BTX Motherboards

The history of computing contains many examples of technology that seemed right at the time but never really caught on. The story of the BTX motherboard is one of high hopes that were quickly dashed. It was destined to become the new standard and take over from the long-running ATX motherboard but in just a few years it was on the way out. The cooling problems that lead to the development of the BTX motherboard were solved by using dual-core processors so there was no longer any need to change. It is almost impossible to find a BTX motherboard in stores today but you can still buy computers that have one.

The motherboard, also called mainboard, is the backbone of every desktop and laptop computer. It is a large circuit board that connects all of the components that make up a computer. The motherboard holds the essential components, such as the processor and memory sticks, and also has sockets for the peripheral devices, such as the keyboard and mouse. Inside a typical desktop computer, the motherboard is fixed to one side of the case and supplied with electrical power from the power supply unit. The BTX motherboard looks very different to the ATX motherboard, which is still widely used fifteen years after it was launched.

The BTX motherboard was developed by Intel and launched in 2004. The acronym “BTX” stands for Balanced Technology Extended, but what that actually means is anyone’s guess. It is much smaller than the ATX motherboard and even smaller than the microATX motherboard. The most noticeable difference is the memory slots, which have been moved away from the processor and now sit where the expansion slots normally go. There is no AGP slot for older video cards but that is not much a problem. What the BTX motherboard does have is improved support for USB2.0, Serial ATA, and PCI-Express. Its three standard sizes are regular BTX, microBTX, and picoBTX.

One of the main reasons for developing the BTX motherboard was to improve cooling of the processor and other components. The arrangement of these components on an ATX motherboard means that the airflow does not move in a straight path. Most of the air passing through an ATX case enters at the bottom of the front panel and is removed by a fan at the top of the back panel. The twisted path that the air takes through the case creates pockets of heated air that reduce its cooling effect. A BTX motherboard allows the air to pass from the front to the back without any turns so almost none of the heated air gets trapped inside the case.

With the exception of a few models, computer cases are designed to support only one type of motherboard. The size and layout of the BTX motherboard is radically different to that of the ATX motherboard. It has different mounting points and is located on the left side instead of the right side. The sockets on the rear panel are still grouped together but they are arranged differently. The location of the air vents and fans has also changed but this was necessary to improve the cooling. About the only thing the two motherboards have in common is their power supply connectors. A power supply unit taken from an ATX case can power a BTX motherboard without needing any adapters or other modifications.

Despite its obvious advantages, the future looks very uncertain for the BTX motherboard. After Intel ceased their support in 2006, the number of retail models dropped and it became harder to find a BTX motherboard. Today, it has all but disappeared from the stores and the custom building scene. The only way to get a new computer that has one is to buy it from an OEM computer manufacturer, such as Dell. As mentioned before, improved cooling was the main reason behind its development but that is no longer important. Modern dual-core processors use less power and generate less heat than previous processors, so there is no longer any need to move away from the ATX motherboard.

This BTX Motherboards Review is Written/Updated on Apr 8th, 2011 and filed under Computer Hardware. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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