9 Best Micro ATX Motherboards To Buy In 2021

Introduced in 1997, Micro ATX serves as the backbone of most general-purpose and gaming PCs. It is a motherboard form factor developed as a natural evolution of the ATX form factor to address desktop technologies and market trends.

Micro ATX is currently used in several types of PC systems. It supports:

  • Current processor technologies
  • Accelerated Graphics Port
  • The transition to newer processor technologies
  • Smaller motherboard size and smaller power supply form factor

The maximum size of a Micro ATX board is 244 x 244 mm. It could be used in a standard ATX compliant chassis with minor modifications.

Unless you are planning to perform extensive overclocking or load up on PCIe add-in cards, you will likely find that all micro ATX boards provide everything you need to build a budget PC.

Below, we have listed the nine best micro ATX motherboards that can easily handle a high-powered processor, dual graphics card, and quad-channel memory configurations. They all can be used to build a compact yet powerful gaming PC.

9. Gigabyte B365M DS3H

Pros
  • High Quality Audio Capacitors
  • RGB FUSION supports RGB LED strips in 7 colors
  • Ultra durable 15 KV surge LAN protection
  • Intel Optane Memory ready
Cons
  • Not compatible with Windows 7
  • Doesn’t support Intel 11 Gen processors

Price: $70

Gigabyte B365M DS3H is perfect for building a mid-range PC, especially if you have a tight budget. It supports 9th and 8th generation Intel Core processors and contains an M.2 slot for installing NVMe PCIe SSD or Intel Optane Memory.

With Smart Fan 5, you can interchange fan headers to reflect different thermal sensors at different locations on the board. It has 3 hybrid fan pin headers and 4 temperature sensors. All fans are interoperable and can be controlled via an intuitive UI.

The motherboard uses robust audio capacitors that deliver high-resolution and high fidelity audio, providing the most realistic sound effects. An audio noise guard isolates the board’s sensitive audio components from potential noise pollution at the PCB level.

It also allows you to personalize your machine by selecting your favorite color to illuminate the external RGB light strip. A total of seven colors are available to give your system a unique appearance.

8. ASUS Prime B450M-A II

Pros
  • Optimized cooling
  • PC DIY Friendly
  • Outstanding Gaming Audio
  • Multiple hardware safeguards for all-around system protection
Cons
  • Doesn’t have integrated WiFi

Price: $80

ASUS Prime B450M-A II is equipped with a VRM heatsink, PCH heatsink, and Fan Xpert 2+ to provide comprehensive cooling. There is a dedicated integrated circuit to protect fan headers from excessive temperatures and short circuits. Each header can monitor and react to dedicated thermal sensors.

The Digi+ VRM delivers real-time control over voltage droop, automatically adjusting frequency and power-efficiency configurations. It lets you fine-tune your processor for ultimate performance and stability.

The M.2 slot supports up to 32 Gbps data transfer speed via x4PCIe 3.0 bandwidth. The fortified PCIe slots offer 60% stronger retention and 30% greater shearing resistance than standard expansion slots to prevent damage. Furthermore, all USB ports can handle high-end rigs loaded with peripherals.

Its audio shielding system isolates analog/digital signal domains, substantially minimizing multi-lateral interference. The separate layer for left and right tracks ensures minimal crosstalk between audio paths.

7. MSI A520M PRO Gaming

Pros
  • Thickened copper PCB
  • Easy to install
  • Strengthened built-in M.2 thermal solution
  • Support all the latest storage standards
Cons
  • Doesn’t have integrated WiFi

Price: $79

MSI A520M PRO Gaming supports AMD Ryzen 3000 and 5000 series processors and AMD Ryzen 4000 G-series processors, with DDR4 memory up to 4600 MHz. The board is specially designed for DIY users. It provides tons of system tuning and troubleshooting tools to push the machine to its limits.

The installation party is very easy: You won’t find any difficulties while installing it, and even if you do, there are onboard LEDs for key components that indicate the source of the problem so you know exactly where to look to get it up and running again.

Part of the motherboard’s heatsink design, M.2 Shield Frozr offers effective thermal protection to ensure that SSD maintains maximum performance without throttling.

There are options to control the speeds and temperatures of all your system and CPU fans. You can check your primary system characteristics and set up to four temperature targets for the processor and motherboard via a single intuitive UI.

