“E-ATX” Is A Lie: How Motherboard Makers Ruined Form Factors

by birtanpublished on September 30, 2020

ei TX is a wanna be half
specification not a real form factor at
least not the way it's being treated
right now it doesn't mean anything
the name ei TX implies that it's a
standard but it's not a standard at all
it's a freaking free-for-all that's not
even getting into EE
ATX by the way which if you didn't know
stands for enhanced extended advanced
technology extended the last ones a
lowercase e in a capital X because X
that's actually a name enhanced extended
advanced technology extended that's a
form factor things would be a lot easier
for everybody if the motherboard
manufacturers one would learn what EA X
actually means and two would stick to
the dimensions of SSI EE B without
trying to wedge custom stupid form
factors in between or you know if they
correctly referred to a 12 inch by ten
point five inch motherboard as SSI CEB
but that require actually trying to
follow a spec of some kind then case
manufacturers if the motherboard
manufacturers actually did their jobs
wouldn't have to write things like EA T
acts up to 11 inches or full-size EA T
acts were chewy the ATX whatever that
means in every spec sheet for
normal-sized mid towers and customers
would at a glance know what they're
actually getting we've had a hell of a
time lately trying to find cases for our
ei TX motherboards that actually fit
which range in size from basically ATX
to doesn't fit in any case that supports
the ATX but it's still called the ATX so
we took that frustration and turn it
into something positive to dig into this
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with Squarespace so other than the
technical discussion today we also get
the fun of unrolling acronyms use
everywhere in the industry and talking
about stupid form factors like Excel ATX
which have three sizes despite having
one name or again Eata X being split
into EI TX true EE ATX full size e-atx
fully ATX and a whole bunch of other
things that don't actually mean anything
to anybody
ATX is a spec released by Intel in 1995
to give some historical information here
it's occasionally been updated since
then it stands for advanced technology
extended and it was intended to replace
the older de-facto 80 form factor a
standard published by IBM and the IBM 80
PC that was released in 1984 that's
where all of this started it's been used
as the industry-wide standard since its
introduction and thus far has been
resistant to Intel's attempts to replace
it with things for example like the BT X
form factor motherboards from 2004 or
the new atx12v o standard that was
published in 2019 for PS use and
motherboards the full ATX and ATX 12
volt spec defines many aspects of both
motherboards and power supplies that the
manufacturers should adhere to in order
to produce something that is uniform and
usable across the industry and it's not
just a sizing specification but the only
thing we're concerned about with today
is the motherboard form factor and ye
ATX as a term is a term for
what it thinks it means there's a place
for e-atx but nobody uses it the way it
probably should be used and so it
actually means nothing and it's
completely pointless note here that
we're going to refer to the motherboards
dimensions based on how they're normally
oriented in a case so the distance from
the bottom to the top is height and from
the front of the case to the back is
distances are written as height by width
we need to go through the fun of
defining the acronyms again first so EA
TX or e – ATX if you prefer to use both
ways and are changeably stands for
extended ATX creating the unfortunate
acronym of X
sended advanced technology extended
which sounds like a bad ad for a product
you'd see on a different kind of video
website EA T X is defined as 12 inches
tall by 13 inches wide if it's even
defined at all while a standard ATX
board is a much more predictable 12 by 9
point 6 inches other companies have
occasionally taken it upon themselves to
complicate things such as supermicro
when it introduced eee ATX 4 double e
ATX which obviously everyone knows this
means enhanced extended advanced
technology extended what else could that
possibly mean and then there's XL ATX
which has been used by EVGA gigabyte and
msi to describe three and nearly
identical but not quite the same sizes
of motherboards and let's not forget BTX
everyone knows remembers that one
balanced technology extended a standard
that measured ten and a half by twelve
point eight inches specifically and
although some parts of it are now
laughably outdated like the
recommendation to cool the cpu using
only airflow from the power supply yes
the additional PCB space it offered may
have sidestepped this entire mess if it
had been more widely adopted as a brief
aside relating back to excel ATX
although it's not the primary topic
today talking about excel ATX any of the
three that exist
