Every gamer has a dream to either own a PC or upgrade to the best PC. For this purpose, some people buy pre-built computers while others try to build them from scratch.
For building a PC, you might need a heck lot of components. Buying the components is not an issue. But buying good components while keeping the integrity of your PC together is a challenge for most new people.
One basic and main component that you might come across in your build is the motherboard. Most people ask the question, which is the best motherboard?
That is a different topic. But knowing which motherboard is best suited for your build should be your primary focus.
If you buy a good motherboard, but it does not fit in the case. That is a total waste of money. In this article, I will talk about all the motherboard sizes in the market.
Different Motherboard Form Factors Explained
Talking about motherboard sizes. There are mainly 6 different motherboard sizes in the market that you can buy from. These are E-ATX, ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX, Nano-ITX, Pico-ITX.
I will be talking about all of them in detail. The three most common are the Mini ATX, Micro ATX, and the Extended ATX. But having information about all the types of motherboards might come in handy.
E-ATX is the better version of ATX. The full form of E-ATX is Extended ATX. As the name suggests, it is an extension of the ATX motherboards both in size and shape.
The ATX motherboards are popular for providing the speed and efficiency that a motherboard should have.
But the E-ATX configuration takes this to another level. They are powerful motherboards and are the best choice if you are working with heavy applications.
You might need a standing full-sized case to fit it. Flat top cases might not be able to fit it in.
Pros & Cons:
The ATX series is known for not having enough space for heat dissipation. But the large motherboard size of E-ATX provides enough room for heat to disperse.
This keeps the motherboard at low temps even when heavy apps are running. One thing is clear that it is a perfect choice for overclocking lovers.
The large size provides room for more ports. The E-ATX has some extra features compared to the ATX. The main reason for the low popularity of these motherboards is their price. The price is overkill.
Dimensions & No of Ports:
As I have already specified, the motherboard is large. If we measure the size of the E-ATX motherboard on the size comparison charts in inches, the dimensions for E-ATX is 12 x 13 in.
Besides that, the motherboard itself is highly expensive. This is overkill for most users unless you are an enthusiast gamer or graphics designer.
Does more size mean a greater number of ports?
Yes, the E-ATX provides 4 – 8 PCI express ports with an x16 configuration. Also, it contains 6 – 8 memory slots. These specifications are double of a normal ATX motherboard. The ports provide enough space for an upgrade in your PC in the future.
In my opinion, the specifications and size make it the best choice for full-time PC users. These users include people like full-time gamers or companies that work on graphic designing.
Such users require a lot of processing and graphical power. Hence the extensive number of slots for graphic cards and other devices are best for them.
Also, some E-ATX motherboards contain spots for 2 processors. The required processing power can come from two good processors.
Extremely heavy games like Cyberpunk 2077, Battlefield 5, etc., require maximum performance components to be enjoyed at 4k or above resolution. Here the E-ATX motherboard proves to be useful.
People who run multiple servers via games or something else also use the E-ATX motherboards.
The most used motherboard is the ATX motherboard size. Most pre-built PCs around the world contain this motherboard.
This is the first motherboard in the ATX series. The full form of ATX is Advanced Technology eXtended. This technology was introduced because of the issues in AT motherboards.
The Standard ATX motherboards were released in 1995 by Intel. They had a minimum set of ports that a PC user might require. Most people with a specific budget buy it. It is budget-friendly in the sense that people who do not need a high-end PC can use it.
Pros & Cons:
The ATX size motherboards are popular for stuff they contain. They contain the number of ports that every PC requires.
They are famous among gamers who play games as a hobby. They have enough ports to put all the important components and some extras.
There are some problems with the ATX motherboard that some users complain about. One main thing is that after placing all the components, the heat flow causes the motherboard to heat up. Also, it is a bit expensive. But it is good enough for gaming.
Dimensions & No of Ports:
The ATX motherboards are considered large for some people but it is the ideal motherboard size the dimensions of the ATX mobos are 12 x 9.6.
