If you are looking to build a computer from scratch, chances are you have come to debate between two of the most popular motherboard form factors in the market: ITX vs Micro ATX. If you are not sure which board to choose, this guide will help you make an educated decision based on your budget, needs, and purpose.
Before we go into a detailed comparison of these motherboard form factors, let’s first have a quick overview of each.
ITX motherboards have gone through a transformation since early 2000. The Nano-ITX was introduced in 2003. In the following year, the Mobile ITX arrived. After three years, we got the Pico ITX. You can often find the ITX system in network devices, digital receivers, and computers.
The mini ITX measures approximately 17cm by 17cm in size. There are two memory slots in the ITX with two or more USB ports. There is an extra port for network connectivity. Other mini ITX motherboards come with an HDMI port and a VGA port.
Mini ITX motherboards consume low power compared to other ITX motherboards. The amount of power consumed can go as low as five watts. The Nano ITX motherboard measures are approximately 12cm by 12cm. It can easily support any processor that works at speeds of 1.5 GHz.
The micro ATX was first available in 1997. Most people use this motherboard for home or office computers. Since the average size of a micro ATX motherboard is 9.6 cm by 9.6 cm, most people use the Micro ATX to build a compact system.
It is a requirement to make ATX motherboards of that size although it is common to find an ATX motherboard of a smaller size, too. The location of the power connectors, interfaces, and other mount points are also quite uniform among all micro ATX motherboards.
The location of the mounting points is very important in order to avert any event of an electrical short. Power connectors and other interfaces such as the USB port and HDMI port should be in a predictable location to give system builders an easy time.
The micro ATX motherboard is built to give room for expansion. There are at least four slots for inserting sound, graphic, and network cards. The motherboard works well with any home computer system. This includes gaming rigs and music systems. People creating a gaming PC for the first time find it easier working with the micro ATX board.
You can attach the micro ATX motherboard to any home entertainment system such as the home theater and projector systems. Its small size makes it ideal since you can hide it strategically to avoid eyesores.
ITX Vs Micro ATX Motherboards
The ITX and Micro ATX motherboards share some similarities while also having their own differences. Here is a more detailed overview of how these boards compare to each other.
Similarities Between An Itx Motherboard And A Micro Atx Motherboard
There are several aspects and characteristics found in both the ITX and Micro ATX motherboard.
Both Are Small-sized
Both the ITX and ATX motherboards require less space to build and install. Due to their small size, you can easily hide them from view by simply installing them behind a cabinet.
Both Offer Impressive Performance
One other similarity is that both perform almost equally. The RAM capacity of the ITX motherboard is 32 GB while that of the Micro ATX is 128 GB. However, you only need 16 GB RAM to navigate your way through many games.
This means that the ITX motherboard with a RAM of 32 GB will give an impressive performance.
Both Have Expansion Slots
Another similarity is seen in the ability of the two motherboards to be expanded for peripheral connection. Both come with slots and ports for expansion purposes.
The ports include a network port, graphic card slot, HDMI port, USB ports, and a VGA slot. These features enable your device to work more efficiently.
Other similarities between the ITX and Micro ATX motherboards include:
- Both come with many varieties and brands
- Have a long lifecycle
- Greater expansion capability
- Minimal power consumption
Differences Between An Itx Motherboard And A Micro Atx Motherboard
ITX and Micro ATX motherboards differ in some ways. Here are some differences between the two motherboards.
While both motherboards are small-sized, the micro ATX is bigger than the ITX motherboard. The standard size of the micro ATX motherboard is 12 cm by 9.6 cm while the average size of the ITX motherboard is 6.7 cm by 6.7 cm. Both the ATX and ITX motherboards have the same width yet different height.
Most people often use the micro ATX motherboard in many electronic systems such as sound systems, video systems, smartphones, tablets, and home computers. Many people also use the ITX motherboard in small computers that run on slow processors.
Due to the large size of the micro ATX, it has more features and interfaces than the ITX. Some of these features include the processor, USB ports, sound card, and graphic card slots.
