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Why you may want to consider an ATX style build

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Before we start, I need to make sure you are familiar with the various types of motherboard form-factors. If you are not yet aware of them check out linus's fast as possible video he made awhile ago and then come back to this post. Don't worry, i'll wait:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tbeh1eRDmsk

 

I have seen plenty of new users on the forums requesting mini-ITX builds. There are however, many reasons why you may want to consider building a machine with an ATX motherboard. You see while mini-ITX has the advantage of being small, the biggest disadvantage of it is expandability and cooling. Let's start by listing the advantages of building a computer with an ATX motherboard:

 

1. ATX motherboards have plenty of expansion slots:

You see CPUs are really not getting tremendously faster these days and this means more people are holding onto their motherboards longer (i'm looking at you 2600K users). What this means is because our base platform is lasting longer than expected, fresh new interfaces (like USB 3.1) are likely to be released years after your base platform has come out. If you had an mini-ITX build, you would be stuck. Since your board only has a single PCIe slot, you either need to remove your GPU and use that expansion card or upgrade your entire base platform (which would require buying a new mobo and CPU at a minimum). Having an ATX computer build would allow you to add expansion cards like USB 3.0 cards, USB 3.1 cards,AC wireless cards, SATA 6.0gb/s cards, ect. This also applies to graphics cards. Want to go crossfire or SLI? We'll you can forget about that if you have a mini-ITX computer build. If your build it mini-ITX you only have a single expansion slot and therefore can only install a single GPU at a time. Therefore no CF or SLI for you!

 

2. ATX computers (generally) allow for more overclocking:

With mini-ITX computers being very small, one therefore cannot fit as large or heavy CPU coolers. With an ATX computer build, one has the opportunity to squeeze dual, triple or even quad radiators or ridiculously large air CPU coolers in your build. Most (not all) mini-ITX computer builds are constrained to either low-profile air CPU coolers or a single 120mm radiator. Having a larger CPU cooler means you can overclock your CPU more, thus allowing for greater performance. Now, this doesn't mean that you will have trouble with keeping temps in check with a mini-ITX build or even that you won't be able to do any overclocking. What I am trying to point out is an ATX computer build can be constructed with more radiators and thus you may be able to get just a few extra hundred megahertz out of your CPU.

 

3. ATX computer builds can be configured to run quieter:

While Mini-ITX builds are very small, this means that all that heat that your computer components create are going to be more constrained . Your computer components Are going to run hotter compared to an ATX build because the heat-generating components are just so much closer together. To counter this, you will need to add higher-spinning fans to your build compared to an ATX computer build which may be able to get away with several fans spinning at only a few-hundred rpm. This is one of the very big compelling reasons all my builds are ATX is because I can keep my computer very quiet and keep all the fans spinning at only a few-hundred rpm even under full load with my 5820K at a 4.5GHz overclock. Although if you don't care about how much sound your build creates and are just going to turn up the volume on your headphones, this may not be a factor for you. 

 

4. ATX motherboards (can) be less expensive:

This a trend that is slowly changing, it is worth mentioning this. Mini-ITX motherboards tend to cost more than their ATX counterparts. With a mini-ITX motherboard, the manufacturer must integrate many features an ATX motherboard has the ability to use in the form of expansion cards. Let me explain. You see since mini-ITX motherboard only have a single expansion slot, therefore many manufacturers integrate wi-fi modules, more USB ports, better audio, and other I/O expansion that not only drives up the cost of the motherboard, but that you may not even use. ATX manufacturers on the other hand, can take a different approach. Due to the size of ATX boards, some manufacturers may instead choose to only give you the I/O provided by the chipset and also give you plenty of expansion slots. This way for the few people who want to have 20 USB ports on their computer can go out and buy several expansion cards rather than everyone overpaying for a feature that not even everyone may use. This also means the and ATX boards themselves cost less thus saving you money.

 

5. ATX motherboards have a higher resale value:

This is a trend I have seen on places like ebay and craigslist recently. ATX motherboards tend to go for a higher price on the used market while mini-ITX motherboard tend to depreciate faster and thus cannot be sold for as much. On the surface this doesn't make any sense. After all, that mini-ITX motherboard costs more than the equivalent ATX board when you bought it, so why would it resell for less? We'll to investigate that we will need to go back to point 4. In point 4 I said manufacturers add extra chipsets to your mini-ITX board to make up for the lack of expansion slots. But by the time you go to sell your mini-ITX motherboard, those interfaces on the motherboard are likely outdated. Therefore buyers may not have as much incentive to buy your product over an ATX board, where they can simply add some expansion cards to make up for the lack of newer interfaces like USB 3.0, wireless AC, SATA 6.0gb/s ect. Therefore with a mini-ITX board not only did you spend more money on your product in the first place, but you also will not be able to resell it for as much. If you have money flowing out of your ears, this may not be a concern to you. But for the rest of us (including me) that frequently rely on the resale value of my parts to put towards my next upgrade, this can be very annoying when my parts do not resell for as much as I thought. 

