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

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Nov 20, 2019
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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.

(Lian Li TU150)​

Hey, I just noticed they added a windowless option. Sweet!
I was going to replace my thermaltake core v1 with that lian tu150 (windowless as well!!) for travelling. It would have fit a lot nicer. But I didn't have the funds for a new PSU and also fans.

I still would like to but now it's not a necessity.

Here's my build, https://pcpartpicker.com/b/KXmqqs

It's a bit cramped in there! But temps are good. It's mostly the enormous heatsink taking up the space.
 
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jimmysmitty

Champion
Moderator
@bit_user
Even if one doesn't have those, they should put in some kind of effort, yes?

I can see the challenge with smaller builds, but larger ones should be a cakewalk... just can't give people the benefit of the doubt though, they continue to surprise: [the link's already set to the build in question]
View: https://youtu.be/rHDeyPWL8UE?t=1015


^That wasn't well thought out at all...
One of my favorite things to see in a smaller build is when people put the PSU upside down so its fan is pulling from the same space as the GPU.
 

Kracken2342

Great
Jun 19, 2019
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Definitely full ATX. More features, cheaper, expandability, easier to work with. Yes, it may not be aesthetically pleasing, big, not as convenient as micro or mini build, but it checks all the boxes.
 

Hutcheh

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Nov 29, 2014
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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.
You're right, but I have no need for something with that much capability. To me it would be a waste.
 

bruvvamoff

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Mar 11, 2012
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My first build was full tower, this time I'm in a new house and the pc needs to fit on a shelf so I had to go with micro atx.
I cant say the smaller case has hindered me in any way except I'd have liked a dual gpu option for the future.
 

hftvhftv

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May 26, 2014
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Full tower with EATX or ATX motherboard. I went from a $50 Rosewill mid tower to a Cooler Master HAF 932 and haven't looked back, lots of room to work with, allowed me to add a custom side door hinge, room for a side panel mounted 230mm fan that blows directly onto my extra tall 980 Ti Classified, custom fit my 280mm H240X cooler, and I've been able to just add hard drives when I need them.
 
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kep55

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Dec 31, 2007
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ATX. Most room for memory, cards, and air flow. Now if I could just find a mid-tower case / chassis that has a removeable motherboard tray like my CoolerMaster Praetorian did.
 
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Apr 3, 2020
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I prefer Full ATX just because it allows you to fit more fans into a case allowing greater airflow at lower noise levels. I've built a few Micro-ATX computers before and they become very painful to work on due to the fact that they're very small.
 

nofanneeded

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Sep 29, 2019
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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.
there are alot of full ATX cases with shorter depth than 16" .... even less than 13" !!!

Check these cases out

1- Raijintek Thetis
2-Corsair iCue 220t
3-Phanteks Eclpise P300
4-Fractal Desifn Meshify C
5-coolermaster Q500L
6-Zalman S5
7-Silverstone Fara R1
8-Xygmatek Prospect
9-Lian Li PC-010
 
Apr 4, 2020
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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!
ATX, I've been building my own computers since the 386 came out. Used MSI for a while, but their board used to suck. Been using ASUS for 20 years now. Never had a problem. A new board today should take MINIMUM 16GB RAM have more than 4 x SATA ports. I only use Intel CPUs. I use Crucial for memory, especially since they replaced some faulty RAM that was EIGHT YEARS old. I guess their lifetime guarantee MEANS what it says. I would like to see 3 or more PCI Xpress slots, for Graphics maybe NIC. Some USB 3.x ports. Its the mainboard and amount RAM + SATA that's really important. 8GB RAM these days is a waste of time!
 

MadsModsat

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Oct 10, 2019
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When I build PCs for myself, I always use an ATX form factor motherboard.

