Mobo Form Factor Size Comparison Chart – Which Motherboard Type is for YOU?

mobo planet

In today’s world of technology, diversity is the name of the game. From smartphones to laptops, there’s a device or component for every need and preference. When it comes to building your own PC, one of the crucial decisions you’ll face is choosing the right motherboard.

You might wonder, do we really need so many different motherboard sizes? The answer, my friends, is a resounding YES. The size, airflow, performance, and price of a motherboard are all key factors that can significantly impact your computer’s performance.

While having a wide range of motherboard options is great for consumers, it’s no secret that motherboard manufacturers have stirred up some confusion with their naming choices and the multitude of form factors available. This can be particularly confusing, especially for newcomers to the world of PC building.

To make things more complex, some manufacturers toss in their own custom or unique form factors, further complicating the motherboard market. It’s clear that standardizing and making labels more straightforward could go a long way in making the process of choosing the perfect motherboard for a specific build much simpler.

Nevertheless, let’s dive into the world of motherboard form factors. This way, you can make an informed decision about which one suits your needs best.

Comparison Chart

mobo comp chart

CPU Types

The compatibility of CPUs with motherboards varies depending on their make and model. You cannot simply slot an AMD CPU into an Intel motherboard, or vice versa. The compatibility issue between Intel and AMD CPUs arises from their distinct sockets, which are incompatible with each other.

Let’s explore this further to ensure that your hard-earned money is invested wisely.

cpu comp chart

Take a look at the diagram, and you’ll notice that CPU sockets aren’t one-size-fits-all. In fact, the pin counts can vary dramatically. Buying a CPU and socket that aren’t compatible is something you’d rather avoid.

Now, let’s understand these acronyms: LGA and PGA. LGA stands for “Land Grid Array,” and it’s distinguished by having the pins located on the socket itself, not on the CPU. Conversely, PGA, or “Pin Grid Array,” places the pins directly on the CPU and the corresponding contact pins on the socket. For many years, Intel primarily used the LGA format for their CPUs, while AMD favored PGA.

But as you can see in the chart, times have changed. AMD has shifted towards producing their latest chips in the LGA format, marking a notable evolution in CPU socket technology.

It’s not just about the sockets, there’s another factor at play here – the chipset. The chipset plays a critical role in managing the traffic between vital components such as the CPU, GPU, RAM, storage devices, and peripherals.

The chipset holds the keys to compatibility, and it is a distinct component separate from the motherboard itself. This chipset is a permanent fixture on the motherboard, and it must align with the components you intend to use. So, while the motherboard’s socket compatibility is crucial for your CPU, so is the socket’s compatibility with the chipset.

In the past, motherboard chipsets followed a dual-chip design, featuring separate Northbridge and Southbridge chips. However, the landscape has evolved with both AMD and Intel now having transitioned to using a single, integrated chip.

Intel terms this chip the “Platform Controller Hub” (PCH), while AMD refers to it simply as the chipset. It’s important to note that these are physical chips firmly planted on the motherboard used for the critical task of managing data traffic between various components.

Form Factors

So, you browse to your favorite online store for computer parts, anticipating the moment you’ll piece together your dream PC. You head to the components section and then to the motherboards category, only to be bombarded by a dizzying array of options. One of the many filters you encounter is “form factors.” Let’s dive into each option and break them down one by one.

mobo size chart
CHART
intel mobos
INTEL
amd comp chart
AMD

Intel and AMD Options:

ATX (Advanced Technology Extended):

  • Dimensions: 12″ x 9.6″
  • Most popular motherboard option.
  • Typically offers 4 DIMM (RAM) slots for memory expansion.
  • Provides 2-4 PCIe x16 expansion slots for additional components.

mATX (Micro ATX):

  • Dimensions: 9.6″ × 9.6″
  • A compact version of ATX (~25% shorter), compatible with most ATX cases.
  • Good choice for small form factor computers.
  • Provides ~2 PCIe x16 slots and max 4 RAM slots.

EATX (Extended ATX):

  • Dimensions: 12″ x 10.5″
  • Commonly used in servers or high-end gaming PCs that need extra GPUs.
  • Usually has 4-6 PCIe x16 ports, and 6-8 DIMM Slots

ITX (Mini-ITX):

  • Dimensions: 6.7″ x 6.7″
  • Designed for limited constraint systems, operates on low power thus low heat.
  • Limited expansion options with only one PCIe x16 slot and 2 DIMM slots.

Intel Specific Options:

uATX (microATX):

  • Same as mATX (Micro ATX), 9.6″ x 9.6″

EEB (Enhanced Extended ATX):

  • Dimensions: 13″ x 14″
  • Commonly used in high-end workstations and enthusiast builds.
  • Supports ~8-12 memory slots and ~7 PCIe x16 slots.

Micro BTX:

  • Dimensions: 10.5″ × 10.4″
  • Not widely used in modern PC builds.
  • Supports 4 DIMM slots and 1 PCIe x16 slot.

SSI CEB (Server System Infrastructure CEB):

  • Dimensions: 10.5″ x 12″
  • Typically ~8 memory slots and 1 PCIe x16 slot.
  • Primarily designed for server systems.

Small Form Factor:

  • A broad category encompassing various compact motherboard designs.
  • Ideal for building small and space-efficient PCs.
  • These motherboards come in various shapes and sizes, each catering to different use cases and constraints.

AMD Specific

Enhanced EATX:

  • Dimensions: 12″ x 10.5″
  • Supports 4 DIMM memory slots and 2x PCIe x16 expansion slots.
  • Often used in high-performance and enthusiast-grade systems.

Mini DTX:

  • Dimensions: 8.0″ x 6.7″
  • Supports 2 DIMM memory slots and ~2 x16 expansion slots.
  • Suitable for compact setups.

XL ATX:

  • Dimensions: 12.8″ x 10.8″
  • Supports 8 DIMM memory slots and 4 PCIe x16 expansion slots.
  • Offers more room for additional graphics cards, storage drives, and other components.

Case Compatibility

PC cases come in various sizes, from Small Form Factor (SFF) to Full Tower, each designed for specific motherboard sizes.

cas compat chart

Understanding Motherboards

When it comes to motherboard quality, several key factors distinguish one board from another. One of the primary factors is the motherboard’s chipset, as we discussed before. The chipset plays a pivotal role in managing various functions within the motherboard.

High-end chipsets like Intel’s Z-series or AMD’s X-series often provide more PCIe lanes, allowing for multiple GPUs and other expansion cards to be active simultaneously. In contrast, budget-oriented chipsets may offer fewer PCIe lanes, limiting the number of GPUs or expansion cards that can operate concurrently.

intel chipset chart

Intel’s website provides a great tool for chipset comparison, here are the most recent three chipset versions.

Motherboards’ form factors dictate the peripheral ports. More expensive motherboards typically offering a greater number of USB ports, newer performance standards, and additional room for drives.

Stability is another significant aspect of motherboard quality. More expensive motherboards often feature higher-quality components, such as capacitors and power regulation components, which contribute to system stability.

Inexpensive motherboards may use cheaper components, making them more susceptible to failures. Mismatched components, especially in terms of power delivery and thermal management, can result in system instability and random failures.

Also, cheaper motherboards tend to focus on providing only the essential features required for a basic computer. In contrast, pricier motherboards offer greater expandability, with more RAM slots, PCIe slots, SATA connections, and M.2 slots.

Conclusion

Picking the right motherboard might seem daunting, but it’s not because of a lack of options. Understanding the different form factors, chipsets, and how components work together can make the process much more manageable.