 

6. ATX motherboards are easier to repurpose:

Want to reuse your computer as a server or a NAS? We'll it's going to be much easier doing that with an ATX board rather than that mini-ITX board. You see by the time you intend to reuse your old gaming computer as a NAS or some sort of server, the interfaces on your board are likely outdated. With an ATX build this is a simple problem to solve. I just go on newegg, buy a copule of PCIe RAID cards, done. Trying to repurpose a mini-ITX build on the other hand, becomes much trickier. Yoiu see that mini-ITX board only has a single expansion slot. Therefore you may need to decide between having a RAID card installed or (in my case) a GPU I keep running 24/7 for folding@home. YM server downstairs has two RAId cards in it and a GPU. If I had tried to re-purpose an mini-ITX board to do all this, it simply wouldn't have worked because I wouldn't have had enough expansion slots for all those things. An ATX build allows me to do this easily while a mini-ITX build would be mmuch more constrained for reuse. 

 

7. your mini-ITX case can fit mini-ITX motherboard ONLY:

Let's say you find a great deal on newegg or amazon for a nice Z170 board for 50 bucks that you want to install in your old mini-ITX case. Except there is just one problem... the board you are looking at is an ATX motherboard. If you do an ATX computer build, it means you will also have to buy an ATX computer case. That means when it is time to upgrade and you intend to reuse your case, your only options are a mini-ITX motherboard whereas a user with an ATX computer case can choose a board ranging from ATX all the way down to a mini-ITX motherboard size.

 

Now let's take about the disadvantages of going with an ATX build. As far as I know there is only two and it should be obvious:

 

1. Smaller size.

A mini-ITX build will be able to be built smaller then an ATX computer every day of the week. To me, this really isn't a concern, I have a nice large room with plenty of space to fit my Fractal Define R5, therefore I went with ATX for all the aforementioned benefits above. Although I know some people live in places so small, that they are willing to sacrifice all the benefits above for a smaller build wherever possible. Although that being said, I recently visited a college where someone had managed to cram a corsair 900D in hit 50 square ft dorm room. Therefore this disadvantage that may not be as great as one may initially think.

 

 

2. mini-ITX builds are easier to carry around:

If you go to a lot of LAN parties with your rig this is going to be a big factor. There is no two-ways about it, a mini-ITX rig is going to be a hell of a lot easier to carry around than your giant ATX computer. 

Due to the smaller size, mini-ITX builds weigh less and thus are easier to carry around to places making them very appealing to people that need to move around their computers a lot (and I mean A LOT not like twice a year like twice a week). Just this feature alone can be a deal-breaker for some, and can be the biggest compelling reason to choose mini-ITX over ATX. Although bear in mind if you are trying to take your rig around everyware you go I have a message for you... This is why we have laptops. If all you intend for your computer to do is web browsing an that's it, get yourself a cheap laptop like an HP stream. It'll browse the web just fine and comes with the computer, monitor, keyboard and mouse (we'll in this case a trackpad) all combined into one. And if you have a bit more money and still want portability, a gaming laptop may be for you.

 

I hope this guide has helped some of you decide to go with an ATX build instead.  I also hope this has helped anyone change their mind for their build and give them more features that they may actually use in the first place. Also, I'd like to hear if this guide was actually helpful to anyone below. I do appreciate it.

 

note: Although I have been talking about mostly ATX computer motherboards, there is also a motherboard form factor caller micro-ATX. It is smaller than ATX but larger than mini-ITX and retains many of the same benefits of an ATX board without the size and expansion constraints of a mini-ITX motherboard. If you want to take a sort of "goldilocks" approach so you have less expansion but still a smaller size than an ATX build, micro-ATX may be for you.

 

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Most people will have safe temperatures while gaming and even while overclocking depending on their cooling setup with a mITX setup, and most people can game with a mITX GTX 970 or less. As far as PCIe expansion goes, I can give you that, but honestly if you keep up with the latest generations of things you can get most of what you need out of a mITX board from the get-go.

 

Of course there are exceptions to that, but unless you’re doing something out-of-the-ordinary, really the only time I recommend going µATX is if you’re doing an X99 build or need a beefier GPU. That’s it. There’s really little logical reason to waste space.


