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Home > Motherboards > Overview of Common Motherboard Form Factors
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smallbluedisk.gif The Baby AT motherboard
smallbluedisk.gif The AT motherboard
smallbluedisk.gif The ATX motherboard
smallbluedisk.gif The Micro ATX motherboard
smallbluedisk.gif How Do AT Boards Differ From ATX Boards?
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Introduction to the mainboard motherboard system board Baby-AT (PC and XT) Types and styles of motherboards Full-size AT Factors to consider when purchasing a motherboard. LPX (semiproprietary) What's onboard a typical motherboard NLX
Introduction to bus types WTX Motherboard design styles and types BTX, microBTX, picoBTX Motherboard form factors. ATX Introduction to bus types microATX
Introduction to bus types FlexATX Introduction to bus types DTX/Mini-DTX Introduction to bus types ITX/Mini-ITX    
Title: Overview of Motherboard Form Factors
Description: These documents provide an overview into the various form factors that comprise standard PC motherboards.
No. Of Documents: 11
Last Modification: Saturday, October 19, 2013 5:19 PM
 
Motherboard Form Factors

A form factor is an architecture type for a motherboard. Since the invention of the personal computer by IBM in 1980, several other form factors have been developed and incorporated into by motherborad manufacturer's into the designs of their motherboards.

Without a doubt, the most important component in a PC system is the main board or motherboard. Virtually every internal component in a PC connects to the motherboard, and its features largely determine what your computer is capable of, not to mention its overall performance. Although I prefer the term motherboard, other terms such as main board, system board, and planar are interchangeable. This chapter examines the various types of motherboards available and those components typically contained on the motherboard and motherboard interface connectors.

Several common form factors are used for PC motherboards. The form factor refers to the physical dimensions (size and shape) as well as certain connector, screw hole, and other positions that dictate into which type of case the board will fit. Some are true standards (meaning that all boards with that form factor are interchangeable), whereas others are not standardized enough to allow for interchangeability. Unfortunately, these nonstandard form factors preclude any easy upgrade or inexpensive replacement, which generally means you should avoid them. The more commonly known PC motherboard form factors include the following:

PC motherboard form factors have evolved over the years from the Baby-AT form factor boards based on the original IBM PC and XT, to the current ATX form factor (and variants) used in most desktop and tower systems. ATX has a growing number of variants, mostly in smaller sizes designed to fit different market segments and applications. The short-lived BTX form factors relocated major components to improve system cooling and incorporate a thermal module.

Anything that does not fit into one of the industry-standard form factors should be considered proprietary. Unless there are special circumstances, I do not recommend purchasing systems based on proprietary board designs. They are difficult to upgrade and expensive to repair because components such as the motherboard, case, and power supply are not interchangeable with other systems. I often call proprietary form factor systems “disposable” PCs because that’s what you must normally do with them when they are too slow or need repair out of warranty.

Micro ATX Motherboard

Obsolete Form Factors

Modern Form Factors



 
 

 


 
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