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Video cards are essential hardware components that are a standard feature for all computers with a display. These cards – also referred to as graphics cards – come in all shapes and sizes to suit the graphics processing needs among different users.
Many computers come with basic video cards embedded with in the computer’s motherboard to help render basic video function to the computer screen. These are standard with most computers, including many of the high-end options.
At the extreme end, there are high-performance video cards designed for heavy use on computers being used for extreme gaming or other functions demanding high output from the graphics processing unit (GPU). These cards are characterized by higher processing power but are also noisy and have a tendency to get hot. Most of these cards are large and unable to fit in computers with smaller cases.
So, What’s a Low-Profile Card?
In the middle of these two classes of cards, there is another type of video card commonly referred to as low-profile video cards, which are usually smaller than high-performance cards. Most are also quieter and have lower power requirements and heat emission than high-performance options. However, many of these cards perform at a lower level, and games with demanding graphics will operate at low frame rates – if they even play at all. A good low-profile card can be hard to find, and even when you do, do not expect to play the latest games at anything above medium settings.
Still, if your computer has a small case with insufficient physical space to fit a large card or you want to enjoy the latest games on a low budget card, a low-profile video card is just what you need. These cards will fit in some of the smallest computers with relative ease. Additionally, the fact that they have minimal power requirements means you do not need to install additional cooling mechanisms such as heatsinks, water coolers or fans to your computer.
Low-profile cards perform better than many onboard or embedded cards and are therefore, a good option for most people. In today’s post, we look at some of the best low-profile video cards in the market and hope to help you skip the stress and frustration of finding one for your computer.
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Best Low-Profile Video Cards Under $50
If you’re looking for a low-profile video card under $50, check out the cards below.
Don’t expect to play games with high graphics requirements with one of these graphics cards, but if you can keep your expectations in check and you’re on a budget, these are definitely worth a look.
I recommend these cards if you’re just looking for something cheap to surf the web and watch videos, and maybe play a non-graphically demanding game like League of Legends.
1. MSI AMD Radeon R7 240
- Chipset: AMD Radeon R7 240
- Video Memory: 2 GB GDDR3
This low-profile card from MSI boasts of 2 GB of GDDR3 RAM and one HDMI port to enable dual outputs to two different displays via HDMI. In addition to the HDMI port, you can use DVI-D as an additional output option, which makes this card one of the best low-profile cards you can get.
When it comes to gaming, this will easily perform better than any other graphics card under $50, but you still shouldn’t expect anything higher than low to medium settings.
We recommend this card mostly for people who are just looking to play older MMOs on medium settings (WOW, as an example) or other games with similar graphics.
2. EVGA GeForce 8400GS
- EVGA 8400 GS has awesome features at an incredible value
- EVGA's 24/7 Technical Support
The GeForce 8400GS card is a classic device that set the standard for modern, high-performance video cards. It has eight processors, a 520 MHz GPU, and a PCI-Express interface. Though there is no support for Windows 8 and later out of the box, there are plenty of EVGA drivers that can be found online to allow you to use this on the latest OS.
So if you get this card, be prepared to install drivers. With the GeForce 8400 video card, you should expect to run most games at low settings and definitely shouldn’t expect to play any AAA titles, but for basic usage, this is a good card for the money.
3. Sapphire AMD Radeon HD 6450 Video Card
- Microsoft DirectX 11 Support
- AMD Eyefinity multi-display technology
The Sapphire AMD Radeon HD 6450 is a low-profile, PCI-Express graphics card with 1 GB of GDDR3 RAM that promises a silent gaming environment with regular PCs. The HD 6450 is an excellent replacement for most onboard graphics cards.
This card lacks the noisy fans that are standard on larger cards, using a large heatsink instead to suck away the heat. It runs quietly and consumes less power, thus making it one of the best low-profile video cards in the market.