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【㆒ACTIVE】SENUSRET II (Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga)

CPU: Intel Core i5-7300U (CPUMark ~5,132) RAM: 16GiB soldered DDR4 RAM Storage: Samsung 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD Display: 14” 1440p 16:9 built-in OLED multitouch LCD OS: Arch Linux + Windows 10 Enterprise N LTSB

【RETIRED】SENUSRET (Lenovo ThinkPad S1 Yoga)

CPU: Intel Core i5-4200U (CPUMark ~3,267) RAM: 8GiB soldered DDR3L RAM Storage: Unknown 128GB SATA III SSD Display: 12.5” 1080p 16:9 built-in IPS multitouch LCD OS: RemixOS (Android for PC), version 3.0.207

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2. I believe currently the hwbot record for highest clocked skylake processor is held by asus itx board


CPU: Intel i7 5820K @ 4.20 GHz | MotherboardMSI X99S SLI PLUS | RAM: Corsair LPX 16GB DDR4 @ 2666MHz | GPU: Sapphire R9 Fury (x2 CrossFire)
Storage: Samsung 950Pro 512GB // OCZ Vector150 240GB // Seagate 1TB | PSU: Seasonic 1050 Snow Silent | Case: NZXT H440 | Cooling: Nepton 240M
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2 minutes ago, DXMember said:

2. I believe currently the hwbot record for highest clocked skylake processor is held by asus itx board

It's on the Asrock Z170M OC Formula :P

 

http://hwbot.org/submission/3093202_chi_kui_lam_cpu_frequency_core_i7_6700k_7025.66_mhz

 

Props for mentioning hwbot tho :D


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Hwbot: http://hwbot.org/user/lays/ 

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Posted · Original PosterOP
8 minutes ago, AlexTheRose said:

Most people will have safe temperatures while gaming and even while overclocking depending on their cooling setup with a mITX setup, and most people can game with a mITX GTX 970 or less.

 

The only time I recommend going µATX is if you’re doing an X99 build or need a beefier GPU. That’s it.

The point I am trying to make is an ATX computer can be stuffed with more radiators and thus you can get a few extra hundred mhz out of your CPU. I wasn't trying to indicate that you would inherently have trouble with keeping temps in check with an ITX, build, just that overclocking may be a bit more limited due to the limited cooler size one may be able to use.

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7 minutes ago, CUDA_Cores said:

The point I am trying to make is an ATX computer can be stuffed with more radiators and thus you can get a few extra hundred mhz out of your CPU. I wasn't trying to indicate that you would inherently have trouble with keeping temps in check with an ITX, build, just that overclocking may be a bit more limited due to the limited cooler size one may be able to use.

That’s right, but like I said in my revised post it’s only niche users who will really benefit from an ATX build. Most people tend to waste space going with some big, cumbersome ATX build that they’re only going to use to play CS:GO or BF4 all day, or even render videos on if they wanted to.

 

I have a hard time believing everyone has the real estate to spare. I think they simply don’t think about it that much :D

 

You know, I may just write a case analysis of why mITX PCs would be better to go with your thread. brb


The one and only CPU Buyer’s Guide??owl??The LGBT CommunityPower user of Arch Linux

〜 Some day, we’ll all be free 〜 Some day, we’ll live as one family in sweet harmony 〜

 

【NOTDONE】HETEPSENUSRET

CPU: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1900X (CPUMark ~15,398)  RAM: 2× 16GiB G.Skill Trident Z DIMMs, CL16 @ 3200MHz  Motherboard: Undetermined  Storage: 2× 1TB Plextor M8Pe PCIe NVMe SSDs + 4× 6TB Seagate IronWolf Pro HDDs  PSU: SeaSonic PRIME 1000W 80+ Titanium modular ATX unit ∫ OS: unRAID, with Crunchbang-like Arch Linux x86-64, Windows 10 Enterprise N LTSB, & BunsenLabs Helium (Debian derivative)

【㆒ACTIVE】HENEN–NESW

CPU: Intel Core i3–6100 (CPUMark ~5,474)  RAM: 1× 16GiB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 DIMMs, CL12 @ 2400MHz  Motherboard: ASUS Z170I Pro Gaming mainboard  Storage: Intel 535 Series 240GB SATA III SSD  PSU: SeaSonic 400W 80+ Platinum fanless modular ATX unit  Display: 27” 1440p 16:9 ASUS PB278Q IPS LCD + 43” 2160p 16:9 LG 43UD79-B IPS LCD  Keyboard: Qisan Magicforce 68-key backlit keyboard + Cherry MX Brown switches Mouse: Microsoft IntelliMouse Classic OS: Crunchbang-like Arch Linux x86-64 + Windows 10 Enterprise N LTSB

【㆒ACTIVE】SENUSRET II (Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga)

CPU: Intel Core i5-7300U (CPUMark ~5,132) RAM: 16GiB soldered DDR4 RAM Storage: Samsung 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD Display: 14” 1440p 16:9 built-in OLED multitouch LCD OS: Arch Linux + Windows 10 Enterprise N LTSB

