The Nvidia GT 1030 is Nvidia’s lowest-end GPU that anybody would consider buying. With 384 CUDA cores, 2GB of memory, a measly 64-bit bus, and either GDDR5 or DDR4 memory, it is a cheap option for prosumer and super budget gaming builds. Typically, it is $115+, but recently some of them have fallen from that amount to around- or below- it’s $89 MSRP.
The gaming crowd frequently derides the 1030 for being a “trash GPU”, sometimes saying “somebody yoinked your GPU” on PCPartPicker builds using it. In addition, the UserBenchMark description, by a random person known as “Viper207”, called it a “Useless office GPU.”
However, the GT 1030 has the requirements for decent budget gaming: a (sometimes) sub-$100 price point, a measly 30 watts of power that allows it to use the power directly over PCIe, and most importantly supports DirectX 12 12_1 and Vulkan 1.3, meaning it will at least run all modern games. In addition, some AIB manufacturers for the 1030 include low-profile brackets. It’s also more powerful than most laptops and all APUs and iGPUs (Even AMD’s stellar VEGA 8 iGPU, although the Ryzen 7000 iGPU may be more powerful than it).
However, with only 2 gigabytes of video RAM, it may not meet the minimum specifications for some titles, such as Call of Duty: Warzone. While it technically meets the minimum spec for VRAM, it’s at the absolute minimum, and its numerical performance is half that of the GTX 670 that makes up the minimum spec officially mentioned in CoD: Warzone reviews. In addition, some websites list it as end-of-life, although with the continued availability of the GT 630 I suspect that it will be here for another several years at least.
All summed up, the GT 1030 is a decent budget GPU for the amateur gamers and prosumers out there that want a GPU but not a hole in their wallet. It can handle Minecraft over 100 FPS on Max, and can easily play CSGO and Fortnite on Low settings. While it isn’t powerful enough for some modern games, it is cheap enough that it could be bought by a child to upgrade an old PC with to do some light gaming. In fact, there are many youtube videos where people take outdated office PCs and turn them into light gaming rigs by sticking GT 1030s in them. If you’re on a budget, go for it!
If you want a slightly better PC, an AMD RX 550 can be had for a similar price. For $50 dollars more, you can add an AMD RX 6400 that is 250% better. If you insist on team green, a 1050 ti is double the price of a 1030 for 20% less performance of an AMD RX 6400. You could also go for a GTX 1630, but I wouldn’t do that.
If you’re looking for something below a 1030 and aren’t using a PC with a new iGPU (AMD VEGA or Intel UHD 750/770), the only real cheaper option is the Nvidia GT 730. If you just need a video output for a system without an iGPU or APU, an AMD Radeon HD 5450/6450, Nvidia GT 710/730, Nvidia GT 620/630, or Nvidia Quadro K420 are all options that would work.