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

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Aeacus

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My favorite would be ATX MoBo in a full-tower ATX case.

I like when i have extra free space inside the case. Also, full-tower ATX cases have great expandability (fans, drives) without being way too big, like super-tower ATX cases are.
 

dennphill

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Apr 12, 2012
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I am in sympathy with a couple of you. I just - having given up on all the recent AMD and Intel 'gonna-dos' with upcoming new processors last year - just decided that good enuff was...well, good enuff. Using my (I love it) old Corsair Air 240 mATX box, I got rid of my Intel 5-4440 and Z97M ASUS MB and GTX 750Ti that had been running flawlessly since Jan 15, and last summer installed a Ryzen 5-2600 with a B450M MB and a GTX1660 GPU with far too much RAM. (!) Again, running flawlessly - quick enough for my needs - and (to answer the original question!) I love the mATX form factor and I still haven t seen anything in a 'cube box' that makes me think my white Corsair Air240 isn't just the prettiest l'il desktop.
 

GraySilencer

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Jun 25, 2016
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Micro-ATX. It's the ideal form factor for me, not too big or small. You could fit a lot of hardware in a Micro-ATX Mid Tower. Take the NR400 for example. It has cooler height allowance of 166 mm, good ventilation, room for cable management, a PS shroud, 8 storage bays, and it's easy to build in.
 
Apr 2, 2020
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I prefer the standard ATX, plenty of space on motherboard for multiple upgrades. mATX has fewer slots and just not really for me. I had EATX once with a dual XEON, never again. Too big!!

I did build an ITX board in a small case.
 

bit_user

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Depends on what I'm building.
EATX - servers and (especially) dual-CPU workstations.​
ATX - performance-oriented desktops, in airy cases with room for expansion.​
mini-ITX - when space is important.​
Thin mini-ITX - when space is really important, or you want a strikingly thin case.​
mini-STX - for specialized applications, or just because you can.​

I haven't really gotten the point of micro-ATX. I even have a case for one, but never found a use for it.
 
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bit_user

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Looks like the smaller form factors are adored by a number of members here.
I wish mini-STX were more popular. I had a 1st-gen Raspberry Pi that I replaced with an Apollo Lake mini-ITX board, a few years ago. I wished I could've gone with mini-STX, but the market for those boards & cases was just in its infancy, and the closest thing to what I wanted was an overpriced NUC with a CPU that was too slow. So I went with the smallest mini-ITX case I could find (which was still too big, IMO).

I hope my next ARM board will be mini-STX, though the form factor doesn't seem to be gaining that much traction.
 
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Hutcheh

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Nov 29, 2014
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I prefer ATX Full Towers from an expandability standpoint and overall cleanliness of the build.

Full Towers, generally speaking, have a ton of space to accommodate a wide array of upgrades. Whether it be a new GPU which may be taller or longer, to more HDD's, I find there is always enough room. With some of the more compact builds I have seen, although being neat to look at, components look cramped. For example Linus Tech Tips' "Xbox Series X Rip-off PC." Looks fun and challenging to put a PC together in such a limited space enclosure, but if you need a large amount of storage, like any 3.5" HDD's, or if you need to use any more PCIE slots you may be out of luck.

From a cleanliness viewpoint, Mid and Full Tower cases, to me just look so much cleaner. To use another example, Jay's Two Cents' "Ultra Small and Powerful Gaming PC." Loque really had to think of everything to get all of the components into such a small form factor. Notice that there are no windowed panels due to the avalanche of components within the case. Then look at Jay's personal rig dubbed "Nebula." Personally, I think that this is way more appealing to look at then a small box that is going to sit in a corner. Although being a bit flashy for my taste, I am not really big into RGB, the way he was able to modify and use the full tower to its potential really entices me.

I prefer to use ATX due to the size, features, and price. Good ATX motherboards generally go for around $200, while current EATX will run you $500 and up.

