We’ve previously discussed the various Mini ITX cases on the market and which ones we deem to be the best. However, if you’re building one of these PCs you’ll most likely also be wondering what the best Mini ITX Motherboard is.

Whilst some of the components will be the same regardless of the size of your case (such as the CPU, PSU, storage devices), there are other items which require to be in the small form factor. These include motherboards, graphics cards and also RAM. We’ll be looking at each of these in turn with the focus of this article being our pick of the best mini ITX motherboards. Since these are going to be new builds, we have opted for motherboards that support DDR4 RAM. If you’ve got older DDR3 RAM then you’ll need to upgrade this as well.

Off the bat, the choice of motherboard that you’re going for will depend on the CPU brand you’re using with the choice being between Intel and AMD. The reason for this is that the CPU sockets of each brand are different and sadly not interchangeable so if you build an AMD computer initially and then decide to switch to Intel then you will need to change over the motherboard as well. Cooling your CPU is also a consideration when building a mini ITX system. We have made a list of the best low profile CPU coolers which you can read here.

Name
MSI Gaming Pro Carbon
Asus Z270-I
Asus Z470-I
Gigabyte AB350N Gaming
Platform
Intel
Intel
AMD
AMD
Chipset
LGA1151
LGA 1151
AM4
AM4
Name
MSI Gaming Pro Carbon
Platform
Intel
Chipset
LGA1151
Name
Asus Z270-I
Platform
Intel
Chipset
LGA 1151
Name
Asus Z470-I
Platform
AMD
Chipset
AM4
Name
Gigabyte AB350N Gaming
Platform
AMD
Chipset
AM4

Best Intel Mini ITX Motherboards

Our first pick comes from MSI. As a brand that is renowned for their gaming peripherals, it’s no surprise that they’ve made a motherboard to accommodate those wanting to build a small form factor PC. The Z270I Gaming Pro Carbon AC board supports a wide variety of Intel Chipset processors. This includes Celeron and Pentium CPUs as well as the 6th and 7th Generation of Intel Core CPUs. Therefore depending on your build, you’ll be able to pick a chipset that suits your needs.

When it comes to cooling, this is always a concern no matter how big the case is. In a Mini ITX chassis cooling can be a bit trickier, although many manufacturers do include multiple fans in their cases. To help support this, the Gaming Pro Carbon AC has 3 fan headers on the board.This is divided into 1 fan header for your CPU and 3 for the case fans. Linked to this is the heatsink built onto the board itself to help aid in heat dissipation which can otherwise limit the lifespan of the board. Built into the BIOS is the option to set up 4 different temperature thresholds. When the system reaches these pre-defined temperatures, the fans will alter their speeds automatically. This means that the fan speed will increase on its own when it gets too warm in the case, and slow down again when the system is cooler and not under load.

As the name suggests, this is a gaming motherboard although even if you’re not a hardcore gamer it doesn’t mean you can’t use this board. The fact that it’s a gaming motherboard will not hinder the normal day to day performance. It’s also a handy option to have should you decide to go down the gaming route later on.

In addition to supporting DDR4 RAM, the MSI also has 1 M.2 SSD slot. This supports speeds greater than that over SATA3, meaning that loading times for your Windows installation (and any programs on the M.2 drive) will be lightning fast. In addition to this there are four SATAIII ports which will provide you with more than enough storage. The Pro Carbon AC is available from Amazon.

Connectivity

In terms of ports, there is one USB 3.1 Type C connector on the board itself, along with 3 type A 3.1 ports. There are also 2 USB 2.0 ports at the back of the board. In terms of headers, there is support for 2 Type A 3.1 ports and 2 2.0 ports to connect up to the front of your case of choice. There are also 2 display connectors. 1 is for HDMI and 1 is for DisplayPort. There is also an Intel Gaming LAN port present, which means that you’ll always get a consistently high speed across your wired network. In terms of GPU options, as with other Mini ITX motherboards there is only support for one graphics card. This is supported by a third generation PCI-Express 16 slot. Therefore you will not be able to use two GPUs in tandem with one another. In all honesty, this is something which is much less popular now, anyway. Mainly due to the fact that it’s pretty expensive to have a dual GPU setup for what would be considered to be a meagre return of investment in terms of performance.

The MSI Gaming Pro Carbon has even more features than described here, and is an amazing motherboard. It is costlier than others on the market, but if you can afford it, it’s highly recommended.

Sale
MSI Z270I-GAM-PRO-CARB-AC Intel 7th/6th Gen USB2 Motherboard - Black
  • Gaming Heatsinks with CARBON: Leading heatsink design, for maximum cooling
  • Mystic Light RGB: Change up to 16.8 million colours & 17 LED effects
  • DDR4 Boost with Steel Armor: Optimized traces and isolated memory circuitry

Asus have also made their own variant which is based on Intel CPUs. This is the Strix Z270I Gaming Motherboard. This is one of the more high end ITX motherboards that you can currently buy. However, the bump up in price is well justified.

