There are many reasons why you might want to consider a low profile graphics card for your present or future build. But the main reason, ultimately, is their ability to fit into literally any case. This makes the low profile graphics card not only versatile but space-saving as well.
Even though we don’t necessarily class the low profile graphics card as a premium hardware offering, it’s still seen its fair share of technological advancements. It’s not just top tier GPUs that get all the attention – consumers now have the option to purchase a half size GPU with all the punching power required to play AAA games titles with a decent FPS output.
With that, in today’s article, the team sits down with what we believe are the best low profile cards currently available to the consuming public. Both AMD and Nvidia feature in this best of guide, bringing their flagship low profile offerings to the table.
Which will ultimately take the top spot? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about LP GPUs.
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Our Top Picks
Best Low Profile Graphics Cards In 2021
Our best low profile graphics card; high performance, decent cooling, and enough power to play some of your favourite AAA game titles – albeit in limited resolutions and graphical settings.
MSI are no strangers to providing some of the best GPUs the market has to offer. Whilst this one isn’t the most powerful GPU out there, it is one of the most powerful low profile alterantives. With 4GB of VRAM and a good clock speed right out the box, this GPU should serve gamers building a small PC great gaming performance.
Just missing out on our top spot is the Gigabyte 1050Ti – a great performer that provides solid FPS in less-intensive titles like CS:GO and Rainbow Six Siege. Not quite as good as our top pick for cooling, but still good enough for our runner up spot.
A generous 1442MHz clock speed drives this attractive low profile GPU. With only a single fan, it does struggle to keep temps low when under great strain. That being said, it still provides good all-round usage for those looking to build in a small form factor case.
The little brother to the 1050 Ti, suited more towards the everyday user that also likes to do the occasional spot of gaming. Will get decent FPS in older titles but will struggle with newer offerings – especially more demanding games from the late 2010s.
Despite this low profile not being as powerful as the TI, it still provides decent frame rate output for less-intensive titles. With the same single fan cooling solution as the above selection, this card offers up good cooling – just not as great as a dual-fan configuration.
Whether it’s a budget card or a high-end GPU, EVGA always put the same level of care and attention into the build quality of their products. The low profile 1030 is no different, bringing everything you could want to your small form factor gaming build.
Despite this card being the most aesthetically pleasing in this guide – looking very similar to some of the latest AMD reference cards – it isn’t the most powerful on offer. Whilst you can get good performance in less-intensive titles, you won’t be churning out 144 frames per second in Call Of Duty and the likes.
The first, and best, true low profile AMD GPU is the RX 560 LP. This card is actually extremely attractive, boasting one of the best designs in this guide. Whilst this card was brought to life before the AMD GPU rise, it still offers good performance – even in some AAA titles.
With a dual-fan configuration, the RX 560 is the best of the bunch from team red. Build quality is excellent and temps are always running at optimal levels. For those looking to keep all their components within AMD’s house, this is the one to go for.
Last, but not least, is the MSI RX 460 – a budget offering that ticks a lot of the right boxes for the general gamer/user. With a dual-fan configuration, it offers great cooling even when put under a good amount of strain.
The build quality of this card isn’t quite as good as the RX 560 – nor is it as good as the other Nvidia options in this guide. However, at its current price tag, it is one of the most cost-effective low profile cards in this guide.
Like any hardware component, choosing the best low profile graphics card can sometimes be a tricky – and let’s face it – pretty stressful task. However, thanks to our team of hardworking PC enthusiasts, we have the most up-to-date hardware options the internet has to offer.
There will be plenty of people reading this right now, scratching their heads in confusion, wondering why they would ever choose a low profile GPU. Well, below, we’ve outlined some of the main benefits of purchasing a small form factor product.
The first and most obvious area which needs to be addressed when referencing low profile graphics cards is their size. Ultimately, this is the number one reason why someone might consider LP GPU’s as a real hardware option.
Low profile, in the graphics card universe, usually refers to the overall height of the GPU itself. As many will know, the top GPUs in today’s market are seriously hefty pieces of kit that take up a large amount of space thanks to their impressive heatsink and thermal designs. However, you won’t have this problem with a low profile graphics card.
An LP GPU is a stripped-back, half-height (usually) graphics card, which is custom-designed to fit in much thinner cases. They typically come with subtle cooling systems that offer average levels of cooling, meaning they aren’t ideal for excess overclocking. This being said, in some cases, they might be your only option, especially if you have a really small case.
Ultimately, a low profile graphics card won’t be everyone’s first choice, but they certainly have a part to play in the PC world.