When it comes to gaming, you should expect the HD 6450 to be able to play games with a mix of low and medium settings. We don't recommend even try playing any recent AAA titles on this, but it’s still good if gaming is an afterthought and you’re on a budget.
4. VisionTek AMD Radeon HD 5450
- The VisionTek Radeon HD 5450 Series GPUs fully support Microsoft DirectX 11
- Dolby TrueHD and DTSHD Master Audio Support: Content protected, high bandwidth, 7.1 channels
The AMD Radeon HD 5450 is another low-profile card with an AMD GPU running 1 GB of GDDR3 RAM. The simple structure and specs of the HD 5450 mean you can only do basic activities with this card, so this definitely excludes serious gaming or video editing.
However, the HD 5450 is a welcome addition to older PCs, where it helps run advanced applications that refuse to work with older versions of integrated graphics on new operating systems.
If you wish to play games on this video card, it’s probably best to stick with Indie titles or less graphically demanding games, but this card would make an excellent card for someone looking into making a PC for watching 1080p movies or streaming videos.
Best Low-Profile Video Cards Under $100
If you’re looking for some of the best low-profile cards you can get to run medium settings for most games at under $100, check out the video cards below. Each of these cards should fit into any small build, but will still pack a punch.
5. EVGA GeForce GT 1030
- Core Clock (MHertz): 1506 in OC Mode and 1468 in Gaming Mode
- Low-profile design with 150 mm card length; Power requirement: 300W
The GT 1030 is a 2 GB GDDR5 64-bit graphics card that, despite its small size, offers significant improvement in performance for small factor PCs and budget gaming computers. It also supports Direct X 12, which helps improve graphics for regular PC games.
The card is a must-have for anyone looking to upgrade from integrated graphics with a low budget.
When it comes to gaming, the 1030 will allow you to play games such as WOW or LOL with a mix of low to mediums settings, making this an excellent option for people looking to play mainstream games on a budget. You still shouldn’t expect anything crazy, but the GT 730 can undoubtedly provide a great gaming experience.
6. EVGA GeForce GT 730
- The supported OS are Windows 10/8/7/Vista/ XP. The card length is approximately 145.79
- 1 x DL DVI D. 1 x VGA. 1 x HDMI. Triple simultaneous display capable. HDCP compliant
The GeForce GT 730 is an upgraded version of the GT 710 and boasts 2 GB of GDDR5 RAM and a 128-bit GPU for improved performance. The GT 730 is suitable for regular business and home use for functions such as moderate PC gaming, video and picture editing, and computer modeling. Like the GT 710, it is an excellent replacement for standard embedded cards that perform at the basic level.
For gaming, if you have the budget, we recommend getting the 4 GB, super-clocked version of the GeForce GT 730. It will allow you to play most games on medium settings, and should even run most triple A titles with a decent fps (Frames Per Second). It also runs cool, making it an even better buy for people looking for something that won’t overheat.
Even if you do get the 2 GB version, you will still have a great gaming experience, but this is just something to think about.
7. Gigabyte GeForce GT 710
- Powered by NVIDIA GeForce GT 710 GPU
- Integrated with 2 GB GDDR5 64bit memory interface
When it comes to gaming, the GT 710 shines when running older games that require a lot less power. It struggles to play newer games, so don’t expect that type of performance with this card. However, when buying such a cheap card, you really can’t expect it to run Fallout 4 on ultra.
Another benefit of this card is that it hardly consumes any power, so you can get away with a smaller power supply, saving you more money in the long run.
The GeForce GT 710 has been touted as one of the best cards for older PCs with smaller, less powerful power supplies. This PCI-Express card is suitable for video and picture editing and some gaming even with its low-caliber DDR3 GPU. Still, it offers many advantages over integrated graphic cards on older PCs.
