Want a smaller PC build, but don’t like the restrictions of Mini ITX? A Micro ATX PC build may be just what you’re looking for, and the best place to start is with a motherboard.
Today, we’re going to tackle the best Micro ATX motherboards for 2020.
Best Micro ATX Motherboards For 2020
|Motherboard||Chipset||Overclocking Support||Storage Options||Expansion Options||Price|
|Gigabyte H310M A||Intel H310||No||4 SATA, 1 M.2 (PCIe enabled)||1 PCI x16, 2 PCI||Check Price|
|MSI Z370M Mortar||Intel Z370||Yes||4 SATA, 2 M.2 slots (1 PCIe enabled)||2 PCI x16 slots, 2 PCI slots||Check Price|
|MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge||Intel Z390||Yes||4 SATA, 2 M.2 slots (PCIe enabled)||2 PCI x16 slots, 2 PCI slots||Check Price|
|ASRock X399M Taichi||AMD X399||Yes||8 SATA, 3 M.2 (PCIe enabled)||3 PCI x16 slots||Check Price|
|ASUS TUF Z390M-Pro Gaming||Intel Z390||Yes||6 SATA, 2 M.2 (PCIe enabled)||2 PCI x16 slots, 1 PCI slots||Check Price|
Table of Contents:
- Gigabyte H310M A – Best Budget Micro ATX Motherboard
- MSI Z370M Mortar – Best Gaming Micro ATX Motherboard
- MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge – Best RGB Micro ATX Motherboard
- ASRock X399M Taichi – Best AMD Micro ATX Motherboard
- ASUS TUF Z390M-Pro Gaming – Best Overall Micro ATX Motherboard
- Explaining Micro ATX and what makes it different
- Choosing Compatible Cases
Gigabyte H310M A – Best Budget Micro ATX Motherboard
The Gigabyte H310M-A is our pick for best budget Micro ATX motherboard, thanks to its low price point and good build quality.
Usually retailing for under $60, the H310M-A is a perfect companion for budget gaming builds under $500. In our own tests and Amazon reviews, this motherboard has proven to be quite reliable across-the-board, meaning that you’re unlikely to encounter unexpected issues as long as you follow the build process properly.
A particularly good bonus is the inclusion of an M.2 slot, which is able to use PCI Express bandwidth with compatible M.2 SSDs. At this price range, you’re unlikely to have a multi-SSD setup…but the M.2 slot and its high-speed support means that whenever you do decide to get one, you don’t have to sacrifice speed.
- Low price
- M.2 support, decent SATA setup
- Only 1 M.2 slot
- Lacking extra features
This is an entry-level budget motherboard, make no mistake. This means that for common desktop usage and budget gaming builds, this motherboard will be more than adequate.
What you don’t get is extra features…and, in fact, the M.2 support seems to have come at the cost of 2 SATA ports. If you’re coming to this motherboard expecting extras like overclocking and RGB lighting, you’re definitely looking in the wrong place.
That being said this motherboard is perfect for its price range and the market its targeting. If you want a budget Micro ATX motherboard, this is easily your best option on the market.
MSI Z370M Mortar – Best Gaming Micro ATX Motherboard
If gaming is your only concern, the MSI Z370M Mortar is a fairly strong pick. Thanks to its Z370 chipset, high build quality, and general featureset, the Z370M Mortar is our pick for best gaming Micro ATX motherboard.
The biggest benefit this motherboard has to offer is overclocking support. Using Intel 8th Gen (or 9th Gen after a BIOS update) processors, the Z370 chipset will allow you to overclock your CPU to your heart’s content. Additionally, features like memory overclocking, dual GPU, and dual M.2 support help elevate this one a bit above the competition.
Also, the price is pretty fair! While not quite as low as the budget option (for obvious reasons), this motherboard is quite a bit cheaper than many other Z370 and Z390 motherboards without sacrificing features that are core to the gaming experience.
If your concern is just gaming, and you don’t need RGB or Wi-Fi built-in…this is the board for you.
- Fair pricing
- Overclocking support
- Packed with gaming features and storage options
- Necessary BIOs update out-of-box to avoid Windows issues
However, you will want to update its BIOs immediately, even before installing Windows. Many users are reporting issues with the out-of-the-box BIOS (issues that manifest in Windows), so make sure you update ASAP to save yourself future headaches.
MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge – Best RGB Micro ATX Motherboard
Our selection for best RGB Micro ATX motherboard is the MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge AC, which we’ll be calling the Gaming Edge from now on. Aside from an astoundingly long name, the Gaming Edge also boasts everything you’d need in an RGB PC build.
First and foremost…the RGB lighting, which comes from the back of the motherboard. With the assistance of MSI’s software, you can synchronize this lighting with your peripherals and other RGB components inside your system, allowing for a stellar RGB PC experience.
Next up, the features. The Z390 Chipset unlocks overclocking capabilities, as well as USB 3.1 Gen2 support. You also have enough PCI Express slots for a multi-GPU configuration, and two high-speed M.2 slots for fans of SSDs.
Particularly relevant for SFF PC users is the inclusion of dual Wi-Fi antennas with the motherboard. If you move around your PC a lot, or are simply in a place where you cannot run an ethernet cable, this is a desirable feature to have.
- Excellent RGB implementation
- Overclocking support
- Packed with extra features, including dual M.2 and built-in Wi-Fi
- High price
The only real catch with this motherboard is that it’s pretty expensive. You are paying a price premium for all of these added features, but if you’re actually going to use them, it’s worth the money.
ASRock X399M Taichi – Best AMD Micro ATX Motherboard
If features are what you want, this is the motherboard for you.
Meet the ASRock X399M Taichi. This is a Micro ATX motherboard that supports AMD’s Threadripper processors, and it is stuffed full of features to match.
