ATX Vs. EATX, Which Should You Buy For Your Desktop Build

Wondering who the winner is in an ATX vs. EATX motherboard comparison is? Well, it may help to know the history of the motherboard, so that you can make a well-informed choice.

Expansion slots used to be the core aspect of motherboards. Every component of your computer used to need an expansion slot. As time went on, more elements like network, video, and sound became integrated into motherboards. Now, only components that advance quickly, like RAM, CPUs, and GPUs, need to be slotted in.

These days, motherboards are rated by how many expansion slots they have. In terms of ATX vs. EATX, the only real difference is how much space each one has for expansion.

ATX vs. EATX Motherboards: Which One Fits in Your Computer?

Building a PC can be a task that is both deceptively easy and secretly difficult. For someone who has never put a computer together before, it may surprise you that the pieces snap together more or less like a LEGO kit. All you have to do is get the right components and slot them into the motherboard.

The real challenge is finding the pieces that work together. If you pick up the first GPU or CPU that you see, you may end up realizing that they’re not compatible. This challenge is also possible when it comes to your motherboard.

One of the most disappointing things that could happen while building your computer is to realize that your case cannot fit your motherboard. It could set you back in both time and money as you look for a case that will actually fit your components.

So, when you’re looking for parts for your PC, it’s essential to understand what the differences are when comparing ATX vs. EATX motherboards. Picking the wrong one could make a big difference in your budget and your construction process.

What’s the Difference Between ATX and EATX?

If you weren’t already aware, the motherboard is the home base of your PC. It’s a panel into which all your other components, from RAM to hard drive to CPU, slot into. They have a wide price and quality range, and there are four main variations.

We’re going to be comparing the two largest sizes, ATX vs. EATX.

An ATX motherboard is the standard size, which is 12 inches by 9.6 inches. It has enough slots to fit pretty much anything you’d need to build a conventional home PC, including relatively high-powered gaming rigs. You can go smaller, into Micro ATX and Mini-ITX, but we’ll touch on those later.

With an ATX motherboard, there is plenty of room to add expansion cards, like high-end GPUs. They can support multiple graphics cards, although if you need more expansion cards, you may run out of slots pretty quickly.

As for the EATX, the hint is in the name, which stands for “extended ATX.” It can be a little confusing because the “X” in ATX already stands for extended. But the EATX is larger than even the standard ATX motherboard. It’s 12 inches by 13 inches, so it’s too big for most computer cases.

This added size is vital for people who need high-powered computers, though. If you’re running a server or a highly-specialized workstation, the EATX may be the best choice for you. It has many more PCI expansion ports, so you can add expansion cards as you need them.

You won’t have to worry about added RAM or oversized graphics cards taking away much-needed space.

ATX vs. EATX: Pros and Cons

When it comes to ATX vs. EATX, you may still be confused as to what makes one better than the other and why. Many benefits of choosing an ATX are the same in an EATX. But, there are still plenty of reasons to pick one instead of the other.

What makes the ATX special?

Atx motherboard placed in table

Image via: Flickr

The ATX’s biggest strength is that it is the industry standard for a motherboard. If you’re going to be building a desktop PC, then an ATX is likely the choice you’re going to make.

Why is the ATX standard?

This kind of motherboard allows you to plug full-length expansions into every socket. It revolutionized the PC industry in 1995 and has maintained its standing ever since.

As we mentioned, the ATX can make for a solid choice as long as you’re not going to be overtaxing your computer. Most ATX motherboards have at least four slots for RAM, which is more than most people need.

All ATX boards have at least one PCIe x16 slot, the port that accepts graphics cards. If you’re going to be doing any gaming at all, you’ll need one of these. Luckily, many ATX boards have more than one of these slots, so you can even use multiple graphics cards.

Another plus for ATX motherboards is that they have a wide range of qualities and prices. You can find them at bargain prices, or they can be the most expensive component in your PC. The choice is truly up to you.

Why shouldn’t you pick an ATX?

However, when it comes to space comparing ATX to EATX, ATX motherboards are relatively limited. These boards also have smaller PCIe x1 slots, which can be covered up by larger expansion cards. That can be frustrating if you don’t need to upgrade to the larger EATX, but still need to use the smaller expansion ports.

