Best Low Profile Graphics Cards In 2020: For SFF & ITX PC Builds
Technological improvements have continuously helped scale down hardware to provide greater power in a device which is a fraction of the size of its predecessors. One such piece of hardware where this is a popular occurrence is low profile graphics cards.
Low profile graphic cards are graphic cards which have a smaller form factor compared to their full-size counterparts. These cards have a shorter PCB, lower height and lesser thickness compared to standard graphic cards. They have a number of advantages over larger graphic cards. They consume less power, have greater value for money and are usually less expensive. They can fit in any case and can be used for small form factor cases as well as Home Theatre PCs (HTPCs).
Although these cards don’t offer top-tier performance, they run much better than integrated graphics and help users watch high quality videos and play older, less graphically demanding games. Since there are quite a few low profile graphic cards out there, it can be difficult to sort through all of their specifications and try to find the one that fits your needs perfectly.
Therefore, we’ve decided to compile this list of the best low profile graphics cards available to help you make your purchase decision. We’ve discussed their specifications, value for money and why you should buy them so users can make an informed, smart choice.
Introduced in 2019, the first graphics card on our list is also the most powerful that we’ve included in this list. The MSI GTX 1650 low profile graphics card is one of the best choices a user can make when getting a high end, low profile graphics card. It has one of the best performance combined with a great design which keeps the card cool and operating at high usage. It’s a big upgrade over the 1050, giving up to 70% more performance on the latest games. Any user can run the latest AAA games with ease on 1080p resolution.
The 1650 has 4GB of DDR5 memory which provides enough VRAM to run games with high texture quality and graphical processing requirements. Its core clock of 1695 MHz combined with the 8 GHz memory clock make it one of the fastest low profile graphics cards available. It comes over-clocked out of the box to provide maximum performance, which it delivers with ease. It has 896 CUDA cores which makes it about 25% faster than the 1050ti, making it a good upgrade choice even if you own its predecessor.
In terms of design, the 1650 has all you could ask for from a low profile, high performance graphics card. Its dual fal setup keeps it cool even when it’s being used at high capacity, running high quality games or even rendering. Most users looking for a low profile graphics card have low space since they’re likely using a small casing, thus cooling is a key factor, especially for low profile GPUs. These fans cover the heat sink efficiently and provide a proper cooling solution which eliminates the need of an external fan or cooler. It has a decent number of outputs that can accommodate all the needs of an average user with great ease.
Since the MSI GTX 1650 fulfills all the requirements needed from a high end, low profile graphics card, it comes as no surprise that it’s slightly expensive. However, the value for money users get is amazing due to its fast, high quality performance. The design is flawless for a low profile graphics card and checks all boxes.
So if you’re an avid gamer, graphic designer or video editor and want go get a low profile graphics card with the best performance, the 1650 is our editor’s pick. All you have to do is bear its slightly expensive price and you can equip your compact system with a powerful graphics card.
Coming in as close second on this list is the MSI GTX 1050 TI. This graphic card has long been the go-to for users who want a premium, high end graphic card which gives great value for money and can run the latest games at 1080p with a low profile form factor which can fit in small cases and HTPCs. The 1050 TI does all of this while providing great value for money. It has fast performance and a great design with tons of connectivity options making it accessible for all kinds of users and applications.
The GTX 1050ti has been coveted as the best budget card for high end gaming. However, in regards to low profile graphic cards, it’s right up there as one of the best performing graphics cards. It has 4GB of DDR5 memory, running with a memory clock of 7008 MHz and a core clock of 1392 MHz. This gives it high performance and enables the card to belch out high frames per second even on AAA games at 1080p resolution with consistency. It’s about 50% faster than the GTX 950 so if you’re a user looking to upgrade your graphics card, this might be your best option.
The power consumption of the low profile version is quite meagre and leads to an overall cooler graphics card. Even if users run it at high usage, the card has dual fans which make it extremely easy for it to stay cool even in hot conditions while running graphically heavy games. The heat sink cools off quickly and enables the performance to remain consistently high. Purchasing the 1050 ti is a future proof investment since it will easily run the latest games at decent settings for the next couple of years.
Overall, the MSI 1050 ti is a great choice for gamers who want a high performing, low profile graphics card which gives great value for money. It has enough VRAM and core clock to be able to run the latest games with more than playable frames per second.
