With any mini-ITX motherboard that is suitable for gaming, you can count on them to have the same basic features as far as CPU support, connectivity and a PCI Express x16 expansion slot. Where the major difference lies is in the memory slots. Motherboards are available with either 240-pin DIMM slots for regular desktop memory or the more compact 204-pin SO-DIMM slots, more commonly found in laptop computers. Which one you choose will depend entirely on your personal preferences, but there are a few differences that you’ll need to consider.
If you’re building a system on a tight budget be aware that SO-DIMM’s are still slightly more expensive than their DIMM counterparts. We checked the prices check on NewEgg.com for a 2 x 2GB kit of Kingston HyperX DDR3-1600 PC-12800 in both formats. The DIMM kit is listed at $69.99 while the more compact SO-DIMM modules are priced at $84.99. Likewise, for a set of DDR3-1333 modules from GSkill, the SO-DIMMs are pricier. The 240-pin kit is listed at $45.99 and the smaller 204-pin set at $52.99. Now, while these aren’t huge price differences, the smaller modules do cost a bit more. Bear that in mind if money is tight.
Many new mini-ITX motherboards offer good overclocking features and if you’re an overclocker, you may find the availability of high-speed SO-DIMMs is lacking. Again NewEgg.com shows a good selection of DDR3-1333 SO-DIMM modules, but only one at the DDR3-1600 level. As for the larger DIMM modules, they show 67 modules at DDR3-1600 along with modules all the way up to DDR3-2500. It’s clear that if you have the need for memory with higher speeds, 240-pin DIMMs are your best choice.
Until a standard develops, if one ever does, manufacturers will continue to use the module they feel best suits their products. It will ultimately be up to the gamers to decide if SO-DIMMs or DIMMs are the best choice for their systems. Keep these suggestions in mind when shopping for your next mini-ITX motherboard.