Are you confused about the kind of form factor to pick for your motherboard? Don’t worry, this guide will shed light on form factors and help you make an informed choice.
With all the different options available, selecting the right form factor can be daunting – but it doesn’t have to be! Here’s everything you need to know about motherboards, form factors and their applications.
Form factor is an important factor to consider when choosing a motherboard for your computer. This guide will explain what a form factor is and why it’s important. We will also discuss the different types of form factors and their characteristics. This guide will end with a discussion of the pros and cons of each type of form factor.
Form factors define the size, shape, power supply type, location of mounting holes, number of ports and connectors, as well as the edge connector locations for boards such as ATX, MicroATX and even mITX. Generally speaking, motherboards come in four different form factors (Mini-ITX/mITX, Micro-ATX/mATX, ATX and Consumer Electronics/CEB) that are responsible for both its physical dimensions and features available onboard.
It’s important to take into account all factors related to a particular motherboard when making your selection instead of solely relying on price or comparing between brands or models; getting an appropriate form factor not only affects size but also compatibility with cases, RAM memory slots available among other things too which together result in motherboards having different resource configurations depending on what they were built for; form factor should always be looked at prior to purchasing any new hardware components to ensure compatibility between components “fitting”.
Definition of a form factor in motherboards
Form factor is a specification that describes the size, shape and other physical dimensions of a motherboard. It’s important to note that the form factor does not refer to the total number of components or expansion slots on the board; instead, it determines how those components are arranged and how compatible other components will be when used with the board. There are several common form factors for motherboards that apply across various types of computers as well as specialized form factors for special applications.
The ATX form factor was first introduced in 1995 and has become a standard since then. It is based on a 12-inch × 9.6-inch (304.8 mm × 243.84 mm) rectangle, typically with nine mounting holes in three rows of three each. It supports up to seven expansion slots although most offer five or six, as well as four memory slots and two PCI Express x16 graphics card connectors along with 2 or 4 additional PCIe x1 connectors depending on the width of ATX motherboard. The ATX also accommodates dual-rear USB 2.0 ports, one parallel port, one serial port or COM port and one PS/2 mouse port (optional).
MicroATX motherboards generally measure 9.6″×9″, significantly smaller than their full-sized counterparts while still retaining full compatibility with all standard Desktop PC components such as CPUs, RAM and PCI cards etc. While able to fit in any ATX chassis due to their smaller size some MicroATX designs feature fewer expansion slots allowing them to be integrated into much smaller cases most notably cube cases where space saving is essential and extra case fans may be necessary for proper cooling since heat dissipation may be limited due to their size especially when running high performance hardware components such as multiple graphics cards or powerful overclocked CPUs .
Mini ITX motherboards are even smaller than MicroATX boards often measuring about 6″×6″ allowing them to fit into even more specialized forms including 1U rack mountable server chassis making them highly versatile where space limitations are an issue but also adding considerable limitations in terms of expandability compared too larger standard sized boards which could potentially accommodate almost any modern PC component known today eliminating all worries of compatibility issues between different brands and product lines should you choose expand your system later down the line without needing an entirely new motherboard installation process all over again due to unusually large hardware components sometimes needed by professionals or enthusiasts who stay ahead of technology such as gaming PCs and professional workstations where ultimate performance trumps all other concerns including maximum expandability at all times regardless if connected hardware spans across generations working together within a single system united by strong motherboards offering unrivaled connectivity capacities ever possibly imagined before which only further differences regular consumer PCs from professional computer equipment dedicated technology giants still reign supreme today…
Importance of form factors in building a computer
Form factors determine the size, shape, and mounting points of motherboards. When building a home or office computer, the motherboard is an integral part of the system and must be carefully selected to ensure a successful build. Knowing which form factor best suits your needs is essential in determining which components will be compatible with your computer system. They also dictate the space available for other components such as RAM, storage and graphics cards. Understanding motherboard form factors can help users make informed decisions when building or upgrading their computers.
Full-size ATX motherboards are some of the most common types of form factors used today. ATX boards measure 12 inches by 9.6 inches and are suitable for many desktop PCs, laptops and all-in-one systems that feature Intel or AMD processors and multiple DIMM sockets for RAM expansion. ATX boards provide more space for expansion slots than microATX boards and are ideal for gaming PCs that require larger graphics cards and higher amounts of RAM memory.
