Not so long ago, PC Master Race was all about having a bigger PC. At first thought, this approach doesn’t look bad to be honest. A bigger PC mean that you can have components installed in it, after all, which in turn leads to more power.
But in recent times, tech companies are constantly trying (and succeeding on large part) to make their PC components as small as possible (like small graphics cards) while keeping them as powerful as their bigger siblings.
This is the reason why a new trend has emerged in PC building community in the form of making powerful but small form factor (SFF) PCs.
In order to build a SFF PC, you need a mini-ITX/SFF PC case first. Once you’ve chosen your desired mini-ITX case, the obvious next step would be choosing a suitable mini-ITX motherboard for that chassis.
This is the topic we’ll discuss here: best mini-ITX mobos for a SFF PC.
The good thing about this round-up is that we have picked up both AMD and Intel-based boards. So that you guys can decide whether you want to be in Team Red or Team Blue.
Apart from that, we have picked products within different price sections. There are budget, midrange, as well as High-end picks.
Best Mini ITX Motherboard 2020
So, without any further ado, let’s start our list of best Mini-ITX Mobos.
Best Budget Mini-ITX Motherboard 2020 (Intel)
The first board we’re looking at is H370M-ITX/ac by ASRock. As its name implies, it comes with H370 chipset, rather than Z390 or Z370.
In terms of features, H370 chipset is the slightly downgraded version of Z370 (but still more powerful than B360 and H310 chipsets), which means that while you won’t find enthusiastic features like CPU/memory overclocking and multi-GPU setup, it’s perfect for those who want a simple PC setup in a not so big budget.
Mini-ITX boards can be expensive due to their small form factor, so having a slightly less powerful chipset is actually a smart move by ASRock to keep the costs down.
Alright, now we’ll look at the motherboard itself.
Like many budget motherboards, its design is simple in nature. For the most part, black color is used; while the chipset and VRM heatsinks are grey-colored. The VRM heatsink is really compact which makes it not so suitable high voltage operations. But since H370 chipset doesn’t allow OC of any sort, chances of you putting this board under server stress are really low.
There’s no RGB lighting of any sort, but what’s more surprising is that they aren’t any RGB headers available either. So, you can’t add RGB even on your own later on.
The top side has two fan headers while the back side has the rear I/O panel which consists of Eight USB ports (4 USB 2.0, 4 USB 3.0, and 2 USB 3.1 ports), Dual Intel Gigabit, DisplayPort, and Dual HDMI.
For storage devices, there are six SATA 6 GB/s ports (not usually seen in mini-ITX boards) along the two DDR4 slots. Apart from this, there’s a M.2 slot too, located between the reinforced PCIe slot and chipset heatsink, which can support devices with up to 80 mm length.
The only thing you may not like here is 1×1 WiFi setup, which is limited at 433 Mbps bandwidth. Yes, it might feel basic for some enthusiasts; but for regular users, it’s enough. The overall plain design, and goodies like 6 SATA ports are simply the icing on the cake.
MSI B450I Gaming Plus AC
Best Budget Mini-ITX Motherboard 2020 (AMD)
Like Intel, AMD has a number of chipset running in their motherboards, like x470, x370, B450, B350, and A320. X470 is their most powerful chipset in terms of features (although the newer X570 chipset is just around the corner) closely followed by B450.
You can think of B450 as the H370 chipset by AMD; It’s been designed to work with low-end Ryzen 2/3 CPUs and allows you a slight level of overclocking. There’s no SLI support, like H370, but that’s not its purpose either.
The main reason why you can’t use B450-powered boards with beefier processors, like Ryzen 7 2700X, is poor VRM of the chipset. All is not gloomy here though, and you still get many X470 features like improved DDR4 support, Precision Boost 2, and StoreMI technology.
Looking over to this motherboard, despite having a smaller size and comparatively modest price, it looks premium.
The rear I/O panel includes 4 USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, 2 USB 2.0 ports, an audio unit based on Realtek 887 codec, Realtek Gigabit Internet Jack, and a 1×1 802.11ac WiFi setup capped at 433 Mbps (hence got the word AC in their name). There’s no S/PDIF outpot but it’s definitely not a deal breaker.
For expansion, there’s 1 PCIe x16 reinforced slot which’ll help you in connecting a graphics card with this board. Other than this, there are two DIMM slots that can handle a combined memory of 32 GB, and 4 SATA 6 Gb/s ports.
In terms of performance, we’re pretty satisfied with MSI B450I. Though not made for serious overclocking, we were able to crank up our Ryzen 7 2700x to a slight degree despite this board having a relatively poor 4+2 phase design.
There are a few potential downsides in this board. For starters, there’s only one PCIe x16 slot and one M.2 slot. On top of that, there’s no thermal heatsink for the latter. But still, the pros here easily outweigh the cons.
Gigabyte Z390 I AORUS PRO WiFi
Best High-End Mini-ITX Motherboard (Intel)
Last year, Intel released their 9th Gen processors, and within a few months, now we have a huge pool of Z390 motherboards to support those latest CPUs.
Although Z390 motherboards are available in a variety of form factors and price, the main battlefront is the $150-$200 price range. In order to understand the level of competition, you just need to know that only Gigabyte has 3 motherboards within this range.
Let’s come to this board, and discuss we why we think it to be the best Intel-based mini ITX motherboard.
For starters, you get Realtek ALC1220-VB HD audio codec (which means five audio jacks at the rear panel, along with S/PDIF optical output), Intel WiFi Wave 2 Module, and 12+1 power delivery for next-level overclocking.
Add plenty of RGB with four customizable zones, two heatsinks (connected with each other), 3 full-length PCIe slots (with two of them reinforced), and 4 RGB headers into the equation, and I think it’ll be a good bang for your buck.
Speaking of PCIe slots, I must mention that while the top of them are connected to the CPU, and can be used for 3-way crossfire and two-way SLI, the third one is connected to the chipset itself, and is capped at x4.
Another feature you’ll like in this mobo is that it supports the newer 32 GB UDIMMs, which means that you can have as much as 128 GB RAM memory (but I don’t think you’ll need this much).
For storage, there are six SATA ports along with two M.2 slots. As I said earlier, both of these slots have their own heatsinks.
In the end, I will conclude with what AnandTech said about this board:
“For a motherboard at $200 and when on offer, between $185 and $190, the GIGABYTE Z390 Aorus Pro WIFI offers a good controller set, a decent power delivery and is focused around the networking capabilities”
So this is it. These were some of the best Mini-ITX motherboards in our experience. As I said earlier in this post, these boards belong to different price sections so that you can choose one according to your budget.
The two important things you need to note, before buying any of these boards, is their socket, and compatibility with your PC Chassis.