Nvidia GeForce GT 1030 2GB Review

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How We Tested GeForce GT 1030

We introduced our new test system and methodology in How We Test Graphics Cards. If you'd like more detail about our general approach, check that piece out. Specifically, for this review, we split testing between our U.S. (performance) and German (power, acoustics, thermal) labs.

Because the GeForce GT 1030 is distinctly entry-level, we had to re-think our approach to measuring its performance. Instead of using a high-end PC to alleviate platform-imposed bottlenecks, we pulled Core i3-6320s from our library of processors and yanked half of the DDR4 memory out of our MSI motherboard.

Comparisons to the GeForce GT 1030 had to come from cards on-hand, since Nvidia typically won’t send out hardware in this performance range. We added a GeForce GTX 1050 2GB, a GeForce GTX 950 2GB, and a GeForce GTX 750 Ti (driver version 382.53).

We also wanted to use the Core i3's HD Graphics 530 engine (driver version as our performance baseline. After all, the folks shopping for $70 graphics cards are typically suffering with integrated solutions. AMD's modern Radeon RX 550 and 460 (driver version 17.6.2) join the comparison for a bit of context, showing what’s available from the competition if you’re willing to spend a little more money.

The hardware used between our two labs includes:

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Test Equipment and Environment
SystemU.S.:- Core i3-6320- MSI Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon- G.Skill F4-3200C14Q-32GTZ @ 2133 MT/s (16GB installed)- 500GB Crucial MX200- be quiet Dark Power Pro 11, 850W PSU- Windows 10 ProGermany:- Intel Core i3-6320- MSI Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon- G.Skill F4-3200C14Q-32GTZ @ 2133 MT/s (16GB installed)- 1x 1TB Toshiba OCZ RD400 (M.2, System)- 2x 960GB Toshiba OCZ TR150 (Storage, Images)- be quiet Dark Power Pro 11, 850W PSU- Windows 10 Pro (Creators Update)
Cooling- Noctua NH-D15- 5x Be Quiet! Silent Wings 3 PWM- Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut (Used when Switching Coolers)
PC Case- Lian Li PC-T70 with Extension Kit and Mods- Configurations: Open Benchtable, Closed Case
Power Consumption Measurement- Contact-free DC Measurement at PCIe Slot (Using a Riser Card) - Contact-free DC Measurement at External Auxiliary Power Supply Cable - Direct Voltage Measurement at Power Supply- 2x Rohde & Schwarz HMO 3054, 500MHz Digital Multi-Channel Oscilloscope with Storage Function - 4x Rohde & Schwarz HZO50 Current Probe (1mA - 30A, 100kHz, DC) - 4x Rohde & Schwarz HZ355 (10:1 Probes, 500MHz) - 1x Rohde & Schwarz HMC 8012 Digital Multimeter with Storage Function
Thermal Measurement- 1x Optris PI640 80Hz Infrared Camera + PI Connect- Real-Time Infrared Monitoring and Recording
Noise Measurement- NTI Audio M2211 (with Calibration File, Low Cut at 50Hz)- Steinberg UR12 (with Phantom Power for Microphones)- Creative X7, Smaart v.7- Custom-Made Proprietary Measurement Chamber, 3.5 x 1.8 x 2.2m (L x D x H)- Perpendicular to Center of Noise Source(s), Measurement Distance of 50cm- Noise Level in dB(A) (Slow), Real-time Frequency Analyzer (RTA) - Graphical Frequency Spectrum of Noise

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Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • 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
    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
    19934708 said:
    yes it's enough, IDK where you heard that you need 3gb or VRAM.

    Multiple sources say you need 3GB VRAM

    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.