At Hardware.Info we keep wondering why so many ATX motherboards are still being sold. So much functionality has been integrated on smaller, modern motherboards, that the only reason you'd need such a large motherboard is if you plan on using three or four graphics cards.
The smaller microATX format has been growing in popularity, but if you know for sure that you will only need a single expansion slot, you can opt for an even more compact format - Mini-ITX. The number of these small motherboards has steadily increased over the past few years.
In a series of three articles we will look at a total of 20 models. We will soon publish reviews of Mini-ITX boards with AMD Socket FM1 and Intel Socket 1155 processor sockets. Today we will take a closer look at nine Mini-ITX motherboards with integrated CPUs.
The Mini-ITX form factor came into existence in 2001, when CPU manufacturer VIA released the first motherboard of this size. Mini-ITX boards measure 17 x 17cm, quite a bit less than the 24.4 x 24.4 cm of the microATX form factor. The advantage of the small size is that it fits in small chassis, plus they are generally very energy-efficient. Since fewer components will fit on such a board, the price can also be kept down.
There are also disadvantages with the small size though. There's only room for a single expansion slot, which is usually PCI-Express x16 or PCI (there are Mini-ITX chassis that will fit a large, high-end graphics card in that x16 slot). Other features are more limited as well. Compared to (micro-)ATX motherboards, the number of SATA ports is usually low. If you only need a small and energy-efficient PC with an SSD and optical drive, that's not a problem. However, if you want to assemble a home server with lots of hard disks, you do need to pay attention to this. You can read the rest of Mini-ITX motherboards preview - Part 1 on Hardware.info.