Getting a graphics card throughout 2020 was nothing short of impossible due to the huge demand for PC hardware and the lack of chip supply. This continued throughout early 2021 and it is expected to last longer than originally thought.
However, if you are not interested in high-end gaming, this wave of shortage won’t be a cause for an issue because you’re probably looking for something in the low-end GPU price bracket. Specifically, low profile graphics cards.
These tiny GPUs are a great option because of the almost silent running, inexpensive price tag, and low power draw.
If you are not certain which one you should get, here’s a list of some of the best low-profile graphics cards.
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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? Well, it could mean several things, but the most important factor for something low profile should be the noise. And the quietest graphics card you can get is the one that doesn’t have fans at all. A card that relies only on a heatsink.
If that is what you are looking for then get yourself EVGA’s GeForce GT 1030 SC. It is a dual-slot GPU, but still tiny compared to any other “normal card”.
Even with just a heatsink, it manages to maintain the temperature just enough to prevent heavy throttling. Temperatures may rise to 83 degrees Celsius, but if you have solid airflow in your case, it’s not going to 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 as the best low profile GPU since it is single-slot, it has only one fan and 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 big flaw with ZOTAC’s card. The single fan creates a loud high-pitch noise that can get quickly get unbearable. Low-profile cards are supposed to be quiet. So, if you want a silent PC, this might not be the GPU you are looking for.
Nevertheless, it’s a good card if noise is not a factor you are worried 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 towards the lowest possible power consumption. There are some models out there that (try to) stick to the form factor while trying 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 of the plastic shroud equipped with two fans, but the performance gap between this and a GT 1030 is huge, especially since it has 2GB more VRAM.
The gaming performance of this GTX 1650 is comparable to Pascal’s GTX 1060 performance and that one can deliver 1080p@60FPS at high-quality settings. Impressive.
Still, if you are not planning to do any serious gaming on your PC, this 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 substantially old, but it’s still in production because of its low-profile form factor and incredibly low power consumption. Perfect for office computers and for just any basic video output. You could probably grab it for less than $50.
Of course, since this is such an old card, it’s rocking 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 than 4K@30Hz surfing.
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 indeed it does.
With 175mm in length, 110mm in height, and 40mm in width, it should fit in 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 need a GPU to handle the most basic tasks, but also do a bit of gaming now and then, this ITX RX 5600 XT is the way to go. With clocks speeds boosting up to 1650 MHz, you can easily game at 1080p@60FPS. You may 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?
By narrowing down the options to just 4 cards still, that still won’t make your choice easy. So, which one of these four should you get?
Well, your answer should depend on what 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 the Budget Pick.It’s one of the cheapest GPUs on the market, offers incredibly low power consumption and it 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.