Micro ATX vs Mini ITX – Which One Should You Choose?

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Motherboards are one of the most important parts of a computer. You may already know that motherboards are available in different formats and sizes. When building a PC, you must choose the right motherboard. The motherboard lays the foundation of your CPU. It determines the hardware and the performance you will get from your device. 

Speaking of motherboards, they are available in three formats including ATX, Mini ATX, and Micro ATX. However, in this post, we will be talking about Micro and Mini ATX only. If you are confused between which one to choose, then you should give this article a read.

Comparison Between Micro ATX and Mini ATX

Micro ATX and Mini ATX are two of the most popular motherboard formats available out there. This leads to a lot of confusion among users as they are unable to decide which one to use. To help you out, we have compared both the formats based on four important parameters. Whether you are building a gaming PC or for any other work, this will help you to pick the right motherboard format for your computer.

1. Size

If it’s a gaming PC, then the CPU usually gets very crowded with all the different elements. This is why you need a motherboard with more space so that it doesn’t feel too crowded.

Speaking of size a micro ATX usually measures 244 x 244 MM, whereas mini ATX measures around 170 x 170 MM. In terms of size, a mini ATX is a more compact one. If your whole purpose is to get a compact motherboard, then you can go for a mini ATX. However, you should know that it will have limited hardware integration ports and slots.

2. RAM slots

The next important thing is the RAM slots. When you are building a gaming PC, you should try to get as many RAM slots as you can. This will allow you to expand your RAM whenever it is needed.

In terms of RAM slots, a micro ATX comes with 4 memory slots and a mini ATX has two slots, which supports 16 GB RAM each. Although you are getting 32 GB with the mini ATX version, in the future, if you ever feel the need to expand your RAM, you will not have any more RAM slots left. This is why we don’t recommend the mini ATX version for your gaming PC as it doesn’t allow you to upgrade the RAM of your device. 

For the present-day games, 16 GB RAM may be enough, but if you are going to use your PC for a long time, then it can be a problem as you might outgrow the slots in your motherboard. This is why you should make your choice carefully. Having more RAM slots on your motherboard is always a good thing. In this case, a micro ATX is what you should go for.

3. PCIe slots

Other than RAM slots, you must also check the PCIe slots. Just so you know a micro ATX motherboard comes with four slots, whereas a mini ATX version has just 1 PCIe slot. These slots are meant for integrating graphics card with your system. However, you can also use the slots to integrate other hardware such as soundcards, internal modems, and others.

When it comes to PCIe slots in mini ATX, the slot is often placed on the edge of the board. If there is less space available for the motherboard, then it may be difficult for you to install a heavy-duty graphics card. This is why we would recommend you to opt for a micro ATX motherboard as they have more PCIe slots.

4. Price

Lastly, you also need to compare the price of a mini ATX and micro ATX motherboard, especially if you are on a budget. 

Since mini ITX motherboards are compact, you may assume them to be cheaper than micro ATX motherboards. However, that is not true. A micro ATX version is more affordable. That’s because they have a greater demand than mini ATX versions. As a result, more companies are involved in manufacturing micro ATX motherboards. But at the same time, you should also check the quality of the product when buying it.

Which one is right for you? 

Now that you have an idea about the main differences between the two motherboard formats, it should be easier for you to pick the right one for your device. However, you should always choose the format based on the type of PC you are building.

1. Gaming PC

If you want to build a gaming PC, then you should get a Micro ATX motherboard as it comes with more RAM slots. Not just that, but it also supports the Dual-GPU setup. It also has additional empty slots using which you can upgrade your PC if needed. It also has more PCIe slots which can be useful.

However, if you have less space, then opting for a mini ATX is the only option you have. When getting a mini ATX, you should keep in mind that the graphics card you will use should also be small as the slots are placed at the edge. At the same time, you also need to get the right cooling system for your CPU. This why Micro ATX makes the best option for a gaming PC.

