If you’re looking to build a small-form-factor gaming PC, in this guide, we’ve listed seven of the best low-profile video cards at various price-points and performance levels to help you find the right option for your system.
Up until the rise in interest in small-form-factor systems started a few years back, there weren’t a lot of options for mini or low-profile components. Nowadays, more and more PC hardware and components are becoming available in smaller sizes. Graphics cards are no different. While there still aren’t an enormous amount of mini or low profile graphics cards on the market, there are definitely more available now than there have been in the past. In fact, there are now small-form-factor video cards available that hold the highest-end single-GPUs available. And, that means that, if you are looking to build a small-form-factor gaming PC, you’ve never had more potential to build a high-end system inside of a smaller chassis as you do today.
In this guide, we’re going to take a look at seven of the best low-profile video cards across a range of price points and performance levels. So, if you are planning on building a smaller system, there are compact graphics card options below that will suit your needs regardless of whether you have a larger budget or a lower budget.
*NOTE: It should be noted that in this guide, we’ve taken a look at two different styles of small-form-factor video cards: mini graphics cards, and low-profile graphics cards. Low-profile graphics cards aren’t as long or as tall as standard graphics cards, and mini graphics cards aren’t as long as standard graphics cards, but typically come in similar heights. So, if height clearance will be an issue for your build, you might want to stick to looking at the low-profile options below.
A Quick Look at the Best Low-Profile Video Cards
In order to help you make your decision as easy as possible, we’ve provided a quick look table below that lists our top picks for the best low-profile and mini video cards at a variety of categories. We’ve chosen our pick for the best high-end mini video card, the best-overall low-profile video card, the best mid-range option, and the best affordable low-profile graphics card.
*If you want to read our full overview on each of the graphics cards listed above, click on the “Read Review »” and you’ll be taken to our write-up on it. You can also read overviews on our Honorable Mention picks by scrolling further down on this page.
Top Mini Graphics Card:
ZOTAC GTX 1080 Ti
Who says big things don’t come in small packages? Zotac’s Mini GTX 1080 Ti is the first small-form-factor graphics card to feature a flagship GPU in it. And, if you’re looking to build a powerful mini gaming PC that can push games on a 4K monitor or a 1440P 144Hz monitor, then the Zotac Mini GTX 1080 Ti is your best bet.
Of course, at a little over $650, the Mini GTX 1080 Ti won’t come cheap. But, if you are working with a larger budget and you want the most powerful smaller graphics card around, then Zotac’s Mini GTX 1080 Ti will be the option for you.
The card measures in at 8.3″ long and 4.9″ tall, which definitely makes it the largest option on this list. And, if you’re looking to build a system inside of a slim-designed case, or a case where GPU clearance height is an issue, this card (and any other mini-style card) won’t be an option.
Still, though, this GTX 1080 Ti is small enough to fit in a number of popular mini-ITX cases, including the NZXT H200i, the Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ITX and Evolv Shift, the Corsair 250D, the BitFenix Prodigy, the Thermaltake Core X1, and plenty others.
Ultimately, Zotac’s Mini GTX 1080 Ti is the most powerful mini graphics card currently available. The other options on this list focus on more affordable options, especially since the most powerful low-profile-style card is a GTX 1050 Ti. However, you can get mini GTX 1080s, mini GTX 1070 Tis, and mini GTX 1070s as well, if you do want a higher-end card, but you don’t want to pony up the ~$650 it will take to get this mini GTX 1080 Ti.
Best Low-Profile Video Card:
ZOTAC GTX 1050 Ti
If you need a graphics card that is shorter in height, you’ll find that there aren’t many higher-end GPU options out there. In fact, the most powerful GPU that is available in a low-profile form-factor is a GTX 1050 Ti. Fortunately, though, a GTX 1050 Ti will offer decent performance and should be able to play most games on at least medium settings on a budget-friendly 1080P monitor.
Currently, there are three different GTX 1050Tis, but of the available options, Zotac’s stands out as being the best option, mostly because it comes in at ~$20 cheaper than the other low-profile GTX 1050 Tis, and secondly because it has a dual fan cooler, whereas the other options only have single fans.
The card comes in at 6.9″ long and only 2.8″ tall, meaning that it will be a good option for slim-style mini cases as well.
Overall, while the GTX 1050 Ti won’t allow you to jump into ultra-high-resolution gaming, or be able to push a 1440P 144Hz monitor, if all you want is a solid in-game experience on a 1080P monitor, this graphics card should work for you.
Best Value Mini GPU:
EVGA GTX 1060
If you do have room to fit a taller graphics card in your system, the EVGA GTX 1060 SC 6GB would be a nice upgrade over the Zotac GTX 1050 Ti listed above for about ~$100 more.
The EVGA GTX 1060 SC comes in at 6.8″ long and 4.4″ tall, so it won’t fit in a lot of super slim cases, but it will fit in quite a few of the “boxier” mini-ITX cases out there.
For performance, you can expect to max out any game (even today’s top titles) on a 1080P monitor with the GTX 1060. And, while budget-oriented gamers might be better off with an AMD RX 580 at a similar price-point to a GTX 1060 6GB because of the option to pair it with an affordable 144Hz FreeSync monitor, unfortunately, there are no mini RX 580s out there. (However, there is a small RX 570 listed as our first Honorable Mention that would make a good choice for anyone who wants to pair their system with a FreeSync monitor.)
