What is form factor

What is form factor

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What is form factor

When it comes to computers, form factor refers to (a) physical specification, (b) size, and (c) shape of the hardware component of hardware. It is the form factor that determines important computer parameters such as the overall physical layout, amount of power required, computer casing, the mounting holes and ports available. Read more on AT and baby AT form factor

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Why is form factor important

The form factor dictates the general layout and how the features are placed on the motherboard. The form factor also determines the amount of power and the number of components that a motherboard and computer case can sufficiently accommodate. Most importantly, form factor came to solve the incompatibilities between the many Hardwares that are supposed to perform similar task from different manufacturer. Furthermore, the components have to work electrically and electronically well, and they have to fit is the availed spaces amicably.

When it comes to electronics, you will realize that the hardware is designed with aniability to be compatible with spaces available if it is from a different form factor. Why?  The first reason being the electronic are different. The second reason is power specifications of any different form factor are dissimilar. If not so, one would end up with marred components and motherboards now and then.

Read more on Small form factors

Form factor motherboard

 AT (Advanced technology)

First, we have AT. This is the oldest form factor. It was also surprisingly popular during its days.  It was made to work with the 386 processor. Advanced Technology was a squared 12-inch motherboard that was difficult to install and even so to maintain.  It was first created by the IBM in the 1984.

ATX (advanced technology extend)

ATX (advanced technology extend)
ATX (advanced technology extend)

The second form factor is ATX. This form factor was created by intel in the 1995. As of year 2020, it is the popular motherboard form factor. Its dimensions are 12 x 9.6 inches ( 305 x 204 mm).

  • Baby AT

Thirdly we have the baby AT. It was created by IBM in the year 1985. Its dimensions are 8.5 x 10-13 inches. It was the successor to the IT motherboard. It was quite significantly popular because of its small size.  They are still useful today in the industry with Pentium products. The design module ensures that the CPU is can interface with longer bus cards. Input out ports (I/O) are connected near the floppy drive where a numerous ribbon cables appear.  This form factor allows limited peripheral card installation.

BTX

In full BTX form factor stands for balanced technology extend. Well, you guessed it, BTX was meant to replace ATX motherboards.  They came in the market year 2004 and 2005. Balanced technology was introduced in the market to solve the issue of overheating and more power requirement that computer peripheral demanded.  However, intel abandoned this model to concentrate on solving thermal issues that Pentium 4 exhibited.

You are right to get exasperated after realizing that this model was poor received in the market; this was so despite numerous modifications that intel made. ATX and BTX models were case compatible. This means either could be used in any case meant for each other.

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  • DTX

What is DTX you ask? It is an ATX form factor variation. DTX motherboards were introduced into the market by AMD in the year 2007. The tech giant had your needs for smaller pc in mind. Such Smaller PC could be used for home theater. For the product to be relevant, AMD ensured that it was backward compatible with cases built for ATX form factors. It also uses 24 pin power connectors just as an ATX motherboard.

The standard dimensions of DTX are 203 x 244 mm or 8 x 9.6 inches.  However, the manufacturer also offered a mini version of the model; Mini-DTX whose dimensions are 203 x 170 mm.

It cost lower to manufacture DTX since fewer layers of the wiring was necessary in the PCB ( Printed circuit board)

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  • ITX

ITX is another small form factor mother. If you do not know, ITX standards for Information technology extended.  It was first introduced into the market by year 2001. Manufacturers also introduced mini-ITX at the same time. Afterwards, other versions such as nano-ITX, mobile -ITX and Pico-ITX follows for years 2003, 2004 and 2007 respectively. These motherboards found their use is small set ups such as small computers, cars, set-top boxes and network devices.

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  • LPX

What is form factor
LPX Motherboard

Lastly, we have the LPX. LPX is short for low profile extension.  Western digital are accredited to its development in the early 1990. Its dimensions are 330 x 229 mm or 13 x 9 inches. The motherboard had its input and output ports mounted at the back ( a technique that ATX later came to adopt). You will surprise to know there was a riser card at the middle of the motherboard.  This is you could mount PCI and ISA related devices. Riser cards did not have a standardize dimensions and therefore they differed from one manufacturer to another. This made them incompatible.

What were the flaws in the design you ask? The motherboard did not allow enough air flow a mistake that make the form factor hard to use with Pentium II. For your information, this form factor successfully and briefly displaced AT model.  Pentium II required high heat dispersal mechanism.  It was later phased out in the 1998 where the manufacturers chose to go for micro ATX instead.

