Nvidia, which is the GPU market leader, quietly released its new GeForce GTX 1630 recently. It is a relatively modern entry-level GPU that succeeds the GT 1030 that came out five years ago in 2017. There is good reason though as to why the Green team has been silent with this launch and it may have a lot to do with the launch price of the new 1630 which is around $150 and sometimes even more, despite being a xx30-tier class product. Perhaps to justify the relatively high price of its new budget offering, Nvidia has also named the new 1630 with its "GTX" moniker instead of using the "GT" that has typically been associated with this level of performance previously.
According to official data by Inno3D, which was later verified by independent reviews, the GTX 1630 is around the same performance of the GTX 1050 Ti launched back in 2016. The latter was actually priced lower than the GTX 1630 which literally means no progress has been made in these six years for performance-per-dollar.
In this article we look at how the GTX 1630 fares against its primary rival, the RX 6400 in gaming as well as some other scenarios like as a streaming option and an HTPC driver. Comprehensive comparisons with other cards which are around this price range are also presented later. We also pit it against the RX 6500 XT, Arc A380, A310 as well as Nvidia's own GTX 1650 and 1650 SUPER to determine the best value cards for under $200.
In case you are looking for a quick TL;DR, scroll down where we summarised the gaming performance of the cards across different generations of PCIe standard.
Gaming is of course the first criteria as it is by far the biggest reason why most people buy graphics cards at around ~$150 and up range. What makes the recommendation tricky though is the fact that the AMD Radeon RX 6400 and its bigger sibling the 6500 XT, based on the Navi 24 GPU, feature just four lanes of PCIe (x4). So to determine the better card, we look at game benchmarks for the Radeon RX 6400 and compare it to the GTX 1630, courtesy of fellow media outlet TechPowerUp.
The first two columns show the average frame rates for the 6400 on PCIe 4.0 and PCIe 3.0 boards respectively, while the third column has the GTX 1630 numbers. The tested resolution is 1080p which is reasonable for the level of performance these GPUs offer.
|RX 6400 PCIe 4.0||RX 6400 PCIe 3.0||GTX 1630|
|Far Cry 6||41.0||33.4||26.3|
|God of War||23.4||15.2||15.5|
|Watch Dogs Legion||22.6||18.2||13.1|
|Average of 25 games||38.3||33.9||23.7|
The data suggests that it's a close call between the RX 6400 on PCIe 3.0 and the 1630, though, there are instances where either of these fall quite far behind the other. These cases have been emboldened to signify that the other card is significantly faster.
What's noteworthy is that a lot of the average frame rate numbers in the table above are far below the 30fps mark which is considered playable for an entry-level PC. As such, some of the graphics settings must be lowered to reach playable numbers which in turn will also reduce the impact on the PCIe 3.0 bus and the VRAM buffer of the RX 6400, and hence, it is likely to gain considerably more than the 1630. Therefore, the frame rate advantages that the GTX 1630 has in the above table - in titles like God of War, Watch Dogs Legion, AC Valhalla, F1 2021, and Cyberpunk 2077 - are going to vaporize once the settings are dropped.
Therefore, it looks like for gaming, the RX 6400 is the better bet in most situations even on a PCIe 3.0 board. In cases where your motherboard is even older, like those sporting PCIe 2.0 or PCIe 1.1, the GTX 1630 will be the better buy as it comes with the full 16 lanes (x16).
The story is similar for the Radeon RX 6500 XT too, which is the bigger sibling of the RX 6400. Hence, we are not including a separate comparison for that. However, it is only applicable to the 4GB variant of the 6500 XT as the rarer 8GB VRAM model should not be crippled by the lack of PCIe lanes. In the case of the latter, you should expect to see the same or slightly better performance than the 6500 XT 4GB paired up with PCIe 4.0.
How to know the PCIe version of your motherboard?
In case you are not sure about the PCIe version on your motherboard, a great way to check that via software is to use the HWiNFO utility. In the case of my own system which sports a Gigabyte A520 motherboard, there are 16 PCIe 3.0 lanes for my graphics card as you can see below:
Next up we move on to the GTX 1650 and SUPER, followed by the Arc 3 line-up.
GTX 1650 SUPER
The GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER is still mighty capable especially if you can find it around the ~$200 mark. It is unwise to pay more as there are Radeon RX 6600 models selling for as low as just $300 that are twice as fast as the 1650 SUPER.
In fact, the GTX 1650 SUPER is an even better card to look for than either the RX 6400 or RX 6500 XT. That's because the 1650 SUPER comes with the full 16 lanes like the 1630 does and hence is unlikely to suffer from issues when its 4GB VRAM and PCIe bus get saturated as long as you are playing with reasonable graphics settings.