But, while you can’t pair this build with a FreeSync monitor, you can pair it with an NVIDIA G-Sync monitor. G-Sync monitors will cost you quite a bit, but we have put together a list of somewhat affordable G-Sync displays (and by somewhat, we mean that there aren’t any under ~$350…)
Ultimately, though, if you don’t quite have the budget to get a GTX 1080 Ti mini graphics card (or even a mini GTX 1070), but you want something that will be able to max out games on a 1080P monitor, and you have a case that will accommodate it, this mini GTX 1060 6GB would be a worthy option for you.
Cheap Low-Profile Video Card:
MSI Radeon RX 560
For those of you that are looking for an affordable low-profile video card that will offer them decent in-game performance on a 1080P monitor, then the MSI Radeon RX 560 low-profile graphics card might be the choice for you.
The MSI RX 560 measures in at 6.6″ long and 2.7″ tall, making it one of the smallest options on this list. As for performance, the RX 560 is by no means a high-end option. However, it should hold up well for 1080P gaming as it is powerful enough to run pretty much any game on at least lower settings on a 1080P monitor.
If you play games like Rocket League, or League of Legends, or Dota 2, or any other non-demanding esports title, the RX 560 4GB will offer you more than enough performance. And, as it is an AMD-based card, it will also pair nicely with a FreeSync monitor, which will help you out even more in those esports-type titles.
Ultimately, the RX 560 isn’t going to give you high-end in-game performance. However, it will allow you to play more demanding games on an affordable 1080P monitor and it will easily handle non-demanding titles. And, of course, it is pretty affordable and it comes in a low-profile form factor, making it a great option for budget-friendly slim gaming PC builds.
Honorable Mention #1:
SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 570
In a lot of ways, the SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 570 mini graphics card makes more sense as our top mid-range graphics card than does the mini GTX 1060 6GB card that we chose. No, the RX 570 4GB won’t outperform the GTX 1060 6GB in any game. However, an RX 570 paired with an AMD FreeSync monitor will be a much more affordable combination that a GTX 1060 paired with a G-Sync monitor will be.
And, so, if you’re a competitive gamer (or any other type of gamer) that is looking to build a mini PC and who wants to utilize variable refresh rate technology for the smoothest gameplay possible, you might want to consider choosing the RX 570 over the GTX 1060 listed above—especially if price is a concern to you.
Other than that, the RX 570 4GB will offer you good enough performance to be able to max out just about any game on a 1080P monitor. It won’t offer as high of an average framerate as a GTX 1060 will, but it should still offer ideal performance in most games (at 1080P).
The card measures in at 6.7″ long and 4.4″ tall, so it is right in line with the EVGA GTX 1060, too.
Ultimately, I’d recommend the RX 570 if you have a moderate budget and will ultimately want to use an AMD FreeSync monitor with your system.
Honorable Mention #2:
Gigabyte GTX 1050
Another option for those of you that are looking for a budget-friendly low-profile video card is Gigabyte’s GTX 1050 2GB low-profile card. While the GTX 1050 2GB is capable of delivering decent performance on lower graphics settings on a 1080P monitor, since it currently comes in at a similar price to the MSI RX 560 4GB low-profile card listed above, you’d be better off going with the 560 instead.
However, if the card does ever go on sale, or if you just prefer using NVIDIA-based cards, then it is definitely a viable option.
The Gigabyte GTX 1050 Low Profile card measures in at 6.6″ long and 2.7″ tall—so, right in line with the other low-profile cards on this list.
Again, though, for the price, you’d get more performance out of an RX 560 and so my recommendation would be to go that route than to choose this GTX 1050.
Honorable Mention #3:
ZOTAC GT 1030
I know we’ve included a lot of Zotac cards in this list, but the Zotac GT 1030 2GB low-profile video card is another option that might be worth considering for anyone who is looking to build an entry-level small-form-factor gaming PC.
Part of the reason why Zotac’s mini/low-profile video cards are heavily featured on this list is simply that they offer more cards in a small form-factor than any other graphics card manufacturer. And, the other reason is that, of the competing options that are out there, Zotac offers this mini/low-profile cards at a much lower cost.
So, if it seems like we’re favoring Zotac cards, I promise you, we’re not! It’s just that from a value standpoint, they seem to have the best low-profile and mini video card offerings.
In any case, this low-profile Zotac GT 1030 probably won’t make a lot of sense for the majority of system builders. Even gamers who are looking to build an entry-level gaming PC might be better off foregoing a graphics card altogether (and choosing a new Ryzen-based APU) than to put a GT 1030 in their system,
However, if you already have an older small form-factor PC and you need a cheap low-profile GPU that you can upgrade to in order to hold you over until you can afford something more high-end, then this card is a worthy option.
Is A Mini or Low-Profile Video Card Right for You?
If you’re planning on building a gaming computer inside of a mini-ITX or micro-ATX case and you need a smaller graphics card that will fit inside of it, one of the options above should work for you. If you want to check out higher-end options, or even just some standard-size graphics cards, check out our two guides below for more video card options.