Motherboards come in a plethora of sizes, ranging from ITX factor to Enlarged factors. In essence, people prefer having a standard ATX because it offers a surfeit of features for future upgrades. But the real problem sinks in when you are rooting for factors like Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX. A few bad and congested ports can be complicit in ruining the image of smaller factors. To make things simple, I have incorporated, in the further sessions, comprehensive layout details and how you should be cherry-picking between the two mentioned factors. Occasionally, Micro ATX is preferred over the Mini ITX form factor because of some disintegrating reviews. Still, in effect, I would try my level best to bring into the limelight all the considerate features of the two form factors. It’s time to kick in the guide about Micro ATX vs Mini ITX.
Read: Best Motherboards for Ryzen 7 3700X in 2021
Micro-ATX vs Mini-ITX: Size Comparison 2021
What separates the two form factors is their unique dimensions. The manufactures have given discrete dimensions for accommodating the motherboards in variable cases. For the ITX case, the ITX motherboard fits well, but you cannot slot in a Micro-ATX in an ITX case. That’s the problem. Anyways, the dimensions are as follows:
Micro ATX: 9.6” x 9.6.”
Mini ITX: 6.7” x 6.7.”
From the enumerated sizes, it’s apparent that the Micro ATX is a larger board compared to the latter one. The difference is only a few inches, but you know that the Standard ATX models are larger than these, making them more accurate and advantageous in giving more PCIe lanes and room for upgrading. That’s the hot topic for another time; for now, we will be sticking towards the ultimate comparison between Micro ATX and Mini ITX. When scrutinizing the details, we came across that the ITX model features fewer ports, a USB panel, and little to no room for upgrading. The findings correlate to the ITX motherboard working marvelously for office work. Although, there’s no way to differentiate a factor for gaming and office hours, ITX models are best suited for office work, in my opinion.
The reason is simple. In-office hours, you do not care about the size of the motherboard and what components it will harbor. The only thing matters are coding and rendering. It’s also true that you can game on ITX models, and apparently, there are top-notch gaming ITX models, but again the problem is the room for upgrading. For honesty, the recent reports shed light on the ITX motherboards being future-locked, which means live with what you have. Whereas, on the other hand, Micro ATX is gaining momentum in terms of pitching in enough room for future upgrades. You can have a considerate number of PCIe lanes, non-USB 3.0 aversion, and a lot of space for slotting in liquid coolers and RAM modules.
How PCIe lanes make the Micro ATX motherboard superior to Mini-ITX?
The apparent difference in both the Mini-ITX and Micro ATX is the number of PCIe slotting available. You might consider it a redundant need, but believe me when you upgrade or slot in more SSDs, or GPUs you need these PCIe slots. Well, ATX motherboards have a lead in having more PCIe slots, whereas Mini-ITX cuts off on the total number of slots. But don’t worry, some of the elite and advanced ITX models have a couple of more PCIe slots, which makes them better than micro ATX motherboards in an alternative universe.
I guess it’s just not about getting a lot of PCIe slots at one’s disposal. There’s another character in our story. Well, as I said, ITX motherboards cut a lot of dimensions, hence curbing all the components together. You know, sort of smushing them inside. Even though you get hold of more PCIe slots on your ITX model, it doesn’t always connote to it being elite. Ask yourself, can you still pitch in more GPUs and SSDs considering how little space is there on the MOBO? No, right?
RAM slotting on Micro ATX and Mini-ITX
It’s evident from the side that the ITX motherboard will house fewer RAM slots than its rival. Speaking from personal experience, I had many problems, including the room for the RAM upgrade. Generally, ITX motherboards have only two RAM slots, which means if you are going to slot in 16 x 2 RAM modules, the maximum total will only go up to 32GB. That’s quite a bummer, considering for today’s standards games like Warzone easily munch on 16 gigs of RAM alone. Not to mention, Micro ATX motherboards, on the other hand, features only 4 RAM slots. It means that you can switch to single and dual-channel configurations on your micro ATX motherboard. Whereas, it’s not possible on the ITX form factor.
On top of that, the total amount of RAM will shoot up to 64 GB (16 x 4), which is quite commendable. It just doesn’t stop here. Some of the flagship micro ATX entities can go up to 128 GB (32 x 4). So, keep that in mind before buying an ITX form factor. But here’s a plot twist! The majority of the time, your CPU does not even need more than 16 gigs. It’s true that games like Star Wars Jedi: The fallen order and Warzone can easily consume 12 gigs, but they still leave around 4 GB of RAM for your system. However, for price factor and accommodability, ITX models are preferred over micro ATX as you can still reach the bare minimum of a gaming system.