Power consumption is another big plus for low profile graphics cards as they can run on much lower wattages than regular-sized GPU’s. This is thanks to a number of different factors which include thermal design, additional features, and overall makeup.
What this means for your build is:
- A smaller overall PSU is required
- The total cost of the build will be reduced
- PSU power can be utilized elsewhere
In most cases, the LP GPU won’t physically draw any power from the PSU connector but will get enough wattage directly from the PCI-e 16x slot it’s plugged into.
Noise output may or may not be something that concerns you when looking at purchasing hardware. This being said, its certainly an area that we feel the low profile graphics card excels in.
Due to the stripped back, almost raw appearance of the LP GPU, most of them come with one solitary fan for their cooling needs. However, some of the entry-level, budget offerings actually come with passive heatsinks for their cooling requirements and consequently make no noise what so ever.
This is especially good when you’re looking at building a small, inconspicuous build – as most of the time, smaller form cases don’t accommodate very good soundproofing.
Finally, and potentially most importantly, is the cost of these small form cards. As you can probably imagine, low profile graphics cards are naturally less expensive than regular-sized GPUs – and that comes down to several different factors:
- Thermal cooling design
This being said, low profile graphics cards have been designed to target small form builds which usually aren’t built for gaming or highly stressful work tasks. That means performance isn’t high on their list of priorities. What is high on that list, however, is keeping costs to a minimum, a task that these hardware components seem to do very well indeed.
Best Low Profile Graphics Cards
Ability to perform 1080p gaming at 60FPS
75 Watt power consumption
Great dual fan cooling solution
On the expensive side
MSI’s GeForce GTX 1650 LP GPU has been rated as the best and fastest low profile GPU in this guide, and for good reason. It comes to the table boasting the ability to perform lower intensive AAA game titles in 1080p at 60FPS. Pretty decent when you consider the overall size of this card.
It has a 1695 Mhz boosted clock speed out-of-the-box which makes it, by far, the fastest in this guide and perfect for any gamer looking to build a small form factor PC. The 1650 is part of GeForce’s 16 series from Nvidia and is based on the Turing GPU architecture we’re used to seeing in more premium GPU’s.
With 896 CUDA cores and 4GB of GDDR5 VRAM, this graphics card is no joke. It’s around 25% faster than its next closest rival, the 1050 Ti.
MSI has equipped this card with its dual-fan thermal design which is said to cover more of the heatsink leading to a much more efficient cooling solution.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for the absolute best low profile GPU money can buy, look no further. The GTX 1650 will make the perfect light gaming small form factor PC for any beginner looking to get into the gaming scene.
Small form factor with compact cooling system
Low power consumption
Considered quite pricey
Quite bulky in comparison to others
Contrary to what many will likely believe, the Gigabyte 1050 Ti, which comes equipped with 4GB of GDDR5 VRAM, is a fantastic option for those out there looking to build a small form factor PC that is capable of handling games.
The 1050 Ti from Gigabyte supports up to four display outputs which include; dual-link DVI-D ports, one DisplayPort, and two HDMI ports, making it extremely versatile, to say the least. The 4GB of GDDR5 VRAM makes gaming extremely viable, and achieving playable FPS on some lesser intensive AAA titles is certainly not out of the question. Think Fortnite, CS:GO, and so on.
Even though it only has a single fan thermal design, it still provides excellent cooling during heavy graphical processes and is near silent. The card is fairly long – sitting at 167mm – but we’ll let it off as it offers the second-highest clock speed in this list.
This card comes OC’d right out-of-the-box, meaning you don’t have to stress over the BIOS menu to gain extra performance out of this thing. It’s already done for you! Using Gigabyte’s Xtreme engine utility, you can simply turn on OC mode boosting the clock speed from 1328Mhz to a tasty 1442Mhz.
The Gigabyte 1050 Ti Low profile graphics card gets our second spot in this best of guide, and for good reason. Top performance, decent aesthetics, and robust cooling are all factors that make this LP GPU a great one.
Small form factor with compact cooling system
Very low power consumption
Cooling system very quiet
Quite bulky for a low profile card
Only 2Gb of VRAM
Next, comes the 1050 Ti’s little brother, the 1050. This one, once again, has been manufactured by the excellent Gigabyte.
The great thing about Gigabyte is the quality which their hardware components come to the table with. Whether it’s their latest flagship motherboard or a budget GPU offering, you know when purchasing Gigabyte, you’re effectively getting a product that is going to last. The 1050 is absolutely no different.
