A Low Profile Graphics card is the crux of a capable small form factor build, responsible for bolstering the entirety of the build into existence. With both Nvidia and AMD manufacturing low-profile GPUs, the list has culminated into an extensive selection, making it challenging to find the one that meets your requirements. My list of the Best Low Profile Graphics cards addresses precisely that, allowing you to choose from the best options available.
Take a look at my Best Low Profile GPU selection below; all compared to each other, and what their target user is:
Last update on 2023-09-20
Best Low Profile Graphics Card
Here are my picks for the Best Low Profile Graphics Card.
- ASUS Phoenix GeForce RTX 3050
- XFX Speedster SWFT105 Radeon RX 6400
- Zotac Gaming SOLO GeForce RTX 4060
- PowerColor ITX Radeon RX 6500 XT
ASUS Phoenix GeForce RTX 3050
Best Overall Low Profile GPU
Architecture: NVIDIA Ampere | CUDA Cores/SPs: 2560 | Game Clock: 1777 MHz | Boost Clock: 1807 MHz | Memory: 8GB GDDR6 | Recommended PSU: 550W | Dimensions: 177 x 128 x 51 mm | Power Connectors: 1 x 8-pin PCIe | RGB: No
ASUS is a pioneer in the PC gaming sphere, known for delivering on the majority of the products they manufacture. While their scale of manufacturing is not limited to graphics cards, they have certainly upheld an illustrious reputation within the space, exhibiting a unique polish with every product launch. The ASUS Phoenix GeForce RTX 3050 is no different, ranking among the best low-profile GPUs that have come out in recent years.
ASUS’ take on a smaller GeForce RTX 3050 is no different from previous renditions of small form factor cards, almost appearing archaic thanks to its superficial similarity to older generation cards. Of course, given its smaller footprint, there aren’t a lot of design-centered innovations that can be made. Following the simple theme, ASUS has placed no RGB elements on the card, which should not be a deal-breaker.
While its cooling solution is nothing to write home about, the single fan axial tech design provides sufficient cooling for the most part. Adding on to that, you also get Dual ball fan bearings, a protective backplate, and a PCB coating to prevent dust from accumulating. Its toned-down design language and smaller cooling solution have not stopped ASUS from tweaking its boost clock speeds to 1807 MHz, a 40 MHz increase over the Founders edition variant of the card.
The ASUS Phoenix GeForce RTX 3050 draws all of its power from a single 8-pin connector. Speaking of which, the card is rated at 130W, with ASUS recommending a 500W power supply to go along with the card.
At its core, the Phoenix GeForce RTX 3050 bears similar specifications to other variants of the GeForce RTX 3050. Based on the Ampere architecture, the ASUS Phoenix GeForce RTX 3050 is packed with 8GB of GDDR6 memory on a 128-bit wide memory bus, a total of 2560 cuda cores, as well as third-generation tensor cores.
As suggested by its name, 2nd generation RT-cores are also present on the card; however, ray-tracing performance falls short when compared to higher-end RTX-series GPUs. Similarly, gaming on higher resolutions, such as 1440p and 4K, will also be ultimately out of the question, given the performance of the ASUS Phoenix GeForce RTX 3050. Naturally, that leaves 1080p as the only viable option; however, that doesn’t mar its value given its prospects as a budget graphics card.
What We Liked
- Decent performance: Despite its older age, the GeForce RTX 3050 exudes remarkable resilience, maintaining adequate frame rates in modern triple-A titles at 1080p.
- 8GB GDDR6 Memory: While 8GB might seem dated in 2023, it still manages to hold up reasonably well in most titles.
- DLSS 2.0: Given its heritage as an Ampere card, DLSS 2.0 is also available, enhancing the overall experience for anyone that intends on playing on a higher resolution.
What We Disliked
Subpar Ray-Tracing performance: While the GeForce RTX 3050 is undoubtedly capable of ray tracing, its lower RT core count renders it incapable of delivering a decent experience.
Who Is It For?
The ASUS Phoenix GeForce RTX 3050 is designed for individuals interested in getting balanced graphics cards. It achieves decent frame rates in modern games while also providing solid value.
