NVIDIA has not updated its solutions in the ultra-budget segment for a long time. Such graphics cards are not at the forefront of progress, but can become the mainstay for ultra-compact PCs. Also, super-budget GPUs are often used in mainstream laptops. Therefore, the GeForce GT 1030 video card appeared, which will replace the GeForce GT 730 and revive the market in the lower price segment. We will talk about the features of the novelty and its gaming capabilities in this article.
GeForce GT 1030
The new GP108 processor has become the most compact chip in the Pascal family. It combines all the features of the new architecture, but has only one GPC cluster, which operates with 384 stream processors, 24 texture units and 16 render units. Two 32-bit memory controllers are active, which provides data exchange over a 64-bit bus. Not a lot, but the Pascal architecture implements the most efficient data transfer by compressing color data. Complements the high-performance bus with high-speed GDDR5 memory.
The novelty resembles the GeForce GT 730. The configuration of the GP108 processor is as close as possible to the GK208, although the number of texture units and ROP has changed. An important advantage will provide an increase in frequencies. The GeForce GT 1030 supports Boost technology, with a base value of 1227 MHz and an average Boost Clock of 1468 MHz. Based on the experience of other NVIDIA video cards, it can be assumed that under a gaming load, Boost will be higher than the declared average value. Compare this to the fixed 902 MHz of the GeForce GT 730 — the difference is enormous. At a minimum, up to 63% advantage in the core frequency of the new video card is obtained. Both cards have a 64-bit bus, but in the GeForce GT 1030, the GDDR5 memory chips operate at 6000 MHz instead of 5000 MHz in the GeForce GT 730. At the same time, the old model was also produced in modifications with DDR3, where the frequencies are much lower. From our comparative testing of different variants of the GeForce GT 730, it can be seen that the memory greatly affects the final performance. GeForce GT 1030 will only see the light of day in combination with GDDR5, there will be no slower options.
The GP108 processor is manufactured using a progressive 14nm process technology, which is also used for video cards of the GeForce GTX 1050 series. Therefore, with a significant increase in frequencies, we managed to keep the TDP within 30 W, and there are many passively cooled GeForce GT 1030 on the market. Among the nuances, it is worth noting the support for PCI-E 3.0 in 4x mode. We saw a similar limitation with the Radeon RX 560.
For clarity, we present the characteristics of the GeForce GT 1030 and GeForce GT 730 in one table. At the same time, let’s add data on the next video adapter in the NVIDIA hierarchy — GeForce GTX 1050.
|GeForce GTX 1050
|GeForce GT 1030
|GeForce GT 730
|Number of transistors, million pieces
|Process technology, nm
|Core area, sq. mm
|Number of stream processors
|Number of texture blocks
|Number of render units
|Core frequency, MHz
|Memory bus, bit
|Memory frequency, MHz
|Memory size, MB
|Supported version of DirectX
|PCI-E 3.0 (4x)
The GeForce GTX 1050 noticeably outperforms the GeForce GT 1030 in terms of the number of computing units, plus a 128-bit bus and higher frequencies. It is immediately clear that these are solutions from different categories, between which there will be a clear gap. The GeForce GT 1030 can safely be called an accelerated version of the GeForce GT 730. However, this acceleration is so great that it is categorically unattainable for an old video adapter. The GeForce GT 1030 is head and shoulders above the GeForce GT 730, and NVIDIA even compares the new product with the GeForce GTX 750. How fair this is, we will find out from the results of our testing. But first, let’s get acquainted with the live representatives of the new series using the ASUS graphics accelerator as an example.
ASUS GeForce GT 1030 2GB Phoenix Fan OC Edition
The hero of the review will be a video adapter with a long name, which indicates the new ASUS Phoenix cooling and the presence of factory overclocking. This model is marked as ASUS PH-GT1030-O2G.
Supplied in a small box. Accessory set is limited to software disc.
The video card is full-format and is covered with a two-slot cooler with a streamlined casing. Total length about 18 cm.
There is a fan in the center of the cooler. Even with an external examination, one can note the presence of a simple aluminum radiator without heat pipes.
The printed circuit board is made on blue textolite. One of the fixing screws on the cooler is traditionally protected by a warranty seal.
ASUS has only two image output connectors: HDMI and DVI-D. This is a standard set of interfaces for the GeForce GT 1030, which will allow you to connect video cards to any current monitor. Although an additional DiplayPort would not hurt.
When dismantling the cooling system, a curious structural element is found — a round plate at the bottom, around the contact zone with the chip. Such a «visor» does not allow blowing the board directly under the heatsink. It is probably used to create lateral flows and better airflow to the elements of the power unit.
The round radiant radiator is made of solid aluminum with an additional powerful core in the center. The design can be called typical, such heatsinks are used in many budget video cards. The radiator is blown with an Everflow R128015DU fan of size 80 mm (the impeller diameter is slightly smaller).
Against the background of the board, the cooling system without a casing seems more compact than it looks initially. But for a chip with a TDP of 30 W, this is quite enough.
The board itself is simple in design. GPU power is single-phase, as is memory power. All this could be arranged in a smaller area. It is no coincidence that there are many low-profile GeForce GT 1030s on sale from different manufacturers.
Full marking of the graphic chip GP108-300-A1. Two gigabytes of memory are provided by two Micron 6XA47 D9SXD chips.
The operating frequencies of the processor are higher than recommended. The base frequency is 1253 MHz with a Boost Clock of 1506 MHz, the memory operates at an effective value of 6000 MHz.
As expected, the average Boost frequency turned out to be higher than the declared Boost Clock level. In games, the video card worked at a frequency of about 1700 MHz with small bursts and downward deviations. Peak values up to 1785 MHz. When operating on an open bench with a temperature of 25-26 °C indoors, the core heating in game mode was 47-48 °C. The fan spins only 1200 rpm, creating minimal noise. This is illustrated below with a screenshot of monitoring parameters during testing of Tom Clancy’s The Division.
To test the stock version of the GeForce GT 1030, we lowered the base frequency even below the recommended level to bring the average Boost frequency down to around 1671 MHz (peak 1721 MHz).
Is it possible to squeeze more out of a video card than it offers at factory frequencies? Acceleration will answer this. The main limiter is the blocked power limit, and even at nominal value we observe how power consumption reaches 100%. This factor will limit the growth of Boost frequencies, and under a heavy load with an increased base value, Boost can roll back to values close to the initial level. Similar limitations have many GeForce GTX 1050 and the simplest versions of the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti.
As a result of our experiments with overclocking, we settled on a base value of 1470 MHz when overclocking the memory to 8000 MHz.
The average Boost frequency was about 1835 MHz, and was maintained at this level even in the heaviest games. In simpler games, the frequency could approach 1850-1860 MHz, short-term peaks up to 1974 MHz. This is a small overclock relative to the initial frequencies, but it is there, and it’s not bad. On the positive side, the memory is overclocked to 8 GHz. Perhaps GDDR5 chips could work at higher frequencies, but at this point we ran into software limitations on increasing frequencies.
Raising the fan speed by 2% kept the heat at the initial level. That is, overclocking is easily implemented in quiet mode and is not associated with any discomfort.