For the RAM factor, I would say ITX MOBO can cover all gaming expectations (at least the minimum), hence why not cheer up for our wonderful cute little MOBO?
How the price factor encourages a user to cherry-pick accurately between Micro ATX vs Mini ITX?
Price has played a crucial role in determining sales per million population. It’s natural to think that the MOBOs that are smaller and have compactness size will cost you less. But hey, wait! The truth is the other way round. I know it’s surprising, but there are hundreds of reasons why mini ITX is getting more expensive. The difference is apparent from the initial price tags of the two discrete motherboards. Usually, for the Micro ATX, the price starts from $70 (for the cheapest), whereas Mini ITX starts at $100+. That’s just paradoxical. How could something that does not provide all the assets and features cost you an arm and a leg?
Let me give you an example regarding portability, which is considered as a golden feature and tops all the other ones. When you have an ITX motherboard in an ITX case, the size and heftiness decrease by three folds, which means now you can use the extra space for something else. Not to mention, compactness can make your system lighter than before, which means that you can carry it anywhere. All these positive findings for an ITX motherboard make it stand out and cost you more. It could be another marketing gimmick, but portability is what users are looking for.
Which form factor should you choose?
Since now you are fully aware of what goes inside each form factor, it’s time to proceed to the grand finale. In this session, we will be dissecting the motherboards into three discrete categories. Well, these categories are only there to make your selection easier and authentic. Not to mention, I would iterate all the necessary arrangements and how you can use each separate form factor to your advantage.
Without any further ado, let’s begin!
Compact working systems
this category involves using Mini ITX as your sole savior. You might take my advice as that of layman’s, but believe me, I have gone through this. Let’s say you need a minimalistic design with all the possible ergonomics. As a result, you will either go for a Micro ATX factor or a Mini ITX, but I recommend you go for mini ITX since it’s able to fulfill all the gaming expectations and criteria without budging. Not to mention, there are hundreds of aesthetically pleasing designs you can look into for Mini ITX motherboards. On top of that, there are unique and unparalleled coolers and case fans for an ITX build.
In addition to that, you can use ITX MOBOs in an HTPC system. Cool, isn’t it?
For gaming, it’s always best to go for something bigger and natural. Since we are limited to the least possible factor of Micro ATX, we have to exclude standard ATX motherboards for gaming. Well, gaming is a very complicated niche, and it’s constantly changing. In short, gaming is dynamic, and it requires you to keep upgrading. But here’s the thing, when we talk about upgrading, Mini ITX factors do not spare us enough headroom for future upgrades, do they? Hence, it leaves us Micro ATX builds. When considering Micro ATX, it can be easily said that you can upgrade your RAM modules, slot in more SSDs, and maybe pitch in another GPU (limited size).
Not to mention, Micro ATX makes a perfect match for today’s aesthetics because it’s obvious you’ll slot the motherboard in an ATX or a micro ATX form factor. Thus, making it eye-catching with all those colors dancing across your room. Perhaps, by choosing the Micro ATX, you are fulfilling to norms of gaming: Performance and looks.
The basic idea for launching servers is to maintain the decorum of a dependent system. Let’s say you are a manager in a bank, and you need a server/workstation for controlling all the by-systems or desktops for security reasons. Now, what form factor will you go for? Obviously, standard ATX motherboards and cases are huge, and they will only end up using space on the desk. What’s the clear cut then? Well, I would say micro ATX will be the perfect match for servers because there will be times you would have to upgrade your system for proper configuration. Whereas Mini ITX will work just fine for the server ultimatum, but won’t function the same. Hence, it’s always best to root for the Micro ATX form factor when the server’s integrity is in question.
Pros and Cons
|Micro ATX||Uses balanced features enough room for future upgrading Affordable/budget-friendly ideal for gaming systems can be fit easily in ATX cases||Most of the micro ATX motherboards cannot slot in dual GPUs Cannot possibly be used for extreme overclocking PCIe lanes might not be sufficient for gaming enthusiasts Lacks aesthetics at times|
|Mini ITX||Best for portability and compactness Uses more aesthetically pleasing designs because of the increased price factor Can be used in offices Have ergonomics||Limited RAM expansion Less number of PCIe lanes Not many graphics card can fix on Mini ITX motherboards Lacks the possibility of extreme overclocking Not ideal for gaming systems at times Cannot slot in multiple GPUs Expensive than Micro ATX MOBOs|
I hope the guide was clear and sound since I ensured that whatever I feed you through this article stands credible and legitimate. Not to mention, all the factors mentioned above were tested accordingly; hence we established a final verdict about which factor is the best for your needs. I would say Micro ATX is the best possible form factor you can go for in these dynamic gaming times.
If you think I missed something, feel free to let me know in the comments. It will be much appreciated!