What Makes It The Best Overall Low Profile GPU
All in all, the ASUS Phoenix GeForce RTX 3050 achieves a balance between its price, performance, and design, boasting attributes that constitute all aspects. It has been titled the Best Overall Low Profile GPU for its relatively decent performance and a form factor that suits smaller cases.
|Performance: 9/10||Value: 9/10|
|Features: 9/10||Design: 8/10|
Related to the GeForce RTX 3050:
XFX Speedster SWFT105 Radeon RX 6400
Best Single Slot Low Profile GPU
Architecture: AMD RDNA 2 | CUDA Cores/SPs: 768 | Game Clock: 2039 MHz | Boost Clock: 2321 MHz | Memory: 4GB GDDR6 | Recommended PSU: 400W | Dimensions: 155 x 68 x 15 mm | Power Connectors: None | RGB: No
While Nvidia might be predominantly present in the graphics card market, AMD also has its fair share of cards that compete at an equal level as Nvidia. The XFX Speedster SWFT105 Radeon RX 6400 ranks among those very cards, demonstrating AMD’s reign over the budget market. While the RX 6400 mainly competes against the GeForce RTX 1650, it exceeds the latter’s capabilities as a low profile GPU thanks to its sub-75W power consumption.
In fact, the XFX Speedster SWFT105 RX 6400 fills a niche hole in the market, catering to an audience that was previously left standard by both GPU manufacturers. Having said that, its raw GPU horsepower naturally trails behind most full-sized GPUs, which is further evidenced by the toned-down specifications. Equipped with 768 streaming processors, 12 compute units, and 4GB of GDDR6 VRAM, its classification as a budget GPU is clear.
It is also worth mentioning that the card only features a 64-bit memory bandwidth, which is a bit disappointing. Its PCIe link width is also rated at x4, limiting its performance on a PCIe Gen 3.0 system. As far as clock speeds are concerned, the XFX Speedster SWFT105 RX 6400 boosts up to a speed of 2321 MHz; however, overclocking capabilities have been completely disabled.
In a market riddled with cards that have higher power consumption, the RX 6400 is a breath of fresh air thanks to its extremely low power draw of 53W. Moreover, the card doesn’t even require a power connector for operation, drawing out all of its power from the PCIe connection alone, which is almost unheard of in the modern landscape of GPUs. Furthermore, the exclusion of any additional power connectors makes it the best low profile secondary GPU.
Surprisingly, AMD has also managed to sneak in RTX capabilities within the RX 6400, albeit at an entry level. Naturally, its performance falls short compared to its competition. However, its additional capabilities, decent overall performance, and extremely low price tag make it a better budget low profile GPU than most competitors.
What We Liked
Single-slot design: The XFX Speedster SWFT105 Radeon RX 6400’s most significant advantage is its single-slot design.
No Power Connector Required: Its lower power consumption eliminates the need for power connectors, making it all the more suitable for small form factor builds.
What We Disliked
4GB of VRAM: With only 4GB of VRAM, gaming at higher visual settings is bound to be a problem with the card.
64-bit memory bus: Its lower 64-bit memory bus means productivity tasks will take a significant hit in performance.
Who Is It For?
The XFX Speedster SWFT105 Radeon RX 6400 is specifically designed for anyone interested in taking advantage of its single-slot form factor. The absence of a power connector further reinforces that fact, making it an ideal contender for a mini ITX build.
What Makes It The Best Single Slot Low Profile GPU
Granted, the XFX Speedster SWFT105 Radeon RX 6400 is not the most powerful GPU available; it does a fantastic job holding its own against budget GPUs. While its limited memory holds it back in graphically-demanding instances, it makes for the Best Single Slot Low Profile GPU thanks to its well-built single-slot design, sub-75W power consumption, and decent overall performance.
|Performance: 7/10||Value: 8/10|
|Features: 8/10||Design: 9/10|
Zotac Gaming SOLO GeForce RTX 4060
Best Performing Low Profile GPU
Architecture: NVIDIA Lovelace | CUDA Cores/SPs: 3072 | Boost Clock: 2460 MHz | Memory: 8GB GDDR6 | Recommended PSU: 500W | Dimensions: 163 x 117.6 x 39.5 mm | Power Connectors: 1 x 8-pin PCIe | RGB: No
Those concerned with raw performance alone are bound to be pleased by my next pick, the Zotac Gaming SOLO GeForce RTX 4060, which brings all the bells and whistles of the 4000-series in a compact form factor. While its appearance is all but a novel one, it undoubtedly sways away from other low profile cards thanks to its remarkable performance, which also makes it the Best RTX low profile GPU.
As hinted at previously, Zotac has kept things nice and simple with the Gaming SOLO GeForce RTX 4060’s design, presenting it in a clean black finish with no signs of RGB. Naturally, the card also features a single-fan design that is accompanied by two heatsinks, which proves to be a sufficient combination. In my testing, noise levels also remained reasonably low, which is an added plus.
