I think it is time we make a push for some of the big names to develop proper Mini-DTX motherboards for today's processors and chipsets. SFF enthusiast computing continues to enjoy mainstream popularity, with all the major players having enthusiast ITX boards.
I believe Mini-DTX is a natural progression, and a technical no-brainer for the likes of EVGA, Asus, MSI, Gigabyte, Asrock and others.What is Mini-DTX? (Click to show)
What's the advantage over Mini-ITX? (Click to show)
The DTX and Mini-DTX form factors were developed by AMD back in 2007 for SFF applications. It never took off, because SFF computing hadn't hit the limelight. ITX was still new, and only being heavily used by VIA, who developed it. While normal DTX has advantages as well, in this thread we are interested in the Mini-DTX form factor.Mini-DTX can best be described as a Mini-ITX board with an extra expansion slot.
It retains the same front-to-back thickness as a normal ITX board. The only dimensional change is the increased height for the extra expansion slot. With this extra space, a second PCIe x16
connector can be added.
Where are the Mini-DTX cases? Why not just get a mATX board? (Click to show)
With the ability to add an extra PCIe slot, the benefits to this form factor become apparent. Multi-GPU setups (SLI and Crossfire) are feasible for the first time in a truly SFF build. Additionally, combinations such as a GPU and dedicated sound card, RAID controller or PCIe SSD are made possible.
But I like Mini-ITX! (Click to show)
This is the best part: Any Mini-ITX case that has two PCIe slot covers (for dual-slot GPUs) already supports Mini-DTX!
The required space for the dual-slot PCIe bracket and video card guarantees space for the motherboard that will extend out under the GPU. Even the tiny Silverstone SG05
supports a Mini-DTX board!
Micro ATX is significantly larger in both height and depth, and as such even the smallest mATX case is a great deal larger than a Mini-ITX case. Mini-DTX is an extension of the already popular Mini-ITX form factor, and uses most Mini-ITX cases.
Mini-ITX users need not worry. I believe that Mini-DTX and Mini-ITX can continue alongside each other. Even if the "Enthusiast" motherboards become Mini-DTX, the case compatibility between the two will allow the dimensions of cases to stay the same. A Mini-ITX user is free to ignore the extra expansion slot, just as cases have had two slot openings for years now. For applications that require even smaller footprints than the two-slot ITX cases we already have, Intel's NUC or the Gigabyte Brix are suitable.
I'd like to open this up as a discussion among all of us in the SFF community, and show the motherboard vendors that demand exists for these boards. There might be a trademark issue with using the name "Mini-DTX," in which case I'd call it "Extended ITX" or "ITX Plus." Some are just sold as mATX boards even though they only have two slots. Regardless, I think there are nothing but advantages to moving to this form factor. Motherboard vendors will enjoy the increase in board space for routing and placing components. Case manufacturers have nothing to change except the words on the box, stating support for Mini-DTX. (and many already list it) We, the enthusiasts and end users gain extra versatility without sacrificing case selection or desk space.