2. Desktop PCs

If you are building a PC for basic work like browsing, watching movies, office work, and others, then a micro ATX is a good option for you. It is not only affordable but also perfect for your use. Even if you are getting a ready-made CPU there are high chances that it will come with a micro ATX version. But if you are building your PC, then you can choose a mini ATX, so that you can reduce the size of your motherboard.

3. Workstatio

For those who are building a workstation, you can go for a mini ATX. In this case, you don’t need higher RAM or extra slots to integrate heavy-duty graphics cards. 

Building a workstation is much easier than creating a gaming PC. That’s because it has more requirements than a workstation. However, you should check the heat dissipation factor before getting a mini ATX as it is compact. After all, you don’t want to end up with a fried up motherboard due to overheating.

Best Motherboards in 2020

We have listed some of the best motherboards that you can use for your PC. For those who are building their PCs at home, you must take a look at these products. All of these are top-rated products on Amazon. Go through the details and pick one of your choices.

1. Asus Prime X570-P Ryzen 3 AM4 Motherboard

When it comes to computer hardware, Asus is the brand you can trust. This is one of the best ATX motherboards you will come across in the market. With a 4.5 rating, it gives you a powerful solution for your PC. It is equipped with solid features that make it stand out from the rest. At the same time, it is also affordable.

The 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen processors come with more bandwidth and cores to meet the high demands of high-core-count processors while providing stable power for optimal performance. It is equipped with a PCIe 4.0 M.2 slot and also provides NVMe SSD RAID support for a brilliant performance. With two PCIe 4.0 storage devices, you can enjoy the fastest data-transfer speeds on the 3rd Generation AMD Ryzen platform.

It also features excellent cooling controls that help optimize cooling for CPU and GPU-intensive tasks. It also has the ASUS Aura Sync that provides full lighting which is connected via the motherboard’s RGB headers. Lastly, it also offers, next-gen connectivity options including PCIe Gen 4 support, dual M. 2 support and USB 3. 2 Gen 2 ports.

Pros

  • Powerful
  • Affordable
  • Great cooling controls
  • Next-gen connectivity options

Cons

  • None 

2. ASUS AM4 TUF Gaming X570-Plus ATX Motherboard

We have yet another ASUS ATX motherboard that you can use on your computer. This motherboard version is mainly designed for users who want to build a gaming PC. It is equipped with all the essential elements of the AMD platform. Not just that, but it also comes with game-ready features. This is a durable and high performing motherboard which makes a perfect choice for your gaming.

It is designed with military-grade components. The best thing is that it is upgraded with power solutions and has a great set of cooling options. This motherboard is built to deliver the highest performance that you are looking for.

It comes ready for the 2nd and 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen processors. Apart from an industry-standard cooling option, it also has next-Gen connectivity options including a dual PCIe 4.0 M.2, USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, and Realtek L8200A gigabit Ethernet, TurboLAN technology, and TUF LANGuard. Realtek S1200A Codec provides great audio quality. It is also equipped with Asus Aura Sync RGB LED lighting with an array of compatible PC gear. It may be a bit expensive, but it is worth it in the end.

Pros

  • Solid performance
  • Excellent cooling options
  • Durable

Cons

  • May have some performance issues

3. MSI MAG B550M Mortar WiFi Gaming Motherboard

MSI is yet another brand that is known to make powerful motherboards. If you are willing to spend a few extra dollars, then this unit can be yours. This is one of the best motherboard versions from MSI. It is powered by AMD Ryzen AM4 processors that enable it to deliver high performance.

It has all the essential specifications that make it stand out from the rest. It is equipped with Wi-Fi, 2.5G LAN, Extended Heatsink Design, Pre-installed I/O Shielding, and Core boost. Along with that it also has a PCIe 4.0 slot. If you are looking for a motherboard for gaming purposes, then this could be the ideal option for you.

It is designed to give you a lightning-fast gaming experience. It is equipped with PCIe 4.0, lightning Gen 4 M.2 with M.2 Shield Frozr, and AMD Turbo USB 3.2 GEN 2. It comes with an excellent quality audio boost to give you immersive gaming experience. It is equipped with Premium Thermal Solution and has an extended heatsink with an additional choke thermal pad. It also has a pre-installed I/O Shielding for protection from electrostatic discharge.

