If you’re thinking about picking up a budget-priced GeForce GT 1030, you’d best take a long hard look at which version it is before splashing the cash. Back in April, Nvidia quietly unveiled a new range of GeForce GT 1030 GPUs that looked to be phasing out the current crop of GeForce GT 1030 graphics cards already on store shelves. The difference? The new GT 1030’s are equipped with much slower DDR4 memory rather than GDDR5.
At the time we wondered how drastically this could impact performance. On paper, the change meant total memory bandwidth shrinking to just 16GB/s from the 48GB/s offered by the standard GeForce GT 1030. Using actual system memory (RAM) rather than video memory was the big clue, and now GamersNexus have got their hands on one of the newer GeForce GT 1030 DDR4’s and compared how it stacks up to the older GDDR5 models.
The short answer is - not well. Terribly, in fact. During the benchmark tests performed by GamersNexus, the DDR4 version of the GeForce GT 1030 pulled in average frame rates that were less than half the GDDR5 model. In Rocket League, the GT 1030 DDR averaged 28fps in Rocket League on Medium/High, while the GDDR5 model achieved 63fps average. It’s not even close, the DDR4 version is an abomination of a graphics card.
Things don’t get any better in DOTA 2 either. The DDR4 model hits a laughable average FPS of 32 on 1080p/High, while the full-fat GDDR5 model averages 67 frames per second. In CSGO it’s a similar story. 55 frames per second average with a GeForce GT 1030 DDR4, a massive 122 frames per second with GDDR5. These results are an embarrassment for a graphics card that can currently cost anywhere from $90 - $120.
It just gets worse the deeper into the results we go though. Ashes of the Singularity? It doesn’t even boot on the DDR4 model. The game errors out and says no matching GPU detected, at least 2GB GDDR5 memory is required. Nvidia has taken a perfectly functional budget GPU and gimped it so badly that it can’t boot a game that a previous version of the same graphics card could.
What’s particularly egregious here is that Nvidia has slipped out the new range of graphics cards with the exact same product name despite the massively reduced performance. There is no warning given to the consumer. Anyone looking to buy a GeForce GT 1030 would read the reviews from two years ago and assume, naturally enough, that’s what they’d be getting. For Nvidia to cut costs like this and not make it clear to the consumer is an absolute sham, and outright misleading. It’s the sort of thing that should have any PC gamer, regardless of allegiance, have a long, hard think.
This is the same company that just a few months ago introduced the GeForce Partner Program, an initiative they claimed would help Nvidia customers better know which graphics card does what, and is the right one for them. I think this says it all: “GPP ensures our engineering and marketing efforts support brands consumers associate with GeForce. That transparency will give gamers the confidence needed to make their purchase, whichever products they choose.”
Nvidia has been doing great work at the enthusiast end of the market but this stunt it’s pulling with budget gamers really doesn’t wash. If you are looking to pick up a $100 GPU, pay extra close attention to ensure you don’t end up with a DDR4 model. Or, you know, maybe save yourself the bother and pick up a Radeon RX 550.
Anyway, you can read the full rundown of the benchmark results over on GamersNexus.