The only drawback for the GTX 1650 SUPER is the requirement of an additional 6-pin power connector which means it cannot be used in any system that lacks additional PCIe power cables.
Like the GTX 1650 SUPER, the vanilla GTX 1650 is also a decent alternative for the RX 6400 if you can find it for around ~$165-175. The card trades blows with the RX 6400 on PCIe 4.0 and therefore is a better option as it comes with full 16 PCIe lanes.
Intel's Arc discrete graphics cards are the new toys to play around with. The lower end of the market sees two Arc SKUs, the Arc A380 and the Arc A310. While the A380 has been officially priced at $139, Intel has yet to reveal the price of the A310. We believe a $99 MSRP would be competitive.
With further optimizations, things are likely to get better as Arc ages. However, although the card has eight lane PCIe width, which is plenty for a card of this calibre, support especially on AMD PCs is very limited currently, though Intel did confirm to Neowin that Arc will, in the near future, fully support AMD's systems too via its Smart Access Memory tech.
Here's the quick TL;DR of the gaming performance that we had mentioned of earlier. We have summarised the general average performance of the cards across PCIe 1.1, PCIe 2.0, PCIe 3.0, PCIe 4.0 and PCIe 5.0 motherboards. Although PCIe 5.0 on budget boards is extremely unlikely and none of these GPUs support it anyway, we still added it in the comparison. They have been listed from best to worst (left to right):
PCIe 1.1: 1650 SUPER > 6500 XT 8GB > 1650 > A380 > 1630 > A310 >> 6500 XT 4GB = 6400
PCIe 2.0: 1650 SUPER > 6500 XT 8GB > 1650 > A380 > 1630 > 6500 XT 4GB > A310 > 6400
PCIe 3.0: 1650 SUPER > 6500 XT 8GB > 6500 XT 4GB > 1650 > A380 > 6400 > 1630 > A310
PCIe 4.0: 1650 SUPER >= 6500 XT 8GB >= 6500 XT 4GB > 1650 > 6400 > A380 > 1630 > A310
PCIe 5.0: 1650 SUPER >= 6500 XT 8GB >= 6500 XT 4GB > 1650 > 6400 > A380 > 1630 > A310
For a more in-depth look at the pros and cons of each card in terms of gaming, we have prepared a table below listing those as well as our recommended prices based on the current market at the time of writing (June-July 2022). Readers can draw their own conclusions from it depending on their system and gaming needs.
|GPU||Pros||Cons||Recommended price to buy at|
|RX 6500 XT 4GB||
|RX 6500 XT 8GB||
|GTX 1650 SUPER||
Buy: Amazon US ; Amazon UK
Buy: Amazon US, Amazon UK
2) Streaming and HTPC:
While people do primarily use graphics cards for gaming or other 3D-based applications, these products are also useful for their video decoding and encoding capabilities. As such, they can be used to stream or record games or can be used to set up a capable home theater PC (HTPC).
For this we have a look at the support for popular and important video codecs on these GPUs and determine what is/are the best option(s) depending on use case. The first table looks at decoding support while the second one shows encoding:
|H.264 (AVC)||H.265 (HEVC)||H.266 (VVC)||VP9||AV1|
|RX 6500 XT||✔||✔||✔|
|GTX 1650 SUPER||✔||✔||✔|
|H.264 (AVC)||H.265 (HEVC)||H.266 (VVC)||VP9||AV1|
|RX 6500 XT|
|GTX 1650 SUPER||✔||✔|
As you can see in the encoding table above, the Intel Arc A380 is the only budget GPU capable of both decoding and encoding AV1. In fact, Intel right now is the only company which offeres AV1 encoding with its new Alchemist GPUs, beating AMD and Nvidia to the feat. Intel is also the only one to support VP9 encoding.
The AMD Navi 24-based RX 6400 and RX 6500 XT however are by far the worst as they don't have any encoding block on them at all, even missing ancient H.264 support. The decoding department is also nothing spectacular as it also lacks AV1 decoding, something which is available on other Radeon RX 6000 GPUs.
It was expected that the new H.266 or VVC codec will become more popular by end of 2022 but that does not seem to be the case. As such, none of the GPUs support it as of now but there is not much to lose here since content is almost non-existent. In case you are interested, you can view some sample VVC file comparisons at this link.
Summing it all up as we reach the end of this article, choosing computer parts for a DIY build is always a bit tricky, and graphics cards are no different. There are so many things to consider like performance, price, power draw, among others. We made this guide to make choosing a little easier for our readers by considering the above factors. If you found the information here helpful, feel free to share it with others.
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