First and foremost, you have the chipset features, which unlock CPU and memory overclocking. Then you have…well, the entire rest of the build.
3 PCI Express x16 slots on a Micro ATX motherboard. 8 SATA ports, 3 high-speed M.2 ports, built-in Wi-Fi, overall stellar build quality, this motherboard pretty much has everything you need.
Befitting Threadripper’s hybrid server-grade/gaming nature, this motherboard has the makings of a truly stellar personal server/rendering machine/gaming rig. Just make sure you get a good cooler if you’re going to be running that Threadripper processor.
- Absurdly packed with features, gaming or otherwise
- Overclocking support
- Very high price and low availability
The only real downside of this motherboard is its stupidly high price, but what did you expect? Chances are that won’t even be a problem for you if you’re running a Threadripper CPU, anyway.
ASUS TUF Z390M-Pro Gaming – Best Overall Micro ATX Motherboard
Last but not least is the ASUS TUF Z390M-Pro, which is our pick for best overall Micro ATX motherboard. While you aren’t going to get onboard RGB, pretty much everything else you should want in a motherboard is here.
You have dual high-speed M.2 slots, a full 6 SATA ports, a dedicated M.2 shield, clearance and support for dual GPUs, and overall stellar build quality. Additionally, this motherboard ships with out-of-the-box support for 8th and 9th Gen CPUs.
In addition to these features and the overclocking you’d expect from a Z390 board, you also have built-in Wi-Fi support.
All of the features on offer here make this a great all-around motherboard, so long as you don’t need RGB lighting on your motherboard itself.
- Plenty of features, including Wi-Fi support
- Overclocking support
- High price
- No onboard RGB
The only catch is the price, which is high…but not much higher than your typical Z390 motherboard. If you don’t care about RGB but you still want all the features you can get in a motherboard, Wi-Fi especially, then this is the right motherboard for you.
Explaining Micro ATX and what makes it different
If you aren’t sure what Micro ATX is, don’t worry- we’re here to help.
To understand Micro ATX, you’ll first want to understand ATX, which it is based on.
ATX is the standard motherboard form factor. The most important difference between ATX and Micro ATX is size, but you’ll also see some other differences, too, especially in terms of expansion.
|Differences||ATX Standard||Micro ATX Standard|
|Size||305 x 244 mm||244 x 244 mm|
|PCI Express Slots||Seven at max||Four at max|
|SATA Ports||~6 on average, some as high as 22||~6 on average|
|M.2 Slots||4-5 at max||3 at max|
|RAM Slots||4 on average, 8 with some boards||4 on average|
|Lighting Headers||With modern motherboards, 4-5 are common||With common motherboards, 3-4 are common|
Essentially, Micro ATX offers less storage and graphics expansion options. However, if you aren’t running extensive RAID setups or multi-GPU configurations, you’re unlikely to actually encounter an issue here.
Choosing Compatible Cases
Since Micro ATX is a smaller version of standard ATX, it’ll fit in any case that supports standard ATX boards. However, it will also fit in smaller cases that don’t support full-sized ATX boards.
Mini Tower/Micro ATX Tower
This configuration is recommended if you want your PC to be as small as possible and aren’t running a custom loop or multi-drive setup. Larger air coolers and longer GPUs may not be compatible with smaller cases, though, so consider closed-loop liquid CPU cooling and shorter GPUs for builds like these.
This works perfectly for a standard ATX motherboard and is even better for a Micro ATX one. This is recommended if you want to use larger air coolers, multi-drive setups, multi-GPU setups, and even custom loop liquid cooling. This is ideal only if you’re maximizing expansion and liquid cooling, however.
You can place a Micro ATX motherboard inside a Full Tower ATX case, but you’ll quickly find that there is…no point in doing so.
We recommend against this one. Get a larger motherboard or go smaller with your case.
Can I use a Micro ATX motherboard in an ATX case?
Yes, absolutely. This is actually a fairly common usage scenario for case modders and enthusiasts running custom loop liquid cooling setups. While your motherboard will be proportionally small compared to the rest of the case, you shouldn’t experience any issues mounting or using the motherboard in a Mid Tower or Full Tower ATX case.
This generally isn’t recommended, though, because you’re losing out on one of the biggest benefits of Micro ATX: its smaller size. Unless you have a very good reason to use the larger case, all you’re doing is adding extra weight and heft to your PC build for no real benefit in return.
Are Micro ATX motherboards harder to build with?
The smaller the PC build is, the harder it will be to build in. Cable management and clearance become much harder to deal with when you shrink down a motherboard, since everything is placed closer together.
When it comes to building difficulty, the scale is pretty linear. From easiest to hardest, it goes:
- Extended ATX / ATX Full Tower build (Easiest)
- Standard ATX / ATX Full Tower or ATX Mid Tower build
- Micro ATX / ATX Full Tower or ATX Mid Tower build
- Micro ATX / Micro ATX Tower build
- Mini ITX / Micro ATX Tower build
- Mini ITX / Mini ITX Tower/HTPC build (Hardest)
Micro ATX shouldn’t be that much harder to build with unless you’re using muli-GPU or quad-channel RAM configurations.
Will Micro ATX motherboards be worse for gaming than ATX?
Not at all. Motherboard size has no impact whatsoever on gaming performance, and motherboards themselves usually don’t either.
Aspects of a motherboard that may impact gaming performance pretty much just boil down to the chipset- does it enable overclocking? Does it support fast RAM? If both of these are true, your motherboard is not a bottleneck.
Can I fit a Micro ATX motherboard in an ITX case?
Not usually, no. Even where you can, it’s generally not recommended. If you want an ITX build, just get an ITX board to start with.