Performance and Mainstream 400M

After the high-end parts, the drop in performance can become precipitous. This has been particularly bad for AMD GPUs, where the drop from Mobility 5800 series down to the 5700 and 5600 parts often means less than half the performance. NVIDIA has had a few more upper-midrange parts floating around, though, and that looks to continue.

NVIDIA Performance and Mainstream 400M Specifications
  GeForce GT 445M GeForce GT 435M GeForce GT 425M GeForce GT 420M GeForce GT 415M
Codename GF106 GF108 GF108 GF108 GF108
CUDA Cores 144 96 96 96 48
Graphics Clock (MHz) 590 650 560 500 500
Processor Clock (MHz) 1180 1300 1120 1000 1000
Memory Clock (MHZ) 800/1250 800 800 800 800
Standard Memory Configuration DDR3/GDDR5 DDR3 DDR3 DDR3 DDR3
Memory Interface Width 128/192-bit 128-bit 128-bit 128-bit 128-bit
Memory Bandwidth (GB/sec) 25.6/60.0 25.6 25.6 25.6 25.6
SLI Ready No No No No No

First, you'll notice that none of these "Performance and Mainstream" parts supports SLI. That's hardly surprising, as SLI with lower-end mobile GPUs has never been our recommended approach. First get to the high-end for performance reasons, and then worry about SLI. Other than that limitation, all of these parts have the same features as the faster parts on the previous page.

The new GT 445M is the first part to come with split specifications. Given the option for 128-bit and 192-bit bus widths, it appears the 445M will use the full GF106 memory controller for the higher bandwidth version and cut off one of the 64-bit interfaces for the low bandwidth model. Many of our gaming results have looked bandwidth limited, so we'd definitely recommend going for the GDDR5 192-bit model if possible, but that will be up to the notebook manufacturers. 445M looks to compete in a similar space as 460M with the higher bandwidth model, but it cuts computational power quite a bit at roughly two-thirds of the 460M. The difficulty here is that 445M can be either substantially faster than some of the older parts, or if you get the 128-bit DDR3 model you're suddenly cut down to less than half the bandwidth. Heavy use of shaders, tessellation, etc. might make the lack of bandwidth less painful, but without hardware and future games it's difficult to say how things will play out.

The 435M is a more straightforward replacement of GT 335M. (Did someone ask for a remake of M11x with a DX11 GPU? Hopefully they can do something about the LCD this time around….) 335M has 72 cores at 1080MHz, with 34.1GB/s of bandwidth. Unless something changes, 435M will actually have less bandwidth but substantially more computational power—60% more to be exact (plus architectural changes, obviously). This is a pattern that holds throughout the 400M lineup, so NVIDIA appears to be betting heavily that shader performance rather than bandwidth will become important.

Along with the 435M come several more GPUs; the 425M and 420M have the same bandwidth and core counts, but lower core/shader clocks. This is similar to the current 325M/330M, which have 48 cores but the same amount of bandwidth as the 335M. Even the lowest 420M has around 25% more compute power than 335M, but they all have less bandwidth. It would have been nice to see a move to GDDR5 on more of the Performance and Mainstream parts, as that would have improved overall performance substantially.

Finally, wrapping up the low end we have the GT 415M. Here we can actually see something to celebrate, since the previous generation parts largely consisted of 16 core models with a 64-bit bus (i.e. the G 310M). On the compute side, we're looking at nearly twice the power of the G 310M. Bandwidth also gets a kick in the pants, going from 12.8GB/s to 25.6GB/s. In short, our entry-level mobile GPUs just doubled their performance. Note also that if NVIDIA wanted to cuts things down even further, they'd need to make yet another chip (i.e. GF110), since 48 cores is a single SM. Most likely, for anything below GT 415M they'll just continue to sell their older 300M parts.

