When building a custom gaming computer, there are many essential components that one needs to buy. A great graphics card to keep up with intense gaming, a good monitor to display those awesome graphics, and a sound card for the absolute best audio possible. But all these components mean nothing without a proper motherboard.
A motherboard is essential, as it is basically the central nervous system of a computer. It allocates your computer’s RAM, CPU, and many other elements of your setup, including the components mentioned above. It is for this reason that having the best motherboard is a must.
Two of the best motherboards around are the ATX and Micro ATX (also know as MATX) motherboards. These motherboards have been a staple in the computer industry since the 90s, and have been a mainstay in many gamers computer setup for years. But which of these motherboards is better, the MATX or the standard ATX?
Both of these motherboards, the MATX and the ATX, have features that make them unique, from size to cooling, ports to cost, making it hard to decide which one may be better. That is why we are here today, as we get ready to explore both the pros and cons of both motherboards before ultimately deciding which one will come out the victor.
Will the bigger, more powerful ATX motherboards win? Or will the more compact and efficient Micro ATX come out on top? Let’s take a look at both and find out!
The ATX Motherboard
The full sized ATX motherboards are one of the most popular motherboards in all of computer gaming. This is in large part because of the many features, which include multiple slots for ram and able to support high-end graphics cards, making the ATX motherboards a hands down favorite for hardcore gamers. All of the great gaming support does come with sacrifices, however, which may turn some people away.
Has four slots for RAM, making for a faster computer
Multiple slots for various add-ons, being able to fit whatever you may want to add in your unit
Great for hardcore gaming thanks to overclocking abilities and multiple graphics card support
Keeps cool thanks to larger size and spacing out of components
Large size takes up more room in your unit and requires a larger case
Generally pricier of an option than the Micro ATX
Can sometimes be noisy when cooling
As you can tell, the support for gaming is great with this motherboard. Thanks to the amount of RAM that can be added, as well as being able to support more add-ons and graphics cards, the ATX provides many great options for gamers. It also helps that this motherboard stays reletivly cool when in operation thanks to the spacing of the boards components, and is easily upgradable with multiple ports for USB, PCi, and many others.
All these capabilities come at the cost of space. ATX units tend to be on the larger side, and as a result take up more space in whatever room you may have the computer in (due to the need for a larger case), as well as in your custom build itself. And while the ATX does stay cool, when the unit is cooling it does tend to get noisy, which can bother some. The ATX is also a tough choice for those gamers on a budget, as the ATX can tend to get a bit expensive.
Recommended Case For An ATX Motherboard
My top recommended case for someone who’s looking for an ATX motherboard would have to be the NXZT Source 530. Not only is this case completely loaded with an insane amount of features, that will make upgrading your PC a breeze in the future, but it also has a sleek design that will make your PC stand out. The only reason I wouldn’t recommend this is if, you aren’t trying to spend a lot on case. It’s about $85 at the moment, but I can assure you it’s worth it.
Looking for other cases?
A case is just something that holds your motherboard, so if you’re looking for something else I’d check out my post on the best mATX cases.
The Micro-ATX Motherboard
In the opposite corner from the standard ATX motherboard is it’s smaller cousin, the MATX. Unlike the ATX, the MATX is very compact and can fit in any space you may put it. Being smaller makes the Micro ATX easy to handle, but it does seem to lack in strength in comparison to the ATX.
Smaller size enables the MATX to be put into smaller cases and spaces, freeing up more room for the user
Very affordable motherboard, making it a great choice for those making a custom computer on a budget.
Most everything you may need is on board, meaning there is little need to buy extra add-ons
Can fit in both small and large cases, depending on preference
With less slots, there isn’t much room for add-ons
The smaller size makes the motherboard run at a higher temperature
Sometimes can not support more expensive, high end graphics cards.
The Micro ATX is a great option for those people who are looking for convenience. The small size of the MATX allows the motherboard to fit into smaller cases, and takes up less room in whichever space it may be in, and can even be fit into a larger case if the person so chooses. Making the MATX even more convenient is the fact that you don’t have to break the wallet for these motherboards, with most coming at a cheap price, and the fact that most any component you need is already on board.
On the opposite end of convenience is the fact that the MATX has a tendency to run warmer than other motherboards, as a result of the closer components on the board. And the MATX also suffers if you want to add even more to your computer, as the MATX doesn’t have much room for add-ons, and sometimes is unable to run with more expensive, high end graphics cards.
Recommended Case For an mATX Motherboard
My top recommended case for an mATX motherboard would have to be the Thermaltake Core V21. The case’s cube design makes it perfect for an mATX build. It also offers great airflow and a good amount of space. These things coupled with the great build quality and affordable price, makes this a steal!
Looking for other mATX cases?
If you’re not really feeling the Thermaltake Core V21, or just wnat to see some other options, check out my top 10 best mATX cases.
Winner? You Decide
Both the ATX and the Micro ATX have their benefits and drawbacks. If you are looking for something that can do more and has more gaming potential, then the ATX is the choice for you. If you are more concerned with price and size, then without a doubt you will want to go with the Micro ATX.
The issues on both the MATX and the ATX are not exactly deal breakers either. For example, while the ATX can be noisy while cooling, it rarely gets warm enough for that to be much of an issue. And while the MATX has trouble supporting high end graphics cards and add-ons, what the MATX can do is more than adequate enough for modern gaming.
In the end, there is no clear winner, as both the MATX and ATX are great motherboards. As a result, the best choice is really up to the person building the custom unit, and which motherboard fits their needs best.
If you are in the market for either of these motherboards, there are a few particular ones that are better than others, so to help with your purchase, here is the best of both the MATX and the ATX.