Getting started in the realm of computer hardware can be somewhat difficult. This is especially true when taking into account that something as commonplace as a motherboard is available in various form factors. There are numerous minor elements that can cause confusion while planning a construction project. Which is better for your needs, an EATX or ATX? It is vital to be aware of what you’re looking at before investing time and money in a process, just like with any significant purchase.
Just two of the various motherboard sizes available are EATX and ATX. The goal of today’s guide is to make some of the jargon clear while also arming you with the necessary knowledge. Let’s examine these two form factors in more detail and determine which is more suitable for your needs.
EATX vs. ATX: Side-By-Side Comparison
|Height||12 inches||12 inches|
|Width||13 inches||9.6 inches|
|PCI-E slots||Up to 8||Up to 4|
|RAM slots||Up to 8||Up to 4|
|CPU Sockets||Up to 2||1|
EATX vs. ATX: What s the Difference
These two motherboard form factors each offer some unique advantages. There are minor variations between the two, but they both utilise common technology that you may anticipate finding on any motherboard. For the sake of the majority of home builders, ATX does have the advantage of being much more common.
An EATX board is broader overall but has the same height as an ATX motherboard. Manufacturers can fit more of everything on board thanks to the additional width. The disadvantage of the larger motherboard is that everything will cost more. EATX motherboards often cost 25 to 50 percent more than ATX motherboards. Additionally, a dedicated box designed just for an EATX motherboard will be required to house it. As such, the costs rise quite quickly when using one of these as the central part of a build.
Since the mid-1990s, ATX has been the industry standard for motherboards. Chances are if you re buying a case unless it is otherwise specified for ITX or miniATX, it is ATX compatible. It is smaller overall than an EATX motherboard but still has plenty of room for headers and slots. It may not have room for more of everything, but there is still ample space for most builds on an ATX motherboard. Its size has served as a nice middle ground and standard since its introduction to PCs.
Ports and Slots
Due to the increased size of EATX boards, there is more space for headers, slots, and sockets. A modern EATX board frequently has a slot for more than one CPU. You can usually find multiple PCIe slots as well, with support for upwards of six individual devices. This also applies to RAM module storage, with certain EATX boards available today supporting up to eight RAM slot configurations. That extra space affords quite a bit more real estate for more of the things you might actually build a PC with, but you ll need an accompanying power supply to keep it running.
The ports, slots, and headers present on an ATX aren t quite as plentiful as an EATX board. If you re looking for a motherboard with a bare minimum of at least four PCI-E slots and four slots for RAM, they you re more than covered with an ATX motherboard. It isn t replete with features, but it has more than enough to get you going with most things.
As previously mentioned, EATX motherboards have more of everything. Usually, when you see limits for the RAM on a processor, it wouldn t reach the upper range of that with just an ATX motherboard. You could very quickly see your system has more than enough RAM with an EATX board, however. Not many chipset manufacturers support EATX boards themselves, and as such the major support comes fromIntel. Fans of the Ryzen series ofCPUsfrom AMD are going to be left sadly wanting because there are very few, if any, Ryzen-compatible EATX boards out there. If you re looking for a supercharged Intel setup, this is the way to go.
ATX boards have the benefit of being an industry standard. As such, there is more than enough support from Intel andAMDin regard to supported socket types. You ll usually see a plethora of features like new RAM types come first to an ATX form factor motherboard as well. Since it has been so prevalent in computing since the mid-90s, there is a ton of support and tooling already developed for the form factor. You ll have a much easier finding cases, power supply units with clearance, and a host of other peripherals to deck out your system.
What Are They For?
EATX motherboards were originally developed for servers and professional workstations. The average consumer isn t going to have much need for half aterabyteof RAM, but a server certainly will. The additional support for multiple CPUs and multiple PCIe slots leads to it being easily configured for a multitude of purposes while keeping the same overall form factor. Being professional-grade hardware, that points to why the pricing is so much higher for these motherboards. There has been a recent push in the last few years to embrace the form factor, however, at least when considering how large GPUs are now.
ATX motherboards were developed for the home computer. If you re old enough to remember the old gray and beige towers of the late 90s, those were running ATX boards. Having a uniform standard form factor allowed for the pricing of computers to come down. If there is less need for custom and proprietary components, then those savings can be passed on to a customer. For years ATX motherboards have done an admirable job of powering hobbyists, gamers, and the average office computer alike. The last decade or so has seen a shift to new form factors.
MSI MPG Z490 GAMING EDGE WIFI ATX Gaming Motherboard (10th Gen Intel Core, LGA 1200 Socket, DDR4, CF, Dual M.2 Slots, USB 3.2 Gen 2, Wi-Fi 6, DP/HDMI, Mystic Light RGB)
- Will support dual channel DDR4 up to 128GB
- Four memory slots available
- Intel Core 10th Gen
- LGA 1200 CPU socket
- Supports Wi-Fi 6
EATX vs. ATX: 6 Must-Know Facts
- EATX motherboards were developed for servers and professional systems first
- EATX motherboards have little to no support for AMD CPU sockets
- EATX motherboards can support massive amounts of RAM quite easily
- ATX motherboards are the most common motherboards
- ATX motherboards will fit in most commercially sold cases
- ATX motherboards support both Intel and AMD CPU sockets
EATX vs. ATX: Which One is Better? Which Should You Choose?
As to which of these motherboards is better, that s tough to say. Home builders have been strong proponents of more is more for a number of years. That said, the additional expense and requirements of an EATX motherboard make it a somewhat dubious investment. If you re a home builder who enjoys just having the best of everything and want to build a future-proofmachinefor years and years to come, then the EATX motherboard might be a great center point for your build.
If you re like most home builders and you re looking to simply maximize your price-to-performance ratio, then ATX is the way to go. It has the benefit of being super common, so there is a plethora of accessories, cases, and motherboard selections to choose from. ATX motherboards have been here a while, and are likely to stay a while longer. If you aren t in need of an ultra-compact or massive build, then why not choose the standard?
As with any purchase, it is worth doing your research before purchasing components. Check to make sure your motherboard is compatible with your chosen CPU and has adequate support for the various peripherals you might want to use in the build.