One of the main differences between the two motherboards is in the RAM capacity. The ITX motherboard features only two slots for RAM while the Micro ATX motherboards can accommodate four RAM slots. Modern models of the micro ATX motherboard come with up to eight RAM slots.
The ITX motherboard can accommodate only two 16 GB RAM kits on its board. On the other hand, the micro ATX motherboard comes with the capability of accommodating two 64 GB RAM slots totaling to 128 GB of RAM. Some ATX models can comfortably accommodate up to 512 GB of RAM. You can easily play even the most complex games with a RAM of 16 GB.
The 32 GB RAM the ITX motherboard provides is more than enough for any gaming machine. However, to be more future proof, you can use the 128 GB RAM on the micro ATX motherboard to accommodate larger games that may be released in the future.
The micro ATX motherboard supports most processors. This includes both slow and fast processors. On the other hand, the ITX motherboard is only limited to certain processors and is incapable of handling advanced processors. The ITX motherboard can only hold fewer features compared to the Micro ATX motherboard.
Another difference is that the ITX motherboard has only single expansion slots while the micro ATX motherboard has at least six expansion slots and features. The differences are summarized below;
- Micro ATX system is in more electronic systems than the ITX motherboard
- The micro ATX motherboard has more slots and interfaces for connectivity as compared to the ITX motherboard
- The ITX motherboard can handle fewer processors as compared to the micro ATX motherboard
- The ITX has fewer expansion slots than the Micro ATX motherboard
The Main Distinguishing Factor Between The Itx And Micro Atx Motherboards
The main thing that stands out between the two motherboards is the RAM capacity of each of them. The ITX motherboard can accommodate 32 GB RAM while the Micro ATX can accommodate 128 GB RAM. Having a high RAM means a more efficient and smoother operation.
When To Use The Itx Motherboard
The following are some of the instances where you may find it necessary to use the ITX motherboard.
When You Need To Turn Your Home Theater System To A Computer
Due to its low power consumption rate, you can attach the ITX motherboard to your home theater system to increase its connectivity to other devices. Its small size makes it easy to attach it behind a cabinet without leaving a trace.
In Case You Need To Save Some Space At Home Or In Your Office
Most ITX motherboards are small in size. Using an ITX motherboard in place of other systems will definitely save you space due to the small size of computers build from it. This is important especially if you are living or working in a small space.
If You Need To Build A Portable Computer
Due to its small size and lightweight design, computers build using the ITX motherboard are much easier to carry around. The average weight of ITX motherboards is four kilograms making it highly portable. The portability of the ITX motherboard makes it an ideal choice for laptops used by travelers, students, and office workers.
When to use the Micro ATX motherboard
Below are some cases in which using the Micro ATX motherboard would yield the best results.
When You Want To Build A Single GPU System
Those who intend to build a single GPU PC system prefer the micro ATX motherboard. Due to its high Random Access Memory (RAM), it can easily work with both slow and fast processors.
For those who want to increase the space around their home or office computers, they can easily hack this by adapting a micro ATX motherboard. The motherboard will not only solve your space issue but also allow you to carry it along with you.
When You Want A Cheaper Motherboard
The main reason why the micro ATX motherboard is relatively cheaper than its counterparts is that some of the components consist of cheap materials. Note that this does not translate to low performance or low-quality materials.
When you intend to build a high-performance gaming computer on a budget, the best option to go for is the Micro ATX motherboard. You can easily overclock and push it to the limits with many additional features when you build your own computer.
The ITX motherboard is smaller compared to the micro ATX motherboard. This means that it will have fewer slots than its counterpart thus leading to fewer features and less connectivity. When comparing the two motherboards, the Micro ATX motherboard takes the day due to its expandability and ability to work swiftly with various processors.
The micro ATX motherboard leaves enough room for creativity and expansion in case a system builder intends to modify it further. Some of the features found on the micro ATX include SATA Connectors, USB ports, display ports, HDMI ports, and a network connectivity port. These features make the micro ATX motherboard more flexible and capable of blending in with many devices.