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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  • mschira - Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - link

    You call this compelling?
    Trackpad sucks. COME on. That is one of the most important usability items on a laptop.
    If the trackpad sucks the notebook sucks.
    Screen resolution? 768P on 15.6" are they joking?

    Also ditch the optical drive. I have a Lenovo 420s and replaced the optical drive with a second battery. I have the optical drive somewhere but I am not sure I would find it if I ever needed it.

    Great move with the GT 640 absolutely. Also great move with the mSSD and harddrive bay.
    But else?
    M.
    Reply
  • nateclind - Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - link

    How about showing a little class and respect. You can definitely disagree, but go about it in a more constructive way. Reply
  • snuuggles - Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - link

    The tone of the op was somewhat ascerbic. The tone of -your- post is just weird... How, exactly, are they not being "classy?!"

    Try to be specific (as the op was).
    Reply
  • weiran - Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - link

    His points are perfectly valid and constructive.

    In the recent Dell XPS13 review, it had almost the exact same faults as this laptop and yet this one is somehow "compelling"? The trackpad and screen are two of the most important parts of a laptop, yet the poor screen doesn't even get a mention in the conclusion. Is the rest of the laptop good enough to overlook those deficiencies?

    The author also seems to base his final judgement on a retail price of around $800, I'll tell you now there's no way it will be close to $800 a decent sized SSD and i7.
    Reply
  • mschira - Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - link

    Hm, I didn't even get far enough to appreciate the price. 800 would be a good offer, but a 256GB SSD, and i7 and a Kepler GPU for 800?
    Sure.
    And the next iPad will be sold for a benefit price in Africa.
    M.
    Reply
  • nissangtr786 - Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - link

    I reckon this has 20-50% less power then the full gt640m 2gb card as the 1gb gt640m is the LE version 15-20w card vs the 2gb gt640m 25-30w card.

    http://forum.notebookreview.com/gaming-software-gr...

    See that forum and see the list of graphics cards and you will se it is pretty impressive for a 15-20w card.
    Reply
  • Gideonic - Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - link

    Nice ME3 reference ;) Reply
  • kallogan - Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - link

    Kepler seems indeed to be a big step forward... Reply
  • flensr - Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - link

    My wife is complaining about her laptop again and this is exactly the form factor she likes (thin and light but with optical drive) but the screen is so awful that I'm going to have to give it a pass. Almost everything else about this is awesome (6GB ram max is pretty weak but the mSATA SSD + 2.5 HDD is a great choice) and having an ethernet port and optical drive is a requirement for me, but the screen simply must be better than this or it's a complete waste of money to purchase.

    I bought a lenovo T420s which is remarkably similar to this thing (thin light with optical, 14") but after receiving it and seeing how terrible that screen was, I'm going to hold out until either the laptop screens improve or tablets improve to the point where I can switch over completely to tablet use. That T420s is the last laptop with a crummy screen I'll ever buy.

    Laptop manufacturers are going to lose their customers in a BIG way in a year or two when tablet hardware is capable of running a "real" OS, unless they can figure out a way to put nice screens in their laptops. I would have happily paid an extra $400 for my T420s for an upgraded screen, and I won't buy a replacement with a TN screen at ANY price. If that means I wait until the ipad 8 or whatever microsoft comes out with in a couple of years when their tablets are not much different than tiny desktops/laptops, then that's better than using one of these horrible screens.
    Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - link

    Doesnt the 560M have just half that many cores? And it is faster? What is going on here? Reply

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