ATX vs eATX – Which Motherboard should you Choose?


Every one of us want to go for a PC which can last long and have the options of being upgradable with new peripherals. Either you go for a pre-built CPU or assembled one, you would definitely have to go through some of the specification which are really confusing and you would have not heard about it earlier.

Every PC will give you a specification which termed as “ATX’ or “Micro ATX”. But have you ever found anyone of them explaining these terms? I haven’t, neither do I think you would have seen the explanation anywhere written in the Manuals or specifications page.

Getting a PC without knowing these terms can be a potential risk as they can hamper your dreams of getting it upgraded in future.

So, what does ATX and eATX stands for? Let’s get through this in detail in this article.

What these specifications actually mean?

These specification refers to the “form factor” of the motherboards. Motherboards are used in almost all electronic devices and therefore they come in different sizes to fit to a super computer to a small smartphone. Therefore, it is necessary to differentiate them according to the way they are manufactured.

So, there are hundreds of form factors that describes the different sizes of the motherboards. But, in this article, since we are talking about PC’s motherboards we will only focus on ATX, eATX, Micro ATX and Mini ITX.

What does ATX, EATX, Micro ATX and Mini ITX stands for?

ATX stands for Advanced Technology eXtended, these are the boards that are used in regular PC’s. These boards were introduced in 1995 and if you have a regular PC in your home then it certain that it would have the ATX motherboards.

Then comes the eATX boards which are larger in size than ATX motherboards. With larger size their functionality is also more than the ATX boards.

Mini ITX (Information Technology extended) are smaller in size than ATX boards. These boards are even smaller than the Micro ATX and therefore, you must always remember this because this is a bit confusing.

Micro ATX boards are a bit larger in size than Mini ITX.

How all these boards are different from each other? -ATX vs EATX

Now, we know that the main difference between these boards are their size. But, do their size really hamper their functionality? And what are their advantages and drawbacks? These are the questions that will not be clear unless you go through the whole article so stick with it.

Case size

Smaller cases are used for Micro ATX and Mini ITX boards. If you need a PC which is portable and takes up less space in your house or office, then you should go for the small boards with small case sizes.

If you have a look inside your PC, you would check yourself that the height of the PC is only due to the motherboards. If your motherboard takes less space, then the height of PC decreases.

On the other hand, if you have a ATX board then the height of your case will be more. However, the bigger cases can be compatible with smaller boards too. While purchasing a case, always look for the specification so that in future if you decide to change your board, you don’t have to replace your whole case too.

Functionality

The size of a motherboards does have some effect on your PC. The smaller size boards have less or no extension slots to the motherboard and therefore, it can be less upgradability as that you can have in larger form factors.

The ATX board usually comes with 6 PCI slots (3x PCI-E x16 and 3x PCI-E x1), however, this can vary from model to model. However, Micro ATX boards have only 3 slots (1x PCI-E x16 and 2x PCI-E x1). This means that you will have less options for addition of graphics, sound, capture, and network cards.

On the other hand, if you go for Mini ITX boards then you even have less or no slots for further addition of cards as they have only one PCI slot.

I have seen a decrease in RAM slots too when it goes from ATX to Micro ATX. Normally, ATX boards have 4 RAM slots and Micro ATX have only 2.

The Mini ITX slots have however managed to have 2 RAM slots and some of the motherboards are even coming with 4 RAM slots.

But with smaller boards, you will find less USB slots.

Now, we have EATX boards which are the biggest boards and therefore they have more slots and therefore their functionality is also more than other motherboards. So, if you have really big plans with you PCI-E slots then go for this board. They usually have 4 or more than four PCI slots.

Since, EATX boards have more slots, they have more upgradability options too.

Cost

The affordability is one of the major factor in determining what motherboard should have? Micro ATX boards are the most affordable boards if you are looking for the portable PC’s and not looking for upgrading or installing additional peripherals.

However, if you think that you might have to upgrade the boards later on or need to add additional components then you must go for ATX boards.

But, with less cost one more question arises and i.e, are these smaller boards “slower”. Let’s look at this question now.

Are Smaller boards are slower than the bigger ones?

Size doesn’t have any effect on the processing speed of the boards. You might get less PCI slots and RAM slots but as far as speed is concerned, they work quite good.

However, small boards don’t support overclocking and not suitable for high end usage. It is better to go for ATX boards for high end usage.

Final Thoughts: ATX vs EATX boards-which one is better?

Which one is better always depends on for what purpose you need a PC? If you need a PC for high end usage the ATX is what you need.

At the same time, if you want to add graphics cards for playing games, ATX board is what you need.

I won’t say any one better than other as it all depend on the purpose you need motherboard for!

The only thing that matter is buy what you need and you will be using. There is no wisdom in spending money for something that you would never use in your life.

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