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ATX vs. EATX: What’s the Difference? Is One Better?

Computer motherboard

ATX vs. EATX: What’s the Difference? Is One Better?

Key Points

  • EATX motherboards were designed for servers and workstations, making them ideal for high-performance computing.
  • EATX motherboards have limited compatibility with AMD CPU sockets, so they may not be the best choice for AMD users.
  • ATX motherboards are the most widely used motherboard form factor and are compatible with most commercially available cases.
  • ATX motherboards are versatile and can support both Intel and AMD CPU sockets, making them a good choice for users who want flexibility.
  • Choosing between EATX and ATX depends on your specific needs and budget, so it’s important to carefully consider your options before making a decision.

Entering into the world of computer hardware can be a fairly daunting task. This is especially true when considering something as mundane as a motherboard comes in multiple form factors. When you’re planning a build, there are a lot of small details that can muddy the waters. In the debate of ATX vs EATX, it’s important to consider which is better for your needs. As with any major purchase, it is best to know what you’re looking at before committing your time and money to a process.

EATX and ATX are just two of the many options out there for motherboard sizes. The purpose of today’s guide is to clarify some of the jargon, while also equipping you with the information you need. Let’s take a closer look at these two form factors and decide which one is better for your purposes.

ATX vs. EATX: Side-By-Side Comparison

EATXATX
Height12 inches12 inches
Width13 inches9.6 inches
PCI-E slotsUp to 8Up to 4
RAM slotsUp to 8Up to 4
Case RequiredEATX-compatibleATX-compatible
CPU SocketsUp to 21
EATX Motherboard
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03/01/2024 07:09 pm GMT

ATX vs. EATX: What’s the Difference?

Both of these motherboard form factors have some distinct benefits. They use common technologies you might expect to find on any motherboard, but there are some differences between the two. ATX does have the benefit of being far more ubiquitous for the purposes of most home builders.

Size

An EATX board is the same height as an ATX motherboard but is wider overall. This extra width allows manufacturers to put more of everything on board. The caveat with the larger size of the motherboard itself is the additional cost of everything. An EATX motherboard costs on average 25 to 50% more than an ATX motherboard. You will also need a special case built exclusively for an EATX motherboard to actually house it. As such, the costs rise quite quickly when using one of these as the central part of a build.

ATX has been the standard for PC motherboards since the mid-90s. 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

EATX boards being larger by design means there is more room for headers, slots, and sockets. It isn’t uncommon for a newer EATX board to have 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 extends to space for RAM modules as well, with some EATX boards on the market having space for up to eight slots of RAM. 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.

Feature Support

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 from Intel. Fans of the Ryzen series of CPUs from 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 and AMD in 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 a terabyte of 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.

ATX Motherboard
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)
$299.99
  • Will support dual channel DDR4 up to 128GB
  • Four memory slots available
  • Intel Core 10th Gen
  • LGA 1200 CPU socket
  • Supports Wi-Fi 6
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03/01/2024 07:05 pm GMT

ATX vs. EATX: 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

ATX vs. EATX: 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-proof machine for 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use an EATX motherboard for a gaming PC?

You absolutely can, especially if you’re wanting to build a real monster of a PC. Do keep in mind they are mostly Intel only at the time of this writing, however.

Are EATX cases more expensive?

Yes, they’re larger to accommodate the larger motherboard. As such, they are more expensive than a more common ATX case.

Are ATX motherboards still a good choice?

Absolutely, they are more than enough for most gaming builds. Unless you’re wanting to build a massive 4K VR-capable PC, then an ATX board should be more than enough for most use cases.

What is the purpose of a motherboard?

Motherboards allow for all the components which make up a PC to communicate with each other. There are lanes for the CPU to communicate with the RAM, receive power from the power supply, and utilize the GPU.

Do they make inexpensive ATX motherboards?

Yes, ATX motherboards come in a variety of price points. You can find them for below $100 and well into the $1,000 range depending on which features are most important to you. For a basic build, you could very easily get away with a cheaper motherboard, however.

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