The MSI Radeon RX 550 is one of AMD’s budget graphics cards. It’s also one of the best budget GPUs for users who want a low profile graphics card. It provides the best value for money in its class and is an easy recommendation for anyone who wants a decent performing graphics card which can run mid-tier games without much lag. Even though it’s quite powerful for its price, users shouldn’t expect it to run AAA titles with 60 fps on 1080p resolution for obvious reasons.
In matters of performance, the RX 550 is no slacker in its price class. It comes with 4GB of DDR5 memory and a 128-bit bus width. The 1203 MHz core clock and 6000 MHz memory clock provides decent performance in most games with average frames per second. Users will be hard pressed to find similar performance at this price.
Even though the RX 550 is a budget graphics card, it has a good dual fan design which keeps the card cool. The temperatures don’t rise above safe levels even when the card is running at 100% usage for an extended period during rendering or high-end games. It has extensive connectivity options and a low power consumption rated at 50 Watts only, which grants users ease when setting the graphic card up since they don’t have to worry about buying an expensive power supply.
All in all, the MSI RX 550 is a great budget option for those who don’t mind running an AMD card. With low power consumption and overall greater efficiency, it can run even on a 400W PSU. It has the best performance at its price point and comes with a reliable, dual fan design which keeps the GPU cool and prevents heating issues, which most users are concerned about when buying a budget AMD card.
If you’re a user who just watches videos and movies and runs basic programs and low-end, simple games, it’s unlikely you need a card that costs above a hundred dollars and can run at high clock speeds producing great graphical performance. You can simply make do with an entry level like the ZOTAC GT 1030. It has the entry level performance at a fraction of the price of an average graphics card. Since it’s a recent GPU, it will likely last you a few years without running into any issues and becoming outdated.
The GT 1030 is the entry level card, the first in the 1000 series from Nvidia. It fulfills the basic needs of a user, which include watching videos, browsing the internet, running low end games which don’t require a lot of graphical processing. It has a 2GB DDR5 memory running on a 64-bit memory bus width. Its core clock is boosted to 1468 out of the box, which provides ample performance to run two displays or play HD videos on your screen. It can even run old, low-spec games without lag.
However, if you’re an average joe who plays some recent games from time to time, you’ll face low frames per second in most games and have an overall unpleasant experience.
The card is low-spec and has minimal power requirements, which is why it is powered only by the PCI-e and doesn’t require a seperate connection from the PSU. Low power consumption also means that the graphic card stays cool and does not heat up, which makes having a single fan only not that big a deal. However, one drawback is that it only has one HDMI and one DVI port which makes it quite limiting in its applications.
To summarize, the GT 1030 does the minimum it needs to do so it can provide a decent browsing experience and enable the user to watch HD videos on their setup. It has low performance, limited connectivity options and a single fan design which requires no external power supply. It is, however, quite inexpensive and can be set up in a small casing without any issues. Thus, it’s our recommendation as the daily driver budget GPU for the basic needs of an average user.
To conclude this list we’ve decided to include the cheapest low profile GPU that could be serviceable for the most basic needs such as powering a display to watch videos in HD, watch movies and enjoy shows, and run web-based games without lag. So, the Gigabyte GT 710 is the final inclusion in our list. This extremely cheap low profile graphics card is available under 50 dollars, which is as cheap a card you can get. It doesn’t have a flashy design or good performance, but it’s serviceable for basic usage.
The 710 is the least powerful GPU in this list by far. It has a 2 GB DDR5 memory which is surprisingly good at this price point, since it’s not DDR3. It has a meagre core clock of 954 MHz and a 5010 MHz memory clock. This enables users to run videos in HD without any issues. The graphics card doesn’t require any external power and can run on the PCI-e only. It has extremely low power consumption since it has a small single fan to cool it.
Users should expect low frame rates even in low-end games, and stay clear of any games released over the past few years since the GPU will most definitely not be able to run them. The card does only have a couple of connectivity options which include DVI and HDMI ports only, making it limiting for accessibility.
In conclusion, the GT 710 is the most basic low profile graphics card you can get. It’s dirt cheap and is easily available. You can use it to power your PCs display and watch videos at 1080p resolution with ease. However, anything beyond that and your GPU will be unable to support it. It can barely run low end games and should definitely not be purchased for its performance in games. It’s a simple, low profile, cheap graphics card which can be used for office work or to watch videos and shows without fuss and stuttering.