Meet The Zotac GeForce GT 640 DDR3

As we mentioned in our introduction NVIDIA is not sampling a reference GT 640, leaving that up to their partners. As always NVIDIA’s partners have spread out with a variety of designs ranging from low-profile cards to relatively large double-slot cards, with a few even trying their hand at factory overclocking. Today we’ll be taking a look at Zotac’s GeForce GT 640, a design that’s right in the middle of those extremes and fairly close to NVIDIA’s internal reference design.

Taking things from the top, at this moment Zotac is in a rather unique position with their design. They currently offer the only single-slot GT 640 available at retail, with every other card being a double-slot card to fit a larger cooler. Consequently for users with ITX cases where space is at a premium, Zotac’s GT 640 is generally going to be the only option.

Because the Zotac GT 640 is a single-slot card, Zotac’s cooler of choice is a fairly wide but shallow aluminum heatsink that spans roughly half of the card. At the center of the heatsink is a fairly small 2pin 55mm fan, which provides the necessary airflow to keep the card cool. The card’s DDR3 RAM is sitting underneath the heatsink, but no contact is made nor is it necessary due to DDR3’s very low operating power and temperatures.

Removing the heatsink we see the bare PCB, with the GK107 GPU and DDR3 mounted on it. Physically GK107 is an unremarkable GPU and the entire package appears to be roughly the same size as GF108’s GPU package. On this Zotac card it’s paired with 8 2Gb Micron DDR3-1866 modules operating in 16bit mode, which means for casual overclocking there should be a bit of headroom, but GPU DDR3 is rarely capable of going much past its rated speeds.

The rest of the PCB is solid yet simple; users worried about coil whine will be glad to see that Zotac is using solid chokes here as opposed to ring chokes, and we didn’t notice any coil whine during operation. The card measures 5.75” long – the minimum length necessary for a PCIe x16 card – so it should fit in virtually any full-profile case.

Meanwhile looking at the ports on the card’s bracket, we find NVIDIA’s favored configuration of 1 DL-DVI-I port, 1 DL-DVI-D port, and a mini-HDMI port. As one of the major improvements in the Kepler family NVIDIA now has more than 2 display controllers on their GPUs, so the GT 640 can actually drive all 3 ports simultaneously. You likely wouldn’t want to use the GT 640 for gaming but it’s certainly powerful enough for desktop work, and this is one of the few situations where that extra 1GB of VRAM might come in handy.


Top: Zotac GeForce GT 640. Bottom: NVIDIA Reference GeForce GT 640

Unfortunately the display ports on Zotac’s GT 640 also expose its one flaw, and it’s a big one. On NVIDIA’s reference design the mini-HDMI port is centered at the middle of the card, similar to the DVI ports. However for reasons unknown to us, Zotac has moved the mini-HDMI port on their GT 640 down by about 2mm. This doesn’t sound like much, but by putting the mini-HDMI port so close to the edge of the card it introduces a crippling flaw: it doesn’t leave any room for a cable to attach to it.


Zotac GeForce GT 640 Installed. Note the lack of clearance around the mini-HDMI port

Specifically, because the port is so low it’s right on the edge of the usable area of the bracket, as everything below the port will be covered by the I/O shielding of the computer case. Consequently if you attempt to plug in a mini-HDMI cable or adapter, the boot of the cable will run into the case’s I/O shielding before the cable is fully inserted, preventing the cable from getting a good connection and/or locking into place. The HDMI specification is actually rather strict about the size of the boot on mini-HDMI cables/adapters, and after having tested a few different adapters everything we’ve encountered is within spec, so this is poor planning on Zotac’s part. NVIDIA’s reference design and cards similar to it do not have this problem since if the port is properly centered it leaves plenty of space for the boot, which is why this is the first time we’ve run into this issue.

