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Motherboards are like the foundation of your whole system because they determine to a large extent the other components that you’ll use in setting up your computer/workstation.
Of course, you’ll like to get the best within your budget but before you head on to get that motherboard, have you checked the size and compatibility with the computer case that you have? You probably have this puzzled look on your face, like what am I talking about- don’t all motherboard sizes fit in just any case?
I’m sorry dear, but NO, all motherboards do not fit in the same case.
All motherboards have names that tell them apart from the other. These names also help in finding compatible boxes so you don’t buy a case whose size is barely enough to fit in your motherboard and all your PC components.
To begin with, there are three standard motherboard sizes and they are the ATX, Extended ATX ( eSATA), and the Mini ITX. Here’s a breakdown of what they are like:
Sometimes referred to as micro ATX, these are standard-sized motherboards and will contain large and medium sizes of motherboards. They are flexible to allow possible expansion at a later date.
These are extended motherboard sizes and are mostly the largest size that you’ll find.
Using an e-ATX case will comfortably fit in both an ATX and an e-ATX motherboard together with all the other components that will make up your computer system. An e-ATX motherboard has more SATA and PCI slots which creates room for expansion at any time which makes it ideal for servers and big workstations.
These are very small motherboards that are most suitable for very small computer builds. It has fewer slots and is mostly regarded as a small-sized single-purpose motherboard.
Now that you know the different sizes of motherboards, what sizes of computer cases do they fit in?
Full Tower Cases
Full tower cases are the largest cases that you can use to build your computer. It is mostly suitable for ATX and e-ATX motherboards because of its large size. It has 11 PCIe slots, and about 6-10 internal drive bays which makes it a very ideal case choice if you’re hoping to expand your setup at a later time
Mid Tower Case
Apart from being a good choice for ATX motherboards which are standard sized, a mid-tower case is also suitable for micro ATX motherboards and it is the most widely used computer case for different reasons. It contains 7 PCI-E slots and 3-4 internal drive bays which allows for possible expansion.
Mini Tower/Small Form cases
These types of cases are compact-sized and built with 2 -3 internal drive bays and 2 PCIe slots. They are compatible with mini ITX motherboards and are not flexible enough to support expansion.
Sometimes, manufacturers do not describe the PC cases as above and instead, they are described with a name that is similar to the motherboard. In such circumstances, you should know that an ATX case will fit an ATX and micro ATX motherboard, a mini ITX case will fit in a mini ITX motherboard and an e-ATX case will fit in an e-ATX motherboard.
Just so you don’t buy the wrong case for your motherboard, manufacturers made it easier by mentioning the motherboard spec that will fit into the case and you should read the description on the case to know if it is compatible and in most cases to choose your motherboard first before searching for cases using its form size.