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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  • Kansja - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    I do agree 1600x900 are fine, but I can't get over a 700$ budget and I want to play games at least medium. HP + Llano + 7690 stays under that budget with 768, but doesn't have the option to 1600x900 other than 1080p and that would be too taxing, so it's unfair. It's a compromise: Want better displays on laptops? You need more power, thus, pay more, thus, lose markets. Most people won't notice a lot of difference unless you're a graphics junkie. You are niche users, not the mainstream market Reply
  • Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    Actually, I really wouldn't care what resolution a game rendered at as long as it ends up looking okay in the end. Render in 960x600 and upscale to 1440x900, or in 1280x720 or 1200x675 and upscale to 1600x900. I don't care, it's fine with me, as long as the scaling is decent.

    But that's neither here nor there. I want a resolution with 900 rows for productivity reasons. Gaming is a secondary concern for me, but I will want to be able to fire up something more than classic Unreal Tournament or d1x-rebirth in my next laptop. Honestly, with Kepler and even Trinity nearly here, I suspect that GPU power is about to become a non-issue.

    I was really disappointed in the Samsung Series 7...I thought it would be my perfect laptop, but what I read about it left a bad taste in my mouth. So I'll be watching for a thin(ish) and light(ish) 15.6"(ish) laptop with a 1440x900 or 1600x900 (or thereabouts) matte screen that can game reasonably well, whether that's with a Trinity APU or with a i7-3xxx paired with Kepler. I think a system like this could probably hit around $700 with a Trinity APU.
    Reply
  • Kansja - Saturday, March 17, 2012 - link

    Trinity: Yes. If Llano is any indicative and even a 10% increase of power on both sides on the same TDP, it could handle it pretty well. Otherwise, 640M seems disappointing to say the least... Let's see how Kepler scales tho, since this is the smallest part I guess. Reply
  • Osamede - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    A 15" laptop with a 1366 x 768 screen? Why would Anandtech even waste its time reviewing junk like this?

    No offense fellas, but I dont care if the company even PAID you to review this thing, you should say no, because it hurts your own brand as a tech media website, to review this dross.

    Next time you have a laptop review I cant tell you I aint clicking, because you seem likely to waste my time....
    Reply
  • akyp - Monday, March 19, 2012 - link

    Stopped reading there Reply
  • nissangtr786 - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    imo I have had a couple 1920x1200 dell latitude d820/e6500 and 1440x900 14inch screen on d630 and recently an e6420 14" 1600x900 screen. Now 16:9 is something I didn't want but it makes watching movies better. Also as bad as 1366x768 is, it is liveable. 640m and 720p gaming will go very well.

    I currently use an acer 5930g and I am on the process to upgrade to an i5 3317u m3 640m machine. Seeing this review it shows that is good enough and good as a cheap replacement for use for next 2-4 years.
    Reply

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