Building a gaming PC with mini-ITX motherboard is exciting, but do you know whether it’s good for gaming or not? Mini-ITX motherboards have their pros and cons and in this post we’ll explain if it’s good for meeting your gaming needs or not.
Motherboards are available in variety of formats and sizes and the most popular ones include ATX, micro ATX, and mini ITX. These form factors differ from each other not only in sizes, but also in features. The ATX for factor is the standard for many decades, but now the small form factor with powerful components is also getting popular. Read more to know about the mini ITX motherboards suitability for gaming purposes.
Difference between ATX, micro ATX and mini ITX motherboards
Before we answer your query, we’ll let you know the difference between the popular form factors so that you know each of them in comparison. Following are the main features of these motherboards explained:
When it comes to size, ATX is the largest one while micro ATX is a bit smaller from the ATX; the ATX measures 305 X 244 mm and the micro ATX measures 244 X 244 mm. The mini ITX motherboard is the smallest and it measures 170 X 170 mm.
When we talk about the size of a motherboard, we only need to think about whether the PC case is large enough to accommodate it or not. The good thing is that, most of the PC cases these days have a standard layout that can fit any form factor of motherboard.
RAM capacity is another feature that distinguishes the three form factors from each other. The motherboards are equipped with different number of RAM slots which define their performance. The mini ITX motherboards are equipped with two RAM slots while the micro ATX and ATX are equipped with four RAM slots mostly. Some high-end ATX motherboards are equipped with even eight RAM slots.
The mini ITX motherboards have a 32 GB of memory while the micro ATX motherboards are up for at least 64 GB of memory. Some of the micro ATX models are equipped with 128 GB of RAM while the high-end ATX motherboards can go as high as 512 GB.
Another feature that the motherboard form factors differ from each other in are the PCle slots. The ATX motherboards are equipped with three PCle slots and some high-end models can even have five. The micro ATX models are mostly equipped with one PCle slot but some of them feature three slots too. The mini ITX motherboards always have a single PCle slot.
Extra PCle slots are always handy especially if you’re looking forward to a multi-GPU setup or if you want to expand the sound cards, internal modems, capture cards etc.
When it comes to price, the mini ITX motherboards are the cheapest because of the smallest form factor. If one is looking for a budget pick and want to choose between these three form factors, micro ATX motherboards are the cheapest and ATX systems are the most expensive. The mini ITX systems are
What are the pros and cons of mini ITX motherboards?
The mini ITX motherboards have advantages and disadvantages both. If you’re a PC enthusiast and looking forward to choose a good quality motherboard PC, you must go through this section to understand better. Following are the pros and cons of mini ITX motherboards:
1. Space savvy
Mini ITX motherboards are compact and they allow you to save a lot of space with this build. The good thing is that you can stack three mini ITX cases together and still they won’t take up much space. If you have a small home or want something for your office, this form factor is perfect.
It is easier to carry a mini ITX as compared to an ATX because of the small form factor. Moving around with a small form factor is a breeze as a small case makes the system too light. If you’re looking for portability then mini ITX is a good option. Mini ITX can hardly weigh around 4 to 7 kg and is perfect for LAN parties and for people who move a lot.
3. Silent operation
Among all the other form factors, the mini ITX is quite silent. It is equipped with a low power CPU and GPU and can easily fit into a cabinet. It is a small power saving option and is ideal for those who don’t need a full tower PC that is loaded with multiple graphics cards.
1. Less upgradability and expansion
The mini ITX boards are not equipped with multiple PCle slots and thus they aren’t suitable for multiple GPU setups. Also, most of the mini ITX motherboards have only two RAM slots that aren’t enough for gaming purposes as you’ll be having only 2 X 16GB memory setup. If you need a capacious storage system for you, then you’ll have to rely on external memory.
2. Less space means more heat
The Mini ITX motherboards have a compact design and have components lying closely to each other, they get hotter more easily. The small components of a mini ITX motherboard are in close contact with each other and thus they get heated up. If you’re a gamer who wants to overclock the graphics card, then you’ll be more contented with a larger setup because the mounting area for air intake and output is limited.
3. Some GPUs won’t fit in the case
The mini ITX boards are too compact and thus you’ll have to choose your graphics card carefully. There are some graphics cards from NVIDIA and ATI that won’t fit in the mini ITX cases because they are too long. However, many manufacturers are designing high-end GPUs that can fit into the mini ITX cases.
4. Building challenges
If you’re going to build a gaming PC using a mini ITX system, it would be a bumpy ride. Building a mini ITX motherboard is more difficult as compared to building ATX and micro ATX systems. You’ll have to disassemble all the racks to put the components and if you left something, you’ll have to disassemble again. Building an ATX system is much easier as compared to building a mini ITX system.
How to choose the best mini ITX motherboard for gaming?
If you’re in for a portable option that could help you enjoy LAN parties, mini ITX is the best choice. However, before choosing one, you must make sure that the mini ITX mother board is equipped with all the features that you need for good gaming. Following are the factors to consider:
- Always go for a mini ITX motherboard with x16 slot because it can accept PCle x1, x4, and x16 cards. The PCle x16 slot can accept all types of modern expansion cards. However, if you’re on a tight budget, you can also go for the PCle x1 or x4.
- The number of SATA connectors will determine the number of internal hard drives and optical drives that a motherboard can support. Three SATA connectors will allow you to install a main hard drive and a Blu Ray drive. Choose a motherboard with at least one SATA 3 connector to boost the performance of the drive.
- It is also imperative to choose the correct display port. If you’re planning to connect your gaming rig to a TV, then you must look for a HDMI port. An HDMI port is very handy as it allows tyou to connect to almost all of the modern TVs.
- Buying a mini ITX system with at least one USB 3.0 port will allow you to connect to external storage devices such as hard disk drives, USB 3.0 flash drives, and SSDs.
Final verdict: Is mini ITX motherboard a good choice for gaming?
Now that we have had a detailed discussion over the various features of the three form factors, let’s address the main question: are mini ITX motherboards good for gaming?
The answer also depends on the type of PC you’ll be building, and how much you’ll be going to use the PCle and RAM slots. To be honest, a mini ITX motherboard seem to be the least recommended choice for gaming. This is because these motherboards have only one PCle slot and have a limited RAM too, that can cause trouble to the gamers. Mini ITX is not quite appealing in this regard as it will offer you a very limited space which won’t suit your requirements if you plan to use the PC for hardcore gaming.
A mini ITX is extremely compact and prove to be a good portable option. Also, the mini ITX motherboards don’t support the high-end CPUs such as the Intel Extreme processors because it’s VRM can’t handle the power demands of these units. These form factors aren’t recommended for high performance and overclocking and also if you want something that offers a good amount of expansion slots.