The GeForce GT 1030 is an entry-level video card from NVIDIA, based on Pascal architecture, aimed on the low-consumption and super low-cost markets. Let’s see if can it be used for casual gaming.

The GeForce GT 1030 is based on the GP108 chip, manufactured under 14 nm technology, with 384 cores. Its base clock is 1,227 Mhz and its turbo clock is 1,468 MHz.

Unlike mainstream cards like the ones based on GeForce GTX 1050 and GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, that use a 128 bit memory bus, the GeForce GT 1030 uses a 64 bit bus, accessing 2 GiB of GDDR5 memory at 6 GHz. So, it has a bandwidth of 48 GiB/s. Notice, however, that there are video cards based on the same chip with different characteristics, like DDR3 memory and 128 bits versions.

The GeForce GT 1030 is not actually aimed on gaming, but on general use desktop computers that need a “real” video card. Its naming makes it clear: gaming video cards from NVIDIA are named GeForce GTX, while the general-use ones are GeForce GT.

One of the highlights of the GeForce GT 1030 is its low power consumption: its TDP is only 30 W, which means it doesn’t need an additional power connector. It also allows the manufacturers to build compact cards, with half-heigth (like the model we tested) or even with passive cooling (without a fan).

Obviously, another key characteristic of the GT 1030 is its low cost, around USD 70.

The competitor of the GT 1030 is the Radeon RX 550 from AMD. However, this time we are testing the GT 1030 against a GeForce GTX 1050, in order to answer two questions: if the GT 1030 is powerful enough for a casual player, and, in the case of a positive answer, if it has a good price/performance ratio.

The GeForce GT 1030 does not support SLI, Ansel, G-SYNC, GameStream, VR Ready, and Simultaneous Multiprojection technologies, present on GTX models.

The GeForce GT 1030 we tested is manufactured by Gigabyte, model number GV-N1030D5-2GL (also called “GT 1030 Low Profile 2G”), which is a low profile model, bringing a bracket to be used on “slim” (half-height) cases. It uses standard clocks on normal mode, and a base clock of 1,252 MHz base clock and 1,506 MHz turbo clock on OC mode (selected by an app).

Figure 1 shows the Gigabyte GeForce GT 1030 video card.

GeForce GT 1030Figure 1: the Gigabyte GeForce GT 1030 (GV-N1030D5-2GL)

In the table below, we compare the main specs from the video cards we included in this review. Prices were researched at Newegg.com for this article.

Video card

Core clock

Turbo clock

Effective memory clock

Memory bus

Memory bandwidth

Memory

Processing cores

TDP

DirectX

Price

Gigabyte GeForce GT 1030 (GV-N1030D5-2GL)

1,227 MHz

1,468 MHz

6.0 GHz

64 bit

48 GB/s

2 GiB GDDR5

384

30 W

12.1

USD 73

Zotac GeForce GTX 1050 Mini

1,354 MHz

1,455 MHz

7.0 GHz

128 bit

112 GB/s

2 GiB GDDR5

640

75 W

12.1

USD 120

Now let’s take a closer look to the tested video card.

[nextpage title=”The GeForce GTX 1050 Ti”]

The Gigabyte GeForce GT 1030 is a very small card, being only 5.9 inches (150 mm) long, 2.7 inches tall, and using only one slot. It has a 50 mm fan.

In Figure 2, you see the video connectors of the GeForce GT 1030. It brings an HDMI 2.0b and a DVI-D connectors.

GeForce GT 1030Figure 2: video connectors

In Figure 3, you see the top of the card. Notice that there is no auxiliary power connector.

GeForce GT 1030Figure 3: top view

Figure 4 shows the solder side of the GeForce GT 1030. There are no memory chips at this side.

GeForce GT 1030Figure 4: solder side of the GT 1030

Figure 5 unveils the Gigabyte GeForce GT 1030 with the cooler removed. It is a simple aluminum cooler, that keeps contact only with the GPU chip. The card has two memory chips.

GeForce GT 1030Figure 5: the GeForce GT 1030 with the cooler removed

In Figure 6 you see the GP108 chip, manufactured under 14 technology.

GeForce GT 1030Figure 6: the GP107 chip

Figure 8 shows one of the memory chips present on the GeForce GT 1030. It is a Micron MT51J256M32HF-70 chip, with 8 Gib (1 GiB) capacity and 3.5 GHz nominal maximum clock.

GeForce GT 1030Figure 7: memory chip

[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]

During our benchmarking sessions, we used the configuration listed below. Between the tests, the only variable component was the video card being tested.

Hardware Configuration

Operating System Configuration

  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit

Driver Versions

  • NVIDIA driver version: 382.53

Software Used

Error Margin

We adopted a 3% error margin; thus, differences below 3% cannot be considered relevant. In other words, products with a performance difference below 3% should be considered as having similar performance.

[nextpage title=”3DMark”]

3DMark is a program with a set of several 3D benchmarks. Fire Strike benchmark measures DirectX 11 performance and is targeted to high-end gaming computers, while Sky Diver also measures DirectX 11 performance being aimed at average computers. The Cloud Gate benchmark measures DirectX 10 performance.

