MSI GeForce GT 730 2048MB full review

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MSI GeForce GT 730 2048MB review: Cheap graphics card offers great value, but has little impact on games

This £48 budget graphics card from MSI offers great value, but it doesn't offer a significant boost to framerates. Read our MSI GeForce GT 730 2048MB graphics card review. (See all budget graphics card reviews.)

The GT 730 may be cheap, but it's not terribly simple. That's because the 730 GT chip comes in multiple 'flavours'. Do you go for a version with 1GB, 2GB or 4GB of memory? Do you opt for the card that has a 64bit bus, or the one with a wider 128bit bus, but perhaps inferior clock rates?

Well, when it comes to memory configurations, we certainly wouldn't recommend 4GB. That amount of RAM really is overkill for a card costing this little, while the price of the memory pushes it well beyond the £60 mark - if you're spending this amount of money, you'll almost certainly fare better if you lift your ambitions to a proper £65 product, like the Radeon R7 250X. (Also see: How to upgrade your PC's graphics card.)

However, 1GB vs 2GB is a trickier decision. The difference will amount to an extra £3-£5, and you'll probably net a couple of additional frames per game. Most of the time, you won't be making much use of the extra RAM, but for what little extra it costs to buy, we would recommend the 2GB version.

Of far more importance, though, will be the memory bus and core clock speed. Most of the GT 730s now come with a 64bit memory interface. Originally, it was thought that the 1GB versions would carry a 128bit bus, while the 2GB cards would have only a 64bit bus. As it turns out though, most 730 card manufacturers have decided to use the 64bit interface, regardless of whether there's 1GB or 2GB onboard. In our opinion, that's a mistake, as the narrow 64bit bus really does keep a lid on overall performance. So here we're covering the MSI GeForce GT 730 2048MB. This isn't as easy to find as the 730 with a 64bit memory bus, but it'll produce superior performance for a little extra.

The 128bit MSI GT 730 has a standard memory clock speed of 900MHz, which is then doubled by the GDDR3 to produce an 'effective' figure of 1800MHz. You can find 64bit-bus versions which have higher figures, but these, crucially, will be hampered by their narrow buses. This MSI card produces a memory bandwidth figure of 28.8GB/sec - double that of the 14.4GB/sec rate that would ensue if the 730 had a 64bit bus. This amounts to far more flexibility in the case of the MSI GT 730 and, in our opinion, a 128bit bus is a must-have. (Also see: What's the best budget graphics card 2015.)

If the GT 730 keeps up with the competition on memory clocks, it struggles rather more on texture handling. That's because, with the 128bit GT 730s, you're having to sacrifice some core speed in order to get that wider bus. So whereas this card offers a core clock speed of just 700MHz, a typical 64bit GT 730 might go beyond 900MHz. And even the Radeon R7 240 - which retails for less, but also has the 128bit bus - offers a core clock of 780MHz. Added to this, the Radeon touts more texture units (20 rather than 16) than the 730, and you have a card that struggles on fill rates. Its figure of 11.2GT/sec significantly trails the 14.4GT/sec of a typical 64bit 730, and ends up a long way behind the Radeon R7 240's 15.6GT/sec.

The GT 730 does have more stream processors than the Radeon R7 240 - 384 to 320 - but the card is otherwise fairly standard. Its three ports number one each of DVI, HDMI, and VGA, and no extra connectors are required from the PSU. The 730 consumes a little more power than the R7 240, although the difference is rarely more than around five watts. At this level of performance, you're not likely to need much power. It's not as quiet as some bargain-basement cards we've seen - the R7 240 is marginally softer - but noise levels are still relatively low. (Also see: What's the best graphics card 2015.)

Specs

MSI GeForce GT 730 2048MB: Specs

  • nVidia GeForce GT730
  • 2GB GDDR3 RAM
  • 28nm manufacturing process
  • 700MHz core clock
  • 900MHz memory clock (1800MHz DDR effective)
  • 128-bit memory bus
  • 28.8GB/s memory bandwidth
  • 384 stream processors
  • 16 texture units
  • 8 ROPs
  • 11.2GT/s texture fillrate
  • 1x DVI
  • 1x HDMI
  • 1x VGA
  • 38W TDP
  • 3-year warranty

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