In the end, it is all a matter of opinion. My first PC was a Mid tower, I loved it, even made another Mid tower and used it for another 6 years, passed it onto my little brother. Now that I have moved onto a Full tower, I do not think I will ever go back.
 

bit_user

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I prefer to use ATX due to the size, features, and price. Good ATX motherboards generally go for around $200, while current EATX will run you $500 and up.
That's not an apples-to-apples comparison, though. EATX are nearly all server & high-end workstation boards. You always pay a premium for such boards, even if you get them in ATX or mini-ITX form factors.
 

bit_user

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One thing I like about mini-ITX is that you can do things like a fairly recent build of mine.

I put together a mini-ITX 10G fileserver, with all SSDs in a RAID-5. I used an old Lian Li PC-Q08B case:


I swapped the 140 mm intake fan with a Noctua NF-A14 ULN. With SSDs and a 54 W i3 CPU, it provided more than enough airflow, so I was more concerned about noise and deleting the LED fan. Then, I used a downdraft cooler (Scythe Big Shuriken II Rev. B) with a 150 mm Noctua fan flipped into an updraft config. Finally, I used a Seasonic SS-460FL2 fanless PSU.

Now, what's interesting about this setup is that the PSU is mounted sideways, right next to the CPU. So, effectively, my CPU fan is cooling both the CPU and the PSU. Since the CPU fan stays near the low end of its curve, the case remains positive pressure which, along with the case's removable dust filter (behind the intake fan), is key for keeping it virtually dust-free.

Unfortunately, pics just don't do it justice. The key point is that it's 10 Gigabit storage with RAID-5 and ECC, yet you have to listen hard to tell it's even on.

BTW, in line with my above point, the ASRock Rack E3C226D2I mini-ITX motherboard was $225. That's simply the premium you pay for a "server-grade" board, even if it's mini-ITX. That's like 50% more than the CPU I put in it.
 

MJS WARLORD

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I have been a die hard gamer in one form or another since 1982 , small form would be of no use to me as the build parts i would want to use would not fit in a small case. My tower is huge it is a coolermaster haf x , when the driver delivered my custom built rig it was on a wooden pallet and he helped me carry it into home as it was too heavy for me to pick up , not bragging just saying. My set up does not cause a problem in the room because our staircase is a bit bigger than normal to accomadate my wifes wheelchair platfom and the space underneath is perfect for all my gear.
 

Phaaze88

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Both small and large format builds require some kind of planning, but in opposite directions:
The challenge of small builds: nice and clean, without looking cramped.
The challenge of large builds: nice and clean, without looking empty.

I think I want my next case to be a cube. I think they're cute, and a breath of fresh air from the same old rectangular boxes.
Something like the Lian Li PC-O8X, but without all that glass nonsense blocking airflow, or Corsair's Air 540 - that's another one that I like the look of, but with a few small gripes.
 
Nov 20, 2019
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My first build (and quite recently) is a mini-itx. I love the small form factor, because space is an issue and an important factor for me. I also just like the way they look.. when browsing builds on pcpartpicker, I find myself only looking at itx builds. I recently travelled cross country by train, bus, and hiking with my PC in a backpack, and there's no possibly way I could have fit anything else. I wish I would have gone smaller!!
 

bit_user

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@bit_user
Even if one doesn't have those, they should put in some kind of effort, yes?
To keep it neat? Yes.

But my point was that I don't care if it looks empty, because I can't see it. All I care about is airflow and making it easy to work in.

It can't be said enough: windows are bad (except for vanity).
Case windows:
  • are less thermally-conductive than other materials (esp. aluminum)
  • increase weight
  • increase cost
  • make you worry about stuff like LED lighting and having your case not look too empty.
If you really like having a cool-looking build with LEDs, I'm not knocking you. Just be aware of what compromises you're making.

I do lament that it's ever-harder to find good, non-windowed cases.
 
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bit_user

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I recently travelled cross country by train, bus, and hiking with my PC in a backpack, and there's no possibly way I could have fit anything else.
I almost built a mini-ITX PC in one of these, last year, but then things changed and I no longer needed a portable machine.


Hey, I just noticed they added a windowless option. Sweet!
 
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