The 1050 has pretty much everything the 1050 Ti has to offer, but with half VRAM. The 1050 comes to shelves with 2GB of GDDR5 instead of 4GB – and even though that doesn’t sound like a great deal, it has a real impact on this card’s performance. This being said, the 1050 is still able to produce playable FPS in some games if the settings are tweaked just right.
The length of this card is identical to the Ti, measuring in at 167mm, and it comes with the exact same overclocking software for extracting extra performance at no additional cost. Whereas the Ti can be boosted to 1442Mhz, the 1050 OC can actually be boosted to 1506Mhz which is seriously impressive considering its price tag.
Nice aesthetic design
Efficient cooling system that doesn’t require a great deal of power
Good price point
Only 2GB of memory
EVGA is another brand I’m sure everyone will be familiar with and gives us our fourth offering -the excellent GT 1030 2GB graphics card.
The first thing that struck me with this card was how aesthetically pleasing it was right out of the box. Having said that, unless you plan on buying a fairly elaborate case, you probably won’t get the chance to enjoy the aesthetics all that much.
The HSF thermal design sits at 68mm tall and 169mm long, meaning it’s quite wide, but nothing that’s going to cause your small build any problems. The fan does work very well in keeping this card cool, especially when in OC mode, which boosts the internal clock speed from 1290Mhz to an impressive 1544Mhz.
The 1030 isn’t the greatest card in the world as far as gaming is concerned, but it does have enough juice to be able to play some games efficiently and works great for most photo editing and design purposes.
Ultimately, the 1030 is a great little card if you’re looking for an all-round option. It’s affordable while still being able to achieve some solid performance results.
Good price to performance
Efficient cooling system that doesn’t require a great deal of power
Decent overclocking potential
Quite bulky heatsink
Not the most aesthetically pleasing
We come to the AMD offerings, and the first comes in the shape of MSI’s RX 560 4Gb.
Ultimately, what your looking at is AMD’s most powerful (flagship) true low profile graphics card. The 560 was designed to succeed the 460 and comes to shelves boasting much better performance, respectively.
The RX 560 is based upon AMD’s latest Polaris GPU architecture, which comes with 1024 stream processors and 4GB of GDDR5 memory. It has fantastic performance results as far as its price is concerned and can play AAA game titles, making it a worthy contender for an efficient LAN build.
This is the OC edition meaning it comes overclocked from its factory counterpart straight out of the box. The boosted clock speed is 1196Mhz, which when compared to the 1650 does seem a little lacking. MSI, however, has compensated by bolstering other areas of the GPU, effectively making it a more all-round product.
Good build quality
Solid cooling system good for overclocking
Can only handle moderate games
Design isn’t overly impressive
Our final recommendation comes in the shape of the RX 460 from MSI. The predecessor of the 560 which comes with higher boosted clock speed (just) and the same 4GB GDDR5 memory.
The 460 was designed with just 2GB of VRAM. However, thanks to modern-day games and processes now being much more GPU demanding, the guys at MSI decided to bolster this card to 4GB, respectively. This works wonders for the card as it becomes much more powerful right across the board.
The card can handle some games but isn’t considered the best if you’re looking at gaming with this thing. Furthermore, the heatsink, which I think is relatively ugly, is quite bulky.
All being said, I still think the 460 shows good value for money and works excellently if you’re looking for a cheap GPU which is much more powerful than integrated graphics.
What are low-profile graphics cards?
Whether you’re an experienced gamer or researching how to successfully carry out your first PC build, you may have heard of low-profile graphics cards. In a nutshell, a low-profile graphics card is a type of video card that has been specially designed to be smaller than other graphics cards, and this is usually so that it can be used with a computer that has a smaller case.
Due to the fact that low-profile graphics cards are smaller in size, it usually means that they are able to operate at a much quieter sound than full-height graphics cards, although this isn’t always the case. In addition, low-profile graphics cards tend to use far less power than other types of graphics cards, which makes them a lot more energy-efficient. It’s also worth being aware that, due to their size, low-profile graphics cards tend to produce more heat than their larger counterparts and have smaller fan sizes, which runs the risk of them overheating. However, due to the fact that they have lower clock speeds, low-profile graphics cards are usually able to regulate their temperature well, without the need for an additional cooling system.
How do I install a low-profile graphics card?
Before you purchase a low-profile graphics card, it’s important to make sure that your case is compatible with a low-profile graphics card and will be able to support it. However, if you do find that you’ve purchased a brand new low-profile graphics card, only to discover that it isn’t compatible with your PC case, you don’t need to panic! Nearly all low-profile graphics cards are designed to be compatible with standard brackets, which means that you may be able to purchase a different bracket that will allow you to connect the low-profile graphics card to the standard-sized PC case. However, you will need to be sure that the low-profile graphics card has been designed to support standard brackets.