6. ASRock Z590M Pro4

Pros
  • 12 Power Phase design
  • Supports up to 128 GB DDR4 4800 MHz
  • 6 Layer PCB
  • Full Spike Protection
Cons
  • Limited RGB capability

Price: $169

ASRock Z590M’s 12 Power Phase design features sturdy components and smooth power delivery to the processor. It provides decent overclocking capabilities and enhanced performance for gamers and 4K streamers.

Its integrated power stage is optimized for synchronous buck-set down voltage applications. Unlike conventional discrete MOSFETs, it smartly delivers higher current for every phase, improving thermal results and performance.

Compared to conventional chokes, ASRock’s high-quality 50A power chokes improve the saturation current three times, providing enhanced Vcore voltage to the board.

Z590M Pro4 is built with 6 layer PCB, which includes 3 sets of copper inner layers. This facilitates higher energy efficiency and lower temperature for memory overclocking. Thus, it can very well support the latest DDR4 modules with extreme memory performance.

ASRock also provides a simple-to-use troubleshooting tool that displays CPU, VGA, and DRAM operations every time you start up your computer. With Post Status Checker, you can quickly identify the source of the problem.

5. MSI MAG B550M Bazooka

Pros
  • Extended heatsink with additional choke thermal pad
  • Supports dual-channel DDR4 memory up to 128 GB
  • Flash BIOS button with pptimized Clear CMOS function
  • PCIe Steel Armor
Cons
  • Doesn’t have integrated WiFi
  • Doesn’t support ECC (error correction code) memory

Price: $119

MSI MAG B550M Bazooka’s extended PWM heatsink and enhanced circuit design ensure even high-end CPU run at full speed. It is equipped with thickened copper PCB material, 7W/mK thermal pads, and M.2 Shied Frozr that let crucial parts sustain extreme performance and stability.

The layout and digital power design of the motherboard enable faster and undistorted current delivery to the processor at pinpoint precision, creating a perfect environment for multi-core CPU in heavy load operations. The Game Boost allows 1-second overclocking, delivering a sufficient performance boost to get more FPS.

PCIe Steel Armor slots are secured to the board with extra solder points so that they can support the weight of heavy graphics cards. Also, Steel Armor shields the point of contact from electromagnetic interference.

MSI provides software utilities to adjust several parameters, such as fan speed, monitor brightness, and mystic light. You can also boost core performance and optimize system cooling — all from a single centralized application.

4. Gigabyte B550M DS3H

Pros
  • Onboard Intel Dual Band 802.11ac WIFI plus Bluetooth 4.2 Module
  • Audio Noise Guard for superior audio quality
  • Anti-Sulfur Resistors Design
  • Supports addressable LED & RGB LED strips
Cons
  • Some SATA ports are obstructed when you connect a long video card

Price: $109

Gigabyte B550 DS3H uses AMD StoreMI technology to maximize your desktop’s potential. The StoreMI technology optimizes computer responsiveness from system boot to application launch and delivers SSD performance with HDD capacity at an affordable cost. It learns users’ computing behaviors to quickly access key files and provide a fast and smooth experience.

The motherboard comes with dual NVMe PCIe 4.0/3.0 M.2 Connectors that support up to 64 Gb/s data transfer speed. The onboard Intel 802.11ac WIFI module supports up to 433 Mbps. For gamers, it provides a high-speed Gigabit LAN with automatic bandwidth allocation.

Unlike other traditional motherboards, B550 features solid plated ATX 12V 8pin power connectors to deliver a stable power supply while CPU overloading. These solid pin connectors can sustain higher power and generated heat.

Gigabyte also gives you multiple options to customize the lighting effects across all supported devices, from graphic cards to peripheral products. With selected games, it makes the lighting effect interactive, bringing you the most immersive gaming experience.

3. ASUS TUF Gaming B550M-Plus

Pros
  • Robust Power Design
  • Fanless VRM and chipset heatsink
  • ASUS-exclusive Aura Sync RGB lighting
  • AI noise-canceling mic technology
Cons
  • Poor stock clocked performance
  • Relatively limited bandwidth to peripherals

Price: $159

Built with an upgraded power solution and a comprehensive set of cooling options to fuel the latest AMD Ryzen processors, TUF Gaming B550M-Plus is the perfect motherboard for your next high-core-count battle rig.

The onboard VRM utilizes 8+2 DrMOS power stages, combining low-side and high-side MOSFETs and drivers into a single package. It supports PCIe 4.0 M.2 slot and NVMe SSD RAID to provide a significant performance boost.

As far as cooling is concerned, the board is equipped with a large, high-mass heatsink with an extensive surface that covers the VRM and chokes to enhance heat dissipation. The high-quality thermal pads carry heat from the inductor and phase array to the heatsink.

