Nvidia GeForce GT 1030 2GB Review

Conclusion

Given the GeForce GT 1030’s resource deficit compared to Radeon RX 550, Nvidia fares remarkably well with GP108. In older DirectX 9- and 11-based games, it’s typically faster, while newer DirectX 12- and graphics-bound Vulkan-based workloads like Doom favor AMD’s GCN architecture. Dota 2 under Vulkan is a special case in that our Core i3-6320 seems to get in the way, and in platform-bottlenecked situations, GeForce cards do tend to fare better than Radeons.

We can’t help but think that this is the inverse of what you’d want from GeForce GT 1030, though. The older titles we tested already run at higher frame rates, facilitating better-looking detail settings before they start slowing down. Meanwhile, it’s all we can do to get Battlefield 1 and Doom smooth at their lowest quality presets at 1920x1080. It’d be great if performance were better in those situations, rather than the games averaging 100 FPS+.

Nvidia counters that gamers spending $70 on a graphics card play titles like League of Legends, Dota, and Rocket League, though, not Battlefield. We don’t doubt the company is right. After all, those are the same names AMD was going after when it briefed us on Radeon RX 550. In the context of DirectX 9/11-based software, games bound by platform performance, and popular eSports titles, then, GeForce GT 1030 is faster than Radeon RX 550. It's also less expensive and a lot more power-friendly.

Still, we’d like the option to experiment with any game on the PC. If you plan on playing newer DirectX 12 titles, the advantage we’ve seen from AMD’s faster cards carries over to the entry-level space. Its Radeon RX 550 averages more than 60 FPS in Battlefield 1 at 1920x1080 on a Core i3-based system. Even if it means tolerating the Low quality preset, at least the experience is fairly smooth. GeForce GT 1030 musters about 80% of the Radeon's performance in that situation.

Of course, we're assuming that your machine can accommodate the Radeon. The 4GB Asus RX 550 we tested occupies a full-height, dual-slot form factor. Meanwhile Gigabyte’s GeForce GT 1030 Low Profile 2G only monopolizes one slot. A bundled half-height bracket quickly adapts the card for the smallest of enclosures. In short, if your PC has an open PCIe slot, this GT 1030 should fit (and we’ve seen some highly non-standard case designs from the likes of Dell, HP, etc.). We’re sure the HTPC crowd will appreciate this flexibility (in addition to HDMI 2.0b support and eighth-gen PureVideo decoding hardware).

So back to the question we posed at the outset of our review: does GeForce GT 1030 keep up in our benchmark suite, at least enough to earn a position in Best Gaming Graphics Cards? Given that our opening category is Best eSports & HD, and in light of the GT 1030’s excellent handling of those titles at a 30% discount compared to RX 460, yeah, a recommendation is warranted. Just be aware that there is a point where the Radeon starts pulling ahead in a profound way. At that point, though, you might want to consider a Radeon RX 560 or 570 instead to enjoy more taxing DX12 games at higher quality settings.

MORE: Best Graphics Cards

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28 comments
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  • turkey3_scratch
    This is a fantastic chip! Seeing as it performs nearly on-par with the 750Ti, it has approximately double the performance/power ratio. It is also perfect for a noiseless PC, the passively cooled one is.
  • takeshi7
    Does this card work with 4K Netflix? From what I've read Nvidia requires 3GB VRAM for it which seems stupid and arbitrary. 2GB is enough to buffer several seconds of 4K movie frames.
  • King_V
    Definitely interesting. Going through the initial tests, I actually started wondering why the RX550 was lower in the hierarchy charts than the 750Ti.

    Then, when they switched positions in some other tests, it became more clear. And, I concluded that even putting certain cards in tiers relative to each other is not that easy.

    I was very glad to see this test, though, as I'd previously considered getting the GT1030. My need for it is no longer there.

    Overall, I think the 750Ti, RX 550, and RX 460 are closer to each other than I anticipated. It does seem the 1030 is behind them all, but not too far behind.

    Thanks for this review. I can't wait to see where it ultimately falls in the hierarchy chart(which, oddly, is missing the RX 560 but I suspect that is in the same tier as the RX 460)
  • Boom_4
    TAKESHI7
    yes it's enough, IDK where you heard that you need 3gb or VRAM.
  • hendriksnyder
    Will this work with a core I7 7700k? And would it be able to run games like FO4 and TitanFall 2 on ultra settings?
  • takeshi7
    2497723 said:
    TAKESHI7 yes it's enough, IDK where you heard that you need 3gb or VRAM.


    Multiple sources say you need 3GB VRAM
    http://nvidia.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/4457/~/preview-of-4k-uhd-netflix-content-on-nvidia-gpus
    http://www.pcworld.com/article/3193566/components-graphics/nvidia-quietly-opens-4k-netflix-streaming-on-geforce-gtx-10-series-graphics-cards.html

    It's pretty stupid because that means you have to spend twice as much to get a 1050 Ti minimum.
  • zcat
    Can't wait to swap out my miniITX's old 750Ti with a true successor that's twice as powerful at the same bus-powered max of 60W.
  • mikegrok
    I am going to be installing a bunch of these into a dental office as soon as stocks get better. Dental offices have 2 monitors per computer (usually using the gti 720). One for work, and one to show Netflix, and distract the patients. The computers have CPUs that don't accelerate h265, and the 1000 series nvidia GPUs accelerate the current video codecs.
  • Kuo Ping
    got this card for months and really love it for LOL.
  • caamsa
    Wow things must be slow in the world of computer hardware.
  • Wisecracker
    Almost makes me wish I had a shelf full of 750 TIs ...