Performance is where the Zotac Gaming SOLO GeForce RTX 4060 truly shines, outpacing most of its competition by a decent margin. It sports 3072 Cuda cores, 8 GB of GDDR6 memory, and a boost clock speed of 2460 MHz. On the other hand, power consumption is also relatively low, coming in at 115W, the same as the founder’s edition variant.
Ray tracing is also a viable option for the Zotac Gaming SOLO GeForce RTX 4060, thanks to the presence of third-generation RT cores. Its ray tracing capabilities are further accentuated with the company of DLSS 3.0, which boosts frame rates by an astounding amount thanks to Nvidia’s frame generation technology.
The Zotac Gaming SOLO GeForce RTX 4060 also benefits from its architectural overhaul to the Ada Lovelace interface, which gives it an edge over its predecessors. With fourth gen tensor cores, 8th gen Nvenc support, and AV1 capabilities under its belt, it secures a resounding triumph over its predecessor, the GeForce RTX 3060.
Apart from that, the GeForce RTX 4060 is a solid contender for a GPU if you want to build a gaming PC under $1000. If you are interested in Nvidia’s 40-series offerings, we have also compiled lists for other graphics cards, including the GeForce RTX 4060 Ti, 4070, and 4080.
What We Liked
Excellent performance: Unlike most low profile GPUs, the Zotac Gaming SOLO GeForce RTX 4060 delivers excellent performance, most of which can be attributed to its modern specifications.
DLSS 3.0: Much like the rest of the 4000-series cards from Nvidia, the Zotac Gaming SOLO GeForce RTX 4060 also features DLSS 3.0 with all of its frame generation capabilities, allowing users to boost their frame rates at higher resolutions.
What We Disliked
Expensive: The Zotac Gaming SOLO GeForce RTX 4060 is slightly more costly than other low profile GPUs.
Who Is It For?
Anyone working with graphically-intensive tasks is bound to be pleased by the Zotac Gaming SOLO GeForce RTX 4060’s excellent performance. Its ability to emanate that level of performance in a 2–slot form factor further validates its prowess as a capable low profile card.
What Makes It The Best Performing Low Profile GPU
To sum up, the Zotac Gaming SOLO GeForce RTX 4060 is a low profile GPU done right. With 8GB of GDDR6 memory, 3072 cuda cores, and a boost clock speed of 2460 MHz, the card comes with a great host of features, making it the Best Performing Low Profile GPU. Additional features such as DLSS 3.0 and NVENC support further contribute to its overall value.
Related to the GeForce RTX 4060:
|Performance: 10/10||Value: 8/10|
|Features: 9/10||Design: 8/10|
PowerColor ITX Radeon RX 6500 XT
Best Low Profile GPU Under $200
Architecture: AMD RDNA 2 | CUDA Cores/SPs: 1024 | Game Clock: 2610 MHz | Boost Clock: 2815 MHz | Memory: 4GB GDDR6 | Recommended PSU: 400W | Dimensions: 165 x 125 x 40 mm | Power Connectors: 1 x 6-pin PCIe | RGB: No
While AMD’s RX 6500 XT might not be the most well-received graphics card of the decade, its display of value at that price point simply cannot be denied, especially when considering it for a mini-ITX build. Built on the RDNA 2.0 architecture, the PowerColor ITX Radeon RX 6500 XT brings a host of modern features to the table while also dialing down on some of its specifications to reach a relatively lower price tag.
Before anything, let’s first go over its design which has remained a lot like other low profile graphics cards on this list. PowerColor has not gone out of its way to change the card’s looks, sticking to a simple single-fan design. Speaking of which, the fan uses a dual-ball bearing structure, improving its sturdiness. You also get PowerColor’s Mute fan technology, completely shutting off the fans when operating under a certain temperature threshold.
While PowerColor has stretched its clock speeds to a whopping 2810 MHz, it falls slightly short in terms of its memory configuration, only coming with 4GB of GDDR6 memory, that too on a 64-bit wide bus. Naturally, that should not be a deal breaker, given its value proposition as a low profile graphics card. Furthermore, AMD has also employed 16MB of infinity cache to the card to make up for its narrow memory bandwidth.
Of course, AMD’s Fidelity FX super-resolution is also present, which, despite trailing behind DLSS for the most part, is a nice inclusion on budget graphics cards such as this one. The differences between the two upscaling methodologies are further highlighted in our detailed comparison of DLSS vs FSR.
The Radeon RX 6700 XT and 6800 XT are also built on the same RDNA 2.0 architecture as the RX 6500 XT; however, their performance far exceeds that of the RX 6500 XT, making them better options for demanding tasks. If you are on a strict budget, you should also check out our list of the Best Radeon RX 7600, which also includes a compact option.
