In a globalized world where more often than not bigger means better, technology swims against the current. Physicalities in computing are forever shrinking, whether it’s the process node of a GPU or the form factor of a motherboard, discrete gaming systems are becoming more and more prevalent.
Sure, it can be fun to build a huge super-powered gaming station with all the bells and whistles, but seeing how powerful you can make a build with an incredibly small footprint is far more of an interesting prospect.
To begin your adventure as a computer miniaturist, you’ll need to decide on a Mini ITX motherboard. So, to fast-track this exciting new project, we’ve reviewed five of the best Mini ITX boards in the business.
Our Top Picks
Best Mini ITX Motherboard: First Look
This is essentially the Ferrari of Mini motherboards. Featuring the professional-range X570 AMD chipset and PCI-e 4 support, it offers lightning-fast response times, amounting to an unparalleled sense of oneness between separate components.
It’s actually a Mini DTX form factor which is slightly longer than MINI ITX, but it still fits in MINI ITX cases, and that extra space affords you 10 VRM power stages, 2 GPU slots, and wifi 6 connectivity.
This is very similar to the Crosshair except it’s loaded with Intel’s flagship chipset, the Z490, which unlocks the potential for some super high-speed hardware connections and a fluent gaming experience.
With integrated wifi 6 connectivity, 4800MHz memory speed, and 8+2 power stage VRAM with an integrated fan and heatsink, this board was designed for gamers that demand a modest footprint without sacrificing one iota of power.
The standout feature of this stunning X570 micro masterpiece is the Thunderbolt 3 support. That means your peripherals will be hooked up to your system with roughly four times the bandwidth of standard USB 3.2 ports. Impressive, ay?
What’s more, it’s built using AMD CrossFireX technology allowing you to sync up multiple GPUs into one truly insane graphics processing unit, boosting your frame rates and eliminating the chance of any on-screen artifacts.
With a 12+2 power phase VRM, this is the ultimate board for big OC dreams. Pair it with any 2nd or 3rd gen Ryzen CPU, and use the Smart Fan temperature sensors to set up a highly nuanced cooling array.
It supports a whopping overall RAM capacity of 128GB, making it a fantastic foundation for building a powerfully versatile system, capable of intensive productive workflows.
The AX is essentially an awesome Mini ITX reimagining of the ATX Aorus Pro, and it’s perfect for those wanting to save a bit of cash by opting for the B550 AMD chipset.
Featuring an 8-phase VRM design, it’s primed for overclockers, and thanks to the multi-layered heatsink and multiple temperature sensors, poor thermals are a thing of the past.
How We Choose
It really is the small things in life, isn’t it? They’re the things that keep you going, and we feel the same way about micro builds. They’re inconspicuous, nuanced, and they can pack a hell of a punch if you get them just right.
Here at WePC, we enjoy the standard ATX board as much as the next gamer, but nothing compares to the thrill of experimenting on more obscure builds with entirely different untapped potentials. It feels like you’re really discovering something, and over the years we’ve developed a thorough understanding of what makes the Mini ITX board tick.
Drawing from this experience we’ve selected five Mini ITX boards we know to be either highly versatile, great value for money, amazing for gaming, or all of the above. These are the motherboards whose power belies their dimensions.
Things to Consider
Before we get started with the Mini ITX reviews, let’s run over some of the most important aspects of motherboard design and functionality, just so you know exactly what you’re looking for.
AMD vs Intel
As we’re sure you’re already aware, AMD and Intel are in the midst of a brutal CPU war, but you can’t fight in the CPU arena unless you’re stepping up in the motherboard game as well. So, just as the CPU market is split between these stalwart companies, so is the motherboard market.
At the moment, each company is focusing on a different extremity of the form-factor spectrum. If you’re looking for something for a huge build that accommodates two CPUs simultaneously, Intel is the way to go. For smaller boards like the Mini ITX, it’s AMD all the way.
The socket of a motherboard is an array of connective pins that anchors your CPU in place. Each socket is only compatible with a finite number of CPUs. AMD has used the AM4 socket for a while now, but Intel releases a new socket with almost every new generation of CPU.
If you try to insert an incompatible CPU into your mobo socket, the chances are it simply won’t fit, but you also run the risk of damaging both bits of hardware, which would be a very expensive mistake to make.
Chipsets, also known as data flow management systems, are the communicative part of your computer system. They connect all the disparate components, such as CPU, GPU, RAM, etc, allowing them to work together. They also determine the number of components a motherboard can support.