    I know I'm going way out on a limb here, but I'm thinking the Raven Ridge APUs are going to slide rather nicely into these charts -- except for that sometime-ugly DX11 thing that bites 'em in the rear.

    I'm also thinking that's why the RXs haven't dropped in price, or in some cases, gone up. It gives room to slash prices (they do like to brawl at certain price points) before they blow-up the low-end product stack with the RR APU.

    It also seems to me that the 'stars' may finally be aligning for dual graphics (after all these years!) ... DX12, Vulkan, fast DDR4 with specific addressable memory space, Free-Sync, CCX fabric, and all those 'nCUs' pulling together (with decent drivers!) could be knockin' some slobber ...

    Or ... maybe not :lol:
  • ledhead11
    I'd actually be interested in a comparison between one of these and a 7xxx high end Intel CPU w/ integrated. Seems to me the gap is getting much smaller.
  • 10tacle
    "CONS -
    Trails AMD's Radeon RX 550 in DX12/Vulkan-based games"


    The RX 550 also starts at $90 and can run up to $120 (USD) depending on variant, putting it right into the pricing bull's eye of the faster 750Ti and even faster yet 2GB RX 460 on the used market. Also someone correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the 550 not available in small form factor?
  • Mojazz
    2241107 said:
    Will this work with a core I7 7700k? And would it be able to run games like FO4 and TitanFall 2 on ultra settings?


    Lol
  • IInuyasha74
    I'm fairly disappointed this this GPU. I just feel Nvidia crippled the card too much by sticking it with a 64-bit memory bus. I in general hate to see components held back by RAM limitations, because it is an artificial limitation placed on the core due to inadequate bandwidth.

    GDDR5 isn't as expensive as it used to be, however, so hopefully an OEM will produce one with faster vRAM.
  • SteelCity1981
    i don't know what some of you are seeing but the 1030 is not better than the 750 Ti. in fact it trails behind the 750 Ti in everything and in some things by a nice margin.
  • caamsa
    409959 said:
    i don't know what some of you are seeing but the 1030 is not better than the 750 Ti. in fact it trails behind the 750 Ti in almost everything and in some things by a nice margin.


    I was thinking the same thing. It is on par with the 750 but not the 750 Ti. If you go on YouTube there are a lot of benchmarks of these low end cards pitted against other low end cards. Not to knock Toms but I have found a lot of great review sources on YouTube.
  • 80-watt Hamster
    202972 said:
    "CONS -
    Trails AMD's Radeon RX 550 in DX12/Vulkan-based games"
    The RX 550 also starts at $90 and can run up to $120 (USD) depending on variant, putting it right into the pricing bull's eye of the faster 750Ti and even faster yet 2GB RX 460 on the used market. Also someone correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the 550 not available in small form factor?


    There's at least one low-profile variant of the 550 available (from MSI), though it's got a double-slot cooler on it. You're right about pricing, though; it was supposed to trade at $80, and really needs to be closer to $70 to compete with the 1030. As it stands now, there's hardly any reason to choose a 550 over a 560 or GTX 1050, which can both be had for not much north of $100. Putting it up against used pricing is a little unfair, though.
  • King_V
    Agreed. The R7 250E/7750, which is a 55W part, was made available in single-slot low profile, there's no excuse for the RX 550, which draws a few less watts than that, to have a similar solution.

    EDIT: Also, given that the GTX 750 and GTX 750 Ti have a TDP of 55 and 60W respectively, likewise, there doesn't seem to be any good reason for a single-slot cooling solution on a low-profile card for them, either. Had there been, I likely would've purchased one of those cards in lieu of the somewhat difficult to find 250E/7750 single-slot-low-profile.


    Also agreed that the higher end Intel Integrated graphics (is it called the 630?) might make an interesting comparison, though I can't argue with the fact that it's unlikely that someone with a high-end modern Intel CPU would be playing in the low-end graphics market.

    I'm really looking forward to the update in the hierarchy chart, not just to see where exactly they place the 1030, but to see if other's in surrounding tiers get shuffled slightly. Based on its current position in the chart, I would've assumed the RX550 would've performed worse than it did here.
  • daglesj
    I think its time the 64bit bus was done away with.
  • Nintendork
    RX550 for just $20 more destroys that joke of a dGPU.

    RX560 4GB is still the thing you should buy.
  • Nintendork
    The best thing of buying a passive <100w gpu is using a 120mm 800-1000rpm fan on top of it. Ridiculous temps with that.
  • King_V
    The 1030 is still worthwhile as a card if you're limited to a single-slot-height cooler AND low profile card. The 550, I think, should be available in such a form factor, but isn't. Likewise the 750Ti should have been available like this, but wasn't.
  • why_wolf
    Should be a great little card for office PCs that can't use onboard video or need some multi monitor support.