micro atx vs mini itx

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The motherboard is the foundation of your CPU. When you’re building a gaming PC, the motherboard will determine the hardware that you can use. While there are quite a few formats and sizes available in motherboards but the two most popular among them are micro ATX and mini ITX. However, it is not easy to choose between these two. That is why; today we will share with you our micro ATX vs Mini ITX comparison to help you understand which one is better. At the end of this article, we will share with you our recommendation to help you pick the right one.

Read Also: ATX vs Mini ATX

Micro ATX vs Mini ITX Motherboards At A Glance

We will compare both Micro ATX and Mini ITX on four different parameters. Depending on your requirements, you can put more weight behind a specific form factor.

 Size:

The gaming CPU can get pretty crowded. That is why; you have to do whatever you can to save space. When it comes to micro ATX, it measures 244 MM x 244 MM. On the other hand, the mini ITX measures 170 x 170 MM. When you compare micro ATX vs Mini ITX on size, Mini ITX motherboards is the winner. One bad thing about Mini ITX motherboards is that not all graphics cards will fit small form factor cases.

Standard ATX: 12.0 x 9.6 (inches)
Micro-ATX: 9.6 x 9.6 (inches)
Mini-ITX: 6.7 x 6.7 (inches)

If your only requirement for choosing the motherboard is to select the most compact one, you can go with the mini ITX one. At the same time, you have to understand that it will limit slots and hardware integration ports to provide you with a small size. You can go through the rest of the comparison to understand its limitations.

 RAM slots:

When you set the gaming machine, the number of RAM slots should be as many as you can get. So, if at a later stage, you want to expand the RAM, you can do so quite easily. When it comes to micro ATX, it supports up to 4 ram slots. When it comes to the number of slots we feel this is the best choice. On the other hand, the mini ITX version supports two slots that can accommodate 16 GB of RAM each that is 32 gb. That is why; if in the future you might need RAM greater than 32 GB, in the mini ITX you will not have the option to expand the RAM. They are typically compatible with more small form-factor cases than both standard ATX and micro-ATX motherboards. It is one of the reasons why you should not just consider the size comparison but also the slots on offer. If you talk about the ATX motherboard form factor it has the highest RAM capacity.

The present-day games, however, require only 16 GB RAM. That is why; you have plenty of leeways as well. If you plan on using the CPU for a long time, however, you might outgrow the slots in the mini ITX motherboard. That is why; you have to decide whether 16 GB of leeway when it comes to RAM slot is enough for you or whether you want to go for the maximum number of RAM slots in the motherboard. Depending on this, you can take your pick.

 PCIe Slots:

The difference is even starker between micro ATX motherboards versus mini ITX when it comes to a PCIe slot. The Micro ATX motherboards have 4 slots. The Mini ITX motherboard has 1 PCIe Slot. Primarily, the slots are for integrating graphics card with your system. The extra PCIe slots can come in handy if you’re thinking about a multi-GPU setup or about installing any expansion cards. However, some of the other pieces of hardware which you can integrate using these graphics cards include:

 Sound cards

 Internal modems

 And much more

One of the motherboard form factors that work against Mini ITX here is that the slot is placed often on the edge of the board. That is why, if there is little space for the motherboard, you might not be able to install a heavy-duty graphics card. Once you keep this in mind, it is always better to go for micro ATX motherboards as they offer more PCIe slots.

 Price:

Of course, when you’re comparing micro ATX motherboards with mini ITX, you have to also take into account the budget. The general perception might be that since the mini ITX motherboards are smaller, there will be more affordable. However, you’re wrong here. The Micro ATX motherboard is the most affordable. It is because they are in higher demand, and therefore, companies have been able to drive down the cost and scale of the volumes. You need to ensure, however, that the quality of components is up to the mark when choosing the Micro ATX motherboards.

Which one should you finally choose?

When we compare ITX vs ATX motherboards, the choice between micro ATX motherboards and mini ITX depends on the type of high-end PC which you want to build. Once you are clear about it, you can choose the right motherboard. There are also different motherboard form factors that we will elaborate on below.

 Gaming PC:

If you want to build a high-end gaming PC, the Micro ATX motherboard is the perfect option for you. It will allow you to integrate more than two RAM slots. It also supports multi-GPU setups. Even after that, there will be empty slots on offer for expansion. With a higher number of PCIe slots, you can scale up your machine at a later date.  However, if you’re going for a small form factor, then there is no better option and remember small form factor ATX cases usually don’t cool off as efficiently.

When we compare ITX vs ATX micro, If you’re short on space, then only mini ITX is a good option. You have to however keep in mind that if you’re going with the mini ITX, the size of the graphic card which you will integrate with your system should also be small. It is because the slots are towards the edge. It will also hamper the airflow towards the graphics card. You need to consider this while selecting the right cooling system for your CPU. That is why when it comes to a gaming PC; the Micro ATX motherboard is the best option.

 Workstation:

When you are creating a workstation, you can go with the mini ITX. It is because you will not need high RAM. You will not need extra slots to integrate graphics cards. That is why, when building a workstation, you can go with the mini ITX if you’re short on space. You have to keep in mind the heat dissipation factor due to the cramped size before making this decision.

 Desktop PCs:

If you are building a computer for browsing, occasional office work, and watching movies, the Micro ATX motherboard is a good option. That is because you can comfortably accommodate a motherboard with big dimensions. Moreover, it is affordable, as well. Even if you’re buying a ready-made CPU for your desktop, it is most likely to be a micro ATX due to the cost factor. Only when you are assembling it yourself, you can go with the mini ITX to reduce the size of your motherboard.

As you can see, when you compare micro ATX vs Mini ITX, there are quite a few differences that you can take into account. The final motherboard which whether ITX or micro ATX you choose will be dependent on the type of machine that you are creating. We have shared with you multiple cases that will help you understand which one you should choose. It is essential to follow our guide above not just to understand the difference between these two but also to understand which one you should choose.

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2 thoughts on “Micro ATX vs Mini ITX – Which one should you Choose?”

  1. I am looking at doing a new gaming build for myself. One easier portable then my full size tower as I want to have the option of moving my PC from my gaming room to my living for VR gaming.

    I noticed you encourage more PCIe slots for gamers, but why? Multi GPU builds are a thing of the past. Look at VR for example, requires the headset be on the same GPU as that of your primary display. No SLI support for VR.

    Seems the standard now is to buy a single GPU versus multi-GPUs.

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