This is definitely designed with durability in mind. Thanks to the high quality injection moulding used on the unit around the PCIe slot, it means that heavier graphics cards will not damage this slot. This isn’t something which is seen in all mini ITX motherboards, so it’s good to see that Asus are looking after the end user with this idea.

As an added bonus, this also supports Intel Optane memory. This means that your read and write times can be greatly expanded which will add to your overall experience with the system. Linked to this is it having two M.2 slots over PCIe. This means that you can take advantage of NMVe performance levels and mount these SSDs in a RAID configuration should you wish to do so. In order to prolong the lifespan of the SSDs, there is a special heatsink in place which means that the heat is properly dissipated which will limit its degradation (due to heat) over time.

Tied to this is the addition SATA ports. There are four of these and they support up to 6Gb/s. This means that you really won’t be short of storage space on your rig.

If you’re wanting to pair this board with a case that has a window in it, you’re in luck. This is thanks to it supporting Aura Sync. What this means is that you have full control over the LEDs that are built into the motherboard so you can light it to your specifications.

As you’d expect with such a high end product, Gigabit ethernet is included via the port on the board. However, 802.11 ac WiFi also comes as standard on it. This will allow you to get blazing fast speeds over a wireless connection.

In terms of the other ports available, there are a wide array of audio ports. This means you can get up to 8 channel HD audio which uses exclusive Supreme FX capacitors. Ultimately this will give you the very best audio you can get from your system.

There are also 6 USB 3.1 ports available, with there being 4 on the back and another two being available via a header for the front panel of your case. At the back, one of the 3.1 ports is in the Type C variety, along with there also being 4 USB 2.0 ports on the back.

There are also HDMI and Display Ports available (1 each) on the back panel. This is a nice backup to have should it be the case that your GPU had issues with it since you will still be able to use the integrated graphics on your CPU. The maximum resolution you can get from both these ports is 4k (24Hz for HDMI and 60Hz for Display Port).

 

Of course, sine it is based on the Intel architecture, it allows you to take advantage of XMP (Extreme Memory Profile). Effectively this means that you can overclock your RAM so that it will perform even faster than the designated clock speed on the box. The RAM that this sytem supports is DDR4 so unfortunately if you have older DDR3 RAM, you won’t be able to use it with this motherboard (or any other DDR4 board). This is due to their architecture being different despite the fact that their physical form is the same. However, since it does support DDR4, it means you can get blazing fast speeds, even if you decide not to overclock the memory. The maximum speed you can overclock the RAM to is 4266MHz.

It’s not just the RAM that is restricted to overclocking. The CPU and also the GPU can be overclocked which means you can really push the system to its limits.

 

A big consideration in any small build is how to keep the PC cool. Thankfully this isn’t an issue with the Strix Z270I. Not only does it have the normal fan connector for the CPU, it also has a connector for an all in one water cooler pump. These means that you can keep the PC extremely cool. It also gives you the option to use a normal air cooler for the CPU, and use an all in one cooler for your GPU. This is especially true if you opt for a GPU that is extremely powerful and kicks out a lot of heat. However, you can of course use it for the CPU instead.

Lined to this is the fact that there are key points on the motherboard which are constantly measuring the temperatures. What this means is that the fans will become more active as and when needed, instead of running at full pelt all of the time. Not only is this more energy efficient since you don’t need a high powered fan when doing routine low powered tasks, but it also makes for a more acoustically appealing experience.

ASUS ROG STRIX Z370-I GAMING LGA1151 DDR4 DP HDMI M.2 Z370 mini-ITX Motherboard with onboard 802.11ac WiFi, Gigabit LAN and USB 3.1 for 8th Generation Intel Core Processors
  • Designed exclusively for 8th generation Intel Core processors to maximize connectivity and speed with Dual M.2, USB 3.1, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Gigabit LAN and Intel Optane Memory compatibility
  • Innovative M.2 Double-Decker Heatsink shrouds the main M.2 slot and provides shared cooling for both the M.2 and PCH
  • 5-Way Optimization with Auto-Tuning and FanXpert 4 automatically tailors overclocking profiles to your unique build for maximum OC performance and dynamic system cooling

 

Best AMD Mini ITX Motherboards

In the last year, AMD has really taken the tech world by storm with the release of its Ryzen and Threadripper lineup of CPUs. Whilst many would like to opt for Threadripper, unless you’re going to be using all of its features, the better alternative is to opt for the Ryzen CPU line instead. In terms of the socket type, it’s defined as AM4. As it is new architecture, supports the latest standard in RAM, DDR4.