What We Liked
Low Power Consumption: With a rated TDP of 107W, the PowerColor ITX RX 6500 XT’s power draw is at the lower side of the spectrum.
Decent value: In a market dominated by GPUs with outrageous price tags, the solid price-to-performance ratio of the PowerColor RX 6500 XT
What We Disliked
4GB VRAM: The limited amount of VRAM on the card negatively impacts its overall performance.
Subpar Gen 3 Performance: Using the PowerColor ITX RX 6500 XT on a Gen 3.0 system results in a drastically degraded experience, which is not ideal.
Who Is It For?
The PowerColor ITX RX 6500 XT comes in at a lower price point than the competition while also maintaining the small form factor, which makes it ideal for anyone looking for a low profile GPU on a strict budget.
What Makes It The Low Profile GPU Under $200
While enthusiasts have expressed their apparent disdain over RX 6500 XT’s limited memory and lack of hardware encoding, it still prevails as a low profile GPU thanks to its economical price tag and dual-slot design. That, accompanied by the lower power consumption, makes it the Best Low Profile GPU Under $200.
|Performance: 7/10||Value: 10/10|
|Features: 8/10||Design: 8/10|
Verdict: What Is The Best Low Profile Graphics Card?
The ASUS Phoenix GeForce RTX 3050 has been deemed the Best Low Profile Graphics Card for its incredible versatility. From decent performance to low power consumption, it presents itself as a viable option for anyone building a small form factor PC while also coming in at a relatively modest price point. Additionally, it provides an adequate frame rate when gaming at 1080p, further solidifying its position as a capable low profile graphics card.
Gaming Benchmarks Of The Best Low Profile Graphics Cards
We tested these low profile graphics cards to check their real-world performance. Here are the results:
Low Profile GPU vs Standard GPU
|Low Profile GPU||Standard GPU|
|Compact form factor||Bulkier graphics cards that occupy more space|
|Ideal for small form factor builds||Perfect for Mid-Tower and Full-Tower cases|
|Smaller footprint, so relatively poor thermal performance||Enough thermal headroom for better performance.|
|Lower power draw||Comparatively higher power consumption|
Low Profile GPUs possess clear distinctions that set them apart from standard GPUs, with the main distinguishable factor being their form factor. As their name suggests, low profile GPUs have a smaller overall footprint, allowing them to fit inside mini-ITX cases. Their exceptional compatibility with smaller cases remains their main selling point.
Standard-sized graphics cards, on the other hand, come in varying levels of sizes, with higher-end GPUs, such as the GeForce RTX 4090, occupying four PCIe slots in total. Unsurprisingly, the smaller footprint of low profile graphics cards results in a smaller and less capable cooling solution. Power consumption is also lower in low profile graphics cards when compared against standard-sized ones.
Having said that, low profile graphics cards don’t necessarily offer a degraded experience, with some providing the same experience as their standard-sized counterparts. Of course, minute differences in clock speeds can be noticed due to the significantly smaller cooling solutions. It is important to understand that low profile graphics cards are generally paired with other small form factor components, including mini-ITX cases, low profile CPU coolers, and mini-ITX motherboards.
Unlike standard-sized GPUs, low profile GPUs show clear signs of scarcity in the market, with most higher-end GPUs having no low profile variants, mainly due to the limited thermal headroom. However, many manufacturers have decided to capitalize on this apparent gap in the community, launching separate low profile variants of GPUs.
What is Mini-ITX GPU?
At its core, a mini-ITX GPU presents itself in a compact size, enough to fit inside the majority of mini-ITX cases. In order to achieve their comparatively small form factor, mini-ITX GPUs come with cut-down thermal capabilities. The compromises of mini-ITX graphics cards can range from a single-fan cooling design to lower overall clock speeds.
That said, achieving the smaller size does come with noticeable advantages. Between home theater builds all the way to portable desktop computers, mini-ITX GPUs open several gateways for enthusiasts to take advantage of. While they might be a good option for performance-centric users, the advantages they boast simply cannot be denied.
Of course, mini-ITX GPUs generally require more maintenance, given their intricately designed structure. Factors such as adequate cooling, GPU temperatures, and proper cable management become more of a challenge when working in a cramped environment. Similarly, future-proofing can also be equally problematic, especially considering the cut-down performance of most Mini-ITX graphics cards.
