Micro ATX Computer Cases

The Micro ATX style of PC cases, or mATX cases, are used by Unix hackers, online gamers, as well as armchair software developers. Since it's so small, you can mount a cooler to get rid of excess heat from the processor without having to sacrifice your power supply. This is why Micro ATX machines are often used by those playing competitive FPS titles and doing fractal design.

What features do Micro ATX chassis mounts come with?

Even though your Micro ATX computer cases may be small, that doesn't mean that they cut down on what was included. ATX computer parts take up less room as well. This translates into less wasted space and a much greater amount of airflow over the top of the CPU. As a result, you can actually fit more in an ATX case than a standard ITX one. Most Micro ATX configurations come with the following features:

  • Four expansion slots
  • Four DIMM slots
  • Quad-channel memory compatibility
  • Dual video-card support
  • Low-profile PCI adapters
Are Micro ATX logic boards compatible with full-sized ATX parts?

All ATX motherboards are essentially the same regardless of which form factor they're made to fit. If a part fits your PC case and your UEFI system supports it, then your ATX machine will recognize it. Some manufacturers will provide special parts designed to fit the ATX form factor, but your new PC case should be able to work with a dizzying array of different parts. Compatibility was an important issue raised by the engineers who designed the Micro ATX case standard.

Are there any open-source Micro ATX drivers?

Opcode compiled into the Linux kernel provides support for most conventional devices you can attach to your chassis. Linux and FreeBSD shouldn't have any difficulty with your power supply either. Cooler Master, Thermaltake, and other chassis temperature control units often use standard API layers, which means you won't have to worry about losing functionality if you switch to an open-source operating system. The Micro ATX case design is quickly becoming an open standard, which means developers put out drivers on an annual basis.

What power supply does a Micro ATX case support?

Since it only provides specifications for the size of the computer case itself, there isn't any upper limit to how large a power supply can be. Cooling concerns keep some people from installing massive ones, but you can actually use full-size supplies if the side panel fits over them. You might want to consider getting a supply that offers more wattage if you want to run any sort of custom tower cooling circuit.

What kind of drive should a computer case support?

You can use either electromechanical HDD storage devices or SSD cards if you prefer. Drive bays are generally located right behind the side panel. If you're working with 3.5-inch bays, then you might find an aluminum adapter bracket inside so that you can install laptop SATA disks next to the motherboard. If you're building your own machine, then you can also replace pre-installed disks with a card that allows you to mount removable micro SD storage internally.