It’s been a while since NVIDIA had anything new in the low-end markets, and it’s high time that they moved away from the old Fermi and Kepler-based cards that are still kicking around. The new GeForce GT 1030 won’t replace the cheapest cards available today, but it is set to do battle with AMD’s Radeon RX 550 and offer replacements for the ageing GT 600 family. MSI South Africa told us that these cards are ready for purchase locally, and more cards from other vendors will surely follow. Hit the jump for more.

NVIDIA GeForce GT 1030 hardware comparison

GTX 1050 2GB Radeon RX 550 GT 1030 2GB GT 740A 2GB Radeon R7 250
Shader cores 640 512 384 384 384
Peak throughput (FLOPS) 1.7 TFLOPS 1.2 TFLOPS 0.94 TFLOPS 0.75 TFLOPS 0.8 TFLOPS
Base clock speed 1354MHz 1100MHz 1227MHz 980MHz 1000MHz
Boost clock speed 1455MHz 1183MHz 1468MHz 1050MHz
Texture units 40 32 24 16 24
Raster Operator units 32 16 8 8 8
Memory bus width 128-bit 128-bit 64-bit 64-bit 128-bit
VRAM size 2GB 2GB 2GB 2GB 2GB
Memory bandwidth 112.1GB/s 112GB/s 48.1GB/s 14.4GB/s 73.6GB/s
Memory type GDDR5 GDDR5 GDDR5 DDR3 DDR3 or GDDR5
Thermal design power (TDP) 75W 65W 30W 33W 65W
Auxiliary power required Yes No No No Yes (GDDR5 only)
Launch price $109 $79 $79 N/A $89

The GT 1030 fits nicely into NVIDIA’s stable, with no competition from older cards in previous lineups. The GT 740 and GT 730 graphics cards are long gone, and the Radeon R7 250 no longer features on store shelves. At $79, NVIDIA only has the Radeon RX 550 to worry about, though the extra hardware at the RX 550’s disposal might give it the edge in games with modern engines. At launch, NVIDIA’s partners like MSI will have single-slot, half-height, and ITX-sized options available with active cooling.

NVIDIA is positioning the GT 1030 not just as the competitor to the RX 550, but as a replacement for discrete graphics cards in small-form-factor machines, as well as a much-needed upgrade for users looking to replace their old GTX 550 or GT 650 graphics cards purchased years back. With a 30W power draw, it’ll run just fine with passive cooling and a minimal amount of airflow. If you’re thinking of building a cheap gaming box for LANs or for a young kid just starting out with games, a passive GT 1030 is not a bad way to go.

All of the GT 1030 cards from MSI are overclockable through Afterburner, and the actively cooled cards will turn off their fans when the GPU is in idle mode. Display outputs range from a single HDMI 2.0 port with DVI-D, to HDMI 2.o and Displayport 1.4, with HDCP 2.2 support. However, while HDCP 2.2 is in place, NVIDIA recommends the GTX 1050 to decode H.265 UltraHD 4K content in a home theatre PC (HTPC) for now, so using this card for a media centre may be a little tricky while driver support and the Windows software that supports this is tested. 1080p streaming and decode will work right out of the box though.

Games-wise, pretty much anything will be playable on the GT 1030, from esports titles like DOTA 2 and CS: GO, to AAA experiences like Grand Theft Auto V and Prey. Some games will require a drop to 720p to keep the game’s memory requirements within the frame buffer, but performance should be right around the 60fps mark for slightly older titles.

MSI’s GT 1030 series is available starting today from Rebel Tech and Evetech.