Every computer needs a motherboard, but there are many different kinds. Some boards have more ports or support higher frequencies, but some distinctions can be difficult to understand unless you’re an enthusiast.
Your Motherboard is probably the most important component of your computer, but did you know there are 10 different types of motherboards?
This guide explains the differences between all 10 types of motherboards and which one might be right for you.
Table of Contents
- 1. Micro ATX
- 2. AT Motherboard
- 3. BTX Motherboard
- 4. LPX Motherboard
- 5. ITX Motherboard
- 6. Pico BTX motherboard
- 7. FlexATX
- 8. Mini ITX MB
- 9. Full ATX
- 10. Baby AT motherboard
1. Micro ATX
If you’re building a home theater PC, micro ATX is a great choice. Since most home theater PCs don’t have video cards and tend to be housed in smaller cases, they don’t need many expansion slots or drive bays.
Plus, micro ATX boards are great if you have limited space on your desk; they take up much less room than larger models.
As with any motherboard choice, read reviews to ensure that a given model works well with your particular CPU.
This review will help ensure that the processor fits into its socket properly without undue pressure or movement that could damage it over time—especially important if it’s an expensive high-end chip from Intel or AMD.
Micro ATX motherboards were designed with performance-driven users in mind. They have enough expansion slots to run two graphics cards at once, making them great for gaming enthusiasts or anyone who wants the best performance out of their rig.
There are plenty of good choices on this list, including Gigabyte’s GA-Z170N-WIFI, which comes with dual-band WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, and Intel’s Core i7 6700K Skylake processor—a must-have for any gamer worth his salt!
Micro-ATX: If portability is your priority, use a micro-ATX board instead. These are smaller than full ATX boards but still large enough to support most gaming PC builds.
They’re less expensive, too, often costing around $200-$300 for an entry-level model.
2. AT Motherboard
If you’re looking to build a PC with a large ATX or extended ATX motherboard, you’ll need an ATX computer case. ATX cases are usually slightly wider than Micro-ATX models but smaller than full-sized towers.
In addition to your Motherboard, some ATX cases can hold two or three additional internal drives. which means they’re best suited for mid-range builds where storage space isn’t as important as expansion options.
If you want to build a high-end rig optimized for speed, look at Micro-ATX computer cases instead. These tend to be more spacious without sacrificing too much in terms of performance.
The differences between these different motherboards will affect the type of hardware you can put inside them, and it all depends on what software or hardware you want to run.
3. BTX Motherboard
BTX motherboard refers to a motherboard design that dates back to 2005. They are sometimes available but rarely used since they are incompatible with standard ATX boards.
BTX motherboards feature a different form factor, sockets, ports, and new cooling techniques.
One major benefit of BTX is its ability to support three video cards in SLI or Crossfire mode rather than two in an ATX board.
Even if you don’t need such functionality today, it can pay off in future upgrades by allowing more flexibility when choosing video cards.
For example, let’s say you have decided on the perfect Motherboard for your needs today, but next year a company releases a new generation of video card that fits your needs better.
Well, if your old Motherboard only supported 2 slots, then there would be no way to use the new card without purchasing another motherboard entirely (which may be difficult or impossible depending on where you live).
But on the other hand, let’s say the older model has 3 slots, so upgrading to this newer card is just a matter of getting rid of an old card and adding in the new one – an easy fix!
4. LPX Motherboard
LPX, or Low Profile Extended ATX, is a smaller version of ATX that’s designed to be used in smaller cases. These boards aren’t very common, but if your computer is only small, they’re a great choice.
The layout has changed a bit over time as well; if you see what appears to be a 7-pin connector on older LPX boards, it’s likely actually an S-Video port.
While still present on some boards today, S-Video ports aren’t nearly as important as they were back in 2007 when Windows XP was brand new.
LPX isn’t often seen because so many other choices exist. If you’re planning on using the board in a case with more than one expansion slot, another form factor might work better.
