Gaming Performance

Since this is our first experience with Kepler, we ran the GeForce GT 640M through its paces at each of our presets despite the internal panel of the Acer TimelineU M3 only running at 1366x768. In the process we ran into a bug with Battlefield 3, though, where that game would crash every time we tried to change video settings in-game with a secondary screen connected. As a result we only have Battlefield 3 results at our "Value" preset.

Unfortunately we're also pretty shy on results of notebooks using our current gaming benchmarks, so for now these charts are going to feel a little spare. Thankfully, the most interesting comparison (that between the GTX 560M and the GT 640M) is something we can definitely provide.

Batman: Arkham City - Value

Battlefield 3 - Value

Civilization V - Value

DiRT 3 - Value

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim - Value

Portal 2 - Value

Total War: Shogun 2 - Value

The 640M produces reasonable performance in each game. Given how it's tough to gauge just what clocks the 640M is running at and how little we can reveal about what we know of Kepler, it's difficult to pinpoint exactly what the bottleneck might be. It's entirely possible that at the Value preset is CPU-limited between the ASUS and Acer, while the 6650M in the Sony Vaio Z2 is likely bandwidth limited due to being used on a Thunderbolt connection and thus reduced to PCIe x4 speeds.

Batman: Arkham City - Mainstream

Civilization V - Mainstream

DiRT 3 - Mainstream

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim - Mainstream

Portal 2 - Mainstream

Total War: Shogun 2 - Mainstream

I'll take it as a point of pride that NVIDIA uses almost all of our benchmarks in their reviewer's guide, but what's interesting is that all of our results here are actually a touch higher than what we were told to expect. At 1600x900 the GT 640M is undoubtedly feeling the pinch from the 128-bit DDR3 memory bus, but it still holds its own. This is about the highest resolution you could conceivably want to run this GPU at, at least without GDDR5 (which the 640M does support).

Batman: Arkham City - Enthusiast

Civilization V - Enthusiast

DiRT 3 - Enthusiast

Portal 2 - Enthusiast

Total War: Shogun 2 - Enthusiast

I've never seen a GPU with a 128-bit memory bus and DDR3 memory acquit itself particularly well at 1080p, and NVIDIA isn't about to change that with the GT 640M in the Acer TimelineU. At this point the chip's limited memory bandwidth is just plain overwhelmed and can't keep up, shader power be damned.

With all that information now on the table, it's reasonable to say the GT 640M is definitely a powerful GPU and certainly a step forward from the Fermi-based GT 540M. At 768p, even a DDR3-equipped 640M is undoubtedly going to provide the excellent gaming experience that NVIDIA promises, but anywhere beyond that is still going to require more memory bandwidth, full stop. There's only so much one can do with the die before having to make that concession, and I feel like the 640M needs GDDR5 to really shine.

Application and Futuremark Performance Battery, Heat, and Screen Performance
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  • Finraziel - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    Hell, my old 15" laptop from 2002 had a 1400x1050 screen (and a buddy at the same time had one with 1920x1200, I don't think you can even get that anymore and no 1080 isn't as good)... It's ridiculous how laptopscreens only seem to get worse over time. Reply
  • Mitch89 - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    I have fond memories of the WSXGA+ panel in my Dell 8600, 1680x1050 in a 15.4in display was awesome. You could even get a WUXGA 1920x1200 panel as well.

    That was 2003, yet this 1366x768 crap is still being offered today.

    Very much looking forward to Apple pushing the envelope on laptop displays, the 1920x1200 display on my 17" Pro is good, but a res bump would be sweet. (and please offer a matte option...)
    Reply
  • SnowCat00 - Saturday, March 17, 2012 - link

    My Thinkpad T60P from five years ago has 1680 X 1050 15 inch panel, the one thing holding me back from replacing it is all the crappy panels that are going into laptops lately... For once I say Go Apple! I hope the new Ipad pushes manufactures to start putting better screens inyo there tablets and laptops. Reply
  • Mumrik - Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - link

    Yup.

    I stopped reading after I noticed the resolution. It's time for this shit to end. Since LCDs took over we've been in a race towards the bottom - lower resolutions and worse and worse panels.
    I really hope the dick measuring contest in the smartphone and tablet space leads to more high and ultra high resolution IPS (and with time OLED) displays in laptops and desktop monitors. So few even offer a high res alternative these days.
    Reply
  • VoraciousGorak - Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - link

    Yeah.

    "...one of the most compelling notebooks we've seen yet..."

    Screen Resolution: 768p

    /me scrolls down to comments to complain, then hits Back button on browser.
    Reply
  • Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    Seriously. Is 1366x768 a good replacement for 1024x768? Sure. For 1280x800? No. Likewise, I'm fine with 1600x900 rather than 1440x900, and 1920x1080 instead of 1680x1050, but going from 1920x1200 to 1920x1080 is...well, it's just insulting.

    Manufacturers: If you're really hell bent for leather on shoving wider screens down our throats, the least you could do is give us 2048x1152, which still fits into the single-link DVI spec. How about 2400x1350? It divides nicely into 1600x900 for gaming and other 3D applications, and still gives you that shiny high-res look for regular 2D stuff.

    I suppose 2048x1280 or even 2048x1536 on a desktop monitor is just too much to ask...
    Reply
  • Malih - Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - link

    This will depend on whether Windows 8 can deliver good hi dpi support, currently some applications break when setting the text size of text to other than default, and non apple laptops use Windows, so they're somewhat held back by compatibility issues.
    I believe Metro apps will adapt well with high resolution, but this is not the case with some desktop apps.
    Reply
  • danielkza - Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - link

    I'm yet to find a single application updated on the last 5 years that messes up high-DPI, at least starting from Vista when I started using it. Reply
  • Malih - Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - link

    well, I found some, mostly utilities and apps that comes from manufacturers with the driver cd/downloads, that uses fugly UI, but because I need them to use the hardware... latest app I found that breaks is The Witcher 2 Configuration Tool Reply
  • Finraziel - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    Well, some of us also just have good eyes... I have absolutely no problems using my acer AO522 netbook which has a 720p 10" screen. That comes to exactly the same pixel density as 1080p on 15". Actually I wouldn't mind if the pixel density got even higher, when Asus comes with their full hd 13" models I might be really tempted, if I have the money for it then. Reply

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