Each component is designed to be easy to set up and configure just the way you want. ASUS gives you everything you need to build a high-performance PC without adding complexity.

Turbo LAN network-optimization software, for example, allows you to prioritize packets. You can adjust application priority through an intuitive interface and minimize network lag.

2. MSI MPG Z490M Gaming Edge

Pros
  • Heatsinks with 7 W/mk thermal pad
  • Optimized for water cooling
  • 2.5 Gbps LAN and WiFi 6
  • Supports both RGB and RAINBOW LED strip
  • Pre-installed I/O shielding
Cons
  • Poor technical support

Price: $190

MSI MPG Z490M Gaming Edge features all the latest solutions for enthusiast gamers and prosumers. It supports 10th and 11th Gen Intel Core, Pentium Gold, and Celeron processors with up to 5000 MHz of DDR4 memory.

The board features an aluminum cover with an extended heatsink design and M.2 Shield Frozr, which makes sure that SSD maintains maximum performance. The 2.5 Gbps LAN offers a better networking experience, while WiFi 6 delivers incredibly fast speeds (up to 2400 Mbps) even in the high signal density environment.

MSI LAN Manager automatically identifies and prioritizes the latency-sensitive apps for online games, giving you the best online gaming experience with minimal latency.

It allows you to control CPU fans and check primary system characteristics in a simplified graphical interface. You can also set up to 4 temperature targets for the motherboard and CPU, and the firmware will adjust the fan speeds automatically.

What’s more? It contains a dedicated water pump PIN header for all popular water cooling solutions available in the market. You can manage water cooling pump speeds for better flow and noise control.

1. ASUS ROG Strix Z490-G Gaming

Pros
  • Supports up to 5.3 GHz clock speed
  • 2.5 Gbps LAN and WiFi 6
  • ROG AI overclocking
  • Cyberpunk-inspired aesthetics
Cons
  • Expensive

Price: $399

ASUS ROG Strix Z490-G Gaming comes with a Procool II power connector, 12+power stages, and alloy choke and capacitors to get the most out of the latest Intel Core processors.

It features the most comprehensive cooling system containing CPU fan header, water-pump header, 4-pin PWM/DC fan header, M.2 heatsink, and VRM heatsink with thermal pad. Everything can be controlled via the UEFI BIOS or Fan Xpert 4.

ROG-exclusive software utilities allow you to take care of complex tuning with just one click. Its 5-Way Optimization efficiently overclocks the processor and tunes fan speeds, ensuring the best balance between cooling and acoustics.

The TurboV processing unit monitors system stats and automatically adjusts voltages and overclocking settings. Energy Processing Unit optimizes power consumption and maximizes saving by shutting down unused I/O controllers.

The motherboard is also equipped with Sonic Studio III that supports an HRTF-based (head-related transfer function) virtual surround for VR headsets. It provides many EQ options and one-click presets, so you can easily tailor acoustics to suit personal preferences.

Read: 5 Quantum Processors That Feature New Computing Paradigm

Frequently Asked Questions

What is ATX? 

ATX (Advanced Technology EXtended) is a specification used to outline motherboard dimension and configuration. It was developed by Intel (in 1995) to improve the previous standard such as the AT form factor.

How many variations of ATX are there? 

Today, we have numerous variations of ATX with both smaller and larger form factors. The most popular ones include Standard ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ATX, FlexATX, and Extended ATX.

How do I know if my motherboard is ATX or micro ATX? 

You can easily identify motherboards by their physical dimensions. The maximum size of a micro ATX is 244 × 244 mm, while the standard ATX is 25% longer.

Form Factor Introduced In Maximum Size (mm)
FlexATX 1997 229 × 191
Micro ATX 1997 244 × 244
Mini ATX 2001 284 × 208
Standard ATX 1995 305 × 244

If you don’t want to measure your motherboard, you can simply type wmic baseboard get product, Manufacturer,version,serialnumber, Model,Name on the CMD command prompt and it will display you all the information you need.

Read: 9 Best B450 Motherboards To Buy

Can a micro ATX fit in an ATX case?

Micro ATX is backward-compatible with ATX. Its mounting points are a subset of the ATX board, and both have identical I/O panels. Therefore, you can easily fit a micro ATX in a full-size ATX case.

Written by
Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is a professional science and technology journalist and a big fan of AI, machines, and space exploration. He received a Master's degree in computer science from GGSIPU University. To find out about his latest projects, feel free to directly email him at [email protected] 

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