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Form Factor

Definition - What does Form Factor mean?

A form factor is a computer or piece of electronic hardware's overall design and functionality, which is usually highlighted by a prominent feature, such as a QWERTY keyboard, a touch-screen or the way the device opens and closes. The term is used to specify the size, configuration or physical arrangement and specifications of device hardware, along with some focus on its internal components. A form factor also serves as a standard or category that can be used to ensure that there is a level of hardware compatibility between devices of similar form factor even though they may come from different manufacturers.

Techopedia explains Form Factor

Form factors are commonly associated with electronic devices and parts like cell phones and motherboards. In the terms of a motherboard, the form factor would refer to the kind of hardware peripherals it can support and also somewhat defines the structure of the motherboard. It may also highlight some ad hoc standards that fall under that particular form factor. Examples of motherboard form factors include the ATX and micro-ATX form factors. For cell phones, form factor would refer to the overall design and shape of the phone, such as the traditional candy bar form, which differs from the flip and slide form factors. Today’s phones mostly have a face dominated by a touchscreen, a form factor known as the slate form factor.

It’s important to understand that the standards are optional and may or may not be adhered to by manufacturers. That said, there are some cases where form factors become crucial, such as when upgrading a motherboard. Because motherboards follow a certain standard or form factor, it’s easy to look for a replacement; the user just has to look for one that follows the same form factor.

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