High-end graphics cards get all the attention, but not every rig has the room for a monster Nvidia RTX 4090 or AMD RX 7900 XTX. In more compact cases, you’re more likely to be shopping for the best low-profile graphics card instead of one of these beasts. So while they can’t compete on raw horsepower, low-profile graphics cards are still important, offering gaming goodness even in heavily space-constrained rigs.
We’re focusing on bonafide low-profile video cards here, although one of our picks cheats slightly by requiring a PCIe power cable. But whether you’re after serious low-profile power for a small form factor (SFF) PC or just need a display adapter for a thin home theater PC (HTPC) build, we’ve got you covered. Let’s get started.
- Best Low-Profile Graphics Card for Gaming: Gigabyte GeForce RTX 4060 OC Low Profile 8G is a full-fat modern Nvidia GPU with all the bells and whistles in a tiny package.
- Best Low-Profile Graphics Card for Gaming Runner-Up: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1650 D6 OC Low Profile 4G performs better than most low-profile video cards but stumbles in the value department.
- Best Value Low-Profile Graphics Card for Gaming: Gigabyte AMD Radeon RX 6400 D6 Low Profile 4G offers reasonable gaming performance at a decent price.
- Best Low-Profile Graphics Card for HTPCs: Maxsun GeForce GT710 is a passive, low-power card with an HDMI output and support for 4K decoding and HDCP.
Our Favorite Low-Profile GPUs
|Boost Clock||2475 MHz|
|Memory||8 GB GDDR6|
|Ports||• 2x DisplayPort 1.4a
• 2x HDMI 2.1a
|Power Consumption||~115 watts|
|Dimensions||7.17 x 2.72 x 1.57 inches|
Just when it seemed like the graphics card market was leaving low-profile users behind, Gigabyte swoops in to save the day with its RTX 4060 OC Low Profile 8G. This is a full-featured RTX 4060 with all the Ada Lovelace goodies, shrunk down into a low-profile form factor.
As such, you get excellent 1080p performance and decent 1440p performance thanks to Nvidia’s high-quality Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) upscaling. You won’t have to compromise much with this Gigabyte low-profile card, unlike many of its similarly-tiny rivals.
In Tom’s Hardware’s nine-game test suite at 1080p ultra, the RTX 4060 posted a decent 85.3-FPS mean average, with 67-FPS 1% lows. It runs the surprisingly demanding Borderlands 3 at 88.9 FPS average, while Far Cry 6 and Forza Horizon 5 blaze past 125 and 101 FPS average, respectively.
Unsurprisingly, the RTX 4060 struggles slightly at ultra settings in A Plague Tale: Requiem and Red Dead Redemption 2, known for punishing graphics cards when maxed out. Both average around 55 FPS at native resolution, although enabling DLSS Quality helps the card hit a more comfortable 70 and 75 FPS average, respectively.
The RTX 4060’s eight gigs of video memory hold it back from being a bona bide 1440p GPU, but it still turns in decent performance with the help of DLSS. At maxed-out settings and DLSS enabled, the RTX 4060 manages 63.2 FPS on average in Red Dead Redemption 2, 52.4 FPS in A Plague Tale: Requiem, and a great 98.7 FPS in Forza Horizon 5.
Ray tracing is an option here, although the RTX 4060 really isn’t the GPU you want if you’re after ray-traced eye candy. That said, it acquits itself decently enough at 1080p and medium settings, managing an 87-FPS average in Control and 40 FPS on average in Cyberpunk 2077. DLSS will help improve performance, although you shouldn’t expect miracles here.
However, with this much power comes one minor downside: power consumption. While the RTX 4060 is an incredibly efficient card, it still draws around 115 watts in games and will require a single 8-pin PCIe power connector. So you’ll need a power supply with enough wattage, which may be a problem for those trying to upgrade an older office PC with new graphics hardware.
Power draw aside, the Gigabyte GeForce RTX 4060 OC Low Profile 8G is a fantastic low-profile gaming graphics card for those in space-constrained systems. It excels at 1080p in particular, especially if you’re willing to compromise on graphics settings or enable upscaling.
|Boost Clock||1620 MHz|
|Memory||4 GB GDDR6|
|Ports||• 1x DisplayPort 1.4a
• 1x HDMI 2.0b
• 1x DVI
|Power Consumption||~75 watts|
|Dimensions||6.57 x 2.72 x 1.54 inches|
Nvidia’s GTX 1650 has been around for a while, but it’s the GPU that just won’t go away. While it’s far from Nvidia’s fastest offering, its power-efficient design makes it perfect for low-profile video cards that don’t require extra PCIe power. One such card is Gigabyte’s GeForce GTX 1650 D6 OC Low Profile 4G, a bonafide low-profile card that’ll slot in just about anywhere.
Gigabyte’s GTX 1650 is slightly larger than other low-profile cards, but at 2.71 inches tall and 1.53 inches thick, it still fits the low-profile brief. So thin HTPCs, server racks, and old Dell Optiplexes are all fair game here.
The Gigabyte GTX 1650 Low Profile is a capable GPU for 1080p gaming, provided you manage your settings and expectations accordingly. This is a slot-powered low-profile graphics card, after all, so it’ll fare best with older titles and esports games. That said, if you play your cards right and tweak settings accordingly, it’ll still do a decent job, even in modern titles.
For example, GameGangsta’s testing shows that you can run modern big-budget games like Resident Evil Village and Far Cry 6 at around 60 FPS on the GTX 1650. Just avoid the temptation to crank all the settings up, and you’ll be fine.
Note that the low-profile GTX 1650 will run slower than its full-size sibling owing to its lower clocks. But pare settings back a bit more and make judicious use of AMD FSR upscaling, and you’ll still get solid framerates out of this card. You could likely overclock it to come close to the ~1800 MHz of the full-sized card, too.
The main issue with the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1650 D6 OC Low Profile 4G, and with all low-profile GTX 1650s, at least at the time of writing, is the pricing. At anywhere between $190 and $240, this is exceedingly poor value for all but the most space- and power-limited PCs.
Sadly, that’s just the way the graphics card market is going, even though we’re out of the COVID-induced nightmare of price gouging and limited graphics card supply. So, while the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1650 D6 OC Low Profile 4G can’t offer good value, it’s still an option you need to consider if you’re dealing with space constraints in your rig.
|Boost Clock||2321 MHz|
|Memory||4 GB GDDR6|
|Ports||• 1x DisplayPort 1.4a
• 1x HDMI 2.0b
|Power Consumption||~55 watts|
|Dimensions||7.176 x 2.67 x 1.42 inches|
Getting decent gaming performance out of a low-profile video card is often challenging. The size and power constraints of low-profile graphics cards often mandate ultra-low-power GPUs, but Gigabyte’s take on the RX 6400 is different. It’s a genuinely gaming-capable low-profile card, albeit one that requires you to keep your expectations in check.
The Gigabyte AMD Radeon RX 6400 D6 Low Profile 4G is a proper low-profile video card, unlike some other compact options on our list. With its small PCB and tiny cooler, the Gigabyte RX 6400 is narrow and thin enough to fit in ultra-thin HTPC cases and even server rack units.
Admittedly, the RX 6400 won’t blow your socks off in-game. But that’s not too surprising considering its low-power design. Expect to hover around 60 FPS at 1080p with medium or low settings in most modern games. Cyberpunk 2077, for example, will run just about at 60 to 70 FPS on low settings without ray tracing, while multiplayer Halo Infinite games can run closer to 90 FPS if you use the game’s resolution scaling feature.
That’s not necessarily impressive, but it is good enough for this form factor. Living with lower-power video cards is a lot easier than it used to be, too, with the advent of resolution scaling and technologies like AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR).
AMD’s FSR is an upscaling technique that lets you run games below native resolution without losing too much visual quality. It sharpens and upscales the image to look close to native resolution but with a palpable performance boost. It isn’t perfect, but it’ll help you claw back extra performance in games that support it.
However, there’s one big issue with the RX 6400: its PCIe lanes. The RX 6400 only ships with four PCIe 4.0 lanes; this is enough for a PCIe 4.0 motherboard but will drag performance down if you use it with a PCIe 3.0 motherboard. Expect a 10 to 20% reduction in average framerates with the older PCIe standard.
This won’t be an issue if you’re building a new rig, but it means that the RX 6400 is a poor choice if you’re trying to upgrade an old office PC with a low-profile video card. The other big issue is price: the Gigabyte Radeon RX 6400 has an MSRP of around $180, which feels a bit expensive for this level of performance.
That said, there isn’t much that competes at this price point and form factor. And around $150 is still reasonable compared to most of its low-profile rivals. So if you need a low-profile gaming card that offers decent performance, then the Gigabyte Radeon RX 6400 D6 Low Profile 4G is worth checking out.
|Boost Clock||954 MHz|
|Memory||4 GB GDDR3|
|Ports||• 1x HDMI
• 1x VGA
• 1x DVI
|Power Consumption||~25 watts|
|Dimensions||5.70 x 2.71 x 0.90 inches|
Nvidia’s GeForce G710 gets a lot of flak from gamers, and rightly so; it’s an old GPU that was bad at gaming when it was new, let alone five or more years on. But not everyone wants to game. If you just need to get a display from an office or home-theater PC (HTPC), the Maxsun GeForce GT710 will do the job in an affordable, ultra-compact form factor.
Maxsun’s GeForce GT710 is a passively cooled low-profile card that sips power (25 watts) and will run in just about any system with a PCIe slot. Combine that with its tiny low-profile bracket, and you get a GPU that’s excellent for home theater PCs and other situations where low power draw and small size trump raw power.
The GT710 supports PureVideo HD 4K decoding, HDR, and HDCP, so it’s perfect for a media playback living room PC. It should handle most video playback tasks perfectly fine, although you may want to leave heavy-duty upscaling (such as 1080p to 4K) to your TV instead of asking the GT710 to do so.
Gaming benchmarks are pointless here, as that’s not what the GT710 is about. Sure, it supports DirectX 12 and features like Nvidia’s G-Sync, hallmarks of a modern gaming video card. But its 954 MHz core clock and 4 gigs of GDDR3 memory will result in slideshow-level framerates when you try to play games.
Instead, think of the GT710 as a simple “display adapter” more than a graphics card in the modern sense. Whether you need to add an HDMI out or compensate for a PC without integrated graphics, the GT710 is a silent and reasonably affordable way to do that.
Overall, the Maxsun GeForce GT710 is a perfectly fine card for what it is: a cheap, low-profile graphics card to add a display output to a PC that otherwise would not have it. If you’re building a new PC, you may want to get a Ryzen APU like the Ryzen 7 5700G instead. But if you’re retrofitting an older PC, then the GT710 may just be your best option.
Before You Buy
Compact and low-profile graphics cards are broadly similar to their full-size counterparts. However, there are several compromises and traits that you need to be aware of if you’ve never used a low-profile video card before. But first, what is a low-profile card exactly?
What Are Low-Profile Graphics Cards?
“Low-profile” is often used as a catch-all term for “small graphics cards,” but that’s technically inaccurate. In the strictest definition, low-profile graphics cards adhere to the MD2 form factor, which dictates a maximum length and height of 6.6 x 2.54 inches.
However, most modern low-profile graphics cards—like those on our list—exceed the maximum height very slightly. This shouldn’t pose an issue in most PC cases, so it’s not a concern. However, those of you who want to squeeze one of them into a 2U-high server rack may have some issues.
In contrast, “compact” graphics cards like the MSI GeForce RTX 3060 Aero ITX 12G OC fully use the PCIe bracket’s 4.7-inch height to include a larger fan and more substantial heatsink. However, they’re not as long or thick as full-size cards, which allows them to fit comfortably in most compact Mini-ITX cases.
Pros of Low-Profile Graphics Cards
Low-profile graphics cards have some obvious benefits. Firstly, their compact size means they’ll fit in just about any PC, as long as it has a PCIe slot. Whether you’re trying to upgrade an old Dell Optiplex or squeeze components into a slim HTPC case, a low-profile GPU will work for you.
Secondly, many low-profile graphics cards don’t require any extra PCIe power connectors. They draw all their power from the PCIe slot, often maxing out at around 75 watts of power draw. This means they’re perfect for low-power rigs or situations where you can’t upgrade your computer’s PSU.
Cons of Low-Profile Graphics Cards
Conversely, low-profile and compact GPUs often run hotter due to smaller or fewer fans. While they won’t overheat, they will run at higher temperatures than full-sized cards with two or three larger fans. Small cards can sometimes run louder than full-sized cards, too, as the fans have to spin faster to keep the card cooler.
KitGuru compared a single-fan Palit RTX 3060 vs. a triple-fan MSI RTX 3060 Gaming X Trio and found that the single-fan Palit ran about 11 degrees Celsius hotter and 6 dBA louder. The Palit’s temperatures aren’t disastrous, but it is an appreciable difference that may be problematic depending on your setup and preferences.
Clock speeds are also sometimes slower than full-size GPUs. However, the differences are often minor and won’t result in significant performance differences. So you shouldn’t worry about this when buying a mini graphics card.
Another issue with compact and low-profile cards is that they’re often older GPUs. Except for the Gigabyte GeForce RTX 4060 OC Low Profile 8G, low-profile cards generally use older GPUs that draw less power and don’t need elaborate cooling solutions. That’s not necessarily a problem, mind you, just something to be aware of before you go shopping.
The best low-profile graphics cards are far removed from the high-performance beasts you can buy in full-size form, but that doesn’t mean they’re useless. They’re perfectly capable of running even AAA titles, as long as you manage your graphics settings and output resolutions adequately.
If you’re building a new rig, the Gigabyte GeForce RTX 4060 OC Low Profile 8G is the best low-profile graphics card for serious 1080p gaming power, although you will need an 8-pin PCIe power cable. Conversely, the Gigabyte Radeon RX 6400 D6 Low Profile 4G is the card for those who want a genuine low-profile GPU without extra power cables.
Need a low-profile CPU cooler to match your tiny graphics card? Check out our list of the best low-profile CPU coolers for some excellent suggestions.