Mini ITX motherboards have recently become popular due to their small size while still providing plenty of features such as PCI Express x16 slots, support for multiple storage devices and more USB ports than traditional ATX boards. Mini-ITX boards measure 6.75 inches by 6.75 inches making them small enough to fit into many HTPC cases; they are ideal for home media centers or even extremely compact digital signage systems that don’t need much expansion capability beyond possibly one extra graphics card slot (for dedicated hardware video decoding). These smaller form factors significantly reduce power consumption too so they are a good choice for systems used in remote locations like industrial sites or offices where power bills matter.
MicroATX is an exploding market with many desktop computer systems coming out in this form factor every year from giants like Dell, HP, Toshiba and others who rely on these bigger but still small enough to fit into quite tight spaces form factors in order to ship out slimmer desktops without compromising build quality or cutting back on powerful features like USB 3 ports which were added first on MicroATX mainboard designs.
Finally NF4 is another compact version that measures 8 inches by 8 inches – giving techies an opportunity to enjoy all the advantages of larger ATX motherboards with slightly reduced size allowing them better options when selecting their desired back cases especially if they have constraints imposed by limited workspace setup so selecting right motherboard form factor makes all difference when building PCs whatever type you have envisioned.
Types of Form Factors
The form factor refers to the size, shape, and layout of a motherboard. These dimensions are determined by several key factors including size and designation of individual motherboard components as well as type of case or chassis required to house the board.
In general, two major motherboard types are distinguished: ATX (or Advanced Technology Extended) and microATX. Both product lines can be further divided into smaller sub-form factors according to the following classification chart:
ATX Form Factors
-Extended ATX (eATX)
MicroATX Form Factors
A traditional full ATX board is 12 inches x 9.6 inches which is further classified as Standard ATX. The Extended AT X or eAT X board is slightly larger than Standard at 12 inches x 11inch or 12 inches x 13 inch depending on the manufacturer. The XL – AT X form factor is even larger for extreme gaming builds and measures 13.5 inch x 10.3 inch usually but some proprietary extensions of this standard may be created in certain cases by manufacturers who choose to offer such options in their products. The smallest form factor in this category is Mini IT X which stands at 6.7 inches x 6.7 inches.
These form factors provide flexibility while choosing a computer case that would support them, allowing one to choose between different sizes at different price levels according to their needs and technical specifications desired in a device such as CPU, fan power connectors, card slots, Number of RAM slots, etc.
ATX (Advanced Technology eXtended)
The Advanced Technology eXtended (ATX) form factor is one of the most widely used motherboard and power supply form factors. It is a switch from the earlier Baby AT design that preceded it. The ATX form factor was designed to improve on the previous Baby AT design, which was used with various microprocessors including Intel’s 80386, 80486 and Pentium Pro processors.
The current revised version of the ATX standard is known as ATX12V 2.x or SSI CEB v2. This new revision includes several improvements to ensure greater power efficiency, compatibility and features such as support for larger amounts of RAM, more slots for expansion cards, multiple video cards and increased airflow for improved cooling.
ATX motherboards measure 12 x 9.6 inches (305 x 244 millimeters) but can slightly vary in size based on their specific layout depending on the use of integrated components such as on-board audio, video or network controllers. An ATX motherboard also offers additional connectors located around its edges to connect additional components such as drives, memory modules and cooling fans.
MicroATX (also known as μATX, uATX, mATX and mITX) is a standard size of motherboard first developed by Intel in 1997. It is somewhat larger than mini-ITX motherboards and provides many more features. The main advantage of a MicroATX board is that there is more compatibility with CPU sockets and expansion cards, making it possible to use higher end components than those available in smaller form factors.
When compared to larger ATX boards, MicroATX boards offer fewer slots for expansion cards, but better use of space while still offering most features that consumers demand. Micro-Star International (MSI) released the world’s first commercial MicroATX motherboard in 1998. MSI was also the first company to introduce an Intel 200 Series chipset-based Micro ATX motherboard in 2017.