Pros

  • Great audio quality
  • Powerful performance
  • Excellent cooling controls

Cons

  • Every expensive

4. Gigabyte B450M DS3H Motherboard

If you are looking for an affordable option, then you can settle for this motherboard from Gigabyte. This motherboard belongs to the Gigabyte 400 series that perfectly fits the latest AMD Ryzen, 2000 series processors. This motherboard is designed to give you a powerful computing performance. Unlike other inexpensive motherboards, this one is loaded with features.

With the help of this motherboard, you can maximize your PC’s potential and also accelerates the storage devices to reduce boot times. As a result, you will be able to improve the overall user experience of your PC. It is equipped with 6 USB 3.1 ports and 8 USB 2.0 ports. With so many connectivity options, you don’t have to compromise on your connectivity with a smaller form factor.

The micro-ATX form factor is a solid middle-ground for users who wants to build their PC at home. This is perfect for compact builds and gives you more flexibility around the case. It also comes with RGB fusion support that allows you to personalize your PC rig according to your liking. This means you can select the colour of your choice to illuminate the external RGB light strip. It provides you 7 colours to make your system unique. It also has Smart Fan 5 that helps in keeping the PC cool. It also allows you to interchange the fan headers at different locations on the motherboard.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Powerful cooling system
  • Lots of connectivity options

Cons

  • Performance could have been better

5. GIGABYTE Z390 M Gaming Motherboard

Lastly, we have yet another Gigabyte motherboard which is designed for gaming PCs. It is a bit expensive than the previous model, but if you want solid performance, then it’s worth it. This is from the Gigabyte gaming series of motherboards which is designed to support the latest 8-core Intel Core CPUs.

It offers you a multi-graphics configuration for better graphics performance. If you want the highest frame rates with better resolution, then this could be the perfect option for you. It also supports RGB lighting which allows you to personalise your PC rig the way you want.

It has high-end audio capacitors for high-quality fidelity audio. This gives you the most realistic sound effects for gamers. It also comes with an audio noise guard that separates the analog audio components from noise pollution.

Pros

  • Designed for powerful performance
  • High-end audio capacitors
  • RGB lighting support

Cons

  • Expensive

FAQs 

1. What motherboard format you need for a gaming PC?

If you are aiming to build a gaming PC, then you should go for a micro ATX motherboard as it comes with four RAM slots. This will allow you to upgrade your RAM in the future.

2. What are the three different motherboard formats available?

When it comes to motherboard formats, there are mainly three types available. This includes ATX, mini ATX, and micro ATX. You should choose the motherboard format based on the type of PC you are building.

3. How many RAM slots do micro ATX and mini ATX have?

RAM is one of the most important components of a PC. Micro ATX comes with four RAM slots, whereas mini ATX is compact and therefore, has just two RAM slots each of which is 16GB. If you would want to upgrade the RAM of your device, then you should go for a micro ATX version.

4. What motherboard format should you use for a desktop PC?

A desktop PC is mainly used for basic tasks like office work, watching movies, and browsing the net. If you are building a PC at home, then you can go for a mini ATX version. But as far as ready-made PCs are concerned, they usually come with a micro ATX motherboard.

5. How to choose between a micro ATX and mini ATX motherboard?

Many users get confused between micro ATX and mini ATX motherboard. The first thing you need to determine is what you need the PC for. Based on this, you can choose your motherboard format. You have to make sure that the motherboard format you are choosing can support the tasks you are going to perform on your PC.

Conclusion

After reading the comparison, you know that both micro ATX and mini ATX have their unique features. This is why you have to choose between the two based on the type of PC you are building. You should take the differences into account and build your PC. The final motherboard you select should be good enough to support your work. You can take help from the various cases that we have shared for you to understand. This should help you to pick the right motherboard for your PC.