The GPU market is terrible right now. Aside from scarcity and overpricing, the MSI 3060 TI Aero and the ASUS 3060 TI Mini is yet to release. Even if these video cards are available, they’d be scarce and expensive. Better have different hobbies in lieu of gaming for at least a couple of years or dab into retro gaming through emulation. I cannot, in good conscience, recommend any of these GPUs at their current prices.
The Ampere Cards look hot literally and figuratively. As of this writing, the current NVIDIA RTX lineup, the 3080 and the 3090[mfn] If you can buy one.[/mfn] will not fit in traditional ITX chassis. Although we are very aware that a significant number of ITX cases can fit these monstrosities, this guide is about ITX GPUs, not GPUs that fit in ITX cases. These ITX variants [mfn] Usually called minis, or for MSI’s part, Aero[/mfn] of GPUs are traditionally made for small PCs not traditionally for mainstream usage but home entertainment.
The first commercially branded “mini” GPU for small form factor enthusiasts was the GTX 760 Mini in 2013 by Asus, shortly followed by MSI. Prior to that, only Zotac has the “mini” versions of graphic cards, not because they cater to the underserved niche, but for undercutting the market. Putting on the shortest heat sink and the bare PCB makes the GPU cheaper. This was how Zotac was introduced to the gamers: their GPUs are the cheapest in exchange for their cards running hotter. Zotac also had the audacity to have them overclockable.
Unfortunately, the prices of small GPUs are getting higher instead of them being cheaper. This is strange since mini GPUs are less costly to manufacture given fewer materials are used in making them. In business, value is relative and prices are dictated by how much a customer is willing to pay. Couple that to the scarcity of supply[mfn] There is not that demand to begin with.[/mfn] hence the SFF tax.
The 3060Ti is reported to be a prime candidate for the “mini” version as it looks like it is impossible to have the 3080 and 3090 to have an ITX version due to their power. Another good postulate is that the Big Navi will be small in size. Remember, they are powering the video gamer consoles. Looking at how small the Xbox Series S is, a GPU equivalent might be possible at 178mm in length–which is our target. For the purpose of this guide, an ITX card is not an ITX card if it does not fit the Velka 3 and its derivatives.
Budget ITX GPU for Gaming: MSI GeForce 1660 Super Aero ITX OC
It is strange that in a budget category, AMD is nowhere to be found. There is no good AMD video card in this category in all honesty. There is just no point in going lower than the 1660 Super. Both the 1660 and 1650 are not just good cards for modern gaming at all, ITX, or not. This particular GPU from MSI is overclockable which makes it better than other variants or other offerings from other companies.
The 1660 Super Aero is powerful enough for eSports titles and even single-player games. There should be no problem running high refresh rates in 1080P or solid 60FPS / 1440P playing modern titles. Obviously, this graphics card is not capable of Raytracing. It also helps that this card is energy efficient and not loud.
Value ITX GPU for Gaming: Geforce RTX 2060 MINI ITX OC 6G
The only thing of “value” for this rec is that it allows the gamer to play with RTX. Otherwise, if you could jump to the RTX 2070, do it. The RTX 2060, although significantly more powerful than 1660 Ti, is just not of value by virtue of it being overpriced. The “normal” RTX 2060 is significantly cheaper than the ITX version. This is mainly due to the rarity of these cards. You are going for a non-value proposition anyway, why not take out an extremely luxurious video card below.
Luxury: MSI / Gigabyte / GALAX 2070 Mini
Oh boy, these things are expensive. They are probably available only in Japan. However, these are the most powerful cards that are also shorter than 180mm. They are just the best for prices that are absolutely luxurious. They are not worth the price and it is better just to wait for the future offerings or just get the 2060, even at its not-quite-value proposition.
As of this writing, the 2070 Mini are extinct. Last year, prices of the MSI Aero and the GALAX 2070 Minis are within the 700-800 USD range on eBay. None of them exists now.