take your pick it's essentially the what
if we made it taller to version of ATX
except what if we made it taller to ATX
would have been too obvious for what it
means so they named it XL ATX which
probably stand actually it does
extra-large advanced technology extended
XL ATX so making an ATX board taller
makes more room for things like chipset
cooling extra PCIe slots and things that
are primarily useful for multi-gpu
setups which are obviously a lot less
popular these days I'm increasingly rare
that and the increase in popularity of
power supply shrouds has mostly rendered
the XL ATX form factor dead although
there's still a few out there and it's
put a hard limit on motherboard height
meaning that XL ATX has no more room to
really grow an existing case it's even
though it's still being used the gig
TRX 40 board I think is considered excel
ATX but mostly this form factor has been
supplanted by boards that have increased
the width rather than the height and
those boards are known instead as ei T X
which is a fairy tale doesn't exist and
should be disregarded to underscore how
nobody knows what ei TX even means
gigabytes own X to 99 X des ignore a
motherboard Liston has the products
marked as quote ei TX on an official
product spec page but XL ATX on at
Amazon product page
they don't even know which one it is and
they have the listings for both under
their control extra width gives more
room for things like ramp multiple CPUs
if you're using a dual socket board
although sometimes those are called HB
TX and that's a different thing
and just wider VRMs and generally these
are more desirable at this point then
the extra GPUs are so you're starting to
see more ATX boards but cases and ei TX
boards aren't necessarily compatible
with each other despite both potentially
having EA TX support in the spec sheet
because again EA TX is made up and it
doesn't matter so when a board says it's
e-atx and a case says it's the ATX that
doesn't actually mean anything
confusingly the SSI ee BR server system
infrastructure forums under Fry's
Electronics Bay originally known as
entry-level electronics Bay is a form
factor as an ATX variant that's exactly
the same dimensions as fully ATX if we
can use that phrase and shares most of
its mounting holes ee b is
interchangeable with ssi ee b as a name
for the form factor the original ee b
spec says that the dimensions of this
EBA not that one are based on the
standard 8e board dimensions 12 inches
by 13 inches and quote and it appears
that most of the mounting holes are
based on the now 36 year old form factor
as well although component layout has
changed version 1.0 of the SSI ee B spec
is dated 1999 but the term extended ATX
predates this we spoke to several
manufacturers while researching for this
piece and one of them remembered Asus as
the possible origin of EI TX as the
marketing term through their in-house
now-dead brand Elan vital we checked and
it appears that you land
all started calling cases ei TX that
they had formerly branded eighty
sometime in 2002 to 2003 the lines are
extremely blurred here because eighty
and EB are different names for the same
size of board as was e-atx originally
before it was ruined now again if it's
not clear the problem with ei TX is that
it isn't defined we've skirted around
this so far but ei TX is a blanket term
that's slapped on any ATX motherboard
that's wider than nine point six inches
it is not an official specification like
ATX is e ATX is used as a marketing term
by both motherboard manufacturers and
case manufacturers alike to basically
signify support for some board that's
wider than nine point six inches and
therefore it won't fit if it's a
motherboard in a normal ATX case
typically we see the 12 by 13 inch SSI
EE B boards referred to at the prefix
such as true dat X or full EA TX because
we needed more distinctions and
motherboard makers can reap what they
sow damn it and continue to dig their
grave deeper by further extending the
Advanced Technology extended acronym as
far as they possibly can the SSI forum
to find multiple form factors like the
twelve by ten point five inch compact
electronics Bay and EA TX is used as a
generic term for that as well this may
be EVGA s fault here as early as 2009
they were referring to the SSI CEB x58
classified as EA TX after which other
companies like gigabyte and asus
followed suit which has forced case
manufacturers to use the phrase EA x
compatible to convey that they support
motherboards wider than nine point six
inches but not necessarily quote full
ATX motherboards from evey J's
perspective it was necessary to have a
quick way to say that a board wouldn't
fit in a normal mid tower silverstone is
one of the few holdouts that refuses
properly to use EA TX to mean anything
other than 12 by 13
there isn't an official spec for EA TX
just ATX but both EA TX and SSI e eb
boards simply add an additional column
of screw holes to the three that are
present in