Just like your motherboard socket, chipsets are only compatible with certain CPUs; however, as AMD has used the AM4 socket for so long now, you have a fairly wide choice, the best of which is the X570.
Motherboards will also come with or without certain features, so let’s take a quick look at your options.
Integrated wifi connectivity is a highly sought-after feature for micro builds because it eliminates the need for cables and additional devices.
If your motherboard doesn’t have wifi connectivity, you’ll want it to have Gigabit LAN in its stead. GB LAN is essentially just a super-fast ethernet port that provides a 1GBps transfer speed to your router.
The power design of a motherboard refers to the power phases of the VRM (voltage regulator module). The VRM is just an adapter that transforms the power drawn from the motherboard into a voltage suitable for powering your CPU.
If a motherboard has two power phases in total, they will be sharing the load, working 50% of the time each. The better quality or more power phases the VRM has, the lesser the burden is on each one, meaning that they don’t build as much heat, and the CPU voltages are more stable, allowing you to feed more power into the CPU for overclocking.
PCI-e 4 basically refers to the bandwidth between your connected hardware. This means that more information can be passed between them at once, making the system more responsive. You can plug PCI-e 3 components into a PCI-e 4 port, but the system will only run at a PCI-e 3 rate.
Expressed in megahertz, the memory speed of a motherboard determines what kind of RAM sticks it can support. You can still hook up RAM sticks with higher frequencies than the memory speed of your motherboard, but the board won’t be able to utilize its full potential.
X570 Chipset – This is the fastest AMD chipset around and it supports PCI-e 4
10-Stage VRM – exquisite power design lets you push high-end CPUs to their limit.
Wifi 6 – Fastest wireless internet connectivity on the planet.
USB 3.2 Gen 2 – Super low-latency peripheral connections.
Overpowered – The Crosshair VIII is simply too much for most builds.
This motherboard may be small, but it’s by no means for the faint-hearted. Running on AMD’s finest, the X570 chipset with PCI-e 4 support, the dialogue between components is inconceivable fast, ensuring the smoothest, most responsive gaming experience possible.
In addition, The VRM is composed of ten, count ‘em…TEN power stages, making CPU voltage stable enough to overclock like you’ve never overclocked before. Both the VRM and the chipset are supported by an integrated heatsink which in turn is supplemented by an aluminum backplate, making this the perfect stage for a Zen 3 Ryzen CPU to strut its stuff.
As well as supporting RAM speeds up to 2400MHz, the Crosshair VIII features wifi 6, so if you’ve got a wifi 6 router, you’re set to enjoy upload and download speeds of 9.6GBps, 250% faster than wifi 5.
It’s not technically a Mini ITX board, but an ITX variation known as Mini DTX that’s only one inch longer, but don’t worry if you’ve already bought a case because it fits in all Mini ITX enclosures.
Z490 Chipset – This is the most overclock-friendly Intel chipset.
4800MHz Memory Speed – Load up two 32GB DDR4 4800 sticks for the ultimate memory setup.
Wifi 6 – 9.6GBps throughput, folks.
Power Design – The 8+2 stage VRM with an integrated thermal solution is prime for some OC magic.
PCI-e 3 – Lacks PCI-e 4 support, but the effects on gaming will be totally negligible.
Overpowered – You need expensive hardware to make the most of this board.
Even though AMD runs the micro board market, this Strix is giving them a run for their money. It’s an LGA 1200 board, which means it’s only compatible with 10th Intel CPUs, so you have to be prepared to spend some money on the build, but holy cow is this thing powerful.
To make up for the fact that Mini ITX boards only ever have two RAM slots, it supports memory speeds up to 4800MHz, 1800Mhz more than you’ll need for optimal gaming performance.
It also steps up to the AMD board’s connectivity with wifi 6 support, making it a great match for a high-powered, hyperthreaded Intel CPU capable of shouldering parallelizing workflows, like the i9 10900K. Should you prefer or need to wire directly to your router, it has 2.5GBps LAN for uber-fast ethernet connections.
The Strix’s thermals are on point too. Featuring an 8+2 power stage VRM design with its own integrated Superflo cooling fan and heatsink, it ensures voltage stability as you push your CPU to its limits.
10 Phase Power – A powerful VRM unlocks awesome OC potential.
Thunderbolt 3 – Connect peripherals with 4 times the bandwidth of USB.
X570 Chipset – Two 16X PCI-e 4 expansion slots.
AMD CrossFireX – Link up a dual GPU system for silky gameplay.
