The majority of us would not be able to say no to an iMac loaded with impressive hardware however, most people don’t have the space on their desks or floors to house an entire tower that is the size of the size of a toddler.
Fortunately manufacturers of PC components and cases are beginning to recognize the rising demand for compact but effective devices and there will be numerous options available in 2020.
While a compact PC does have many advantages There are a few things to take into consideration before buying one, and not all of them are evident.
In this article we’ll discuss some of the benefits and drawbacks that you’ll be thinking about prior to joining the club of travel-sized computers We’ll also review five of our top small ATX cases available in the market.
This article begins with a an overview of what you should look to look for in the smallest ATX Case. If you’d like to skip our suggestions, you can do that here..
Choosing a Motherboard Form Factor and Case Size
” Compact ATX” is a popular Google searches these days However, the term is used to mean the type of PC case but not to the motherboard.
It’s roughly identical to ” mid-tower case” and typically refers to those that can house an ATX motherboard as well as the other parts you’d typically attach to it. They are approximately 40.6 cm in size 25.4 cm and 45.7 inches (16″ x 10″ 18″).
Five of the cases we’ve selected in our review are mid-tower or smaller cases.
In another way, the word “compact ATX” is problematically vague. It’s not clear whether the particular case will only work with traditional ATX boards or if it’s capable of working with Micro-ATX as well as Mini-ITX motherboards which is what a lot of cases are.
If you’re creating your list of the components you’ll need to build your dream computer it’s usually ideal to begin with the motherboard. This decision will determine which CPUs, GPUs, and RAM you’ll be able to connect to it.
After you’ve decided you can look for a smaller case with mounting slots that are compatible.
Make sure you study the entire description thoroughly to make sure that the small ATX case you’re looking at is compatible with your specific motherboard.
Can an ATX Motherboard Fit in a Micro-ATX or Mini-ITX Case?
A lot of (but certainly not every) ATX cases can accommodate smaller boards, however the case that advertises itself as a Mini-ITX or Micro ATX case, it will probably not easily fit an bigger board.
“Readily” is the key word here. If there’s enough room to accommodate the board to stand on you can always create the mounting holes yourself.
Read the specification to see if this case is what you’re searching for.
Drawbacks of Tiny (Gaming) PCs
An ultra-space-efficient gaming rig that you can easily carry across town for a LAN party is cool (people still have LAN parties, right? ).
It’s also great to have the ability to put your media center or PC on a tiny shelf or behind the television. There are some drawbacks with a small-sized PC but.
For one thing, cramming a full set of gaming- or content-creation-ready hardware into a space roughly half the size of a full PC tower reduces airflow and makes it much more challenging to keep all those parts cool.
It’s doable, though it’s more difficult to put in liquid cooling inside the smallest ATX case.
A smaller interior can also mean fewer hardware choices and less possibility of upgrading. In all other respects the smaller size of the case implies that there are less GPUs, or smaller, less powerful GPUs and power supply that could fit inside it.
However, as smaller form factor PCs are growing in popularity and component makers are beginning to offer more choices of parts that can be tucked away in a small space, which means you’ll still have plenty of choices now and in the near future.
It’s important to remember that less space typically will mean fewer expansion slots in the case, and (potentially) less space on the motherboard. This could mean that you might not be able to fit more NVMe M.2 drives or RAM modules as you’d like or put as many HDDs of 3,5” in it as many as you’d prefer.
It’s not as much of an issue as it was years ago, however; technology for hard drives has made significant strides and it’s possible to put 32GB (or even 64GB) of RAM in two slots, which is more than enough for the latest games.
But, if your media center or PC to include features such as an DVD/Blu-ray drive as well as an SD card reader built into the system A small ATX case might not accommodate these features.
Despite their disadvantages, small ATX models can be an excellent option provided that you’ve got a plan in place to control heat and you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of additional hardware that is generally not necessary for gaming.