It might be quite large in space for some people. But it surely is smaller than an E-ATX motherboard. The number of slots in a Standard ATX motherboard is around 6-7 PCI Express x16 slots.
They are enough to connect the GPU, power supply, and other components. Even after connecting the components, you might have extra space for some other components. The Standard ATX motherboard contains space for 4 RAM sticks to be placed. Which is good enough.
The Standard ATX motherboard’s main flaw caused the company to rethink its suggestion. They released the BTX series, which was later discontinued.
The main reason being that the community didn’t want to change their motherboards. This board was so popular that at its release, it was immediately bought in exchange for the AT motherboards.
But when BTX boards were released, people didn’t want to change. Because for the gaming community ATX boards were perfect. Also for those people who are competitive gamers and hobbyist gamers.
Components like processor and GPU run at maximum performance hence dissipating heat which reduces the performance. The reason is the low clearance on the motherboard.
3- Micro ATX
The Micro-ATX boards, as the name suggests, are smaller than the normal ATX motherboards.
From all motherboard sizes we have seen by now, they are the smallest. But most of their specifications are the same as ATX motherboards.
Small size has its advantages and disadvantages, as I will talk later after the release of the infamous Standard ATX motherboard.
Intel decided to release a smaller version of the same motherboard. The reason is that small cases could also contain the power of ATX. This model was released in December of 1997 with the name of mATX or Micro-ATX.
Pros & Cons:
The Micro-ATX is the micro version for the same ATX motherboard. Not exactly, but it is smaller than the first ATX released motherboard. Its small size is good for people with small cases. Full standing cases also can fit it. The problem with the small size is the heat flow.
If heavy components like GPU are added, then the space gets highly congested. This causes problems with heat dissipation. Multiple big components cannot be added to the motherboard due to fewer slots. Also, there is no space for expansion in the motherboard.
Dimensions & No of Ports:
Dimensions wise, the micro-ATX motherboard is quite small. Cutting the sides of an ATX motherboard by a few inches brings up the micro-ATX motherboard.
The dimensions for this motherboard are 9.6 x 9.6 inches. Compared to other boards from the list these are one of the smallest boards by far.
Not only its size is less than other motherboards, but also the slots are less. It contains space for around 2 RAM sticks. But there are around 4 PCI Express x16 slots, the same as the Standard ATX motherboards.
This design for the ATX motherboards was brought up while keeping in mind different types of users. Some users buy full-sized standing cases for their components, while others have small-sized cases. The E-ATX and ATX size motherboards can’t fit in small.
If you are playing games on a PC like this, then I would recommend not to run any heavy games on it. The PC built with this motherboard will surely be a tight one.
If you have a small case, then no need to get shocked. Just buy a micro-ATX motherboard. Getting the qualities of an ATX at a lower price and a smaller size is a good choice for people.
4- Mini ITX
Among the motherboard size chart, this is the third smallest board we will see. The Mini-ITX is even smaller than the micro-ATX.
This might be the last motherboard on which the small circuitry can be seen clearly. The reason is that after this, the motherboards get so small that they are difficult to see.
The mini-ITX was first released by AVI in 2001. There are more issues with this small unit than the good things about it. Talking from a gaming perspective, it is below average for such a task. Games might work, but performance-wise, it will be bad.
Pros & Cons:
The main good thing about this motherboard is that it is compatible with a small casing for the PC. Also, for creating a compact build, this is the best option. Heat sinks are not present in such small-sized motherboards.
This causes issues in the regulation of temperature. Also, having no space for expansion proves that it would be best if kept just for normal use.
It is a bit expensive than micro-ATX, which is not a good thing. The compactness of the motherboard raises problems but still being expensive is not a good sight.
Dimensions & No of Ports:
If we compare this with other boards on motherboard size charts, it becomes crystal clear that it is smaller than a micro-ATX and ATX motherboard.