Best Low-Profile Video Cards Over $100
Here are our top picks:
8. Gigabyte GTX 1050 Ti OC Low-Profile Video Card
- Core Clock (MHz): 1442/1328 (boost/base) in OC mode and 1417/1303 (boost/base) in gaming mode
- Low-profile design with 167 millimeter card length
Gigabyte’s 1050 TI tops our list as an excellent low-profile graphics card. With 4 GBs of RAM, which is very difficult to get, you’re able to achieve gaming performance like never before on a video card this small.
This makes playing open world games like GTA 5 or The Witcher 3 much better.
Gigabyte’s GTX 1050 Ti is also overclocked, which cranks this GPU’s performance even more! Usually, an overclocked GPU is able to increase gaming fps by a whopping 10%! That might not sound like a huge amount, but 4-5 additional fps is the difference between lagging and not lagging.
Gigabyte’s 1050 Ti's average of 102 fps on ultra settings at 1080p is astonishing. The only con is that it’s somewhat expensive for a low-profile video card. Still, if you plan on trying to do any serious gaming, it’s going to be hard to find a low-profile video card that’s better than the 1050 Ti.
9. MSI RX 560 4GB LP OC Graphics Card
- Brand MSI, Model Radeon RX 560 4GT LP OC
- Interface PCI-Express x16 (Uses x8), Chipset Manufacturer AMD, GPU Series AMD Radeon RX 500
While the RX 560 is slightly weaker than the 1050 Ti, it’s also a bit cheaper. The RX 560 also offers both 4 GBs of VRAM and overclocking, which allow you to squeeze even more gaming performance out of the card.
In the popular game, Fortnite, the RX 560 was able to do very well at medium settings on both 1080p and 1440p, averaging over 60 fps.
This isn’t a 4k card, but hopefully, you knew that going in. Outside of the 1050 Ti, there’s really not anything that can touch this card currently on the market. The fact that it’s cheaper than Gigabyte’s video card also puts into question whether the 1050 Ti’s performance is worth the extra money.
What Low-Profile Card Do We Recommend?
Want The Best? Get The Gigabyte GTX 1050 Ti.
Despite the fact that most of these cards have minor differences in performance, the Gigabyte GTX 1050 Ti beats all other cards by a mile. It’s easily the best low-profile video card for gaming.
This card will run most modern games at medium to high settings with respectable fps averages but don’t expect to assemble an advanced gaming rig with this card.
If you’re looking for a cheaper low-profile video card under $50, then it would have to be the Radeon R7 240. Not only is it a very silent card, but it also has 2 GBs of memory while most other cards in the same price bracket only have 1 GB.
If you can afford it, spend a little more and go for the GT 1030.
However, You Might Want To Consider Getting an APU Over a Low-Profile Video Card
So far we’ve kept this discussion solely on low-profile video cards, but what if we told you there’s a way to combine your CPU and GPU into one and still get some really good gaming performance?
Well, there is!
AMD’s APUs combine both into one, and you’re able to achieve some amazing gaming numbers for a ridiculously affordable price. One APU that is just such a good value is the 2400g.
10. AMD Ryzen 5 2400G Processor with Radeon
- Built In Radeon Vega RX 11 Graphics
- 4 Cores/8 Threads Unlocked; Max Temps: 95 degree C
The 2400g is actually nearly comparable to a GT 1030 gaming wise.
2400g vs. GT 1030
The video below shows them neck and neck, but the reality is that the 2400g is a much better value buy.
Since the 2400g is able to act as both the CPU and GPU, it’s able to do so much more for much less money out of your pocket. The CPU equivalent to the 2400g is going to cost you another $120, at least, in the form of Intel’s i3-8100.
NOTE: AMD has released a newer version, the 3400g, but after looking at various benchmarks, the gaming performance increase is minimal.
We recommend saving the money and investing it into a different component.
If you’re still looking to build your PC, check out our Cheap Gaming Builds.
Getting a low-profile video card for a build that doesn’t have a lot of space, but could use the extra graphical boost is a good idea. So, if you’re looking for a good, small card, then one of the video cards on this list should meet your needs.