5. ITX Motherboard
ITX motherboard is one of the different motherboard ideals for small PCs or HTPCs (Home Theater Personal Computers).
These boards are often no bigger than a credit card, making them perfect for small rigs. If you want to build a super-small computer that packs big performance into a tiny package, an ITX motherboard will do it.
Remember that these boards don’t support SLI or Crossfire – so if you want to game on your PC, they probably aren’t your best bet.
However, they’re great choices if gaming isn’t your main focus – like if you want to stream TV shows and movies on an HTPC in your bedroom or office.
And, since they’re low-profile, you’ll have plenty of room for other components and won’t need to worry about any heat problems due to tight spacing.
6. Pico BTX motherboard
A pico BTX motherboard uses a mini-ITX or pico-ITX form factor, making it a great option if space is at a premium.
It’s also cheaper than many standard ATX boards, meaning you get more functionality out of your money.
Pico BTX cases are also compact; it might be your best option if you want to build a Hackintosh (desktop Mac) computer.
And while they typically don’t have the same number of expansion slots as a larger board, some offer built-in WiFi and Bluetooth so that you can use wireless peripherals without any cables.
FlexATX is a motherboard form factor standard designed to be a power-efficient alternative to ATX, microATX, and mini-ITX.
FlexATX’s small size allows it to be used in small form factor PCs like HTPCs. A typical FlexATX motherboard fits into a case that can hold an optical drive with plenty of room to spare.
FlexATX boards often have audio I/O connectors but don’t have as many PCI slots as their larger counterparts.
You can find out more about FlexATX at their official website. If you’re looking for smaller than microATX, then FlexATX is what you want.
8. Mini ITX MB
Mini ITX motherboards are best suited for small form factor cases or if you’re building a media center.
It’s impossible to overclock a Mini ITX motherboard due to space limitations, but they still pack all of the features you might need in a home computer.
The only downside is that there isn’t much room in Mini ITX cases, so installing aftermarket CPU coolers or power supplies can be difficult.
However, if the size is your biggest concern, these boards will work well in many scenarios. Mini ITX cases offer more expansion slots than their larger counterparts.
These boards are great for those who have limited space and want maximum versatility.
9. Full ATX
Full ATX motherboards are designed to hold more expansion cards and a larger power supply, so they’re larger than micro-ATX boards.
Most gaming PCs (though not all) will have a full ATX motherboard inside. Full ATX is also commonly used in workstations or servers because it can fit more components than micro-ATX or mini-ITX.
The downside is that full ATX boards aren’t very portable—they can be difficult to mount in small cases because they take up so much space. They’re also heavy and expensive, costing models $500 or more.
10. Baby AT motherboard
As their name suggests, Baby AT boards is smaller versions of AT motherboards. Motherboard form factors are a big deal since your case needs to have compatible mounting brackets.
Baby ATs have the same basic design as standard (AT) boards, but they’re generally more compact to fit into mini-tower cases with fewer expansion slots.
If you’re using a Mini-ITX motherboard, there’s no choice–you’ll need a Baby AT board.
And if you want to build an HTPC or media center PC from scratch using Intel’s Next Unit of Computing kits, it’s also worth noting that these boards use the Baby AT form factor.
Factors to Consider in Buying These Different Types of Motherboard
Functionality, price, availability, case design, power requirements, format. These things vary with each board.
You must decide whether your budget allows it and what kind of PC setup (desktop or laptop) you have.
You must also consider if you have special requirements, such as a mini-ITX motherboard. Be sure to find out what acronyms stand for ports, so you don’t get confused when shopping around.
The form factor doesn’t matter as much as all your other needs combined in a single purchase decision.
There are many motherboards on offer in today’s world. With such a wide range to choose, it cannot be easy to decide which is best for your needs.
Doing your research beforehand is important, as a poor motherboard choice can have devastating consequences for other parts of your computer (the video card or memory, particularly)