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In our search for the perfect gaming motherboard we’ve already looked at some of the features you need to be aware of and the important bonus bits to get. One of the biggest questions that you need to ask yourself before you even start on a new PC build is: how big do you want it to be?

asus rog maximus v gene motherboard

Everything about your PC will be dictated by the size of your motherboard. Thanks to a bit of far sighted thinking back in 1995, when Intel introduced what’s known as the ‘ATX specification’, all motherboards are made to a well-defined set of measurements which dictate how big they are, where the holes for screws are and where the rear ports should be situated. That’s why any ATX motherboard will fit into any ATX case.

The ATX spec is also why power supplies will work in any PC, and you won’t run out of room when upgrading your graphics card.

Things get a bit complicated, however, by the fact that ATX was designed to take in everything from big network servers and workstations to domestic PCs for gaming. Because not everyone wanted a giant tower PC, the Micro ATX – or mATX – specification was introduced. This is basically a cut down version of ATX – it uses the same measurements and requirements for everything apart from motherboard size.

That means that mATX ideal for smaller form factor PCs and cases, but it comes at the expense of fewer expansion slots. In terms of gaming performance, however, there’s no difference at all. You can get mATX motherboards with just as many high end features as ATX ones, although the confines of the spec mean that they’re not often designed for multiple graphics cards.

What’s more, the mATX option is usually more cost effective than the ATX one. The smaller size and reduced number of expansion slots see the price drop down, making this a potentially more affordable option for the gamer on a budget.

Take the ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) Maximus V Gene motherboard for example. This comes with plenty of ace features to play around with, including a mini PCI Express combo port that allows you to upgrade both mini-PCIe and mSATA, for high speed wireless chips or fast SSD drives that can be used to accelerate standard hard disks.

asus rog maximus v gene motherboard

This brings the other advantage of the mATX form factor forward – space. You can slot this smaller baby into chassis’ that are extremely compact and neat and avoid the large desktop box that usually graces a gamers’ lounge. Like the RoG Maximus V Gene you are getting tiny size with maximum performance. Many people find the sacrifice of extra slots worth the small form factor advantage.

The ATX vs mATX debate is really not heated enough to qualify as a debate really. The choice lies in personal preferences, budget, and space requirements. However, personally I prefer the mATX option, especially if the motherboard in question comes with plenty of bundled features.

In my next post I’ll be taking a look at the last set of features you need to consider when investing in a gaming motherboard. 

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