GeForce GT 1030

On Fire Strike, the Gigabyte GeForce GT 1030 was 48% slower than the Zotac GeForce GTX 1050.

GeForce GT 1030

On the Sky Diver benchmark, the Gigabyte GeForce GT 1030 was 41% slower than the Zotac GeForce GTX 1050.

GeForce GT 1030

On Cloud Gate, the Gigabyte GeForce GT 1030 was 32% slower than the Zotac GeForce GTX 1050.

[nextpage title=”Gaming Performance”]

Battlefield 4

Battlefield 4 is one of the most popular games of the Battlefield franchise, being released in 2013. It is based on the Frostbite 3 engine, which is DirectX 11. In order to measure performance using this game, we walked our way through the first mission, measuring the number of frames per second (fps) three times using FRAPS. We ran this game at Full HD, setting overall image quality at “high.”

The results below are expressed in fps and they are the mean between the three collected results.

GeForce GT 1030

On Battlefield 4, the Gigabyte GeForce GT 1030 was 49% slower than the Zotac GeForce GTX 1050.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (A.K.A. CS:GO) is a very popular FPS game, launched on August 2012, using Source Engine, that is DirectX 9. We tested the performance playing on “Inferno” map against bots, in Full HD, with quality set as “high”.

The results below are expressed in fps.

GeForce GT 1030

In this game, the Gigabyte GeForce GT 1030 was 48% slower than the Zotac GeForce GTX 1050.

Dirt Rally

Dirt Rally is an off-road racing game released in April 2015, using Ego engine. To measure performance using this game, we ran the performance test included in the game, in Full HD resolution and image quality configured as “medium” and MSAA off.

The results below are expressed in fps.

GeForce GT 1030

In this game, the Gigabyte GeForce GT 1030 was 52% slower than the Zotac GeForce GTX 1050.

Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V, or simply GTA V, is a open-world action game released for PCs in April of 2015 and uses the RAGE engine. In order to measure the performance on this game, we ran the performance test of the game (the plane portion), measuring the frame rate with FRAPS. We ran GTA V at Full HD, with image quality set as “normal” and MSAA off.

The results below are expressed in frames per second.

GeForce GT 1030

On GTA V, the Gigabyte GeForce GT 1030 was 40% slower than the Zotac GeForce GTX 1050.

Hitman

Hitman is an action/stealth game, launched in March 2016, that uses a DirectX 12 compatible version of the Glacier 2 engine. To measure performance in this game, we ran the benchmark in it, measuring the framerate with FRAPS. We ran this game in Full HD, with DirectX 12 enabled, with image quality set as “medium”, and SMAA off.

The results below are expressed in fps.

GeForce GT 1030

In this game, the Gigabyte GeForce GT 1030 was 58% slower than the Zotac GeForce GTX 1050.

Mad Max

Mad Max is an open-world action game launched in September of 2015, using the Avalanche engine. In order to measure the performance using this game, we ran its intro, measuring the framerate with FRAPS three times. We ran the game at Full HD, with image quality set as “normal”.

The results below are expressed in fps and they are the mean between the three collected results.

GeForce GT 1030

On Mad Max, the Gigabyte GeForce GT 1030 was 48% slower than the Zotac GeForce GTX 1050.

Overwatch

Overwatch is a mutiplayer FPS game lanched in May 2016, using a custom engine. In order to measure the performance using this game, we play a quick match, measuring the framerate with FRAPS three times. We ran the game at Full HD, with image quality set as “high”.

The results below are expressed in fps.

GeForce GT 1030

In Overwatch, the Gigabyte GeForce GT 1030 was 23% slower than the Zotac GeForce GTX 1050.

Rainbow Six Siege

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege is a tactical FPS game launched in December of 2015, based on AnvilNext engine. In order to measure the performance using this game, we ran the benchmark included on it, using Full HD resolution and graphics quality set to “medium”.

The results below are expressed in frames per second.

GeForce GT 1030

On Rise of the Tomb Rider, the Gigabyte GeForce GT 1030 was 47% slower than the Zotac GeForce GTX 1050.

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]

The first thing to keep in mind is that the GeForce GT 1030 is not a gaming video card, as its does not carry the “GeForce GTX” denomination. It is aimed on desktop computers where GPU performance is not essential, but need an independent video card, usually because the CPU does no bring integrated video.

Anyway, we proposed to answer the first question: can the GeForce GT 1030 be used for casual gaming? The answer is “in most cases, yes”. Our tests proved it offers enough performance to play games that are not too demanding, like E-sports titles, or even some premium games, in low resolution and overall quality.

The second question was if the GT 1030 can offer a good price/performance ratio for casual gaming. Here, the answer is a big “no”. It costs a little less than the GeForce GTX 1050, and offered about half the performance.

So, if you are planning to buy an inexpensive video card for casual gaming, forget about the GT 1030 and spend some more bucks, buying a GeForce GTX 1050 card or a similar competitor model.

On the other hand, the GeForce GT 1030 has two advantages: its small size and its low power consumption. So, if you need a video card for a computer that will not require high GPU performance, the GeForce GT 1030 is a good choice.

The tested model, from Gigabyte, has another advantage: it is compatible with “slim” cases, that not support regular size video cards, and it also uses only one slot.