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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Motherboard and System Devices | The Motherboard | Motherboard Form Factors ]


Much the way the AT form factor eventually became outdated and less suitable for use with the newest technologies, the LPX form factor has over time begun to show the same weaknesses. The need for a modern, small motherboard standard has lead to the development of the new NLX form factor. In many ways, NLX is to LPX what ATX is to AT: it is generally the same idea as LPX, but with improvements and updates to make it more appropriate for the latest PC technologies. Also like ATX, the NLX standard was developed by Intel Corporation and is being promoted by Intel. Intel of course is a major producer of large-volume motherboards for the big PC companies.

NLX still uses the same general design as LPX, with a smaller motherboard footprint and a riser card for expansion cards. Read the section on LPX for a basic understanding of this design concept. To this basic idea, NLX makes the following main changes, most of which are familiar to those who have read about the enhancements introduced by ATX:

  • Revised design to support larger memory modules and modern DIMM memory packaging.
  • Support for the newest processor technologies, including the new Pentium II using SEC packaging.
  • Support for AGP video cards.
  • Better thermal characteristics, to support modern CPUs that run hotter than old ones.
  • More optimal location of CPU on the board to allow easier access and better cooling.
  • More flexibility in how the motherboard can be set up and configured.
  • Enhanced design features, such as the ability to mount the motherboard so it can slide in or out of the system case easily.
  • Cables, such as the floppy drive interface cable, now attach to the riser card instead of the motherboard itself, reducing cable length and clutter.
  • Support for desktop and tower cases.

The NLX form factor is, like the LPX, designed primarily for commercial PC makers mass-producing machines for the retail market. Many of the changes made to it are based on improving flexibility to allow for various PC options and flavors, and to allow easier assembly and reduced cost. For homebuilders and small PC shops, the ATX form factor is the design of choice heading into the future.

Next: Comparison of Form Factors

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