Hence, cutting the micro-ATX a bit on the edges might result in mini-ITX. The size of the motherboard is 6.7 x 6.7, which is almost half of an ATX motherboard.
The number of ports on this motherboard is not good at all. It contains space for 2 RAM sticks and one PCI Express x16 slot. This shows that more than one GPU is not even an option. Also, the maximum RAM in this system can’t exceed 32 GB.
A PC built from the mini-ITX would be best if used for daily use. A build using such components is known as a normal PC. The RAM is limited to a certain extent which also halts the motherboard. More extensive work cannot be done with this setup.
Casual, daily work and light games can be played on such a motherboard. Even they might run slow and cause issues with the components of the motherboard.
Heavy, competitive, hard-core gaming is not an option. Most cars nowadays have LCD features in them. These LCDs are run by such motherboards in the background as their circuitry. This makes one thing clear.
That it is used in places where not a lot of computational power or stress is put on the motherboard.
These are small types of motherboards. They are mainly used to run small tasks. Large components like GPU or processors cannot fit in them.
They have their own set of components. The circuitry on these boards is almost impossible to see. According to the motherboard size chart, the Nano-ITX motherboards were released in the market in 2003 by the company VIA.
Using them in PC builds is not a recommendation. But if you want to use it, then that is not a problem. The problem is that you won’t be able to do even a small heavy task.
Pros & Cons:
The Nano-ITX motherboards were never made with the mentality of using them in PCs. But using them is not a problem.
One good thing about them is their power consumption. They consume a minimum amount of power. So having a small power supply is also enough.
They are quite affordable and hence land in the range of many small-budget PC builders. They also won’t cover up a lot of space in your case.
One bad thing about these motherboards is that they are not compatible with most of the components. There is no place for expansion in this motherboard.
Dimensions & No of Ports:
Size-wise the Nano-ITX is the smallest motherboard. It is ranked the second smallest motherboard in the motherboard size charts, inches category.
It has dimensions of 4.7 x 4.7 in inches and 120 x 120 in mm. This size is smaller than even one-fourth of an E-ATX motherboard.
Their small sizes make them not a good choice for gamers. They have all the necessary number of ports like the VGA port, CF port. It also contains space for 1 SATA port and a DDR2 RAM slot. This makes the motherboard a highly compact design.
It is the perfect design for places where less power consumption is required. Places like PVRs and for entertainment purposes, this board is the best.
TVs and the LCDs in the cars also require something for connecting the circuitry. So, the Nano-ITX boards are the best choice.
It is better if pressure on the motherboard is kept as minimum as possible. They are not a good choice for gaming computers or server-based devices.
There is no heat sink in such a small device, so regulating the temperature is also a requirement. For a normal working computer, they can be used. But it might lack performance for such a computer too. Their small size and less processing power make them the best choice for small tasks.
The smallest motherboard to end in my list is the Pico-ITX. This motherboard is considered the smallest board in the motherboard size charts. But in 2009, this title was taken by Mobile-ITX. I won’t be discussing it as that is another category.
This motherboard was made and released in 2007 by VIA technologies. As is clear by its name, it is the smaller version of the Nano-ITX size motherboard.
This motherboard is three-quarters smaller than a Micro-ITX motherboard. Its uses are not that much. I will talk about this later in the article.
Pros & Cons:
The Pico-ITX motherboards are compact-sized motherboards that are ideal for many small works. Their compactness is what makes them cheap compared to other motherboards. These are good points for this motherboard.
But this motherboard fails in many places. Not good for PC in any case. Not even a simple desktop computer. No extra components can be added to the motherboard. No heat sinks or VRAM. These things are a necessity to build a PC.
One good thing about this motherboard is that its power requirements are even lower than a Nano-ITX.
