Power Consumption & Wrap Up!
When it comes to power consumption, both cards are about equal. As you might expect, the GeForce 10 series card was slightly more fuel efficient but even so, overall system consumption as just 9% lower. Neither card requires a PCIe power connector and both run cool so I see this as a non-issue for these models.
Picking between these two entry-level discrete graphics cards isn't easy. As we've just seen, depending on the title used for testing, one GPU can be quite a bit faster than the other.
The only game to throw up mixed results was Overwatch and those targeting high fps in this title will be better off with the GT 1030 while the RX 550 is more suitable for someone interested in great visuals as it handled the higher quality presets better.
Overall though, the RX 550 looks less enticing. It only really came out ahead in three titles: it was much better in Battlefield 1 and Rocket League, and slightly better in StarCraft II.
Meanwhile, the GT 1030 was miles better in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and Quake Champions, much better in Rainbow Six Siege and Dota 2, and slightly better in Counter Strike and World of Tanks.
If I had to pick between both cards, the GeForce GT 1030 seems like a better product and the passively cooled MSI model we used for testing was really neat. There is however the question of whether or not anyone should invest in these budget entry-level cards to begin with.
In the case of the RX 550, it's a seriously tough sell even at the $80 MSRP, let alone the $90 they are currently fetching. For just $30 more, the GTX 1050 is readily available and we recently saw that model delivering 90% more frames in Destiny 2 at 1080p, which works out to 33% more money for around 90% more performance.
It's really much the same with the GT 1030 though from a price perspective it does make a heck of a lot more sense. The GTX 1050 is around 70% more expensive so the fact that it was again about 90% faster in Destiny 2 isn't that bad when it comes to price vs. performance.
The $50 gap separating the GT 1030 and GTX 1050 is quite large and it makes the GT 1030 a viable option, even if the GTX 1050 is a better value overall. Assuming that card is out of your budget, the GT 1030 is the next best thing and makes for the perfect pairing with a processor like the Pentium G4560. This would make for the ultimate budget esports combo in my opinion.