normal agexport you can check the
numbers yourself if you want but we'll
save you some time
and confirm that normal SSI EE B hole
spacing is exactly the same as normal 80
X plus some extra let's repeat that
because it's a point of confusion among
case and motherboard manufacturers SSI
EE B is based on ATX and uses exactly
the same hole placement with some
alternative and extra holes thrown in do
you understand that mother putting case
manufacturers because we've emailed a
whole bunch of you questions in the past
couple of weeks and it seems like almost
no one understands this point seriously
full or true 13-inch ei TX boards Reeb
boards that's what that means
ee B also has options for some extra
holes around the PCIe slots and
potentially a secondary CPU socket since
it's meant for server boards I really
hope we're getting through here note
that not all of the SSI EE B holes are
required and the ones marked with an
apostrophe are alternatives to the
legacy ATX locations to allow
motherboard manufacturers more freedom
and placing components the alternate
holes weren't present in the original
spec and they do not line up with the
ATX standard so if a board manufacturer
chooses to use any of them it limits
compatibility with ATX and ATX cases
this is why there's so much conflicting
information about whether EA TX and the
EB are interchangeable if a manufacturer
just uses the primary ATX compatible
holes the board will probably be
referred to as EA TX and everything is
hunky-dory if they use an alternate EB
hole placement and call the board SSI EB
the logical conclusion for a user trying
to install a board is that EB hole
spacing is different from e-atx even
boards that refer to themselves as ei TX
may make use of the alternate ee-vie
hole placements for example EVGA s r3
uses the Y prime mounting hole which
isn't really obviously defined anywhere
because who would do that the SSI forum
took care to point out that motherboard
manufacturers can skip any mounting
holes that they don't want but cannot
add additional ones it's interesting to
see that as of at least 2011 s
ie b-spec name drops ei TX and
acknowledges that it's a common name for
12 by 13 boards and now thanks to
motherboard manufacturers creating and
propelling this problem of a whole bunch
of different form factors that don't
mean anything the case manufacturers
have followed suit because they need to
somehow show that they support these
various and unmatched form factors and
also market themselves against their
competitors and so it perpetually cycles
here are the 10 most recent regular
consumer cases that we've reviewed and
how they describe their maximum
motherboard size compatibility verbatim
Fraxel defined 7 says ëi TX maximum 285
millimeters antic p120 crystal EA TX and
then if you download the flyer which no
one's gonna do it says up to 12 by 11
inches Leanne Leal and cool to EA TX /
ATX width under two hundred eighty
millimeters Pitt Phoenix and Nova match
TG e ATX up to two hundred seventy two
millimeters so we've already got to 72
to 80 and to 85 to 72 being ten point
seven inch by the way and then an 11
inch support by an tachy 120 then
there's the NZXT eh 710 EA t ax with no
– this time because who needs standards
up to two hundred seventy two
millimeters or ten point seven inches
fan taxi 400 a II – ATX up to – 72
millimeters wide with an asterisk can't
use the rubber grommets if you do this
liyan leo 11 X out II – ATX need to
purchase an extension panel for EE B
motherboards let's just keep mixing them
together Corsair 465 ATX
that's it that's all it says for axial
define s2 vision e know – ATX up to 285
mill why Corsair 2 20 t full sized ATX
what the does that even mean
well it should probably mean 12 by 13
but because it's not actually a thing
that's defined in a specification in any
official way they're not really held to
any obligation to make that mean 13 can
mean anything out of those 10 cases
of them claim to support EI TX yet not a
single one of them other than the O 11
Excel can support the full 13 inch or 3
30 millimeter wide EVGA s r3 and other
boards that would be the same size
because there's multiple even the Excel
the O 11 Excel not to be confused with
excel ATX officially requires a
separately purchased part in order to
support 13 inch wide board we can't get
too mad at the particular case
manufacturers because other than an tech
they do all include specific notes about
what size e ATX board fits there are e
ATX boards that are between nine point
six and thirteen inches wide like Eva
J's ten point nine inch wide X 299 dark
for example we can get mad however at
the fact that these notes have to be
included at all when you're buying a
case rather than just saying the name of
a damn form-factor this is stupid
it actually takes more space to type out
quote EI TX up to 11 inches wide then it
does to literally just write 12 by 11
why are we pretending to use form
factors that have names at this point
