard Cost Comparison

In addition to the size, you will want to ensure that the motherboard you are purchasing fits within your budget. While there are different motherboards in each form factor that suit different budgets, the prices do vary between the form factors. 

Budget Friendly

If you are looking for a budget friendly option, we would recommend the Micro-ATX. While the Mini-ATX is a fairly inexpensive option, the Micro-ATX form factor is the best value for the money overall. 

The Micro-ATX is great because it will fit into smaller PC cases, which tend to be less expensive. In addition to this, because it features fewer sockets and PCIe channels, it is not as expensive as the Standard ATX motherboards. 

If you are someone looking to build their first PC on a budget, this is the best option to choose. It will allow you to connect the essential components (GPU, CPU, and RAM), but does limit other connections, which can be an issue if you want to go all out. 

High End

If you have enough room in your PC case, and are not worried about shopping on a budget, the Standard ATX is by far the best option for you. It does not limit you with the amount of connection you can have, and there is plenty of space to upgrade and change your build in the future. 

These are the most popular types of motherboard, and as a result, they do tend to have better specifications. Though you can purchase ATX motherboards on a budget too, there are more options available on the whole. 

The Pros of Each Motherboard

ATX 

As we have already discussed, this is by far, the most popular type of motherboard. Given this it is going to have the most models available to purchase. In addition to this, it is the best when you take into consideration the connections and PCIe lanes that are available. It is also great to look at aesthetically too.

When it comes to performance, it is not uncommon for gamers to overclock their motherboards. This will improve the performance, and this motherboard is particularly great for this. 

Finally, the ATX motherboards will allow you to have more RAM in your build overall. This can be a dealbreaker if you are looking for a motherboard that has the highest specs for gaming. 

Micro-ATX

Being the middle size of the three motherboards, this option is the best of both worlds in some respects. As it is still a reasonable size, it is a great option if you want more connections than the Mini-ATX. 

As it is a good size, the amount of RAM it can hold is a great amount. It is enough for gaming, and will help with the overall performance. In addition to this, it is not overly expensive to purchase, and is typically cheaper than the Standard ATX motherboards. 

If you are looking to only use one graphics card, it is the perfect size, and it can fit a good amount of PC cases, giving you plenty of options to choose from. 

Mini-ATX 

While this is the smallest motherboard, this is not necessarily a bad thing. It is great if you are on a budget, or you are looking to create a PC with a smaller form factor.

The cases that are purchased for Mini-ATX cases are cheaper on the whole, and will take up less space. When you look at the cases and the RGB lighting, this is far better for Mini-ATX motherboards in comparison to the other sizes. 

The Cons of Each Motherboard

Where there are pros, there are also cons, and each motherboard does have its own set of drawbacks. While these may not be enough to stop you purchasing a certain form factor, it may help to decide which is the better option for you.

ATX

ATX motherboards are the most expensive option, which can be off putting for those looking to build a PC on a budget. In addition to this, they also need larger PC cases, which in general are bulkier and more expensive too. 

Micro-ATX

As this is a smaller motherboard, only one GPU can be connected, and these motherboards are not the best when it comes to overclocking. When it comes to the aesthetics of these motherboards, they often do leave something to be desired. 

Mini-ATX

Even though they are the smallest motherboard, they are more expensive in comparison to the Micro-ATX. As they are so small, you will want to purchase a smaller PC case, as they are too small for the larger options.

Just like with the Micro-ATX you cannot connect more than one GPU, and there are a limited number of connections available. These motherboards cannot be heavily overclocked, and have a limited amount of RAM slots available.

Summary

To summarize, it depends on the individual as to which motherboard they purchase. You will want to assess the options closely to figure out which is the better option for your individual needs. They all have their positives and drawbacks, but are ultimately great choices in their own right. 

Stephen Deane

Stephen is a gaming and tech enthusiast. He has been playing computer games since the Commodore 64 days in the 80s. He has worked as Broadcast Engineer with BBC News and knows a thing or two about building, fixing, and playing with PCs.