If you feel like you may need to upgrade your computer in the future, it may be better to bite the bullet and buy an EATX. An ATX is a well-rounded option for most casual applications. But if you know that you will need large amounts of RAM or multiple expansion cards, it will save you money to buy an EATX right now, rather than later.

Why choose an EATX?

motherboard placed in an old newspaper

Image via: Flickr

If you’re a specialist, the EATX may be better for you. It’s the biggest option available, and often the most expensive. But if you need the capabilities it provides, an EATX can be indispensable.

Go big or go home: EATX benefits

As we said earlier, the EATX is the largest size of motherboard you can buy. It outsizes the ATX by almost four inches along one axis. This added size opens up a lot of room for additional expansions on your motherboard.

If you’re using your computer outside of what the everyday user would, the EATX has a lot of room to help you do that. It has the space to install massive amounts of memory, which is ideal for scenarios like servers or editing work. Videos take up a lot of processing power and storage space, and editing and rendering are taxing on a PC.

Hardcore video gamers may also turn an eye towards an EATX motherboard. With more expansion ports, you have space to add GPUs without losing space for other components. How much RAM you have can also affect how your game runs.

With any application for an EATX, it’s often best for professionals and people with a very specialized purpose in mind. A hobbyist editor, gamer, or graphic designer probably won’t find the need for an EATX.

Why leave the EATX to the pros?

All that extra space can result in a pretty significant price hike in terms of ATX vs. EATX. If you’re building a computer that can run the newest games at the highest settings, you’re better off investing in a high-end GPU than an oversized motherboard.

An extended motherboard means you need a larger case as well, which adds space requirements onto your gaming setup. Since ATX boards can handle at least four sticks of RAM and often two GPUs, you really shouldn’t worry about springing for an EATX.

They’re oversized, more expensive, and a bit overkill if you don’t really need their added capabilities.

Other Options for Motherboards

If neither of these motherboards sound right for the computer you’re building, you do have a few options to consider. While these have a lot fewer capabilities than ATX vs. EATX, they are worth knowing about.

Micro ATX and Mini ITX

Motherboard inside view

Image via: Flickr

The Micro ATX and Mini ITX are both smaller than the standard ATX board.

Like the Micro ATX’s name suggests, it’s a further scaled-down version of the ATX. It’s an even square with 9.6 inches on each side. Still, it manages to maintain a lot of the functions that the full-sized ATX does.

If you only need one graphics card, a Micro ATX may be the best choice for you. It often has only two PCIe x16 slots and can have between two and four RAM slots. If you know you’ll want more than this, an ATX is still your best option.

But if you know your limits or want a budget choice, the Micro ATX is still a good option. It even works for gaming applications. Most Micro ATX boards can support a dual-GPU setup, so you can save money without losing function.

As for the Mini ITX, these are the smallest motherboards you can use. Despite their size, they often cost more than Micro ATX boards do. They are in lower demand, and so cost more to produce.

Mini ITX motherboards don’t have much going for them in terms of power, but that’s part of the point of these boards. They are the smallest and have very few spaces for expansion. They are an ideal selection if you want a low-profile desktop computer.

Again, since they have such limited room for expansion, you should only use a Mini ITX for applications such as office work.

When it comes to ATX vs. EATX, even the Micro ATX doesn’t reach into the same realm. But it’s good to keep in mind all options available when you’re selecting a motherboard.

ATX vs. EATX: Which Should You Choose?

If you’re trying to choose an ATX vs. EATX motherboard, there’s a pretty easy rule of thumb to make the decision more straightforward.

Are you unsure whether you need an EATX or not? Then you probably don’t. ATX motherboards are the standard for a reason. They have a lot of room for expansion and upgrading, and you can easily find one to fit your budget.

However, if you’re already using an ATX and are wondering how to upgrade it further, an EATX is probably the answer for you. If you’re not afraid of spending extra to take your computer to the edge of its capabilities, the EATX has you covered.

Do you use an ATX or an EATX? Which is best to meet your needs? Let us know in the comments!

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