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Best budget GPU for 2022: GTX 1630 vs GTX 1650 vs RX 6400 vs 6500 XT vs Arc A380

AMD RX 6500 XT promo image

A few days back, Nvidia quietly released its new GeForce GTX 1630, 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 $150-160 and sometimes even more.

According to official performance numbers by Inno3D, the card is around the same performance of the in 2016 launched GTX 1050 Ti. The latter was actually priced lower than the GTX 1630 which literally means no progress has been made in these six years in terms of overall value.

GTX 1630 official performance numbers vs GTX 1050 Ti by Inno3D

There is also another way to look at this scenario. The GTX 1630 should generally be around twice as fast as its $70 GT 1030 predecessor which makes it a decent jump in terms of performance generation wise. However, Nvidia has also priced the new 1630 by more than double and some partner models from add-in-board (AIB) vendors like EVGA are even sitting at $199.99, which is in the territory of the RX 6500 XT, a card that is typically much faster on PCIe 3.0 and 4.0 boards (performance comparisons are available later in the article).

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 the case for this level of performance previously.

To make matters worse, the new GTX 1630 launches at a time when GPUs are tumbling in prices and as such, the $150 or more its asking for can be a hard sell as AMD also has its own offerings in this price range, with Intel also jumping in soon with its very own Arc A380 graphics card.

As such, 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.

1) Gaming:

Gaming is of course the first criteria as it's 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 both come equipped with just four lanes of PCIe (x4). So to determine the best 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 framerates 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
AC Valhalla 20.2 13.4 14.3
Cyberpunk 2077 19.2 16.4 14.4
Deathloop 26.5 20.0 22.3
DOOM Eternal 61.4 42.7 44.0
F1 2021 49.8 27.8 36.2
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

Source: TechPowerUp

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.

However, it is noteworthy here that a lot of the performance figures are far below the 30fps number mark which is considered playable for an entry-level PC. As such, some of the graphics settings must be lowered to reach playable numbers. This means the RX 6400 on a PCIe 3.0 board is much more likely to gain as reduced settings (that include textures, anti-aliasing, pixel count and such) should lessen the negative impact on the PCIe bus. This means most of the advantages that the GTX 1630 has in the above table - in titles like God of War, Watch Dogs Legion, AC Valhalla, and Cyberpunk 2077 - are going to vaporize once the settings are lowered.

F1 2021, however, looks like the only game where even lower settings may not be enough as the gap between the RX 6400 on PCIe 3.0 and GTX 1630 is pretty big. Plus it is already close to playable 30fps, though a lot of gamers do tend to prefer a 60fps experience in racing simulators like these.

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, sporting PCIe 2.0 or PCIe 1.1, the GTX 1630 will be the better buy as it comes with all the 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 separate comparison for that.

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:

PCIe version and number number of slots on motherboard

While the GTX 1630, RX 6400 and 6500 XT were the main contenders for this guide, we are also going to look at other older options options in this price range that are still viable alternatives.

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.

Here is an example of a great GTX 1650 SUPER deal: You can pickup the EVGA GTX 1650 SUPER SC Ultra Gaming at $199.99 on Amazon US or $199.99 on Newegg US.

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.

GTX 1650

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.

Arc A380

Intel's Arc desktop graphics cards are currently not available outside of China, some reviews of the the card are out. Although Intel promised better value then AMD and Nvidia, the benchmarks reviews are not quite matching up. But still Intel has put up respectable numbers for a first time attempt. 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 is very limited so far, 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 a quick TL;DR of the gaming performance one can expect from these GPUs when paired with 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, we still added it for comparison, best to worst.

  • PCIe 1.1: 1650 SUPER > 1650 > A380 > 1630 >> 6500 XT >= 6400

  • PCIe 2.0: 1650 SUPER > 1650 > A380 > 1630 > 6500 XT > 6400

  • PCIe 3.0: 1650 SUPER > 6500 XT > 1650 > A380 > 6400 > 1630

  • PCIe 4.0: 1650 SUPER >= 6500 XT > 1650 > 6400 > A380 > 1630

  • PCIe 5.0: 1650 SUPER >= 6500 XT > 1650 > 6400 > A380 > 1630

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
GTX 1630
  1. Full PCIe x16 so good for all motherboards.
  2. Consistent performance across all games.
  1. Too expensive for the performance offered.
  2. Slower than RX 6400 at playable settings on PCIe 3.0 and 4.0.
  3. Higher power draw than RX 6400.
~$130
RX 6400
  1. Generally faster than GTX 1630 even on PCIe 3.0 boards.
  2. Low profile options available.
  3. Lower power draw than GTX 1630.
  1. Minimum PCIe 3.0 motherboard necessary for acceptable performance since this a PCIe x4 card.
~$150
RX 6500 XT
  1. Decent performance and power efficiency on a PCIe 4.0 board.
  1. Minimum PCIe 3.0 is absolutely necessary for acceptable performance since this a PCIe x4 card.
  2. Low profile options not readily available.
~$180
GTX 1650
  1. Full PCIe x16 so good for all motherboards.
  2. Consistent performance across all games.
  1. The GDDR6 version is only about 10% faster than GDDR5 one but can be significantly more expensive.
  2. Generally slower than 6500 XT even when it's a PCIe 3.0 board.
~$175
GTX 1650 SUPER
  1. Full PCIe x16 so good for all motherboards.
  2. Consistent performance across all games.
  3. Even better than the RX 6500 XT even when it's a PCIe 4.0 system.
  1. Requires additional 6-pin power connector.
~$205
Arc A380
  1. PCIe x8 so good for all supported motherboards.
  2. Should be faster than RX 6400 on a PCIe 3.0 system.
  1. Very new so game support may be sub-optimal compared to AMD and Nvidia GPUs.
  2. May require additional 6-pin power connector on some models.
  3. Limited motherboard support so far.
  4. Performance on AMD Ryzen system looks really bad but promise of future optimization is there.
~$145

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:

Decode
H.264 (AVC) H.265 (HEVC) H.266 (VVC) VP9 AV1
GTX 1630
RX 6400
RX 6500 XT
GTX 1650
GTX 1650 SUPER
Arc A380
Encode
H.264 (AVC) H.265 (HEVC) H.266 (VVC) VP9 AV1
GTX 1630
RX 6400
RX 6500 XT
GTX 1650
GTX 1650 SUPER
Arc A380

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.

Our stories may contain affiliate links for products/apps where Neowin is paid an affiliate fee if you complete a purchase via those links.


Update: Fixed PCIe 5.0 performance data.

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