Introducing the GeForce 400M Family Miscellaneous Benefits and Closing Thoughts
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  • sotoa - Friday, September 3, 2010 - link

    Great summary of mobile gpu's I needed this.
    I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for more details on the GF 104. Hopefully they push these out quick for the xmas holidays. Too late for the school season.
    Reply
  • therealnickdanger - Friday, September 3, 2010 - link

    3-D glasses on a laptop seem pointless. Laptops are PERFECT candidates for autostereoscopic displays. Single viewer/user environment with easily adjustable display angles. Once this shutter glasses fad is over, let me know. Reply
  • synaesthetic - Friday, September 3, 2010 - link

    Once this 3D fad in general ends, let me know.

    It's just giving laptop makers even *more* excuses to put 1366x768 resolution displays on expensive, high-powered laptops.

    It is very, very sad.

    All 15" laptops should have 1920x1080 LCD options. I don't care if I have to pay more for it. I just want the option, damn it.
    Reply
  • manno - Thursday, September 23, 2010 - link

    "Once this 3D fad in general ends, let me know.

    It's just giving laptop makers even *more* excuses to put 1366x768 resolution displays on expensive, high-powered laptops.

    It is very, very sad.

    All 15" laptops should have 1920x1080 LCD options. I don't care if I have to pay more for it. I just want the option, damn it. "

    Elect this man president! I keep seeing deals on awesome specked laptops that all have 1366x768 displays... Why power that with a 5650m it's so annoying. I just want a:
    15" 1920x1080
    Core i5 520m or a dual core AMD @ 2.8 Ghz+ (Virtualization)
    Dx11 ATi 5650 or Nvidia GT 435M
    SWITCHABLE GRAPHICS

    Questions to laptop designers:
    Why do all the high-specked AMD laptops come with quads only?
    Why do you hate full HD screens?
    What use is a 16"+ screen @ 1366x768?
    Why don't you offer full HD screens?
    Why ship a laptop with a Core i5/i3 and discreet graphics and not make them switchable? The PM55 chipset is a frustration.
    Why don't you offer full HD screens?
    Why don't you offer full HD screens?
    Why don't you offer full HD screens?
    Why don't you offer full HD screens?
    Why don't you offer full HD screens?
    Why don't you offer full HD screens?
    Why don't you offer full HD screens?
    Why don't you offer full HD screens?

    WhY wHy whY WHY!?

    :)

    Peace!
    -manno
    Reply
  • mczak - Friday, September 3, 2010 - link

    it's correct in the table but wrong in the text (along with the calculated percentage increase over GTX285M).
    Interestingly, as far as peak compute power is concerned, this actually makes GTX470M faster than GTX480M.
    Also, a GF104-based GTX480M wouldn't be possible, at least not with 352 cores - either 336 or 384 it must be (though possibly GTX470M is already close in performance anyway - see above).
    GTX460M is likely based on GF106, not GF104.
    Reply
  • mczak - Friday, September 3, 2010 - link

    Oh and gt445m should be solely based on GF106. All parts below that should be GF108, if rumours are to be believed. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, September 3, 2010 - link

    I've updated the tables based on images NVIDIA sent showing the chips. However, these "images" appear to be the same three chips used multiple times. Given that GT 445M lists two wildly different specs -- 128-bit 25.6GB/s and 192-bit 60GB/s -- I'm guessing they just disable 64-bits of memory controller. Still stinks though. Reply
  • Infomastr - Friday, September 3, 2010 - link

    Wonder how long it will take before these really start replacing 300M cards in current machines? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, September 3, 2010 - link

    Some models with 400M should appear in a couple weeks. Honestly, I expect an initial price premium, but maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised. It's very difficult to recommend anything with 300M now, though, unless it comes at a reduced price. Reply
  • Zorblack1 - Friday, September 3, 2010 - link

    Since you guys raved about the Asus U30JC I went and bought one. Now I'm thinking I want to update my laptop. How about about something where you stick the GT 415M into the U30JC. Reply

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