GT 1030 from Nvidia is overclocking friendly

The affordable yet powerful Graphics Card is the PC gamer's dream. Unfortunately, the price of graphics cards soared in early 2018 makes most gamers with limited budget have to bite the fingers. Many are forced to drop their choice to the cheap class GPU, hoping it is still comfortable to use for the games they want to play.

Choosing a graphics card in a low-end class is a challenge in itself, as GPU GPUs are often the cheapest on the market using GPU chips that are too weak and outdated, and do not have enough performance to run many applications today. Even entry-level GPUs sometimes have performance under the integrated graphics solution

NVIDIA released their cheapest graphics card solution that is still designed with Pascal architecture, the NVIDIA GeForce GT 1030. Being the prefix 'GT' instead of 'GTX' indicates that the GPU is still not in 'class' gaming, and certainly has a relatively low specification compared GTX series.

The GP 108 chip used for the GT 1030 has a 384 Stream Processor (a.k.a Shader Unit / CUDA Cores), and is supported by 2 GB GDDR5 Memory with a 64-bit bus width. The 108 GP chip is still equipped with GeForce Boost to increase their GPU clockspeed to match the load received, NVIDIA states that this Boost value will be around 1468 Mhz.

In addition, the GeForce GT 1030 uses PCIe 3.0 x4 interconnect (when idle goes into power-saving mode with PCIe 1.1).

Specifications GT 1030 is quite far below the GTX 1050 which is in the same class above, but in our previous article, we found that the GPU still has adequate power processing in its class. In addition, as with many other Pascal-based GPUs, the GT 1030 seems to have the ability to run at high clockspeed, making it quite overclocker-friendly, and still saving little potential for use.

Extra performance thanks to its overclock and also its cheap price makes this GPU seems suitable for our more in-depth discussion.

These three VGAs come with a varied PCB design, with the most unique look on the Galax model that comes with white PCB and LP design (low-profile). Nevertheless we encountered many similarities, such as:

    Given GT 1030 is a VGA with a low TDP rating, the power regulator on these three VGAs looks simple with single-phase design configuration (1 phase for GPU, 1 for Video Memory).
    Output displays are DVI-D and HDMI, none of which have DisplayPort (and certainly no analog D-Sub VGA Connector)
    Video Memory / VRAM with two memory chips (one IC has 8Gbit density), where MSI and Gigabyte use Micron IC, while Galax has IC made by Samsung.

It appears that the average boost clock of the MSI and Galax VGAs looks similar (1688Mhz MSI and 1678Mhz Galax), but Gigabyte shows the smallest boost clock with 1631 Mhz, about 40-50Mhz below the other two cards. This can happen because of the temperature factor, or the power limit factor determined by the graphics card vendor

We tried to see the operational temperatures of the three graphics cards when running 3DMark Stress Test, with the system run without casing, with an ambient temperature of 25-26 C.

Seeing the size of the cooler that carried these three VGAs (especially Galax which size is quite small), we were quite surprised to see the operational temperature of GT 1030 is at number 44-66 C, far enough below the average NVIDIA 'heavyweight' VGA the operating temperature is around 80 C. This means GT 1030 has a relatively small thermal load.

Speaking of temperature, VGA of MSI shows Peak temperature at 44C (lowest of all card), followed by Galax with peak 56 C, and Gigabyte card showing peak temperature of 61 C. This relatively low temperature makes us think that factor more influence boost clock at GT 1030 is the power limit specified by the VGA vendor. Unfortunately in this series, we do not see any possibility to shift the power limit setting, because the setting can not be replaced (this may be deliberately locked, for security reasons).

In addition to being the cheapest pascal-based graphics card when this article was released. NVIDIA GeForce GT 1030 shows an exciting overclockability, and can be easily upgraded. It should also be noted that an interesting factor is the GeForce GT 1030 can be overclocked without overloading its VGA cooling solution, and also without significant increase in power consumption.

One thing that still bother in our mind when overclocking GeForce GT 1030 is the power limit mechanism that can not be set at all, which makes the GPU clock increase is a bit 'stuck' because of this factor. We're still not sure what kind of modifications will allow us to force the GT 1030 clock higher even now.

Compared to the nearest GTX 10-series series such as the GTX 1050, the overclocked GT 1030 still shows quite a wide performance difference, so it seems fair enough that 1030 does not hold the title 'GTX' yet. Nevertheless, as a low-end GPU, the performance is good enough to be an alternative solution for limited-budget users, and still more powerful than the previous generation low-end VGA. With overclocking, you can more or less improve its performance by about 10-15% again, matching the GTX 750 class.

We just tested three GT 1030s (Galax, Gigabyte, MSI), and although the PCB design is different, we find that its overclocking characteristics are quite equivalent. This happens because in addition to the clock and fan settings, there are no other variables that we can change in GT 1030 - no replacement voltage, no power limit. One thing we have to note is that there seems to be no standard for a video memory chip on the GT 1030, so the luck factor will determine what RAM chip you can get. You are lucky to get a Samsung IC like Galax GT 1030 EX OC we can get overclockability memory is quite interesting - up to 8Gbps.

Speaking of cooling, according to our test data where overclocking does not really affect the operational temperature, we think in OC state you can still use the fan in the default / AUTO. For those of you who like solitude, VGA with a small size like the Galax we tested here has the noisiest fan noise when the speed is maximized, on the other hand, MSI has the best cooling than other VGA on this test and can keep the GPU temperature in the range 44-45 C.

As far as this test goes, we do not encounter an event where temperature affects overclocking results, because the highest-temperature VGA like Gigabyte in our test is still operating well at 60 C without losing overclockability. In GT 1030, it seems that the cooler solution given to these 3 vendors is sufficient.