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Mini ITX Vs full size GPU, which one to go for?
Here is a detailed comparison between the ITX GPU and a full sized GPU and their pros and cons.
If you are building a custom PC for the purpose of gaming or intensive VR graphics simulations, then choosing proper components like motherboard, RAM, storage, or a GPU makes a lot of difference in overall performance of the setup. Most of these components come in different shapes and sizes with variable performance differences. Unlike the general perception, a smaller component does not mean a lower performance or visa-versa. In fact, a PCIe based SSD looks like a memory stick and offers faster reading and writing speed compared to a traditional 2.5 inch or 3.5-inch hard disc or even a fusion drive, which will be a lot bigger in size.
One of the most important components on a custom PC RIG is a graphics card. Graphics card comes in all shapes and sizes, the same graphics card from NVIDIA will be available from different vendors like Zotac, EVGA, and GIGABYTE. All these vendors offer a distinctive cooling system, which will help the card to operate in a comfortable condition to get the most out of these GPUs. These companies will supply their graphics cards mostly in two sizes. A single fanned model, which will be called as a Mini ITX (Information technology extended) or a dual fanned model, which will be called as a full sized graphics card. Let us look at the pros and cons of this graphics card to find the most suitable GPU for your requirement.
ITX Vs Full sized GPU
A Mini ITX card will be small in size, which will be made to fit inside a small computer cabinet. This graphics card will be almost half in size as of a full sized GPU. If you are building a compact PC, then Mini ITX should be your choice, which will come with a single fan-based cooling system. A full sized GPU will have double the footprint of a Mini ITX card, which is mostly used in larger PC cabinets. It will have two fans for improved thermal efficiency.
Pricing also plays an important role while considering a hardware component, which is likely to stay at least for the next few years. However, though one may think that the single fanned Mini ITX is likely to cost way less than a full sized GPU card, in the real world the price difference is very less. Ex: the GTX 1050 Ti full sized graphics card is priced at Rs 17,617 whereas the same graphics card with a single fan setup (Mini ITX model) is priced at Rs 16,399. Do note that, these are dynamic prices and are likely to fluctuate over time. This price different means, that the performance difference between these different iterations of GPUs will be very marginal. In fact, both these cards offer similar output ports. However, a full sized graphics card consumes more power due to an additional fan.
The Zotac GTX 1050 Ti Mini ITX Edition and the Zotac GTX 1050 Ti Full sized edition have a similar set of features, except the cooling system. These two graphics cards have been offered for a different set of individuals with a different set of needs. The major difference between these GPUs will be in terms of thermal solution and size of the actual card. In terms of dissipation of heat, a GPU with two fans will be more efficient whereas a GPU with compact footprint will be a more compact option.
One can also consider a custom liquid cooling system to get improved thermal efficiency even in a long run. However, the liquid cooling system is likely to cost more, which will ramp up the price of the overall PC build. Both types of graphics cards do support SLI (scalable link interface) or the cross firing (pairing more than one GPU from different brands Ex: pairing a Nvidia and an AMD GPU). SLI/Cross firing will link two GPUs internally, where the load will be shared across the GPUs. Currently, most of the NVIDIA GPUs can be inter-linked to achieve this (up to 4 GPUs) and this type of setup is mostly used in crypto mining and professional 3D simulation projects.
However, SLI/Cross firing is a feature, that depends on the motherboard. Not all motherboards support this feature, in fact, non of the Mini ITX/ATX motherboard supports dual GPUs and a user has to choose a motherboard which offers two GPU loading slots.
Real world scenario
If a user is using these cards for a limited amount of time, say for 1 hour, then the difference in the performance will be very narrow. However, if a user uses these graphics cards for longer sessions, then the second fan on a full sized GPU will show its effects on the overall performance. A Mini ITX is tends to slow down on a continues usage, whereas a full-sized card will stabilize the temperature with the help of the second fan, which will result in a uniform framerate while gaming or doing graphics-intensive tasks. A casual gamer, who uses a PC for two to three hours a day might consider a Mini ITX edition, whereas a professional gamer, who might spend more than 5 hours per day should consider a full sized graphics card.
Both variations of GPUs have their own pros and cons. On the one hand, if you are planning to build a compact PC with a marginally low price, then go with the Mini ITX GPU as the difference in performance will be very thin, unless you compare both the cards neck to neck. If you are building a full-sized PC with enough space for a bigger GPU, then go with a full-sized card.