When I began building computers many years ago, the integrated hardware devices on the motherboard were both limited and fairly basic. So I've always been used to have a lot of add-in cards, mostly basic things like a soundcard, network controllers, HDD controllers and various serial connectors and what not. So it was important to have plenty of expansion options available

I've never really retired the idea, that I would like to have sufficient PCI-sockets available on the motherboard, in case I would encounter any situation where missing expansion options would be a serious limitation, maybe even the only thing that makes certain projects grind to a halt.

I know this theoretical situation is becoming less likely everytime hardware evolves, but surprisingly there's has been a few times where it proved to be useful

Since the graphics cards I usually buy completely blocks at least one expansion slot, I have to use a motherboard with enough room for additional expansion options below the GPU.

I already use a PCI-e x1 sound card, so that's another thing to take into account.

For years and years, I always had multi-GPU setups. I have abandoned that completely since then, but it also played a part, when I was choosing motherboards for a new build.

With these requirements in mind, the standard ATX motherboards have been perfect for my needs.

I have previously considered an E-ATX motherboard, but that never resulted in anything.

But when I build a PC for someone else, I don't have a preferred standard, the motherboard I'd use as a foundation for the build, would mostly be chosen with the users needs in mind.
 
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Nov 27, 2019
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EATX with lots of M.2 & SATA. Dual LAN & WiFi always in a Full Tower case. Due to the Limitation of maintstream processors only having 16 PCIe lanes, CPUs are always HEDT.
 
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AJNameS

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Apr 5, 2020
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EATX & ATX for 100% sure. I feel so happy with my bitty-biggy-thingy semi-open box (cleaning is ez - mini-vac).
The bigger the mobo, the easier the manipulation and the cooling of the system with its CPU, Video card and so on.
When it comes to performance, efficiency and technical/hardware operations, then aesthetics, cosmetics and such simply have no importance, and they can be dealed with - designs and cases fix this 'issue' .
As for the mini-micro-things, if I need minimizing the overal space, or portability, I just use a laptop.

Most users would probably prefer options between micro, mini and usual atx. Not everyone does much technical & hardware stuff and cares about cooling, and people just seek kinda' optimized things with medium/low space occupation.
 
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LukaBoki

Dignified
Even though I have owned, and currently own an ATX build, I would have to say Micro-ATX motherboard in a mid-tower case. I have never needed, and probably never will, the versatility and expansion slots of an ATX motherboard - a good quality micro-ATX board is in my opinion all you need, and I like the extra room of a mid-tower case. Micro-ATX builds can still be sexy as hell, so when I decide to upgrade my computer in a few years, I will definitely go for Micro-ATX!
 

jrhansen

Reputable
May 30, 2016
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For the home Office Working PC/Gaming rig ATX all the way, as I really can't live with the onboard squatter sound in the Mobo's. I do have USB3 sound hardware, but still. Even for a combi build I would always recommend people to pick a decent sound card, and lets face it, mosy Mobo' producers have some of the onboard gimmicks that just isn't optimal for what you use the PC with. I really like that you have the space on an ATX form factor to add an addon card or 2, and really many of the iTX boards goes too much on compromise with the quality of the build in connections and expandability. I fully agree that you don't want a full size tower for the living room or bedroom media center however.
 
When not filled with glitzy RGB fans on showy 360mm radiators with huge reservoirs for custom closed loop cooling with racks of 3.5" spinners in RAID arrays, ATX cases with all the empty space are so ugly and reek of grossly inefficient utilization of precious desktop space. mATX is seriously preferred and very practical with the plethora of power efficient, high performance processors and GPU's and the affordable, tiny yet capacious SSD's all currently available. But counter intuitively, it's getting harder and harder to build as there are fewer motherboard offerings every generation.

I'd gladly move to mITX except there are so few cases that satisfy, especially in budget categories. And even here the motherboard offerings are slimmer in variety, especially at the budget end of things. I'd love my next build to be a NUC-alike.

It really makes no sense to me; why keep reducing the size and power consumption of components when you don't ALSO shrink the platform size?
 

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