Difference Between Dell BTX and CTO

While buying a laptop, it is natural for a person to look into its specifications before making a purchase. An important aspect to look at is the form factor of the motherboard. This refers to the design of the hardware, including its shape, size, and other physical features. This plays a crucial role in the quality of a laptop.

Dell BTX vs CTO

The main difference between Dell BTX and CTO is that Dell BTX (Balanced Technology eXtended) is a pre-made form factor with very particular specifications. On the other hand, CTO (Configuration-to-order) means that the factory will only start building and assembling the laptop when ordered, according to the customer’s needs.


Dell BTX is a motherboard that was originally meant to replace its predecessor, the Dell ATX motherboard. It has a specifically made form factor that is supposed to be an upgrade to the ATX. Dell BTX motherboards require lesser power to function as well as do not heat up as quickly as the ATX motherboard.

CTO is the full form of Configuration-to-order. This means that engineers at the factory will build a laptop and decide its form factor according to the needs of the customer. Unlike Dell BTX, CTO is not pre-made. The company will only start the assembly of the laptop after the customer has placed an order.

Comparison Table Between Dell BTX and CTO

Parameters of ComparisonDell BTXCTO
Full formThe full form of Dell BTX is Dell Balanced Technology eXtended.The full form of CTO is call-to-order.
MeaningDell BTX is a type of form factor which decides the specifications of a motherboard.CTO means that the customer gets to decide the specifications according to their needs.
AssemblyA Dell BTX laptop is pre-made by the company and is sold with specifications decided by the company itself.CTO laptops are only built and assembled when a customer places an order for them.
ConvenienceDell BTX is not as convenient for customers as their demands and needs may be different.CTO is a very convenient option for customers as they can choose how the laptop will be built.
LaunchDell BTX was launched in the year 2005.CTO was introduced to customers in the year 2007.

What is Dell BTX?

Dell BTX is the full form for Dell Balanced Technology eXtended. This is a laptop which is built and assembled by the factory even before a customers orders it. So, the specifications and form factors are decided by the engineers themselves. After assembly, customers can place an order for purchase.

Dell BTX was originally built to replace its predecessor, Dell ATX. It was supposed to work better than ATX as it demanded lesser power and did not heat up as fast as it. The structural design of Dell BTX is made to put a lesser strain on the motherboard, thus ensuring better functionality.

The BTX form factor was introduced to customers in late 2004 and early 2005. It had a low profile which means that the systems were much smaller in size than before. Naturally, as the size was smaller, there was a major reduction in the heat requirements of the hardware as well.  

Even though Dell BTX was an improvement to Dell ATX, it did not become very popular. The customers just did not show much interest. Due to this, the manufacturing and availability of such laptops were on a smaller scale. Another reason for its failure was that it did not have OEM adapters.

What is CTO?

The full form of CTO is Configuration-to-order. As the name suggests, this refers to when a laptop and its form factor is made according to the customer’s demands and needs. First, the customer has to decide the specifications that suit them well. Then, they place an order for purchase.

After a customer places an order, engineers at the factory start to build and assemble the laptop. Later, it is delivered to the customer. Unlike Dell BTX, CTO is a much more convenient option for people as they can choose the specifications of their laptop. This ensures that they are satisfied with its functionality.

CTO servers are convenient for the builders as well. This is because the process allows them to manage their inventory well and subsequently build orders. However, while purchasing a CTO server, customers must be aware that it comes without a memory disk, hard drive, etc. They need to purchase those components separately.

CTO products take a long time to be built, assembled, and then given to a customer. However, the quality control with such type of server remains very strict. It also makes sure that there is flexibility when talking about the aspect of product variety.

Main Differences Between Dell BTX and CTO

  1. Dell BTX refers to Balanced Technology Extended while CTO refers to Configuration-to-order.
  2. Dell BTX is pre-made while CTO servers are made only when a customer places an order.
  3. Dell BTX integrators decide the specifications of the server. Meanwhile, CTO servers are made according to the demands of a customer.
  4. Dell BTX is not as convenient as CTO servers for customers as well as integrators.
  5. Dell BTX was introduced in 2005 while CTO servers were launched in 2007.


Dell BTX and CTO are two servers that are very distinguishable from each other. While Dell BTX is made even before a customer place an order, CTO servers are only made after an order is placed. This means that the customer gets to decide the specifications of the server with CTO.

Evidently, Dell BTX was a failure as not many people even came to know about it. However, CTO servers proved to be a great business model as the approach ensured that the customer was satisfied with the product.

Another major difference between the two is that while Dell BTX can be mass-manufactured, CTO servers need to be built individually and supplied to a customer.


  1. https://search.proquest.com/openview/43b43b636d0a274ae70aa98f27920604/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=51938
  2. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4302-4771-5_15
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