Several graphics cards OEMs have released lower-performing versions of the Nvidia GT 1030 that swap the GDDR5 memory of the reference spec for slower DDR4.
Nvidia’s GT 1030 reference spec has a memory bandwidth of 48GB/s. This is calculated from the GDDR5 memory’s 3GHz clock, which is effectively 6GHz due to the nature of double-data-rate RAM, and the 64bit-wide memory bus. Recently, however, lower-spec’d GT 1030 graphics cards have shown up from MSI, Gigabyte, and Palit. Instead of having the standard 3GHz GDDR5 memory, these cards have DDR4 memory that runs at one-third of the reference card’s memory clock.
For example, MSI’s GT 1030 2G LP OC, which is based on Nvidia’s reference spec, is listed with GDDR5 that has an effective memory memory clock of 6008MHz (~3GHz x 2), whereas the GT 1030 2GD4 LP OC is listed with DDR4 memory that has an effective memory clock of 2100MHz. MSI doesn’t explicitly list memory bandwidth as a part of its spec sheets, but a two-thirds drop in effective memory clock implies a two-thirds drop in memory bandwidth. The GT 1030 2GD4 LP OC should have only 16GB/s of memory bandwidth compared to the reference card’s 48GB/s. Both MSI and Gigabyte differentiate their DDR4-based GT 1030 cards by name with a “D4” denotation, whereas Palit does not.
According to MSI’s spec sheets, the DDR4-based GT 1030 cards, at least, have 10W lower power consumption compared to the reference card, which has 30W total power consumption.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen lower-performing implementations being released in the middle of a GPU’s life cycle. Asrock, which only recently entered the GPU market, also released lower-clocked versions of the AMD RX 560 and RX 550. Although they do not dictate what graphics card OEMs can produce, AMD and Nvidia do rely on reference specs to segment their product stacks. It’s harmful and confusing to consumers when graphics card OEMs, or maybe even the GPU manufacturers themselves, blur their product segmentation after launch with revised products.