III. Components of a Form Factor
Form factors are guidelines set by industry organizations and motherboard manufacturers use these standards to create boards according to specific parameters and measurements. Each form factor is designed with a specific purpose in mind. They determine the size, shape, power supply type, drive bays, expansion slots, ports and other components included on the motherboard.
The latest form factor in existence is ATX; the others are microATX and FlexATX. All three vary slightly in their dimensions but still share basic similarities to one another. Each form factor also has various components for powering and connecting other computer peripherals.
Three major components of a form factor are its connectors, power supply type and expansion slots. Connectors are placed at specific positions to accept compatible devices such as VGA or USB cables from peripherals like a mouse or keypad. Similarly, these connectors can also provide power connection for devices like hard drives or fans within a chassis. Expansion slots allow motherboard users to extend their system capabilities by connecting additional cards for added features such as audio or video support into the board through PCI Express expansion slots that are located on most models of motherboards today. Finally, each form factor’s designated power supply type determines how much wattage your system will require when assembling your own PC.
The size and shape of motherboards, also referred to as the form factor, can vary greatly. Common form factors include ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX and others.
The main difference between the different form factors is the number of expansion slots they offer, allowing you to install additional components such as a graphics card or sound card. ATX form factor motherboards are generally larger and offer more expansion slots than smaller boards; however, there are smaller ATX boards available for those who need more space in their case. MicroATX boards also come in a variety of sizes and usually feature fewer expansion slots than an ATX board. For example, a Micro-ATX board might feature one or two full-length PCIe x16 expansion slots and one or two standard 64-bit PCI slots — a far cry from the multiple PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots available on many ATX motherboards.
Finally Mini-ITX is one of the smallest form factors around and offers very few expansion options with only one full-length PCIe x16 slot in some cases while other models may opt for just a single mini PCIe slot plus up to four 32 bit PCI slots when additional expansion possibilities are desired.
When you are shopping for a motherboard, one of the important physical characteristics to consider is its form factor. The form factor defines the physical layout and size of the components on a motherboard, as well as that of the enclosure that it is mounted in. Motherboards come in four main form factors—ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX, and Flex-ATX—and there are even smaller specialized types such as Nano-ITX and Pico-ITX.
It’s important to note that while all of these form factors were created to fit into a standard computer case, they will not always fit into each other’s chassis designs due to their particular sizes and shapes. Therefore, it’s essential to check the measurements before buying a new PC case or cooler for your motherboard.
One way of ensuring compatibility between a motherboard and its enclosure is by looking at its mounting holes. The mounting holes — or standoffs — on the printed circuit board (PCB) secure it inside compatible cases with minimal physical stress on both the case and board. Each primary form factor has several variations that determine their specific mounting point locations; generally speaking, if two motherboards share the same family name (e.g., ATX), then they should use the same mount pattern so they can be swapped with minimal effort. When buying an off-the-shelf case for your PC build, make sure to read about its compatibility with each major form factor before purchasing.
PC motherboards typically have several types of power connectors for connecting to the computer’s power supply. These connectors are extremely important for both powering the components on the motherboard and supplying them with the proper voltage (current).
The most common type of connector is the ATX20+4-pin. It connects to a power supply and provides a required 20-pin connector and an adjacent 4-pin optional connection, usually divided into two 2-pins. This allows three different power states (standby, soft/off, and full) to be managed by the motherboard.
Another popular connector is the older 8 pin EPS (Enhanced Power Supply) which has eight pins in two rows symmetrically placed 4 pins in each row. Finally, more recent boards require more power than traditional models so they come with additional 6-pin PCI Express connectors that are used to provide extra power for some graphics cards that need it. It connects directly from your power supply’s 6-pin connector providing up to 150 Watts of extra power upon request from your hardware components if needed.
So all these are necessary for delivering sufficient or excessive amounts of current to different motherboard components accordingly based on form factor used on those motherboads.
Expansion slots are connectors located on the motherboard that allow you to add peripheral components such as graphics cards, sound cards and additional memory to your computer. The form factor and size of the expansion slots on a motherboard determine which type of cards can be used. Expansion slots work in tandem with expansion cards, which fit into the slot and open up additional capabilities on the computer. There are several different types of expansion slots commonly found in computers.
PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect): This is one of the most common types of expansion slots used in PCs today and has been around since 1993.
