If you need a budget video card, there are probably two cards on your radar: The GT 710 and GT 1030. While the 1030 costs twice as much as the 710, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. The GT 710 vs GT 1030 comes down to a battle for the cheapest card worth having. Here’s how to decide which one is for you.
Both the GT 710 and 1030 are really intended for casual computing. But both of them have their use cases, especially in SFF desktops.
The use cases for a GT 710 or GT 1030
While both cards can come in a full-size card, there’s no reason to buy the full-size version of either card. Get the SFF version. Even the SFF version comes with a bracket for a full-size system. In full-size systems, these are budget cards, but in an SFF system, these are among the few cards that will fit. That said, they are good upgrades for extending the useful life of an old system, especially an old SFF system.
Advantages of a GT 710
The GT 710 is one of the cheapest cards on the market. COVID-19 has pushed its prices up over $50, but pre-COVID, you could get one for under $35. For years, it was the go-to card when you wanted something better than the graphics integrated into your CPU. The GT 710 is better than the integrated graphics in a 3rd-generation Intel i3/i5/i7, but the 4th generation chips run neck in neck. Sometimes the 710 is faster, but sometimes Intel is faster. And the 710 can’t keep up with an AMD Ryzen either.
That said, a GT 710 provides a useful boost for a system older than a 4th-gen i-series chip. For word processing, e-mail, social media, and watching Youtube videos, the 710 can provide a noticeable performance boost, and it doesn’t use a lot of power. It runs cool and consumes 19 watts under load. It runs so cool, it just has a big heatsink on it, so it’s quiet too. No fan.
The 710 also provides three monitor outputs, so it’s versatile. Most 710s output DVI or Displayport in addition to HDMI and VGA, so that allows you to connect it to virtually any flat-panel TV or monitor. It also means with the right monitors or adapters, you can connect up to three monitors with a single card. The VGA output won’t give quite as nice of a picture as the other two, but a VGA-connected monitor beats no monitor at all.
And at a lower resolution and/or lower detail settings, you can game on a GT 710, especially if you overclock it. The 710 overclocks well, so you can get about half the performance of a non-overclocked 1030 out of it. When overclocked, its performance is closer to that of a 6th or 7th generation i3/i5/i7.
Finally, like most lower-end cards, the GT 710 doesn’t require any additional power beyond what the PCIe bus provides.
Disadvantages of a 710
The problem with the GT 710 is its middling performance. For twice the money, you can get about four times the 3D performance out of a GT 1030. If you do play the occasional game, the 1030 is worth the extra $40 or so. You can get 30 FPS out of titles like Rocket League, but it struggles with higher-end titles. My fifth grader is happy with GT 710 performance, but the same card frustrates my older son.
And the GT 710 tends not to hold as much of its value or sell as quickly when you go to resell it.
Advantages of a GT 1030
The GT 1030 is a better performing card than the GT 710 all around. It comes in several form factors, but the most useful is the low-profile, single slot version with a fan. It’s the highest-performing card you can buy at the time of this writing in that form factor. In an SFF system that puts its x16 slot right up next to the power supply like a Dell Optiplex 3020, the single-slot, low-profile 1030 is the fastest card you can put in it.
For this reason, the GT 1030 tends to hold its value well, so if you outgrow it, you probably won’t have much trouble selling it, and you’ll get most of your money back out of it too. If you bought a 1030 before the COVID 19 pandemic, you can probably sell it for more than you paid, but the card you replace it with will be more expensive too, so that will offset any profit you take.
The GT 1030, like the GT 710, also doesn’t need a supplemental power connector.
Disadvantages of a 1030
The GT 1030 finds itself in a bit of an awkward spot, however. The GT 710 costs half as much, and provides one more monitor output than a 1030. And once you’re on the slippery slope of spending more, for around $50 more, you can get more than double the performance of a 1030, as long as your system has room for a either a taller card, or a wider card like a GTX 1650.
If you don’t game at all, the GT 710 is the better value. And if you want to play current, higher-end game titles or run Adobe software, the GT 1030 is an entry-level card at best.
GT 710 vs GT 1030: In conclusion
Both the GT 710 and GT1030 have their uses, and if you fit either of their use cases, you can be very happy with them. I had a coworker who doesn’t game who bought a GT 710 and was incredibly impressed with it. So in an older system, the 2D graphics of a GT 710 can give you a noticeable performance boost.
But if you want to play games, the GT 1030 is probably the cheapest card you want to consider. It’s a more versatile card unless you need VGA, either to attach an older monitor or to use three monitors.
For two specific use cases, these are the cheapest cards worth having. If you don’t game, the GT 710 is the card you want. If you do game, the GT 1030 is the cheapest card worth having.
David Farquhar is a computer security professional, entrepreneur, and author. He started his career as a part-time computer technician in 1994, worked his way up to system administrator by 1997, and has specialized in vulnerability management since 2013. He invests in real estate on the side and his hobbies include O gauge trains, baseball cards, and retro computers and video games. A University of Missouri graduate, he holds CISSP and Security+ certifications. He lives in St. Louis with his family.