just type the dimensions that's all
you're doing except you're putting a
four letter code with a – sometimes in
front of it that is going to end up
confusing users if it doesn't mean
anything just say the damn dimensions
then at least the user can look at the
dimensions they can go look at New Ager
Amazon or whatever for their motherboard
they leave those dimensions and then
it's all plain numbers on does it fit
yes or no there's no no mystery involved
the reason these cases aren't compatible
with wider boards isn't consistent
either sometimes cases like the Fraxel
defined seven seem like they could
easily support much wider boards with
some minor adjustments to the rim of the
motherboard tray there are also plenty
of cases that have relatively empty
space in front of the motherboard tray
that's blocked by a cable management
channel like the P 120 crystal even if
there isn't room for a full set of ssi
EB standoffs it would be easy for so
cases to allow wider boards to fit and
over Haines at the front of the case the
elimination of optical and hard drive
cages has left this area of cases and
no-man's land
and wider motherboards would be a great
way to fill it in EA TX support is
clearly an afterthought in most cases
where chassis czar fully designed and
then measured after the fact to see if
any ATX boards will fit rather than
being designed around 13 inch wide
boards from the start a lot of
motherboard manufacturers are at fault
here EVGA in particular is very
critically at fault and can be blamed
for many of these stupid problems the
reason we've complained about this
repeatedly is because we've run into
three separate instances where evey J's
board specifically require a larger than
ATX case but we're not quite sure how
large and when we have to then hunt
through our inventory which by the way
has literal dozens of cases probably
more than most users have we have to
check the cases with an actual ruler to
see if it'll fit because otherwise you
have to hope that they have it defined
in their spec and they don't always do
the cases that is or you have to just
test fit it in all the cases and that
takes forever the EVGA SRX doesn't
really count since it uses a unique and
ridiculously large 13 point 6 by 15 inch
hptx form factor but the ax 299 dark and
the sr3 are both considered to be EA TX
and are both troublesome and they're not
alone the SR 3 especially was
troublesome though we eventually gave up
and tossed it in a gigantic case that
Intel shipped us with the oversized
Dominus extreme rog board that barely
works and speaking of which the Dominus
extreme is advertised as being a 14 inch
by 14 inch ee b / ATX form factor 14
inch by 14 inch by the way asus is an
ee b nor is it ATX so please stop it
just sit down and stop the one thing
that everyone can agree on here even
EVGA at least is that ATX e ATX NDE be
have a height of 12 inches so dama
daysius whatever you're trying to do you
need to stop because you're gonna screw
it all up even more and then no one's
going to know what the hell's going on
the name eh
again wrapping all this up implies a
standard but it's not it's a
free-for-all things would be a lot
easier for everyone if motherboard
manufacturers stuck to the dimensions of
SSI EE B without trying to wedge their
own damn custom form factors in between
or correctly referred to twelve by ten
point five inch boards as SSI CEB not EA
TX then the case manufacturers would
have no reason to write names like EA TX
up to 11 inches the ATX up to 272 of the
285 of the 280 of the 291 millimeters in
every single spec sheet for normal sized
mid towers there's completely different
levels of EA TX support and customers
would know at a glance for once if
people actually followed the SSI see EBS
as I EE be naming customers would know
at a glance what they were getting and
if it would all work together we use
open benches for testing so we'd prefer
it if manufacturers made the leap and
committed to the true used properly for
once SSI EE be for anything larger than
ATX but at the end of the day it's the
customers opinion that matters and you
need to voice to these manufacturers
that you've you also find these terms to
be utterly useless and a pain in the ass
so feel free to leave your comments
below with what you think about all this
we reached out to a lot of companies for
this piece and we were appalled to see
how many of them didn't even understand
the contact at least and some of the
PM's at these companies didn't
understand the difference between these
different form factors versus the ones
that aren't real form factors it's just
a CSUN EVGA can really be blamed for
ruining a lot of this so thanks guys
that's it for this one subscribe for
more you can go to store doc here ins
exes dotnet to support content like this
or patreon.com slash gamers Nexus thanks
for watching we'll see you all next time

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