PCI Express: An evolution from PCI, PCIe provides a much faster data transfer rate, double that of AGP for example – this is achieved by increasing the number of connections between the slot and card making it more efficient in terms of data throughput.
AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port): This was one of the first dedicated graphics expansion slots, designed for high-end 3D graphics performance specifically tailored for videogames and other applications requiring intense graphics rendering processing power.
ISA (Industry Standard Architecture): This was popular before PCI became commonplace; ISA slots are becoming increasingly rare as they have been replaced by their faster counterparts like PCI or PCIe
Increasingly smaller form factors: The market demand for smaller devices has lead to a couple different form factors like Mini-PCI, Mini-PCI Express which try to fill some very specific needs on ultra portable device designs without sacrificing performance due to their low profile nature.
In conclusion, a form factor defines the size and feature specifications of boards of similar architecture. It provides compatibility amongst computer components and defines the performance levels that can be expected from a motherboard. There are many different form factors, but the two most commonly used ones are ATX and micro ATX – each with their own advantages.
Larger form factors accommodate more features, such as additional drive bays and extra slots for peripherals, while smaller form factors are easier to fit in smaller cases or spaces. Ultimately, your decision will depend on which components you need to provide support for and whether you have space restrictions when choosing your motherboard. No matter what form factor you choose, make sure it works with all your other components before buying it!
Importance of choosing the right form factor in building a computer
In addition to the size and shape of a motherboard, the term “form factor” helps to describe other aspects of a board such as its port capacities, slot placements, and internal component arrangement. Choosing an appropriate form factor is key when assembling any computer.
Matching the form factor to your desired components will ensure compatibility with CPUs, RAM, graphics cards, hard drives, additional ports, and other peripherals. Form factors also help dictate the physical dimensions of your motherboard as well as the overall case dimensions making it easier to fit all the components inside your casing, whether large or small.
The most popular form factors are ATX and Micro ATX, both of which offer great versatility for all types of builds. ATX motherboards have multiple ports for extra storage options and large slots for powerful graphics cards and CPUs. The Micro ATX boards lack some features found in their larger counterpart due to their smaller size but are still very compatible with a large number of components.
Other specialized form factors exist such as mini-ITX boards which require less space but offer fewer ports than standard motherboards do; this makes them particularly useful in situations where space is minimal or when maximum compatibility isn’t required – ideal for low powered media hubs or NAS devices for example. For custom projects there are even completely unique form factors such as HPTX that allow you to use specialized components with larger-than-usual power draw capacities – perfect if you’re looking for something ultra powerful that still fits inside your normal sized PC build!
Factors to consider when choosing a form factor
Before selecting a motherboard form factor, you should consider your computer’s system configuration. This includes the shape and size of the case, the number of expansion slots available, the type of processor and video card being used, and other components that may be inside. It is also important to consider how much space is needed for components such as hard drives and optical drives. In addition to these factors, you should also take into account whether or not you will be able to upgrade your motherboard in the future.
ATX: The ATX form factor is the most common type used for current-generation computers. It was developed by Intel in 1995 and has since become the standard size for many different types of motherboards. ATX boards come in varying sizes from Mini-ATX to larger Extended-ATX boards. Standard full-size ATX boards generally have seven expansion slots with additional Mini PCI Express slots available on some models as well as an integrated I/O shield for installing supporting devices like sound cards and SATA controllers.
Micro ATX: Micro ATX boards are slightly smaller than regular ATX designs. They are mainly used in smaller cases where space is at a premium but can also be found in mid-tower or full tower designs due to their versatility and size benefits when compared to their bigger brethren. As its name implies, Micro ATX designs generally provide four expansion slots instead of seven found on a standard size board while still offering enough features and options such as integrated networking support or sound cards if necessary.
Mini ITX: The Mini ITX form factor was introduced by VIA Technologies in 2001 and combines small size with advanced features like SATA ports or integrated USB 3 ports making it ideal for SFF (small form factor) builds such as HTPCs (home theater PCs). Mini ITX boards usually feature two expansion slots but feature more compact case sizes than their larger counterparts meaning they can fit inside even tiny thin mini PC cases without compromising on component selection options or build cooling performance which can often be an issue with SFF systems due to limited airflow intake opportunities.
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