BTX form factor

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BTX form factor

BTX from factor

Short for Balanced Technology eXtended, BTX BTX from factor is a motherboard form factor first announced by Intel on September 17, 2003 as a replacement for ATX. BTX was later revised to 1.0a, which was released in February 2004. The BTX features a low profile, more efficient layout to facilitate cooling, a scalable board to accommodate different system sizes, and support for high-mass motherboard components. In September 2006, Intel announced that it was stopping all future development of BTX.




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Compatibility with ATX products

In the first months of production the ATX and BTX motherboards were so similar that moving a BTX motherboard to an ATX case was possible and vice versa. This was possible because the first BTX motherboards were ATX motherboards turned upside down, except for the component location that really were BTX positioning.

Later the BTX form factor had a big change by turning it into a mirror image of the ATX standard. Since the new motherboard design, both standards are incompatible. Basically BTX motherboards are ‘leftside-right’ compared to ATX and not upside-down as before: i.e. they are mounted on the opposite side of the case. Some computer cases such as the Cooler Master Series (Stackers) were released to support a varying range of motherboard standards such as ATX, BTX, Mini-ATX and so forth, to ease motherboard upgrade without buying a new case; however, all connector and slot standards are identical, including PCI(e) cards, processors, RAM, hard drives, etc.

BTX power supply units can be exchanged with newer ATX12V units, but not with older ATX power supplies that don’t have the extra 4-pin 12V connector, which was introduced with the ATX12V standard.

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Pros and Cons of BTX

Let us now see what advantages and disadvantages a BTX form factor carries.



1: Better airflow – the biggest advantage of the BTX board is that it focuses on airflow and delivers better cooling than ATX.

2: Reduced latency – the design, new component location on the board reduces latency.

3: Stability – Efficient cooling provided by this form factor offers component durability as well as system stability.

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1: Price – Though BTX offers utilities, it costs more than ATX.

2: No upgrade – Intel has stopped developing this technology. Instead, they focus on reducing the power of the CPU, hence reducing heat and making ATX effective.

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BTX form factor motherboard inside a Dell Dimension E520

Pico BTX is a motherboard form factor that is meant to miniaturize the 12.8 × 10.5 in (325 × 267 mm) BTX standard. Pico BTX motherboards measure 8 × 10.5 in (203 × 267 mm). This is smaller than many current “micro”-sized motherboards, hence the name “pico”. These motherboards share a common top half with the other sizes in the BTX line, but support only one or two expansion slots, designed for half-height or riser card applications.

Other smaller BTX sizes include: microBTX at 10.4 × 10.5 in (264 × 267 mm) and nano BTX at 8.8 × 10.5 in (224 × 267 mm).

Specification Year Dimensions of motherboard Expansion slots

BTX 2004 10.5 × 12.8 in (266.70 × 325.12 mm) 7

microBTX 10.5 × 10.4 in (266.70 × 264.16 mm) 4


nanoBTX 10.5 × 8.8 in (266.70 × 223.52 mm) 2

 Lenovo System Board, Intel G31 nano-BTX GA
Lenovo System Board, Intel G31 nano-BTX GA

picoBTX 10.5 × 8.0 in (266.70 × 203.20 mm) 1

LGA 775 PicoBTX Intel Motherboard
LGA 775 PicoBTX Intel Motherboard

The heat sink to be attached to the CPU, called “Thermal Module” throughout the official specification, is no longer attached solely to the motherboard, but to the casing itself, so that the inertial load of its mass during a mechanical shock event can no longer damage the motherboard.

The structural interface between the heat sink and the chassis, is defined as 4 mounting holes with the distances of 4.4 × 2.275 in (55.79 × 111.76 mm) between one another. And since this attachment means is also required to have a certain stiffness, it is called “Support and Retention Module (SRM)” in the specification.

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Main Differences between ATX and BTX


In debates, the most common difference between ATX and BTX is regarding the board design and cooling performance which is correct, but here is our answer to this subject:

ATX is the successor of AT design and is currently the de facto standard of the motherboard. BTX was initially introduced to replace ATX but couldn’t succeed in doing so.

ATX board design and component placement resulted in less airflow and more heat, so BTX was invented to solve this problem. The Balanced Technology eXtended altered the location of the components and created a technology with better airflow and effective cooling.

In an ATX motherboard, you will find IO ports on top of the board, whereas in BTX it is situated below the board.

BTX board requires special arrangements to maximize the cooling, but in the ATX board, no such arrangement is required.

BTX system development is discontinued by Intel, which means it is rarely found in PCs. ATX, which is currently dominating the market is upgradable and is common in PCs.

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ATX and BTX are form factors of the motherboard. Balanced Technology eXtended is the advanced version of Advanced Technology eXtended and was introduced to replace it in 2004, nearly after ten years when ATX was invented.

In the BTX board, essential components like the IO ports, slots, memory modules, etc. are situated below the board to maximize the airflow. This makes BTX better than ATX in terms of cooling.

However, only one quality could not simply become the dominating force of the market. Despite providing effective cooling, BTX was and is not preferred by people. In contrast, people prefer the ATX system due to its performance, speed, expansion capabilities, upgrades, etc. and this is why ATX is widely used in PCs in comparison to BTX.

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