Getting hold of a graphics card throughout 2020 was almost impossible due to the increased demand for PC hardware and the lack of chip supply. This continued throughout early 2021 and is expected to last longer than originally thought.
However, if you aren’t interested in high-end gaming, this shortage likely won’t be an issue as you are probably looking for something in the low-end GPU price range. Specifically, low profile graphics cards.
These tiny GPUs are a great option because of their almost silent running, inexpensive price tag, and low power draw.
If you are unsure which one you should get, we have compiled a list of some of the best low-profile graphics cards.
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MSI AMD Radeon RX 6400 Aero ITX
• Core clocks – 2321MHz (Boost)
• Interface: 1 x HDMI, 1 x DisplayPort
• VRAM: 4GB GDDR6
• Power Consumption: 53W
• Dimensions: L: 172mm H: 112mm W: 39mm
- One of the best single slot LP GPUs for gaming
- Single slot
- Needs PCIe 4.0 to reach its full potential
Like most other LP GPUs, this MSI RX 6400 Aero ITX is not really worth the money when compared to other full-size GPUs.
However, we’re here to look at LP GPUs specifically, and when we compare the RX 6400 with other competitors in this category, this AMD GPU might be the fastest LP card for gaming available right now.
This GPU has a TDP of 53W, so naturally, it comes with active cooling. The one fan helps this card stay around 70-degree Celsius while RPM stays around 1700 and noise levels at 26 dBA.
Here are Hardware Unboxed’s temperature numbers of PowerColor’s RX 6400.
As you can see, MSI’s thermals and acoustics are considerably better.
Performance-wise, the RX 6400 is comparable to a full-size GTX 1650, the RX 6500 XT, and the RX 570. But, you can get this kind of performance only if you pair the card with a PCIe 4.0 motherboard. Otherwise, FPS will tank.
In conclusion, MSI’s RX 6400 has its drawbacks like the 4GB of VRAM and worse performance with PCIe 3, but, it’s a great low-profile, single-slot GPU with enough power to handle most of today’s games.
EVGA GeForce GT 1030 SC Passive
• Boost core clock – 1544 MHz
• Interface: 1 x DVI-D, 1 x HDMI
• Total Power Draw – 30 W
• Dimensions – L: 169mm H: 68.8mm W: Dual-slot
- Passive cooling
- Minimal throttling during heavy loads
- It is a dual-slot card
What does it mean to have a low profile card? It could mean several different things, but the most important attribute of something low profile should be the lack of noise. The quietest graphics card you can get is one that doesn’t have any fans at all, one that relies on a heatsink alone.
If that is what you’re looking for, you should get EVGA’s GeForce GT 1030 SC. It is a dual-slot GPU, but still tiny compared to almost any other “normal card”.
Even with just a heatsink, it manages to maintain the temperature well enough to prevent heavy throttling. Temperatures may rise to 83 degrees Celsius but, if you have solid airflow in your case, this won’t be a problem.
ZOTAC GeForce GT 1030 Low Profile
• Boost core clock – 1468 MHz
• Interface: 1 x VGA, 1 x HDMI 2.0b
• Total Power Draw: 30W
• Dimensions: L: 172mm H: 111mm W: Single-slot
- The fan keeps thermals stable during light gaming
- High-pitched fan noise
ZOTAC’s GeForce GT 1030 is another great contender for the best low-profile GPU as it is single-slot, has only one fan, and has that same 30W power draw.
Based on user reviews, this GT 1030 is a great card that can deliver 4K@60Hz video output and most people are satisfied with how it handles its temperatures.
Unfortunately, there is one major flaw with ZOTAC’s card. The single fan creates a loud high-pitched noise that can get quickly become unbearable. Low-profile cards are supposed to be quiet. If you want a silent PC, this might not be the right GPU for you.
Even so, it’s a good card if noise is not a factor you are concerned about.
MSI GeForce GTX 1650 4GT LP OC
• Boost core clock – 1695 MHz
• Interface: 1 x DVI, 1 x HDMI 2.0b
• VRAM: 4GB GDDR5
• Total Power Draw: 75W
• Dimensions: L: 168mm H: 105mm W: 37mm (default bracket)
• L: 168mm H: 69mm W: 37mm (low profile bracket)
- 4GB of VRAM
- Substantial gaming performance for an LP card
- It is dual-slot
Not every low-profile GPU is aimed at the lowest possible power consumption. There are some models out there that (try to) adhere to the form factor while attempting to deliver mid-end or even high-end gaming performance.
Take, for example, MSI’s GeForce GTX 1650 4GT LP OC. It may be a dual-slot card because the plastic shroud is equipped with two fans, but the performance gap between this and a GT 1030 is huge, especially as it has 2GB more VRAM.
The gaming performance of this GTX 1650 is comparable to Pascal’s GTX 1060 and that one can deliver 1080p@60FPS at high-quality settings. Impressive!
Still, if you aren’t planning to do any serious gaming on your PC, this probably isn’t the card for you. Look for something smaller and with lower power consumption.
MSI GT 710 2GD3H LP
• Core clocks – 954 MHz
• Interface: 1 x DVI-D, 1 x HDMI 1.4, D-Sub
• VRAM: 2GB GDDR3
• Total Power Draw: 19W
• Dimensions: L: 146mm H: 69mm W: 19mm
- Only 19W power consumption
- Single-slot with passive cooling
- Outdated architecture with GDDR3 memory
The GT 710 is a card that dates back to 2014. It is getting older but is still in production because of its low-profile form factor and incredibly low power consumption. This is perfect for office computers and for any basic video output. You could probably grab one for less than $50.
As this is such an old card, it has GDDR3 memory which is significantly slower than today’s GDDR5 or GDDR6. You won’t be able to do much gaming on this GPU or anything more intensive than 4K@30Hz browsing.
PowerColor Radeon RX 5600 XT ITX 6GB
• Core clocks – 1620 MHz (Boost)
• Interface: 1 x HDMI, 2 x DisplayPort
• VRAM: 6GB GDDR6
• Total Power Draw: 190W
• Dimensions: L: 175mm H: 110mm W: 40mm
PowerColor’s RX 5600 XT ITX might seem like it doesn’t fit into this low-profile category based on its specifications, but it does.
At 175mm in length, 110mm in height, and 40mm in width, it should fit into most, if not all, ITX cases. The power draw is also much higher than some of the other picks on this article, but the performance is on another level.
If you want a GPU to handle basic tasks but also want to do some gaming now and then, this ITX RX 5600 XT is the way to go. With clock speeds boosting up to 1650 MHz, you can easily game at 1080p@60FPS. You might even go higher than that in competitive titles.
Of course, it also comes with a heftier price tag. This card can cost you anywhere between $250 and $300 USD. Keep that in mind.
Which Low Profile Graphics Card Should You Get?
Even when narrowing down the options to just 4 cards, this still won’t be an easy choice. So, which one of these four should you get?
Well, your answer will depend on what exactly you need.
The MSI GeForce GTX 1650 4GT LP OC gets our Premium Pick treatment. It provides the best performance for a low-profile GPU, even though it is a dual-slot card. It also pulls 75W of power compared to the 30W (or less) GPUs on this list.
MSI’s GT 710 2GD3H LP is our Budget Pick. It’s one of the cheapest GPUs on the market, offers incredibly low power consumption, and is fine for basic video output.
ZOTAC’s and EVGA’s GT 1030 are great alternatives, but keep in mind that the EVGA is dual-slot while the ZOTAC has a known flaw of a whiny fan.