Memory Speed – Supports DDR4 4066.
Heatsink Height – Limits your CPU cooler options.
Lesser Wifi – It’s not wifi 6, but unless you have a full wifi 6 chain, you don’t need it.
The Phantom has far more than AMD’s flagship X570 chipset to boast about. It’s the first motherboard on our list to feature Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. Even though we’re onto Thunderbolt 4 now, 3 is still almost four times faster than anything USB brings to the equation.
Of course, it’s an AM4 socket, compatible with any of the 2000, 3000, 4000, and 5000 Ryzen CPUs, so there are plenty to choose from. The 10-phase power design is magnificent, and while it doesn’t have its own fan, it’s perfect for overclocking powerful Ryzen CPUs.
In addition, it’s an AMD CrossFireX design, which means despite the size of this board, you can double up and link graphics cards for an even more visceral and enthralling gaming experience.
The height of the heatsink does limit your options in terms of CPU coolers, which is a little irritating as space is valuable enough in MINI ITX cases anyway, but there’s still enough clearance to fit a low-profile fan in nicely.
X570 – PCI-e 4 expansion slots.
Power Design – Incredible 12+2 phase VRM for overclocking.
Wifi 6 – Peak network interaction speeds.
128GB RAM Support – This amount of RAM makes for a powerful system.
ATX Form Factor – Won’t fit in Mini ITX case.
POST Duration – You’ll be waiting a good 20 seconds.
Fan Headers – There are only 2, so thermal solutions are limited.
While the Aorus Pro isn’t a Mini ITX board, it will suit those trying to kit out a small mid-tower. It boasts that shiny X570 AMD chipset with PCI-e 4 expansion slots for peak intersystem communication, and the infamous AM4 socket can accommodate any 2nd or 3rd gen Ryzen CPU.
Featuring the most advanced power design of any board on our list, taking advantage of the 12+2 phase VRM for some aggressive overclocking is a must, especially considering the VRM is supplemented by a fin array and direct touch heat pipes.
If you’re looking for something to compliment a wifi 6 router, the Pro has the goods. It also boasts a Gigabit LAN ethernet port, which is a bonus, and it can support an insane 128GB RAM too.
It only has 2 fan headers in total, which is a little disappointing for a board that’s clearly designed to push CPU performance, and the POST keeps you hanging for around 20 seconds, but if you can deal with those small issues, it’s an epic board.
B550 Chipset – More affordable than X570 for very little difference.
Power Design – 8-phase VRM with extended heatsink makes OC-ing a breeze.
Wifi 6 – You know the drill.
Smart Fan 5 – Temperature sensors adjust fans automatically.
Flexibility – Not compatible with Ryzen 2000 chips.
Frontal USB-C – You’re out of luck on this front.
Running on AMD’s B550 chipset, which isn’t quite as advanced as the X570 format, the only real difference is the lack of PCI-e 4 lanes off the chipset. This won’t impact gaming whatsoever, so don’t sweat it and save yourself some money.
The 8-phase VRM is crafted with premium components that ensure a stable CPU voltage so you can engage in some manic overclocking. Backed up by an extended heat sink, you have a huge amount of thermal headroom, a definite boon for enthusiasts.
It comes locked and loaded with wifi 6 for all of you network speed freaks out there, and if you prefer a direct connection, it features 2.5GB LAN as well.
Despite the AM4 socket, this board is only designed to support Ryzen 3000 CPUs out of the box. You can do some tweaking in the BIOS to accommodate a 5000 series processor, but 2000 CPUs are strictly out of the question.
Looking over these Mini ITX boards makes you wonder how ATX ever became the standard form factor. You can fit so much power and versatility into the ITX footprint that it’s a shame they aren’t a more celebrated design.
The best Mini ITX board around at the minute is definitely the Asus X570 Crosshair. So densely packed with features and potential is this miniature marvel, that you’ll never want for ATX ever again, but this kind of performance comes at a steep price.
Even though Intel isn’t renowned for small-scale builds, the Z490 Strix shows us that they’re still in the game. In fact, at nearly half the price of our Asus AMD champion, it offers far more performance per dollar; however, the AS Rock Phantom ensures you can also enjoy AMD’s premium chipset for a realistic fee.
If you’re not interested in PCI-e 4 everything, we highly recommend the Aorus B550. There’s very little difference between B550 and X570 chipsets besides the price tag. Failing that, if you’re not completely sold on the Mini ITX format, we advise you to check out the Aorus X570. It’s a force to be reckoned with!