8 Types of Motherboard Form Factors Explained – 2021 Guide

Austin
| Last Updated: May 24, 2021

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To navigate the world of rapidly advancing technology, you will need some basic computer literacy and familiarity with a virtual library of confusing computing jargon. But how do you get a grip on a whole new vocabulary? 

We are here to help. If you don't know what the motherboard form factor is, you aren't alone. 

Motherboards come in different sizes and specifications – the motherboard form factor is what distinguishes one motherboard from another. Keep reading and we will tell you all about it.

What is a Motherboard Form Factor?

The motherboard of any computer is analogous to the engine of a vehicle. It cannot run without one, and it also provides a central platform to which all other components are connected. 

The specifications on your motherboard determine how your computer performs, which parts can be connected to it, power supply requirements, computer case size, and the functions that you can carry out on your machine. 

Motherboard specifications have been changing as manufacturers upgrade their products to keep them compatible with emerging technologies.

They have to stay up to date and compatible with the latest generation of a processor (CPU), graphics card, and random access memory (RAM).

This has given rise to the form factor, which refers to the varied components, size, functions, and dimensions a given motherboard accommodates. 

Types of Motherboard Form Factors

Here are some of the widely used types of motherboard form factors:

Photo credit: wepc.com

1. Most Common Motherboard Form Factor: ATX (Advanced Technology Extended)

The ATX form factor was developed in 1995 as an upgrade of the AT. Standard ATX is the most common form factor, particularly on a desktop computer.

A standard ATX motherboard supports state-of-the-art graphic cards and has several expansion slots for RAM.

2. Best Motherboard Form Factor For Light Usage: Micro-ATX

Micro ATX was developed for clients who needed a cheaper alternative to the earlier models without compromising on the performance of their computers.

A micro ATX motherboard is ideal for you if you are a light user, and you only need a maximum of four PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) slots.

3. Motherboard Form Factor For Home and Office PC: Mini-ITX

The Mini ITX motherboard is a smaller form factor ideal for light-duty PCs such as those used in homes or small offices. Users love it most for its small size, affordability, and ease of installation.

However, you should avoid a mini ITX board if you are looking forward to incorporating other components on your machine in the future, as it only has a single PCIe slot (PCI Express x16).

4. Entertainment-friendly Motherboard Form Factor: Nano-ITX

The Nano ITX form factor is designed for digital entertainment devices. It works best on set-top boxes, car PCs, thin devices, media centers, and DVRs.

Most manufacturers have ensured that Nano-ITX clients have a wide variety of motherboard types to choose from by developing four Nano ITX product lines that fit into most CPU platforms.

5. Customizable Miniature Motherboard Form Factor: Pico-ITX

If you are looking for a miniature motherboard form factor for a portable device, go for this brand. It is popular for its cutting-edge performance and functionality despite its small size.

You will find Pico-ITX in use in digital signage, transportation, industrial automation, and healthcare. 

Pico-ITX is portable and has an excellent low noise output. You can customize it with additional components.

6. Smartphone-friendly Motherboard Form Factor: Mobile-ITX

Measuring half the size of Pico-ITX, your Mobile-ITX form factor suits tiny, embedded devices that are hardly detectable to the naked eye. 

This form factor has enabled the convergence of communication and computing. Despite their miniature size, they work well on a PC as well as on a CDMA chip. They fit effortlessly into a mobile phone, thanks to their small size.

7. Easy-to-upgrade Motherboard Form Factor: NLX (New Low Profile Extended)

This is your form factor if you are keen on merging existing and upcoming processing technologies.

This computer motherboard form factor is easy to upgrade, giving you the option of incorporating future innovations into your system.

8. Server-friendly Motherboard Form Factor: E-ATX (Extended ATX)

This is a larger adaptation of the standard ATX form factor. It is the biggest form factor on the market and is found in most PCs that have four or more PCIe slots.

This form factor is excellent for servers. It has more than one memory slot, which gives users the option of scaling their memory capacity.

9. Reliable Motherboard Form Factor For Desktop PC: LPX and Mini-LPX

This device was first introduced in 1987. Although it lacks a formal standardization of its specifications, it is among the most widely used form factors globally.

LPX and Mini-LPX have in-built sound, and they have several slots to hold more components. They are more common on desktop PCs.

Motherboard Form Factor Chart

The chart below shows the different motherboard form factors we have outlined above and their characteristics. 

Form Factor

Dimensions

Manufacturer

Date

Applications

E-ATX

12x13 inches

Intel

1995

Servers, gaming PC

ATX

12x9.6 inches

Intel

1995

Desktop PC/ workstations

Micro-ATX

9.6x9.6 inches

Intel

1997

Small form factor

Mini-ITX

6.7x6.7 inches

VIA

2001

Small form factor

Nano-ITX

4.7x4.7 inches

VIA

2003

Implanted systems

Pico-ITX

3.9x2.8 inches

VIA

2007

Implanted systems

Mobile-ITX

2.4x2.4 inches

VIA

2009

Implanted systems

NLX

10x8 inches

IBM and DEC

1998

Mass-marketed desktop PCs

LPX and Mini-LPX

13x9 inches

Western Digital

1987

Desktop PCs

Conclusion

The difference in dimensions, shape, and layout of your motherboard is referred to as the form factor.

There are different types of form factors on the market that have been developed with the advancement in technology. Some are best suited for high-end overclocking, miniature embedded devices, or standard workstations. 

When buying your form factor, consider its shape, what you need it for, the cost, as well as the size of your computer case. Some may require you to get another case to accommodate the new size or shape of the motherboard.

People Also Ask

Just before we go, let's look at some of the most frequently asked questions about motherboard form factors.

We hope that any burning questions you may have will be answered to your satisfaction. If your question is not among the ones below, you are welcome to send it over to us.

What Do Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, and ATX Motherboards Have in Common?

These are among the most popular form factors currently. They have a high RAM capacity.

You can attach a 32 GB kit to your Mini-ITX, while the Micro-ATX and ATX have in-built RAM ranging from 64 GB to 512 GB. 

What About BTX Motherboards?

BTX stands for Balanced Technology Extended. It was developed in 2005 to upgrade the ATX motherboard by reducing ATX power consumption and the problem heating up.

Does Motherboard Form Factor Matter?

Motherboard form factor form matters as it determines the performance and functionality of your computer.

You want a computer with the best performance rates in speed and memory. The motherboard form factor also determines the size of the case you can have.

Larger form factors require larger cases to hold them in. 

What is the Smallest Motherboard Form Factor?

Mobile-ITX is the smallest motherboard on the market today.

It is most common with embedded systems and mobile devices. If you want to use it on a PC, you must have riser parts. 



Austin

When the tech company I worked for restructured and I ended up jobless, I decided to put the wealth of knowledge and management skills to use somewhere new. I’d checked out a few buyer’s guides on the site in the past and reached out to the previous owner. A few months later, here we are. Now, I get to be behind the scenes, helping people find the best tech.