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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  • cplusplus - Friday, September 3, 2010 - link

    So nVidia has unveiled their full top-to-bottom solution for laptops before doing so for desktops? I knew this day was coming, but I didn't know it was coming so soon. I guess desktops really are dying, then.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, September 3, 2010 - link

    Yeah, pretty wild. But the desktop stuff is coming soon... VERY soon... and I suspect you'll actually be able to buy the parts before most of these 400M laptops ship.
  • Jaybus - Friday, September 3, 2010 - link

    Changing, not dying. As long as we use electronics, it will always be possible to go faster by increasing the power envelope, and that will always require more space for cooling.
  • Mr Perfect - Friday, September 3, 2010 - link

    Sad, isn't it? They're still pushing GTS 250s on the desktop, using three year old tech that's renamed half a dozen times.
  • Shining Arcanine - Saturday, September 4, 2010 - link

    That is actually brilliant. It lets them bring costs down by taking advantage of economics of scale. The redevelopment cost for new microprocessors is huge, so it is better to reuse an existing microprocessor than it is to make a new one.
  • ganeshts - Friday, September 3, 2010 - link

    Any models other than the Asus N73JQ announced? Which one is going to be reviewed next?
  • JarredWalton - Friday, September 3, 2010 - link

    The only other ones I know of for sure are the ASUS G53Jw (3D Vision with GTX 460M) and Acer Aspire 5745DG (3D Vision with a 425M).
  • drfelip - Friday, September 3, 2010 - link

    I saw other at Xotic PC: Asus N51Jq and G73Jw, so they have to be available very soon.
  • synaesthetic - Friday, September 3, 2010 - link

    I'm wondering more about the G53 non-3D variant... specifically if it has a 1920x1080 LCD.

    3D is a silly gimmick and I want something with a higher resolution, though if the G53 really does use the 460M, it's going to be disappointing performance-wise compared to the existing G73, unless the 460M is considerably faster than the part it's replacing...

    Honestly I'd prefer it if they had just stayed with AMD GPUs... the G53 with a Mobility Radeon 5850 would have been pretty cool. :(

    It's annoying that it's so hard to find laptops with good LCDs.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, September 3, 2010 - link

    No idea on if/when we'll see the new G53 non-3D. As for 1080p, there's a 3D Vision G73 coming. Yeah, I know you're not interested in 3D, but the 120Hz panels can be nice in other areas. Here's hoping the 1080p panel rocks.

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