Crysis, Metro, DiRT 3, Shogun 2, & Batman: Arkham City

Our first graphics test is Crysis: Warhead, which in spite of its relatively high system requirements is the oldest game in our test suite. Crysis was the first game to really make use of DX10, and set a very high bar for modern games that still hasn't been completely cleared. And while its age means it's not heavily played these days, it's a great reference for how far GPU performance has come since 2008

NVIDIA’s internal guidance on GT 640 DDR3 performance is that it should beat the Radeon HD 6670 by around 20%, however Kepler’s poor performance under Crysis means that isn’t going to happen here. At 31fps at 1680 with Mainstream quality the GT 640 is just barely playable here, with the Radeon HD 7750-800 (a similar sub-75W card) more than doubling its performance. Worse, the GT 640 actually loses to the GT 240 here, with NVIDIA’s two-generation old card beating it by 14%. To NVIDIA’s credit this happened to be the only test where that occurs, but this does a great job driving home the point that the GT 640 is heavily handicapped with DDR3.

On that note, given what we’ve seen with Kepler so far with GK104 cards and now with the GK107 GT 640, this further reinforces the idea that Crysis above all else a memory bandwidth hungry test. GTX 680 failed to greatly improve upon the GTX 580 when the two had similar amounts of memory bandwidth, and while the GT 640 does improve upon the GT 440 by quite a bit at times the fact that it loses to the GDDR5 GT 240 lends further proof to our theories. It will be interesting to see what happens here once we do see a GDDR5 card.

Finally, while we’ve focused thus far on the GT 640’s poor performance relative to its current competition, it’s not all bad news for NVIDIA. With Performance and Gamer quality in particular the GT 640 improves upon the GT 440 by a rather impressive 48% despite the fact that the two cards have similar memory bandwidth, reflecting just how much of an impact doubling the shader performance and quadrupling the ROPs can have.

On that note, as this happened to be one of only a couple of games where our test settings overlapped our iGPU test settings, we’ve also thrown in our Intel HD graphics numbers. The CPUs aren’t identical (all of our dGPU testing is on SNB-E), but we’re GPU limited to such a large degree that it doesn’t make a practical difference. NVIDIA wants to sell the GT 640 as an upgrade to i3/i5 systems with Intel’s HD graphics, and while its performance may be lacking compared to its competition, at the very least GT 640 handily surpasses any iGPU. Intel’s decision to ship most desktop IVB CPUs with HD 2500 means that GT 640 can nearly quadruple the IVB GPU’s performance under Crysis.

Looking at the minimum framerates the story is much the same. The GT 640 is well behind the 7750 and similar cards. At best it manages to beat the GT 240, most likely due to the former’s lack of total VRAM (it only has 512MB).

Metro

Paired with Crysis as our second behemoth FPS is Metro: 2033. Metro gives up Crysis’ lush tropics and frozen wastelands for an underground experience, but even underground it can be quite brutal on GPUs, which is why it’s also our new benchmark of choice for looking at power/temperature/noise during a game. If its sequel due this year is anywhere near as GPU intensive then a single GPU may not be enough to run the game with every quality feature turned up.

Metro: 2033 - 1680x1050 - DX10 Medium Quality + 16xAF

Relative to its competition the GT 640 improves slightly over what we saw in Crysis, but it’s still trailing the Radeon HD 6670, never mind the 7750. Performance has improved by over 50% over the GT 440, which is enough to push us past 30fps at 1680 with medium quality settings, but that’s as much as NVIDIA’s going to get out of the GT 640 here.

DiRT 3

DiRT 3 is our next DX11 game. Developer Codemasters Southam added DX11 functionality to their EGO 2.0 engine back in 2009 with DiRT 2, and while it doesn't make extensive use of DX11 it does use it to good effect in order to apply tessellation to certain environmental models along with utilizing a better ambient occlusion lighting model. As a result DX11 functionality is very cheap from a performance standpoint.

DiRT 3 is traditionally a game that favors NVIDIA here, and while the GT 640 finally surpasses the 6670, it’s by no means a great showing for the GT 640. Again it’s handily beaten by the 7750 and GTS 450, and for as light as DiRT 3 is, we still can’t even break 40fps at 1680 Ultra quality without AA. To achieve 60fps here it’s necessary to turn it down to Medium quality. Elsewhere performance relative to the GT 440 has increased by nearly 60%, which is a big jump for NVIDIA but not enough to surpass their competition.

Total War: Shogun 2

Total War: Shogun 2 is the latest installment of the long-running Total War series of turn based strategy games, and alongside Civilization V is notable for just how many units it can put on a screen at once.

Under Shogun the story is much the same. The GT 640’s performance relative to the anemic GT 440 has greatly improved, jumping up by upwards of 50%, but it trails everything faster than a Radeon HD 6670. At the very least Shogun 2 is a relatively non-intensive game at 1680, so even at high quality the GT 640 is still achieving better than 40fps.

Batman: Arkham City

Batman: Arkham City is loosely based on Unreal Engine 3, while the DirectX 11 functionality was apparently developed in-house. With the addition of these features Batman is far more a GPU demanding game than its predecessor was, particularly with tessellation cranked up to high.

Batman: Arkham City - 1680x1050 - High Quality + FXAA-Low

Batman: Arkham City is another game that traditionally favors NVIDIA’s GPUs, but again this isn’t much of a help here. At 1680 with Very High quality the GT 640 can just crack 30fps, and if we drop down to High quality that becomes a far more playable 51fps. But at the same time this leads to it greatly trailing the usual suspects at all configurations, and even the 6670 pulls ahead at High quality. Even the performance gains relative to the GT 440 have tapered off a bit, with the GT 640 only picking up 34% at High quality.

Musing About Memory Bandwidth & The Test Portal 2, Battlefield 3, Starcraft II, Skyrim, & Civ V
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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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