Low Profile GPU Support
Low Profile graphics cards are designed to fit inside compact PC cases; however, almost every other case also supports these graphics cards, given their smaller size. With the option to virtually install them inside the majority of the cases available, selecting a PC case for low profile cards shouldn’t be a problem. Regarding motherboard support, low profile GPUs don’t behave any differently from standard GPUs, slotting in the same PCIe expansion slots you would typically use.
Low Profile GPU Power Cables
Much like standard GPUs, low profile GPUs also use PCIe connectors to draw power, which has been the industry norm for the better part of its existence. While the type of power cable varies from one GPU to another, the most common ones remain 8-pin and 6-pin connectors. Although the mode of power transfer remains the same for low profile GPUs, special power cables are often used to fit inside cramped areas.
This also includes angled cables that facilitate power transfer in mini-ITX cases. Of course, there are also anomalies in this case, with some graphics cards drawing out their power directly from the PCIe expansion slots. This is only achieved when the GPU is rated at a TDP of less than 75W, which is difficult to come by even when talking about low profile graphics cards.
Low Profile GPU Pros And Cons
|Compact form factor||Mediocre thermal performance|
|Lower power consumption||Slightly lower performance|
|Compatible with mini-ITX cases||A limited selection of display outputs|
When considering the Best Low Profile Graphics Cards, weighing the cards’ pros and cons before finalizing your decision is pivotal. As mentioned previously, low profile graphics cards provide space-saving advantages while retaining decent capabilities and functionality. However, their compact form factor also means a dialed-back cooling solution, reducing their clock speeds as a result.
It is also worth mentioning that some low profile graphics cards eliminate the need for a power connector, which can be a considerable benefit depending on the type of build you are going for. Whether a power connector is required or not does not detract from their already low power consumption, rendering them ideal for anyone working with lower rated power supplies.
Although their compatibility with mini-ITX cases is nothing to scoff at, as a tradeoff, you will also have to deal with a limited selection of display outputs, which can put a lot of people at a disadvantage. Moreover, their overclocking potential might also be limited in some cases; however, that mostly boils down to the type of cooling solution the graphics card arrives with.
Important GPU Key Terms
Selecting a graphics card is an intricate process, especially for beginners that are bewildered by the plethora of terms floating around on the internet. Here is a brief explanation of some of the most commonly used GPU terms to help you make an informed decision.
- Cores: The GPU consists of several thousand processors responsible for dealing with separate tasks.
- Clock Speeds: The rated clock speed your graphics card arrives with refers to its capabilities to process instructions at a particular rate. To put it simply, higher GPU frequency allows your card to process instructions faster, improving the overall system performance.
- VRAM: Video memory or VRAM is dedicated graphics memory used to store data processed by the graphics card.
- Bus Width: Represented in bits, the Bus Width of a GPU is responsible for determining the number of pathways available for transferring data between the GPU and memory under a single cycle.
- TDP: Measured in watts, the thermal design power of a graphics card determines the amount of power required to maintain normal temperatures.
- Overclocking: Overclocking refers to the act of pushing the graphics card to higher clock speeds to achieve better performance.
How We Picked The Best RTX 4060 Graphics Cards
Here are a few factors we considered when selecting the Best Low Profile Graphics Card.
When it comes to graphics cards, performance takes priority over the majority of the factors for most people, which isn’t unusual. Performance directly impacts your experience, especially when engaging in tasks such as gaming, video editing, and 3D rendering, all of which have certain requirement thresholds that need to be met for a smooth experience. In addition to that, going for a better-performing card will also future-proof your system.
Cooling performance on a graphics card plays an important role in impacting your buying decision. GPUs equipped with a subpar cooling solution run with the risk of running into thermal throttling issues, which can directly affect performance. Not only that, but high temperatures can reduce a GPU’s lifespan. To prevent that, I selected graphics cards that provide sufficient cooling, ensuring smooth operation.
Price and Value
The price-to-performance ratio of a graphics card plays an equally important role in influencing a user’s overall decision. It is essential to ensure that the graphics card you choose falls within your budget range while also providing satisfactory results. Most of the cards on this list provide decent value, especially for low profile cards.
Going for a graphics card that falls dull in comparison to the rest of your build can be detrimental to the visual appearance of your entire setup. Whether you are going for a white-themed build or something else entirely, ensuring the GPU complements the rest of the build can be crucial for some people. Of course, this mostly comes down to personal preference.
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Frequently Asked Questions
low profile GPUs are graphics cards specifically designed to fit inside small form factor cases.
Low profile GPUs are restricted to a maximum height of 2.536 inches, which comes in at 64.4mm.
Yes, low profile GPUs can be installed inside a desktop computer.
low profile GPUs can come with fans of different sizes, ranging from 70 to 100mm.
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