 

 

  1. Full AT
  2. Full ATX
  3. Micro-ITX
  4. microATX
  5. Mobile-ITX
  6. NLX
  7. Pico-ITX

Read more on What is a computer motherboard?

PC Cases

PC Case Sizes

You can choose from a wide variety of PC case sizes to house the variety of motherboards. Whether you are looking for a classic tower PC or discreet miniature desktop, you’ll find something that matches your aesthetic and workstyle. Listed below are the most common types of PC cases, as well as their pros and cons. 

Full Tower – ATX Motherboard

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First, we have the full tower pc cases. Its height usually reaches 24” (60 cm) or more, so it is the biggest case available. In these cases, there are 6 to 10 internal drive bays, so there is plenty of room for expansion. They may have as many as 11 PCI slots for peripheral components.

Mid Tower – ATX or Micro ATX Motherboards

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Second on our list is the mid tower pc cases. In terms of size and upgradability, mid-tower cases offer the perfect balance. There are two to four internal drive bays and a similar number of external bays (for CD drives, DVDs, etc.) in mid-tower computer cases. They are typically about 18″ to 24″ high (45cm to 60cm) and have a similar number of internal hard drive bays. A maximum of seven PCI slots are available on these.

Mini Tower – Micro ATX or Mini ATX Motherboards

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Usually, mini-towers are 12″ to 18″ (30cm – 45cm) tall. They have one or sometimes two internal drive bays. Expandability is limited, since the space may be limited. There are up to three PCI slots.

Desktop – Micro ATX or Mini ATX Motherboards

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In desktop cases, a monitor is placed on top of the case, which allows space for more graphics cards (GPUs) inside. There is up to four PCI slots on these cases, so they can hold a full-size graphics card (GPU).

Small Form Factor (SFF) – Micro ATX or Mini ATX Motherboards

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Its thickness is the same as a desktop case, but it is only about three quarters the size, so it saves space. SFF cases are slightly smaller than desktop cases. SSF cases usually have 2 PCI slots. They usually have a pull handle on the side or top (depending on where they are placed) so you don’t have to mess with screws. They usually have a pull handle on the side or top.

Ultra-Small Form Factor (USFF) 

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These computers usually use laptop-size hard drives and memory and are designed to minimize their spatial volume. USFF cases are custom-made computer cases, so they minimize their spatial volume. As most USFF computers use highly integrated motherboards with many on-board peripherals, they are often very hard to upgrade because they do not require expansion cards. The airflow in these smaller form factors is restricted, so they get quite hot.

Micro – Bespoke Motherboards

In addition to taking laptop-sized hard drives and memory, micro-PCs can also attach to the back of monitors to save a lot of desk space. They are also like USFF PCs, but they are much smaller. The majority of these machines can also be equipped with a Wi-Fi card, but the amount varies, so you can use a USB Wi-Fi adapter. The available expansion cards are limited, and there is no optical drive to install.

Notebook computers

They are a form factor themselves. Additionally, there are many notebook form factors. The reason for many form factors is to help identify the market are and type of product. The notebook form factor includes Ultrabook, netbook and convertible tablet

Ultrabook it is a high-end subnotebook computer trademarked by intel.  The model features a laptop that is unbelievably thin without altering the batter life. To achieve futuristic model, the Ultrabook uses SSD and intel core processors with interestingly low power consumption. To further reduce the bulk, unibody chassis is adopted. However, there are some important features that are traded off to achieve this. Such features may include audio connector, optical drives, and ethernet ports.

Form factors Motherboards

You can buy find one in the following online shops

 

The best Ultrabook on Amazon

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Features include;

512 Gb PCIe SSD ( very fast and power efficient)

16Gb Ram

Core i7 8565U

4K display

Touch IPS display screen

Best budget Ultrabook on Amazon

GPD P2 Max

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Features include;

8.9 inch display (2.5 K)

Touch screen display

16 Gb RAM

512  SSD

9200mAh battery

Netbook this is a class of inexpensive and astoundingly low performance laptop computers. Additionally, netbooks are both legacy-free and small in size. This class of laptops compete for same market shares with the tablets, Chromebook and smartphones.

You can find one in the following online shops.

 

Convertible tablet  in short, this device that is sufficiently capable of functioning are a standalone touch screen computer or a notebook.

You can find them affordably on online shops.

 

Final Thoughts

No matter what kind of computer you choose, the type of motherboard you need will affect the style of the computer you choose. There are various sizes of motherboards available on the market, so you can create animations or play computer games.

Let our friendly team of IT experts help you determine what size computer case or motherboard is best for your needs. Our team has over 30 years of experience in the industry.