【RETIRED】SENUSRET (Lenovo ThinkPad S1 Yoga)

CPU: Intel Core i5-4200U (CPUMark ~3,267) RAM: 8GiB soldered DDR3L RAM Storage: Unknown 128GB SATA III SSD Display: 12.5” 1080p 16:9 built-in IPS multitouch LCD OS: RemixOS (Android for PC), version 3.0.207

【㆒ACTIVE】TYRE

CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 (CPUMark ~2,826)  Motherboard: Gateway/Acer OEM, µATX-compatible proprietary forme factor RAM: 4× 2GiB Green-PCB Generic DDR2 DIMMs  Storage: 500GB WD Green replacement HDD OS: Microsoft Windows Vista SP2

【RETIRED】WASET (Sony VAIO)

CPU: Intel Core i5–2450M (CPUMark ~3,404)  RAM: 2× 4GiB Green-PCB Samsung DDR3 SODIMMs  Storage: Intel 520 Series “Cherryville” 120GB SSD + WD Black 2.5” 750GB HDD  Display: 14” 768p 16:9 built-in TN LCD  OS: Crunchbang-like Arch Linux x86-64

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57 minutes ago, DXMember said:

2. I believe currently the hwbot record for highest clocked skylake processor is held by asus itx board

Dancop has the highest XTU With it (Maximus VIII Impact.) however highest clock is on a ASRock M OC Formula 


My current build - Ever Changing.

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2 hours ago, TheGamingBarrel said:

Dancop has the highest XTU With it (Maximus VIII Impact.) however highest clock is on a ASRock M OC Formula 

close enough


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Storage: Samsung 950Pro 512GB // OCZ Vector150 240GB // Seagate 1TB | PSU: Seasonic 1050 Snow Silent | Case: NZXT H440 | Cooling: Nepton 240M
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4 hours ago, CUDA_Cores said:

1. ATX motherboards have plenty of expansion slots:

2. ATX computers (generally) allow for more overclocking:

3. ATX computer builds can be configured to run quieter:

4. ATX motherboards (can) be less expensive:

5. ATX motherboards have a higher resale value:

6. ATX motherboards are easier to repurpose:

7. your mini-ITX case can fit mini-ITX motherboard ONLY:

You make a few good points, but I have to dissagree.

 

1. They do, but many people who are looking into building an ITX PC aren't using them anyway. I also believe there are only a few people who are actually expanding their last gen PC with USB 3.0 cards for example and people who may want to go CF/SLI in the future aren't interested in ITX anyway.

 

2. The ITX motherboards themselves are just as capable of OCing as their ATX counterparts. You have a point about cooling though. However, a 120mm radiator is fine for a mild OC even in a ITX case. People who want to go farther than that can put an ITX mobo in a micro-ATX (sized) case and use the saved space for an extra rad and still have a smaller case than ATX. Especially considering that the ATX cases that support lots of rads, are generally even larger than the (cheaper) "air-cooling" ATX cases.

 

3. Sure, if you want a solid OC and have it be near-silent while gaming, go with ATX and a custom water loop. But an AIO- or standard tower-cooler that most people use, is going to make the same amount of noise regardless of the case it's in.

If you build 2 PC's with identical parts, except for the mobo and case size, I think temps will near identical too.

 

4. True, though the difference is very small. 

 

5. This is highly dependent on your local area, where I live second hand ITX boards are pretty scarce, making them more expensive.

 

6. This is true to an extent. Though I think a small form factor can be a major bonus when building a NAS or a home server you're hardly ever going to touch, having a small case you can tuck away somewhere (or a small media server next to the TV) is pretty nice. 

And by the way, if you are buying certain parts because of how useful they will be after 5 years when you bought a new PC, you're doing it wrong.

 

7. That's an obvious one. But you can flip it around and make the same argument: an ITX board also fits in an (m)ATX case, an ATX board can only fit in an ATX case.

 

Of course, this is all very personal and dependent on your needs. These are just my opinions :) 

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I think this article isn't for the people who know what they're doing and know to build with a purpose, but rather for consumers who might see the allure of mini-ITX without looking at the less apparent disadvantages.

 

For the consumer who can afford to build one computer per 24 months, ATX makes more sense since they'll be able to throw in a RAID card, wireless adapter, sound card, heaven forbid bitcoin mining card etc. without worrying about what's using which slot.

 

Mini-ITX cases are also harder to work in / cable manage because of the tighter space, especially if you have Luke hands. I wouldn't recommend one for a first time builder.

 

And for small form factor ATX, there are cases like this :)

 

CE3pgIG.jpg


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