The short answer to the question “do all motherboards fit in any case?” is a NO. Not all motherboards can fit in any PC case since both motherboards and PC cases come in different sizes.
There are certain PC cases that can fit all types of standard motherboards, but then there are a few that do not.
Smaller PC cases, for instance, cannot fit the larger motherboards.
In this article I will comprehensively look at the question in hand by talking about the different sizes and form factors of motherboards, different sizes of PC cases, as well as talk about which motherboards are compatible with what cases.
What are the Different Form Factor / Sizes of Motherboards?
Motherboards come in many different sizes commonly known as form factors.
In addition to the physical dimensions of the motherboard itself, the form factor defines plenty of other aspects such as:
- What size PC case is required
- The size of the Power Supply Unit
- The location of the mounting screws and standoffs
- The amount of PCIe slots and general expansion capability
There are three common form factors for commercial motherboards
- ATX, also known as Full-ATX or Standard ATX
- Micro ATX also known as mATX
- Mini ITX
There is also a fourth form factor also commonly found for workstation PC called E-ATX or Extended ATX. The following table clarifies the differences between the form factors
|Form Factor||Dimensions||Purpose||Remarks||No. PCIe Slots|
|12 x 9.6 inches|
305 x 244 mm
|Commercial||- For Gamers and Professional|
- Fairly common
- Best expansion capability for commercial purpose
|9.6 x 9.6 inches|
244 x 244 mm
|Commercial||- Feature affordable motherboards|
- Moderate expansion capacity
|Mini ITX||6.7 x 6.7 inches|
170 x 170 mm
|Commercial||- Smallest motherboards or PC|
- Minimal expansion capacity
- Expensive due to their compact design
|12 x 13 inches|
305 x 330 mm
|Workstation||- Intended for workstation builds|
- Expensive and compatible only with specialized workstation CPUs.
There are various other form factors for motherboards. Some are obsolete while others are reserved for specialized computing such as Nano-ITX and Pico-ITX. They are not really intended for a typical computer.
Also Read: How to Check Form Factor of the Motherboard?
What are The Different Sizes of PC Cases
There are essentially four common sizes for PC cases:
- Small Form Factor aka SFF
- Mini Tower
- Mid Tower
- Full Tower
There are additional sizes such as Ultra Tower – the largest PC case form factor – and HTPC – the smallest PC case form factor – but they serve a very specialized purpose and are generally not intended for a typical commercial home, office or gaming PC.
The following table summarizes the key differences between the different PC cases.
|Case Type||Motherboard |
|Small Form Factor||Mini-ITX||Compact PC|
|Mini Tower||Micro ATX|
|Great for Office
|Standard Gaming PC
Standard designing/editing PC
The larger the case:
- The more expansion slots it provides
- The more 5.25″, 3.5″ and 2.5″ drive bays it offers
- The more case fans it has
- The higher the degree of ventilation it can provide.
- The larger the graphics cards it can fit.
- The higher the number of graphics card it can fit
- And of course, the larger the motherboard it can fit.
So Do All Motherboards Fit in Any Case?
As you can see from the tables above, it is not possible to fit all motherboards in just any PC case.
Certain motherboard form factors are large and thus cannot fit into smaller PC cases.
For instance, an ATX motherboard CANNOT fit in a Small Form Factor or a Mini Tower PC case.
Also Read: Are All Motherboards the Same Size?
PC Cases are Backwards Compatible in Terms of Size
While a smaller PC cases cannot fit a large form factor motherboard, a larger PC case can fit all the smaller form factor motherboards.
In other words, a Full Tower PC case can fit all of the common motherboard sizes i.e E-ATX, ATX, mATX and Mini ITX.
Similarly, a mid-tower PC case, particularly intended for ATX motherboards, can fit the smaller sizes mATX and mini-ITX motherboards too.
The way this is done is through the positioning of the motherboard standoffs.
What are Motherboard Standoffs?
Motherboard standoffs are small cylindrical shaped screw like objects that are used to lift the motherboard off from the PC case when fitting it in.
Motherboard standoffs are screwed into the PC case individually.
PC cases have the screw holes for standoffs at locations that correspond to the screw holes of the various motherboard sizes.
So if you have an ATX motherboard, you would screw the standoffs at the appropriate locations that correspond with the ATX motherboard form factor.
If you have a mini ITX motherboard, you would screw the standoffs at its compatible locations.
Larger PC cases, can have the standoff screw location for smaller motherboard form factor as well making them cross compatible with not just the larger motherboards, but also with the smaller motherboards too.
So to reiterate, do all motherboards fit in any case? The answer is no they cannot.
However, if look at this question through the perspective of the PC case form factor, then if you have a Full Tower or a Mid Tower PC case, it WILL fit all the COMMON motherboard sizes.
Another perspective you can see this from is the motherboard form factor. If you have a Mini ITX motherboard, then it will fit in ALL PC cases.
Read the PC Case Specifications!
As always, to be 100% sure about what motherboard size can fit into you PC case, read the case’s specifications
You can never go wrong once you have read the technical specifications.
Here is a specification for the Cooler Master MasterBox Lite 3 Mini Tower PC Case.
You can see that this PC Case fit mATX and Mini ITX motherboards:
Does an ATX Motherboard Fit in a Mid Tower Case?
Yes, an ATX motherboard can fit in a mid tower case.
Can a Micro ATX Motherboard Fit in an ATX Case?
Yes, it can. An ATX case is often referred to as a mid-tower or a full tower case.
So a PC case intended for ATX motherboards can fit Micro ATX motherboards as well as since Micro ATX is smaller than ATX.
Will Any ATX Motherboard Fit in Any ATX Case?
Yes, all ATX motherboards can fit in a case that already has an ATX motherboard fitted in.
Can an Old PC Case Fit Newer Motherboards?
Unless you have PC cases that are older than a couple of decades, then you should be all good.
ATX standard has been with us since 1995. So, there is a high chance that your old PC case also still conforms to this standard. Hence it should be able to fit the newer motherboards just fine.
There is one caveat though. Just make sure that it has the standoff screw holes at the appropriate location for the motherboard form factor you intend to buy.
For instance, some older ATX PC case may not have the screw holes for the modern mATX or the mini ITX form factor.
Do Mini ITX Motherboard Fit in All PC Cases?
Yes, a Mini ITX form factor can essentially fit in all the common PC Case sizes if it has the screw holes in the right position. It can fit in SFF, Mini, Mid and Full Towers.