Dimensions & No of Ports:
According to the motherboard size chart, in inches, the smallest motherboard in the market was the Pico-ITX, but I said before in 2009 Mobile-ITX has taken its place. Pico- ITX has the dimensions of 3.9 x 2.8 inches.
This motherboard can easily fit in a normal person’s hand. Its shape is not a complete square, but it is more lengthwise. Most of the Pico-ITX motherboards contain 4 USB 2.0 ports and one connection port for the power supply.
Different company Pico-ITX motherboards contain different amounts of ports. Some Pico-ITX motherboards like EPIA-P700 also contain 1 VGA port and other in-line out-line ports.
Size-wise this motherboard has many uses. In the market, there are a lot of places where extremely small-sized motherboards are required.
Places like in-car technology, which require the use of LCDs, need such a motherboard for its working. The size of these is small enough to fit in a sensor. Hence, powering such components.
The main purpose of this motherboard was made to support the IoT (Internet of things) devices. These are devices that are used for wired or wireless connections, among other devices, to gather information.
Sensors, smart door locks, smart house robots are the applications that use IoT devices. Their main use is in embedded systems which cover a wide range of equipment used in Industrial automation.
Every motherboard is designed and built differently. Thus different motherboards have different compatibility features associated with them, the size of the casing matters a lot when you are talking about motherboard compatibility.
In this concern, the case should always be large enough to have extra space for placing other components like PSU.
At the very least, it should perfectly fit the motherboard. The next thing to keep in mind is the RAM that the motherboard should use.
But if the motherboard is Micro or less than no more than DDR3 support will be available. A motherboard also connects an important component named PSU with it. It plays a big role in the computer.
For a large-sized motherboard like ATX or E-ATX, a bigger PSU is needed as it is expandable. If you don’t want to buy a big PSU, then it is recommended to change your motherboard.
What’s VRM? Why Does It Matter A Lot?
Every motherboard is connected to a power supply. But regulating which component gets how much power can’t be done by the motherboard on its own.
Therefore, every component needs a regulator. These regulators attached to the motherboard are known as VRMs.
The full form of VRM is the Voltage Regulator Module. These are placed around the slots for the processor and GPU. But it can be found around other slots too. Every component needs a set amount of voltage for it to work.
But the power supply unit has no limiter. So, if a component is provided with more power than it requires, it might stop functioning.
This phenomenon can also be seen if a component is overclocked more than its capacity.
To stop such dysfunction from happening, the VRMs were added to the chipsets. Almost all motherboards contain VRMs.
Not only this, but most GPUs have VRMs in them. According to the motherboard size charts, the more VRMs, the stable and better is the current flow.
What Are The Basic Components Of A Motherboard?
A motherboard consists of a bunch of components. I will talk about most of the components present in motherboards.
Every motherboard contains a set of USB ports. These ports are important as outside components like a mouse, keyboard, etc., require USB ports to connect with.
A port named PS/2 is also available in some motherboards. This is specifically used to connect the mouse and keyboard.
Another set of important ports that all high-end (and some low-end) motherboards have is the PCI express slots.
These slots are used mainly for adding GPU or other sound cards, etc. These slots mainly make a motherboard upgradable.
A slot that contains the brain of the computer is the processor slot. Some motherboards have pre-installed processors.
While others provide you with space to add your CPU. RAM slots are found in every motherboard.
You can get a RAM stick of your own choice and add them to your motherboard. More the RAM, the heavier the programs you can run.
My Final Verdict:
I tried to cover all the main motherboard sizes and their specifications in this article. Before going out to buy one, do keep the size of your case in mind.
One thing is clear that the bigger the motherboard is, the more functionalities it provides. If you are a full-time gamer, then I would recommend buying a motherboard better than Micro-ATX.
But if you are a hobbyist gamer like me, then a Micro-ATX or Mini-ITX would be the way to go. In this case, instead of buying a heavy motherboard, I would recommend you put money into buying a good GPU.
At least you can enjoy games at the average performance. If you are an overclocking enthusiast, then don’t buy a motherboard smaller than Micro-ATX.
