It’s not often that we get to do a fleshed out graphics card review. Generally, by the time any new graphics card arrives at our sunny shores, its performance is well documented by quite a number of reputed international sites which will offer anyone interested a good idea of what to expect. The GT 1030, however, was a bit different. Most major publications deemed the card not worthy of their attention, giving its release a side note at best.
No reviews or fanfare, and we were told that cards would be on shelves in a week. We directed an inquiry towards the local Nvidia representative and were told to expect ‘faster than GTX 750 performance’. At an indicated price of just over $70 (Rs 14,000 locally) – this we had to see.
What we have on our test bench today is a Geforce GT 1030 2GB GDDR5 from Palit Microsystems. The box doesn’t offer too much detail regarding the capabilities of the product inside, and the tiny half height card with a tiny 40mm fan doesn’t scream performance.
The GT 1030 is based off the same Pascal architecture that powers the rest of the Geforce 10-series graphics card family. Keeping this in mind, the GT 1030 should punch well above what its specifications suggest.
|Model||GT 730||GT 740||GTX 750||GT 1030||GTX 1050|
|Base Clock||993 Mhz||993 Mhz||1020 Mhz||1227 Mhz||1354 Mhz|
|Boost Clock||N/A||N/A||1085 Mhz||1468 Mhz||1455 Mhz|
|Memory Clock||5000 Mhz||5000 Mhz||5000 Mhz||6000 Mhz||7000 Mhz|
|Memory Capacity||2GB GDDR5||2GB GDDR5||2GB GDDR5||2GB GDDR5||2GB GDDR5|
|Memory Bandwidth||40 GB/sec||80 GB/sec||80 GB/sec||48 GB/sec||112 GB/sec|
|Price||Rs 10,000||Rs 15,000||Rs 18,000||Rs 14,000||Rs 22,000|
If someone looked at the specs and jumped to a conclusion, they would tell you that the GT 1030 would perform somewhere in between a GT 730 and a GT 740. This is where the real world testing comes to play.
How we tested
Instead of putting these cards on a super high end test bench which is usually the case, we’ll be testing them on hardware that a potential buyer is more likely to use with a Rs 14,000 graphics card.
- Intel Core i3 7100
- Gigabyte B250-HD3
- Kingston Hyper X 8GB DDR4 2400Mhz
- Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200RPM
- Corsair VS450
Each of the games in our suite were first run on the GT 1030 and settings were adjusted so that the game was playable. Then the remaining cards were tested using the same settings. Built in benchmarks were used where applicable, and a 120 second benchmark run using Fraps was used for the rest. All games were tested at a 1920×1080 resolution with AA turned off, and using the latest available drivers from Nvidia.
We’ll be pitching the GT 1030 against the GT 740 – which is the closest older generation card in price, the GTX 1050, the next step up in the Pascal family and the old favorites – the GTX 750 and GTX 750Ti.
Witcher 3 proved to be the most demanding game out of our test suite, needing to dropped to High overall setting and Medium post processing with AA and Hairworks turned off to be playable.
For a game that looks so good, this game ran surprisingly well on our GT 1030 – tipping an average 30 FPS on the High preset. If you want to get into multiplayer action though, we’d recommend dropping to Medium settings for a more stable 40+ FPS experience.
The GT 1030 manages to pull off an impressive 50 FPS average on everyone’s favourite multiplayer shooter. On the settings I usually play competitively (everything medium with a bit of the eye candy turned off), we managed a solid 80+ FPS, making this a great budget option if you want to get in on the action.
Grand Theft Auto V
“Can it run GTA V?” is the Sri Lankan equivalent of “can it run Crysis?”. For the heck of it, we cranked up every slider to the right (except AA – who needs AA), turned everything to max settings (which warned us with an indicated 3380+ MB of VRAM usage) and ran the benchmark. Well, we weren’t disappointed.
We needed a fast moving racing game with good visuals and fast changing terrain that also had a fairly accurate physics engine, so Dirt Rally was our go to choice. The GT 1030 fared pretty solidly, returning playable framerates even with 4x MSAA at the highest preset. We left AA off the benchmarks for the sake of consistency.
Far Cry Primal
The last addition to the Far Cry franchise has proven to be pretty demanding to run. Our GT 1030 returned a respectable 29 FPS average at the high preset which.
Overclocking, Temperatures and Power
What would a graphics card review be without a bit of overclocking? Since the GT 1030 with its tiny cooler averaged an impressive 53C during our test run, we decided to see if there was anything left on the silicon we could make use of. After some tweaking, we settled on a +100Mhz core clock and a +250Mhz memory clock, resulting in a 4-5% performance increase on average. Even after the overclock, temperatures stayed at a pretty low 57C. As is the norm with cards in this market segment, the GT 1030 draws very little power. An average power draw of 30W is only slightly higher than a GT 730 and almost half that of a GTX 750 which is its nearest competitor in terms of performance.
We are thoroughly impressed by the level of performance that this little card offers, matching up quite well to the ‘GTX’ cards of old – specifically, the GTX 750 – at a much lower price and power requirement.
The GT 1030 comes up just 3% short of a GTX 750 on average, and is a staggering 50% faster than the outgoing GT 740 which used to sell at a similar price.
We would recommend this card for it’s impressive performance at just Rs 14,000 as a great option for a budget gaming PC if you’re planning to build one from scratch for around Rs 60,000 or lower, or as a viable upgrade for anyone using a GT 740, GT 730, GTX 650 or slower graphics cards.