Have you ever opened up a computer to take a look inside and noticed the different sizes and shapes of all the components?
Wondering what it is that determines those sizes? The answer lies in something called motherboard form factors.
These standardized shapes are designed with specific requirements, such as size, shape, mounting holes, and power connectors.
Understanding them will help you decide which type of motherboard will fit your computer setup best.
In this guide, we’ll explore the various types of motherboard form factors available for both desktop PCs and servers.
What is motherboard form factors?
Motherboard form factors refer to the standardized size, shape, and layout specifications of a motherboard.
These specifications dictate the physical dimensions of the motherboard, the placement of components, and the arrangement of mounting holes.
Different form factors are designed to fit into specific types of computer cases and accommodate varying levels of hardware.
Some common motherboard form factors include ATX, Micro ATX (mATX), Mini ITX, and Extended ATX (EATX), each tailored for different use cases and system sizes.
Choosing the right form factor is crucial for ensuring compatibility with your computer case and other components.
Different types of motherboard form factors:
Here’s a table that summarizes the different form factors and their individual sizes:
305mm x 244mm|
170mm x 170mm|
244mm x 244mm|
Multiple (fewer than ATX)|
305mm x 330mm|
ATX Form Factor:
The first type of motherboard is ATX.
This design has been around since 1995 and is still being used in many modern PCs today.
The standard ATX board measures 305mm x 244mm but comes in various sizes as well, such as mini-ATX (254mm x 244mm) and micro-ATX (244mm x 244mm).
ATX boards are designed to accommodate all types of components including CPU, RAM, GPU, storage drives, and more. They also support multiple expansion cards for added functionality.
Mini-ITX Form Factor:
If space is limited in your PC build then a Mini-ITX board is worth considering.
These boards measure just 170mm x 170mm so they’re much smaller than their ATX counterparts.
Despite their small size though Mini-ITX boards are surprisingly capable; they come with all the same features as an ATX board such as support for multiple expansion cards and plenty of ports for peripherals like USB devices or audio headsets.
The main drawback here is that these boards are limited to one expansion slot so you won’t be able to install multiple graphics cards or additional components like sound cards or network adapters.
Which could be a deal breaker if you plan on doing any serious gaming or intensive tasks like video editing or 3D modeling.
Micro-ATX Form Factor:
The Micro-ATX form factor is basically a shrunken version of the traditional ATX design.
These boards measure 244mm x 244mm so they take up less space than their full sized counterparts while still allowing plenty of room for components like GPUs and storage drives.
Micro-ATX boards also come with all the same features as their larger brethren such as support for multiple expansion slots and plenty of ports for peripherals like USB devices or audio headsets.
Though fewer than an ATX board would provide due to its smaller size.
E-ATX Form Factor:
The largest of all the form factors is E-ATX or Extended ATX.
These boards are slightly larger than traditional ATX boards measuring 305mm x 330mm and come with all the same features as their smaller counterparts such as support for multiple expansion slots and ports for peripherals like USB devices or audio headsets.
E-ATX boards are ideal for those who need to install multiple graphics cards or additional components like sound cards or network adapters.
Of course, the downside here is that these boards will take up more space in your PC build which could be an issue if you’re working with a smaller form factor case.
To summarize, motherboard form factors are an integral aspect of PC building that must be taken into consideration when selecting components.
Whether you’re a seasoned systems builder or a beginner just getting your feet wet, understanding the different form factors available will help immensely in piecing together your setup.
ATX is the industry standard preferred by most people, offering a balanced combination of features and ease of use.
However, if you need a more compact machine or a specialized model for gaming, you can explore other form factors such as Mini-ITX, and Micro-ATX.
With such a range of options on offer, there’s always something available to fulfill your exact requirements.
Taking everything we’ve gone over into account should make your journey down the motherboard form factor path all the smoother!