Motherboard form factors have been used since the mid-80s to describe the size of motherboards as well as their component placements.
They give us a lot of information about the kinds of components we can use with the boards, their expandability, the appropriate power supply as well as the best chassis for them
The standards have been useful so far in ensuring the interoperability between different brand motherboards and different computer components.
While many standards have been developed over the last few decades with some getting deprecates, one standard that seems to stand out not only for its size but also its performance is the ITX motherboard. In this article, we will learn about what is an ITX motherboard in detail.
So What is an ITX Motherboard
In short, ITX is a motherboard form factor that usually comprises of some of the smallest motherboard that you can find.
This motherboard form factor is commonly found on small desktops and portable PCs.
Also Read: What is a motherboard?
History of the ITX Form Factor
The ITX form factor stands for Information Technology eXtended. Some motherboards under this category are some of the smallest available. They are built to have a small footprint but still perform well, depending on the model and configuration.
The ITX standard was developed and released by VIA technologies back in 2001. This was through the introduction of the Mini-ITX – a very popular motherboard form factor still commonly found today.
Before this, different form factors still existed in the market, each developed by some popular companies like Intel, IBM, and Western Digital.
Motherboards were initially very large. This resulted in very large personal computers that were not at all built for portability.
However, the Mini-ITX helped revolutionize the PC by showing that motherboards could be smaller and still effective.
Also Read: Motherboard vs Circuit Board
Types of ITX Motherboards
Several motherboards utilize the ITX form factor. They mostly vary with size and the number of components and slots.
This gives users extra flexibility when building a PC or setting up embedded systems.
Mini-ITX motherboards are by far the most common ITX motherboards out there.
The Mini ITX was the first iteration of the ITX form factor motherboards. It was built for portability with a board size measuring 7 x 6.7 inches. A characteristic of the Mini-ITX is that in most configurations, there are two memory slots and one PCIe slot.
Tech giants like Intel and AMD are still using this form factor in their motherboard designs. It has received a lot of praise due to its small size.
This makes it a great choice for users who prefer a small footprint device with modest performance.
Additionally, the Mini-ITX form factor motherboards we use today are also quite affordable. Hence, suitable for buyers on a budget.
This line of ITX motherboards is known to be smaller and more compact than the Mini-ITX. It measures a mere 4.7 x 4.7 Inches.
One notable feature of this board is its lack of legacy ports. Due to the small size, there’s a limited number of ports that can be fitted into the device meaning that older ports that are not popular can be traded off to reduce the board size.
Being small in size, it comes as no surprise that this board is intended for embedded systems more than personal computers.
It’s also intended for use with electronics like set-top boxes, media centers, and car computers.
It does, however, come with a wide set of features that allow developers to take full control of their system with added customizations from the available mini-PCI slot coupled with SODIMM.
This board measures 2.8 x 3.9 Inches. Being slightly smaller than the Nano-ITX makes this board more deployable into tight spaces.
It is also built for embedded system development and one of its many advantages is its low power usage while still boasting high performance with speeds of up to 1.5 GHz.
This motherboard also generally found in embedded systems and industrial automation devices. It too sacrifices on legacy ports for smaller and more common ones.
This is the smallest board in the ITX line of motherboards. It was released by VIA technologies in 2009 and has since then found applications in many fields ranging from medicine to military.
It measures 2.4 x 2.4 Inches.
One common characteristic of this type of board is its lack of ports. Therefore, to connect it with other devices, i.e a display, you will need to install separate I/O board on it.
Also Read: Best Motherboards with Integrated Graphics
When to Use the ITX board
Generally when consumers talk about an ITX board, they are generally referring to the mini-ITX form factor as the rest are reserved for embedded systems or for industrial devices.
With that in mind, while mini-ITX boards are great performers, the biggest advantage of an ITX board in general does not come from its performance, but its size and cost.
This form factor board is great for people who:
Need to Save Space
With an ITX case, you won’t need to worry about having a large chassis just sitting around in your work area.
Being small in size, the ITX form factor motherboards have appropriately small cases that will have a smaller impact on your space.
Need a Portable Device
With the largest ITX motherboards measuring just a few inches, you can rest assured that you won’t need to carry a large tower if you need to move with your computer.
Although not completely portable, computers with these motherboards are still easier to move around compared to larger form factor motherboard computers.
Need to Save Money
Because they are small and therefore not packed with features and expansion slots, you get to spend less when purchasing some ITX motherboards.
It is, however, worth noting that the size of the motherboard will not always go hand in hand with its price.
While the smaller form factor is great for those on a budget of space constraints, you start to get in to trouble when you start seeking expandability.
With very limited amount of RAM, SATA and PCIe slots, there isn’t much you can do with except for building a basic gaming computer or a simple computer for home use.
With a single PCIe slot, you can only install a single PCIe card i.e graphics card, network card, or SSD expansion card.
Also Read: Best Motherboards with Thunderbolt
Here we learned about what is an ITX motherboard, its advantages, and its types.
Basically, the popular mini-ITX motherboard is a great choice for those looking for small-sized motherboards that offer a balance between cost and performance.
The rest of the ITX board such as Pico-ITX or Nano-ITX are much smaller but they aren’t suitable for PCs. Instead they are used for specialized embedded devices like industrial automation controllers.
In the end, ITX are great for compact footprint computers, although not ideal for the power-hungry users.