We’ve already brought this up with Zotac and they’ve told us that they intend to fix it once they’ve exhausted their current supply of brackets and mini-HDMI connectors, but for the time being all of their GT 640 cards will have this flaw. In the meantime the problem is not unworkable – with enough tampering it should be possible to force a mini-HDMI cable/adapter in there – but Zotac really shot themselves in the foot here by making the mini-HDMI port so inaccessible. On that note, if you do intend to take advantage of this port you’ll need to bring your own gear (Zotac doesn’t provide a mini-HDMI adapter), and you’ll want to either use a cable or a more specialized mini-HDMI-to-HDMI adapter. The stubby adapter Monoprice and most other retailers carry won’t work because the port is so close to the top of the bracket, which has been a recurring quirk with NVIDIA cards since NVIDIA started using the mini-HDMI port.

Moving on, rounding out the package is the typically bare minimum collection of extras found on budget cards. Along with a driver CD and quick start guide Zotac includes a DVI-to-VGA adapter, but not a mini-HDMI adapter. Zotac typically bundles Ubisoft games with their cards but on a budget card like this that isn’t really possible, so the GT 640 comes with the next best thing, which is a 3 day trial of TrackMania 2.

Finally, as we stated earlier the Zotac GT 640 is currently priced at $109 at Newegg and most other retailers, which makes it on-par with most other GT 640 cards. Meanwhile for the warranty Zotac is offering a base 2 year warranty, which is extended to a rather generous full limited lifetime warranty upon registration of the card.

Zotac GeForce GT 640 DDR3 Review HTPC Aspects : What is New?
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  • MrSpadge - Thursday, June 21, 2012 - link

    And they support newer features and cost significantly less to run. Still, the price is ridiculous, especially for DDR3. Reply
  • Taft12 - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - link

    "Zotac has worked themselves into an interesting position as the only partner currently offering a single-slot card"

    I think EVGA's launched even before Zotac. No blocked mini-HDMI port either!

    http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82...
    Reply
  • nathanddrews - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - link

    First off, I want to thank you for testing the 4K capabilities of this card. While disappointing that there is no DP output for 4K@60Hz, I suppose it's only a matter of time.

    Second, and more important, I wanted to make you aware of this in case you haven't seen it. Shot in 4K, edited in 4K, mastered in 4K and you can buy it in any format including Blu-ray (1080p), 2560x1440p, and even its raw 140GB 4K Cineform resolution. Seeing as how one of you awesome people now has the Sony 1000ES (jealous!), you definitely shouldn't waste time showing 4K YouTube clips!

    http://timescapes.org/products/default.aspx
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-GYrbecb88
    Reply
  • Hrel - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - link

    I saw a GTX560 on newegg for 145bucks after MIR today. Whenever people ask me about gaming cards and say they don't want to spend much more than 100 bucks I say, cut back on coffee for a week or skip that night at the bars and just spend the extra 30 bucks or so. Makes absolutely NO sense to handicap yourself over 30 bucks. GTX560 FTW!!! Reply
  • just4U - Thursday, June 21, 2012 - link

    That's pretty much where the 7750 comes in. Performance overall is fairly similiar. Plus you can do away with the confusion since the 560 comes in 4-5 different flavors, yes? Reply
  • maroon1 - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    What ?! GTX 560 is much faster than even HD7770.

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/5541/amd-radeon-hd-7...
    Reply
  • Lolimaster - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - link

    So slow that a 6670 feels like high end and 7750 a total monster. $109 for these joke of a gpu (gt640)? You must be trolling. Reply
  • Lolimaster - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - link

    A8 5800K is a tiny bit slow thatn 6670 so it should be faster (for free with the APU) than a $109 nvidia discrete gpu. Reply
  • bhima - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - link

    This card is horrible. I was initially unimpressed with AMD's 7750 and 7770 performance, but now those cards just look beastly compared to this. This should be a $50-60 card at max for that kind of performance. Hell I think my 540m performs almost as good as this card. Reply
  • staryoshi - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - link

    GDDR5 would have really lifted the performance of this card. I'm sure they went with GDDR3 as a cost-saving measure and to not canibalize the sale of other cards.. but at this price point it's not a compelling item at all for most.

    They really need to get the 28nm process under control and wrangle in pricing on this pup.
    Reply

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