Question What's your favorite form factor when building a PC?

SHaines

Community Manager
Staff member
Apr 1, 2019
173
98
660
0
The Tom's Hardware community is surely one of the best groups of experts in the world for getting advice on building your own custom computers for a multitude of purposes.

With that expertise also comes some aesthetic preferences. Beyond the look of things, some machines being used for dedicated tasks require a whole different mindset.

What is your favorite form factor when starting a new computer build?

Definitely post what different form factors you prefer for different tasks, as folks can never predict what kinds of builds they may need in the future.

We're excited to hear your hot takes!
 

JarredWaltonGPU

Senior GPU Editor
Editor
Feb 21, 2020
202
169
260
0
I'll kick this off.

ATX, all the way. Not EATX or full-size towers -- just a decent mid-tower ATX case will do.

First, understand that I'm a hardware enthusiast and I swap parts WAY more than your average nerd. Even so, there are many other factors at play. I'd really love to be able to say mini-ITX, or even micro-ATX, but the smaller cases are a pain in the butt to build or swap parts in, pure and simple. Plus, cooling and overheating problems pop up over time even with larger builds, and a compact build is basically a commitment to routinely (every three months at least) clean out the dust. I should be better at doing that, but I know I'm not, so give me the bigger case.

Something else that factors into it is the limited choices for a good mini-ITX or micro-ATX motherboard. It doesn't matter the chipset or socket; you usually only have a handful of mini-ITX options at best, and maybe twice that many micro-ATX boards (that don't immediately disqualify themselves with poor component choices or missing options). Go with an ATX board and there are dozens of reasonable options to meet every price.

Ultimately, though, it comes down to the graphics card support. I don't want to end up in a case that can't accommodate a big GPU. Sometimes that might even mean a triple-slot (or 2.9-slot) monster that's 335mm long. There are plenty of ATX cases where you can't fit such a card, and mini-ITX and micro-ATX don't stand a chance.
 
I would say it's depending on the computers usage and location.

For the HTPC/Living Room I prefer to use Mini ITX due to footprint and design features. They tend to look more like they belong in that environment and in some cases can even be placed alongside existing AV hardware in the TV stand and so forth.
Mini ITX tend to be a bit more costly to build in relation to some other form factors and you have to pay close attention to the specific components in relation to the chosen chassis. It is often difficult if not impossible to "meaningfully" upgrade some aspects of your hardware in this form, such as adding RAM, easily swapping components, etc. Heat and noise can be issues with powerful equipment inside such cases. By and large the build experience tends to be more involved and require more experience to build in an operational as well as aesthetic way, proper cable management and such.

Full size ATX is my favorite form motherboard, and thus case to build a general purpose PC with future in mind. The large cases offer plenty of air exchange, and especially with a well designed case. Room for future expandability, common form factors, room for large and powerful components and coolers, easy to build in, big hands...the whole slew of items.

I will give a passing shout out to Micro ATX. If you are looking for a budget build with less expandability but still room to fit large components and easy to work within this form factor is king.
 
Last edited:

Wolfshadw

Titan
Moderator
I have to give it to Micro-ATX. I've had several ATX boards over the years and I've never had a need for that many expansion slots (Never went Crossfire/SLI). The few slots that I do use, I just need to make sure they're configured in such a way that there's space between the expansion cards for proper air flow. As for Mini-ITX, it seems I always have to add in a card other than the graphics card, so Mini-ITX doesn't work for me.

-Wolf sends
 

DSzymborski

Champion
Moderator
Pyramid. You can use it to harness the mystical powers of the Templars that totally founded the United States and if a roustabout enters your house, you can stab them with your PC in a pinch.



More seriously: I like full towers with ATX/EATX motherboards. I've got plenty of room because my home office is about 500 square feet and I live alone in a five-bedroom house (as my girlfriend usually has some level of low-key hostility towards me). So I'm not worried about efficient space, so I like having large PC cases in which I can stuff anything I want. My main rig weights about 70 pounds, has 10 hard drives, and enough RGB to make a unicorn vomit with rage.
 
Apr 1, 2020
3
2
15
0
ATX for sure because is the most used form factor all cases support it (other than small ones ofc) and its easiest to work with not to big not to small the layout is familiar and almost the same across all ATX boards so cases usually have cutouts at the right spot ATX is enough to fit all that you need in my opinion E-ATX is for high end workstations or small servers
 
Reactions: Endre and perzaklie

jwcrellin

Reputable
Dec 3, 2016
1,274
19
5,665
152
I have only ever built in ATX midtower cases or pre-built MicroATX chassis. Earlier this year I built on a test bench, super easy but not very aesthetically pleasing. Next pc I build, i'm going to try small form factor or ITX.
 
I use M-ATX primarily because my space limits the depth of the case to about 16"
I do not have a need for a large number of storage drives.

As to favorite, that has to be ITX.
In part because of the build challenge.
But, as a practical matter for office or normal desktop use, a small case is best.
 

Insane Potatoz

Prominent
Sep 22, 2019
572
47
440
5
Micro ATX. Don’t get me wrong, ATX is nice with all the room, but if you get a decent Micro ATX case that’s easy to work in, it can be really nice. The main reason I prefer micro ATX, though, is because it takes up less space than ATX. ATX cases are so big!
 

AJAshinoff

Prominent
Feb 18, 2019
40
0
530
0
It depends on the role of the system. I prefer ATX for my personal systems and any work related systems that 'could' use future expansion. But lately I've been using a lot of mico-PC's for kiosks and min-PC's for light use workstations. I do miss Small and Desktop ATX cases though, they certainly had their place as well.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS