Best GPU without external power

Best Low Power Graphics Cards: No External Power [2020]

Who in their right mind would intentionally buy a low power graphics card?

The graphics card is responsible for creating and processing the image that you see on your monitor.

A powerful graphics card will be able to produce a higher quality and smoother image, resulting in a more enjoyable experience for you.

If you’ve ever tried gaming on a PC with no dedicated graphics card, you’ll know the pain of stuttering, freezing, and even screen tearing.

Integrated graphics are fine for everyday tasks such as surfing the web or word processing. Yet, if you want to have a fun time gaming, producing videos, or use demanding software, you’ll need a dedicated GPU.

The problem with pre-built PC’s is that they don’t offer much room to upgrade. This is when you would upgrade to a graphics card without external power requirements.

Graphics Card

Memory

Core Clock

Boost Clock

Interface

Display Ports

Price

Gigabyte GTX 1650

4GB GDDR5

1485 MHz

1695 MHz

PCIe x16

1x HDMI

1x DVI

Check Price

MSI GTX 1050 TI 

4GB GDDR5

1290 MHz

1392 MHz

PCIe x16


1x DVI
1x HDMI

1x Display Port

Check Price

Sapphire  Radeon RX 550

4GB

1100 MHz

1206 MHz

PCIe x16

1x DVI
1x HDMI

1x Display Port

Check Price

Gigabyte GeForce GT 1030

2GB

1252 MHz

1506 MHz

PCIe x16

1x DVI
1x HDMI

Check Price

MSI GeForce GT 1030 

2GB

1265 MHz

1518 MHz

PCIe x16

1x HDMI

1x Display Port

Check Price


Why Choose A Graphics Card Without External Power?

Just because they don’t require external power, doesn’t mean they’re not powerful.

As technology advances, we’re able to get more performance out of less. The graphics cards that were top of the range and used a lot of power before are now outperformed by these newer, low power graphics cards.

While a majority of the high-end cards require a power input, there are some that work without external power.

You may want a graphics card without external power if you’re limited by your power supply.

Whether it’s a low-wattage power supply or you simply don’t have enough power connectors, you can still run a dedicated graphics card.

This makes the graphics cards listed below perfect for upgrade pre-built computers or for those that cannot afford to upgrade their power supply.

The most powerful GPU that doesn’t need a PSU will still give you 4GB of Memory and clock speeds of up to 1700Mhz. This will allow you to run games such as GTA V on high settings at 60 frames per second.


Factors To Consider When Buying A Graphics Card Without External Power

One of the fun things about computers is that every build is different. Just because a graphics card fits well into another build, doesn’t mean it’s the right graphics card for you.

Because we’re looking at cards that don’t need a power supply connector, I’ve listed a couple of factors you should think about when choosing a card.

They should be considered anyway when buying a graphics card. However, they’re extra important in this situation.

Power Requirements

If you’re limited by your power supply, this is going to be possibly the biggest factor when buying a graphics card.

The graphics cards on this list are low power, most of them will work using a 300W power supply. That said, you don’t want to be in a situation where you’re having to underclock the GPU just to make your computer work.

Pay attention to how much power the graphics card will draw and buy one that your power supply can handle.

The TDP is the best indicator, but, many manufacturers will recommend using a power supply with a specific minimum wattage.

Base Clock Speed

You shouldn’t have to sacrifice performance just because you don’t have an extra power connector.

Some of the low profile graphics cards are overclockable, however, I’d probably avoid doing so. These cards are small and often only have 1 fan to minimize power consumption.

Choosing a card with a high base clock speed will make sure that you get the performance you want, without having to increase power consumption or stress out your graphics card.

Size & Space

If you’re upgrading a pre-built PC or a smaller form factor build, size and space is a big issue.

Most factory-built PCs come in a small case. This is probably because they’re built for the average person. Not everyone wants a full tower sat in their office.

The graphics cards on this list are fairly small and discrete. The longest one being 191mm.

Get the tape measure out and make sure that it fits beforehand. I remember getting a Gigabyte 780 with 3 fans and opening it up on Christmas day, only to find out I had to squeeze it in my case, even cutting out a hard drive bay to make it fit properly.

Display Ports

Everyone dreams of having that multi-monitor setup, especially if you’re a gamer or someone that likes to multi-task.

Because these cards are made for people that want to minimise power consumption for one reason or another, they may have limited display ports.

In my list below, the card with the least amount of connections still has 2 options. The better cards will allow up to 3 monitors.


Best GPU That Doesn’t Need A Power Supply Connection

Gigabyte GTX 1650 OC Low Profile

Gigabyte GTX 1650 OC Low Profile Nbidia GPU

Gigabyte GTX 1650 OC Low Profile Specifications

Memory

Cuda Cores

Core Clock

Boost Clock

Length

Interface

SLI

Outputs

External Power

4GB GDDR5

896

1485 MHz

1695 MHz

166.9mm

PCIe x16

No

1x DVI

1x HDMI
1x Display Port

None

When it comes to choosing the best graphics card without external power, I believe that the Gigabyte GTX 1650 is the one that you want. Make sure it’s the low profile one because the standard version requires a 6pin power connector.

If you pair this card with an average Intel i5 CPU (in this case a 4690k at 3.5GHz) you’ll be able to run the latest games on High settings and consistently stay above 60FPS @1080p. Of course, this will vary from game to game but it gives you a good idea of what to expect.

This gigabyte card comes with 2 fans. Unlike other cards, the fans rotate in the opposite way for improved airflow

Under full load and at 100% fan speed, it sits at around 80 celsius.

When running at 100% fan speed, the card is still reasonably quiet. You won’t hear it while you’ve got a gaming headset on that’s for sure and it’s almost silent under lighter loads.

Thanks to its low profile design, despite having 2 fans, it’s only 167mm long. It also comes with a low profile bracket so that you’re able to fit it in smaller PCs.

Gigabyte suggests using a power supply with a minimum of 300 watts. I’d personally recommend at least a 425-watt power supply, just to play it safe.

Keep in mind It is one of the more power-hungry cards on this list, with a max TDP of 75W.

Overall it’s a very solid card. It provides enough power to run demanding games and software at high settings, with good temps and quiet fans.

The main downsides with this card are the same as any other low-profile card. You’ll find that the card struggles when you really try to push its limits with overclocking and it doesn’t have any SLI support.


MSI GTX 1050 Ti 4GT LP

MSI GTX 1050 Ti 4GT LP Nvidia GPU

MSI GTX 1050 Ti 4GT Low Profile Specifications

Memory

Cuda Cores

Core Clock

Boost Clock

Length

Interface

SLI

Outputs

External Power

4GB GDDR5

768

1290 MHz

1392 MHz

182mm

PCIe x16

No

1x DVI

1x HDMI
1x Display Port

None

For the same amount of money as a 1650, you can go back a generation and get this MSI 1050 TI. There’s not really any benefit to doing this unless you’re a fan of MSI or manage to pick one up cheaper.

When compared to the Gigabyte 1650, this card is slightly less powerful. The base clock speed is 100+ MHz less and the difference in boost clock is even worse.

At the time of release, this card was very good for its price and It still is. You’ll be able to run most modern games on high-ultra settings as long as you have a good CPU to pair with it.

The 2 fans allow you to control the temperature of your PC and the graphics card better. They’re super quiet, even under full load. Let’s be honest, you’ll not be overclocking this card for the extra 100 MHz boost.

For those size queens, MSI has made this card slightly bigger at 182mm in length. That being said it’s still small enough to fit in any PC case.

Unfortunately, the low profile bracket is “optional” so you need to buy it yourself. It’s cheap but for what it’s worth, I feel they should have included it.

MSI recommends using at least a 300W Power Supply. I’d say you’ll be pretty safe with this as long as you’re not running various other power-hungry components. The max TDP is 75W, but I’ve read reviews stating it barely runs above 60W.

If you’re buying a new card, you’ll be better off with the before mentioned 1650. However, if you are able to get a 1050 Ti at a considerably lower price, it’s still a viable option and you won’t be missing out on too much power.


Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 550 (4GB)

Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 550 (4GB) AMD Graphics Card

Sapphire Radeon RX 550 4GB Specifications

Memory

Stream Processors´╗┐

Core Clock

Boost Clock

Length

Interface

X-Fire´╗┐

Outputs

External Power

4GB GDDR5

640

1110 MHz

1206 MHz

158mm

PCIe x16

2-Way

1x DVI

1x HDMI
1x Display Port

None

This is the first and only AMD card on this list, which may come as a surprise.

AMD offers great cards at lots of different price ranges, but they haven’t really made cards without the need for external power.

While the Radeon RX 550 is a 4GB card, which is great, the clock speeds are significantly lower than the previous 2 cards. For example, the boost clock doesn’t even match the core clock on a 1050 Ti.

Unfortunately for the gamers out there, to get 60 FPS on most modern games, you’ll need to run them at medium quality settings using this card.

If you’re looking to run the latest AAA Titles, you should probably buy the 1650. Whereas if you play games such as Dota, CSGO, League Of Legends, and even Minecraft this card will handle them without issue.

Despite the low clock speeds and relatively poor FPS on AAA titles, don’t right this card off just yet.

As you can see, the card only has one fan and is significantly smaller coming in at 158mm in length. It also has a max TDP of 65W, making it the least power-hungry card so far on this list.

While you’re probably not doing any serious gaming with this card, it certainly has its place.

It’s a small card with 4GB of memory that’ll slot right into budget builds and “console” type builds. You’ll also find it much smoother than running integrated graphics.

For under $100, you can’t really go wrong.


Gigabyte GeForce GT 1030 Low Profile 2GB

Gigabyte GeForce GT 1030 Low Profile 2GB Graphics Card

Gigabyte GeForce GT 1030 Low Profile Specifications

Memory

Cuda Cores

Core Clock

Boost Clock

Length

Interface

SLI

Outputs

External Power

2GB GDDR5

384

1252 MHz

1506 MHz

150mm

PCIe x16

No

1x DVI

1x HDMI

None

Coming in at a very similar price to the Radeon RX550, this Gigabyte GeForce GT 1030 has half the memory but higher clock speeds.

The GT1030 is seen as a slightly better card for gaming but it is much slower at multi-rendering and other basic functions.

Because this is a budget card, don’t expect it to run smoothly when playing the latest games. You can watch how it performs on games released in 2019 here.

It’s certainly a step up from integrated graphics, and it will allow you to run lighter games such as CSGO & LoL on max settings around 100fps.

The best thing about this card is the fact that it really is “low profile”. It has one, really quiet fan and measures at 150mm in length. The max TDP is 30W which is half of what the 4gb cards require.

With this card, you’ll receive the low profile bracket and access to the one-click overclocking software to help you reach that 1506 MHz boost clock.

There’s no doubt about this card being good value for money. Seeing as it was released back in 2017, it could be a little outdated. However, as a budget gaming card or general upgrade from integrated, it’s definitely worth the price.

A nice option for those that want to switch from current generation consoles to a small form factor PC.


MSI GeForce GT 1030 2GH LP OC

MSI GeForce GT 1030 2GH LP OC Graphcis Card

MSI GeForce GT 1030 2GH LP OC Specifications

Memory

Cuda Cores

Core Clock

Boost Clock

Length

Interface

SLI

Outputs

External Power

2GB GDDR5

384

1265 MHz

1518 MHz

153mm

PCIe x16

No

1x HDMI

1x Display Port

None

I wasn’t going to include this card because it’s “just another 1030”. You’d probably be right in saying so, however, It’s definitely an interesting option.

The first graphics card I ever had was an MSI one and it still lives to tell the tale. That being said, you probably don’t want to hold onto a 1030 for too long, games are improving at an unbelievable rate.

As far as the clock speeds go, this MSI card is slightly faster than the Gigabyte one. The difference is negligible, as it’s a matter of 5 or 6 Mhz, but it’s still technically faster.

If you look at the GPU, you’ll actually see that there’s not a fan. MSI uses a large heatsink which covers the GPU and memory area. This allows the card to stay virtually silent, no matter the load you put it under. I also think it looks cooler, but that’s my personal opinion.

With this card, you’ll receive the low profile bracket as well as access to MSI’s reputable overclocking software, allowing you to squeeze as much as possible out of your card.

The fact that you can control the Afterburner overclocking software with your iOS or Android device is slightly unnecessary but cool nonetheless.

Being the quietest and second smallest GPU on the list, I’d recommend MSI’s GT 1030 for small form factor gaming and use in media PCs.


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