As low-profile graphics cards aren’t too different from other types of graphics cards, so the good news is that installing one will be a straightforward process! To do so, all you will need is your low-profile graphics card, a screwdriver, and your computer setup. First, you’ll need to remove the GPU (if you have one) from your current PC setup, and then locate the long PCI-E x16 slot which is located on the heat sink side of your processor.
After you have done this, then ensure that there is nothing obstructing your access to the slot, and be sure to carefully remove the existing graphics card by unscrewing it from the back of its bracket. You should also check to see if your motherboard has a little latch situated on the end of the PCI-E slot (not all do) and carefully detach it from the old graphics card if so.
After you have completed this step and safely removed the old graphics card from the motherboard, you will now be able to go ahead and install your new low-profile graphics card. To do this, all you will need to do is simply insert the card firmly into the slot, and then attach the plastic latch to help hold it in place. Then, take your screwdriver and carefully secure the low-profiles retention bracket into your computer’s case with the same screws that you used to attach your older graphics card.
Are mini graphics cards less powerful?
Generally speaking, mini or smaller graphics cards will be slightly powerful than their larger counterparts, though that’s not to say that they can’t offer a respectable performance. In fact, many of the smaller graphics cards offer the exact same performance and power as the bigger graphics cards. However, the only difference to note is that the mini graphics cards will have slower clock rates and worse cooling abilities, which will ultimately affect the overall performance power of the graphics card.
Is low profile the same as half height?
Low profile graphics cards are essentially the exact same as half-height graphics cards, and the two different names are often used interchangeably to describe the same type of card. However, before you make a purchase, you should make sure to double-check whether or not the card comes with an additional half-height or low-profile bracket, as this will ensure it is able to fit itself into your system without any issues. Of course, there is also a chance that your mini graphics card will be compatible with standard-sized brackets, though this isn’t always the case (depending on price and manufacturer) so be sure to check this before making a purchase to ensure the smooth installation upon arrival.
How tall is a PCI slot?When it comes to figuring out the height of a PCI slot, the easiest indication is by first deciphering whether it is half-length, full-length, full-height, or low profile: Half Length: Half-length PCI slots are up to 6.9 inches in length (or 175mm). Full-Length - Full-length PCI’s are usually up to 12 inches long (or 312mm). Although, it’s very rare to come across full-length PCI slots, as many modern-day cases cannot support them. Low Profile: Low profile cards have two standard lengths of MD1 (4.721 inches) and MD2 (6.600 inches). Full-Height: Full-height cards are up to 4.7 inches (or 120mm)
When it comes to figuring out the height of a PCI slot, the easiest indication is by first deciphering whether it is half-length, full-length, full-height, or low profile:
Half Length: Half-length PCI slots are up to 6.9 inches in length (or 175mm).
Full-Length – Full-length PCI’s are usually up to 12 inches long (or 312mm). Although, it’s very rare to come across full-length PCI slots, as many modern-day cases cannot support them.
Low Profile: Low profile cards have two standard lengths of MD1 (4.721 inches) and MD2 (6.600 inches).
Full-Height: Full-height cards are up to 4.7 inches (or 120mm)
How long is a PCIe slot?
PCIe slot sizes can vary, although the size of a standard PCI Express card is usually indicated by the number of lanes. Most commonly, PCIe slots are developed to be either x1, x8, x16, or x32, and the number that follows after the ‘X indicates the number of lanes (or pins) that the PCIe slot has been created with. So, with that in mind, the more lanes a slot has, the longer it will be in length.
There you have it, our complete guide to the best low profile graphics cards money can buy.
Ultimately, low profile graphics cards really only cater to one kind of user, and that’s someone looking to build a really small, inconspicuous desktop computer. They have been purpose-designed to try and maximize performance out of the smallest package. Thanks to new movements in technology, we are finally being rewarded with decent products that actually have a purpose.
The 1650 is by far the best card on this list thanks to its ability to handle games in 1080p at 60FPS. If you’re looking for something a little cheaper for light design tasks, then why not check out the 1030. This showcases some of the best value for money on this list and should be more than enough for your requirements.
AMD fans will undoubtedly go for the 560 LP which hosts the best price to performance stats, respectively.
All being said, the big question still remains, what card would you go for? Which would best fit your small build? Leave us a comment in the box below, letting us know!
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