What is the form factor in computers?
When it comes to computers, form factor refers to; (a) physical specification, (b) size, and (c) shape of the hardware component. It is the form factor that determines important computer parameters. Such parameters include overall physical layout, amount of power required, and computer casing. Additionally, the form factor determines the mounting holes and ports available.
Why is form factor important
Now that we know what is form factor in computers, we shall take a look at why it is important. The form factor dictates the general layout and how the features are placed on the motherboard. The form factor also determines the amount of power and the number of components that a motherboard and computer case can sufficiently accommodate. Most importantly, form factor came to solve the incompatibilities between the many hardware in the market. Such is the hardware you expect to perform a similar task even when they are from a different manufacturer. Furthermore, the components have to work electrically and electronically well. It also goes without saying that they have to fit in the availed spaces amicably.
When it comes to electronics, you will realize that the hardware is designed with an inability to be compatible with spaces available if it is from a different form factor. The reason being, the electronic and power specifications of any different form factor are dissimilar. If not so, one would end up with marred components and motherboards now and then.
Form factor motherboard
Since we have defined what is form factor in computers and why it is important, we shall now discuss the common types of motherboard form factors in the market.
This is the oldest form factor. You will be surprised to know how popular it was during its days. It was made to work with the 386 processor. It was a squared 12-inch motherboard that was difficult to install and even so to maintain. AT( advanced technology) was first created by IBM in the year 1984. The AT motherboard appears as shown below;
An AT (Advanced technology) motherboard
ATX (advanced technology extend)
Probably you are wondering which form factor was created by intel. Well, this one was created by intel in the year 1995. As of the year 2020, it is the popular motherboard form factor. Its dimensions are 12 x 9.6 inches ( 305 x 204 mm). It is still in the market today. as a matter of factor, you probably have one on your desktop computer now. you can buy from the following one if you intend to build a gaming PC.
Amazon ASUS ROG Strix B550-F 3rd gen which goes for less than $ 200
It was created by IBM in the year 1985. Its dimensions are 8.5 x 10-13 inches. It was the successor to the IT motherboard. It was quite significantly popular because of its small size. They are still useful today in the industry with Pentium products. The design module ensures that the CPU is an interface with longer bus cards. Input out ports (I/O) are connected near the floppy drive where numerous ribbon cables appear. This form factor allows limited peripheral card installation.
In full BTX form factor stands for balanced technology extend. Well, you guessed it, BTX was meant to replace ATX motherboards. They came in the market year 2004 and 2005. Balanced technology was introduced in the market to solve the issue of overheating and more power requirements that computer peripheral demanded. However, intel abandoned this model to concentrate on solving the thermal issues that Pentium 4 exhibited.
You are right to get exasperated after realizing that this model was poorly received in the market; this was so despite numerous modifications that intel made. ATX and BTX models were case compatible. This means either could be used in any case meant for each other.
What is DTX you ask? It is an ATX form factor variation. DTX motherboards were introduced into the market by AMD in the year 2007. The tech giant had your needs for a smaller pc in mind. Such a Smaller PC could be used for home theater. For the product to be relevant, AMD ensured that it was backward compatible with cases built for ATX form factors. It also uses 24 pin power connectors just as an ATX motherboard.
The standard dimensions of DTX are 203 x 244 mm or 8 x 9.6 inches. However, the manufacturer also offered a mini version of the model; Mini-DTX whose dimensions are 203 x 170 mm.
It cost lower to manufacture DTX since fewer layers of the wiring was necessary for the PCB ( Printed circuit board)
ITX is another small form factor mother. If you do not know, ITX standards for Information technology extended. It was first introduced into the market by the year 2001. Manufacturers also introduced mini-ITX at the same time. Afterward, other versions such as Nani-ITX, mobile -ITX, and Pico-ITX follow for years 2003, 2004, and 2007 respectively. These motherboards found their use in small setups such as small computers, cars, set-top boxes, and network devices.
LPX is short for low profile extension. Western digital is accredited to its development in early 1990. Its dimensions are 330 x 229 mm or 13 x 9 inches. The motherboard had its input and output ports mounted at the back ( a technique that ATX later came to adopt). You will surprise to know there was a riser card in the middle of the motherboard. This is you could mount PCI and ISA-related devices. Riser cards did not have standardized dimensions and therefore they differed from one manufacturer to another. This made them incompatible.
LPX ( low profile extended) motherboard
What were the flaws in the design you ask? The motherboard did not allow enough airflow a mistake that makes the form factor hard to use with Pentium II. For your information, this form factor successfully and briefly displaced AT model. Pentium II required high heat dispersal mechanism. It was later phased out in the year 1998 where the manufacturers chose to go for micro ATX instead.
Now that you know what is form factor in computers is, let us look at some of the unique form factors in the market.
For your information, notebooks are a form factor themselves. Additionally, there are many notebook form factors. The reason for many form factors is to help identify the market area and type of product. The notebook form factor includes Ultrabook, netbook, and convertible tablet
Ultrabook is a high-end subnotebook computer trademarked by intel. So, this model features an unbelievably thin laptop without altering the battery life. To achieve a futuristic model, the Ultrabook uses SSD and intel core processors with interestingly low power consumption. To further reduce the bulk, unibody chassis is adopted. However, some important features are traded off to achieve this. Such features may include an audio connector, optical drives, and ethernet ports.
where to buy Ultrabook (notebooks)
You can buy find one in the following online shops
The best Ultrabook on Amazon
Features include; 512 Gb PCIe SSD ( very fast and power-efficient)
16Gb Ram, Core i7 8565U, 4K display, Touch IPS display screen
Best budget Ultrabook on Amazon
Features include; 8.9-inch display (2.5 K), Touch screen display
16 Gb RAM, 512 SSD, 9200mAh battery
The netbook is a class of inexpensive and astoundingly low-performance laptop computers. Additionally, netbooks are both legacy-free and small in size. I was fascinated to find out that this class of laptops compete for the same market shares with the tablets, Chromebooks, and smartphones.
You can find one in the following online shops.
Convertible tablet. Unlike laptops, the convertible tablet is a device that is sufficiently capable of functioning as a standalone touch screen computer or a notebook.
You can find them affordably in online shops.