Asus, as mentioned above are experts when it comes to building PC components. Just like the X270I is an amazing board for those wanting to use Intel CPUs, the X470I is a great option for those that are wanting to use Ryzen CPUs for their build. The feature set is the same, between the two, with the only difference being the selection of AMD instead of Intel.

Rog Strix X470-i Gaming
  • Powered by AMD Ryzen 2 AM4 and 7th generation Athlon processors to maximize connectivity and speed with dual M.2, USB 3.1 Gen 2, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Gigabit LAN
  • 5-Way Optimization with Auto-Tuning and FanXpert 4 automatically tailors overclocking profiles to your unique build for maximum OC performance and dynamic system cooling
  • Unmatched Personalization with ASUS exclusive Aura Sync RGB lighting, RGB 4-pin header and addressable RGB header

 

As you’d expect, there are a variety of manufacturers that you can choose from, though. Another shining example of how to make an excellent mini ITX motherboard comes from Gigabyte. Like the MSI board listed above, the Gigabyte GA is also marketed as a gaming motherboard. However, it is not solely for this purpose.

Since it is in the small form factor variety, you are limited to two DIMM slots for your RAM, but it supports DDR4. The maximum amount of RAM that it can utilise is 32GB which should be more than enough for your gaming and media centre needs. Any more than this would be overkill and frankly a waste of money.

It’s been mentioned a few times now between this article and the case article, but cooling is a crucial factor for any PC build. The cooler the computer is, the better it will run since it won’t thermal throttle. It can also aide to increase the lifespan of your PC. This is due to the fact that prolonged, elevated temperatures can, over time, accelerate the degradation of electrical components. One the GA motherboard, there are two fan headers included, allowing you to maximise the potential for cooling in your system.

Tied to this is the addition of five temperature sensors scattered across the board. These will allow you to come up with custom fan profiles that will increase or decrease the speed of the fans when the sensors reach a certain temperature. It’s little touches like this make the extra investment in a gaming motherboard worth it.

Likewise, with the gaming moniker attached to this unit, Gigabit Ethernet LAN is included with it. Whilst you might not be using it solely for gaming, it will mean that you’re getting the best possible speeds from your Ethernet connection. This means if you have any media content on a NAS and connecting this via the LAN port to your HTPC, then you should have seamless media playback.

Much like any other mini ITX motherboard, there is only support for one GPU by way of the single PCI-e x 16 slot. However, you should never be stuck for storage due to there being 1 M.2 slot for SSD’s, as well as 4 SATA 6Gb/s ports, giving you a maximum of 5 storage devices on your computer. Should it take your fancy, you can use RAID 10, RAID 1 or RAID 0 configurations.

Connectivity

If you need even more storage such as that of an external drive, or you want to watch Blu Ray and DVDs, then you can do this by attaching USB devices to the board. Directly on the back panel connectors are 4 USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, 2 USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports (type A variety), along with there being 2 USB 2.0 ports. Further, there are also USB headers available on the board itself, one for USB 3.1 and the other for USB 2.0. In addition to this, there is also the onboard connector for DisplayPort and also HDMI. As you’d expect, you also get Wi-Fi built in should it be the situation that you are a bit of a distance from your router.

Of course, since it’s also targeted towards gamers, it has an abundance of lighting options built right in. With the option to have over 16 million colour combinations across to different zones on the board, you can customise it to your own specific needs. There’s a variety of lighting modes that you can choose from, including a static (always on) mode, or a pulsing on and off mode. There are LEDs built directly onto the board, with you also having the ability to add aftermarket light strips to the case. One of the interesting features though is the ability to control the lighting via your smartphone.

This might not seem like such a big deal, but consider this option. If it’s the case that you’re a few hours into a gaming session online (with no sign of stopping anytime soon) and the lighting setup you currently have is annoying you, then you would normally need to switch out of the game to change the config. Even in 2017, some games don’t like having this done and it can cause glitches in game. However, by changing the lighting profile from your smartphone with just a few taps, it means that you’re spending less time away from the game. Aside from that, it’s another cool feature that you can wow your friends and family with.

The Gigabyte GA-AB350N Mini ITX motherboard is the ultimate option for those that want to build a small form factor PC.

Sale
Gigabyte GA-AB350N-GAMING WIFI Gigabyte AMD AB350N-GAMING Wi-Fi B350 Chipset, DDR4 GB LAN Mini ITX Motherboard Black
  • Supports AMD Ryzen & 7th Generation A-series / Athlon
  • Dual Channel ECC/ Non-ECC Unbuffered DDR4 / Fast 2 USB 3.1 Gen 2
  • Intel 802.11ac Dual Band WIFI and Bluetooth 4.2 card / Ultra-Fast PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2

Last update on 2018-12-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. This site is part of the Amazon Associates program and may receive a commission from any purchases you make from Amazon upon clicking a link.