Or you would blow up your PC, including the motherboard, which is not a good choice. The prices sure are high for such motherboards, but it is worth it.
Frequently Asked Questions
#1- What are the different sizes of a motherboard?
There are 6 main sizes for motherboards in the market. Their names are E-ATX (Extended ATX), ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX, Nano-ITX, and Pico-ITX.
The names are written in descending size format. There is one more motherboard that is even smaller than the Pico-ITX motherboard.
Its name is Mobile-ITX. But due to less usage, only these six are considered the main motherboard sizes.
#2- How do I know my motherboard size?
There are several ways to know about your motherboard size. First of all, while buying a motherboard, most buyers inform you about its size.
If you have forgotten, then you can look up your motherboard’s name on the internet. On the website, you might come to know about its dimensions and other specifications.
If you still can’t find it, then get yourself a ruler and measure it yourself.
#3- What is the size of a microATX motherboard?
A micro-ATX motherboard, as the name suggests, is smaller than an ATX motherboard. It has dimensions of 9.6 x 9.6 inches or 243.84 x 243.84 mm It is an average-sized motherboard.
Such a motherboard can fit in a full-standing-sized case with lots of clearance space. The more extra space, the cooler the system will be.
#4 – What is the normal motherboard size?
The ATX sized motherboards are considered normal-sized. They have a dimension of 12 x 9.6 inches or 305 x 244 mm.
These were the first motherboards released by Intel in 1995. Since then, they have become a standard and are used widely by many users.
Most pre-built PC contains this motherboard. It is a little bit expensive but has a lot of space for upgradation.
#5 – Is E ATX bigger than ATX?
E-ATX stands for Extended ATX. As the name suggests, E-ATX is an extended version of ATX motherboards.
They are a bit larger. Their large size provides them with an edge that other motherboards do not have.
Heat dissipation in these motherboards is easy; hence can be used for running heavy applications at best performance. Also, large sizes provide more space for expansion.
#6 – Which is better, ATX or mATX?
Both ATX and Micro-ATX (mATX) are almost equal competitors. In some situations, ATX motherboards work better.
While in other situations, mATX motherboards are uncomparable. ATX motherboards get an edge because of their large size.
mATX is also good, but heat dissipation is not excellent in these motherboards. They have a small size, thus providing more clearance. This provides more space for putting external PSU and other stuff in the case.
#7 – Does the size of the motherboard matter?
This question is more related to the situation. If the user does not require much hard work from the PC. Then small-sized motherboards like Mini-ITX and Nano-ITX are enough.
If it is a hobbyist gamer and part-time worker, then a Micro-ATX or Standard ATX is enough for its needs.
For full-time gamers, graphic developers, or multiple server owners, then a Standard ATX or E-ATX is the best option.
#8 – What is the smallest motherboard size?
The smallest motherboard size among those we have discussed is the Pico-ITX. But other motherboards like Mobile-ITX are smaller than that.
The size of a Pico-ITX is 3.9 x 2.8 inches which is around 99.06 x 71.12 mm. Whereas the size for a Mobile-ITX is 2.4 x 2.4 inches or 60 x 60 mm.
#9 – What advantages does ATX have over Micro ATX?
The biggest advantage that ATX has over mATX is the size. The large size of ATX provides it with more space to place more components.
Also, it allows heat to move out faster, thus keeping the devices connected to the motherboard safe from overheating.
The size gives overclocking enthusiasts an edge. The reason is that they will get fewer temps with an ATX motherboard than an mATX.
#10 – What size motherboard fits in a mini-tower?
The Mini-ITX fits perfectly in a mini-tower. Also, the other motherboards that are smaller than this are capable of fitting in such a case.
But for getting the best performance in such a case, the Mini-ITX is the way to go. It was introduced to the market by VIA technologies in 2001.
Such a setup could be a good one to have for daily usage.