The Nvidia GeForce GT 1030 is the lastest generation entry-level card. Based on the Pascal-generation, it is a very efficient GPU that will find its way to many HTPCs. For users of such systems the wait until the release of a new low-profile card was long .
While the card will end up in a HTPC with many users, we made the comparison with the AMD RX 550in this review. In terms of price these cards are very close: the RX 550 can be purchased from about 80 pounds / 90 euros, while the GT 1030 starts at about 67 pounds / 75 euros. In the benchmarks we see that the RX 550 is usually faster. Considering the specifications of that card in comparison with those of the GT 1030 this should not come as a surprise. If you are looking for an entry-level card that also allows you to play some video games, the RX 550 seems to be the more obvious choice.
However, this does not complete the conclusion of the GT 1030. While the price-performance ratio of the RX 550 is slightly better, the specific purpose of the GT 1030 is what brings nuance to the story. Of the RX 550 are, as with the GT 1030, single slot-versions as well as low-profile-versions available, but not a combination of both. With the GT 1030 this is the case. For those that have little room in a HTPC both in terms of height and width, the GT 1030 could be suited. An added advantage is the fact that the limited TDP of 30 watt is not very demanding for the ventilation of such a small case. However, if you have slightly more room in your computer case and would like to play a game every once in a while the RX 550 remains the better option.
Of the four tested models the MSI GeForce GT 1030 Passive LP OC 2GB is the quietest and after the Inno3D card the most efficient (the difference is too small to be significant), but it does get rather hot under load. The passive Gigabyte card consumes slightly more power and produces a bit more noise under load, presumably due to coil whine, but what we measured is practically not audible for humans, especially not at a distance in a case. The main disadvantage of this card is the fact that the heatsink requires enough room next to the card - maybe not an entire slot, but in cases that only offer a single slot the cover should not be directly next to it. In terms of performance the passive Gigabyte card performs comparable to the MSI card, and you do not purchase a card in this class for its performance anyway. Considering it is slightly cheaper than the MSI model, we prefer the Gigabyte card. The Inno3D card is slightly cheaper, and barely the most efficient, but produces a lot more noise under load compared with the Gigabyte card while the temperature rises even further. Because of the limited price difference we would still choose the model that costs slightly more.