Nvidia GeForce GT 640 Review: Cramming Kepler Into GK107

GeForce GT 640 Means Business...At The Right Price

When the smoke clears, Nvidia’s GeForce GT 640 DDR3 does battle with AMD’s Radeon HD 6670 GDDR5. Normally, we recommend the slower DDR3-equipped version of that AMD card in our monthly Best Graphics Cards For The Money column. Two things have to happen before Nvidia displaces that entrenched incumbent, though. First, GeForce GT 640 has to be made available in the channel (something we’ve seen Nvidia avoid with certain mainstream cards in the past), and its price has to drop from ~$100 to $85 or less.

At its current SRP, this DDR3-equipped board is too expensive compared to the competition. This segment is riddled with strong competitors, (particularly the Radeon HD 7750, which blows GeForce GT 640 out of the water and sells for as low as $110). Of course, many budget-minded offerings start out in this price range and drop soon after release: the Radeon HD 5670, 6670 GDDR5, and GeForce GT 240 all landed in our lab accompanied by $100 price targets. The real question is whether or not Nvidia is willing to get scrappy on pricing, and whether it’s able to manufacture enough of them to make the GeForce GT 640 relevant.

What about a GDDR5-equipped GeForce GT 640? The specs we’ve seen from Nvidia don’t mention a retail model with the more modern memory technology, but the company does offer an OEM option. We think a GK107-equipped card with more bandwidth might make sense, especially if it comes close to Radeon HD 7750 and is priced appropriately. In addition, there's a notable gap between the GeForce GT 640 DDR3 and the GeForce GT 440, and we're told that Nvidia may consider another product for this segment in Q4 2012.

Though the Radeon HD 7750 appears to hold its own in its current form, AMD reached out to us a few days ago to let us know that the company plans to refresh its Radeon HD 7750 and 7770, each running 100 MHz faster than the previous reference design. Things get a little muddy, though, because the new specifications call for slightly higher voltages, almost certainly impacting power consumption in a negative way. Moreover, the channel is still loaded with the “first-generation” version, meaning old and new will coexist for some time. As of this time, we can only find one Radeon HD 7750 with a 900 MHz core available on Newegg, and that sells for $129. Gigabyte has its own 7750 with an 880 MHz core going for $110, too. AMD also wanted us to know that Codemasters’ new DiRT Showdown racing game is bundled with Radeon HD 7750 and 7770 hardware. Only time will tell if 900 MHz Radeon HD 7750s become commonplace at $110, or if this announcement turns out to be little more than a distraction tactic to undermine the GeForce GT 640 launch. In any case, the Radeon HD 7750 staves off the GeForce GT 640 unpressured, which is why the Radeon HD 6670 GDDR5 and GeForce GT 640 need sub-$90 price tags. We're looking for a large enough spread to correspond with the gap in performance.

It's no Radeon HD 6670-killer; however, GeForce GT 640 gives Nvidia something it hasn’t had in a long time: a potentially potent budget contender. And let’s not forget the card’s other attributes, such as low-enough power consumption to eschew auxiliary connectors, a fairly compact form factor, and support for four displays. We’re particularly happy to see Nvidia counter AMD’s Eyefinity technology, which previously was the only way to go for productivity-oriented power users using more than two screens. Even better, you aren’t required to use DisplayPort-capable monitors or adapters.

We just hope the company is ready to push this one into the channel, upping the ante for budget-oriented builders. That hasn’t happened since AMD’s Radeon HD 5670 was dropped to $70 oh so long ago. The 5670 is ancient history, unfortunately, and we could really use another tight contest between compelling entry-level graphics cards.

  • Would like to see a GDDR5 version of this card. Be interesting to see the performance difference.
  • rolli59
    At least we now have a card from Nvidia that can be called min gaming card and be installed on machines with low power PSU's.
  • -Fran-
    Darn... nVidia, step up the game in this segment!

    This doesn't even get close to the card placed just 10 bucks above.

  • dragonsqrrl
    The DDR3 is without a doubt holding this card back. With a maximum memory bandwidth of just 28.5 GBps I'm surprised the card performed as well as it did. I'm just not sure what Nvidia was thinking. At 900MHz, GK107 would probably be capable of easily outperforming the GTS450. Was it cost savings, or perhaps a TDP limitation that made them choose DDR3 over GDDR5? If keeping below a 75W TDP was the problem, why not just use 1GB GDDR5 instead? Or even slightly lower the core clock if necessary? It probably still would've resulted in better performance.
  • Onus
    Almost, nVidia, almost!
    1. With the GT440 and GT240 offering it, I can't believe someone won't quickly release a GDDR5 version. With such an obvious improvement that would be, it does not bode well for yields or other costs that DDR3 had to be used, and the card still has a $100 initial price. Can it come down to where it needs to be without becoming a "loss-leader?"
    2. Pretty decent settings were used in the charts. Considering how good most modern games look even cut down to "medium" settings, that HD7750 at or near the top of the charts makes people who insist you need a $300 graphics card to play games look silly. This makes me wonder all the more what this new card could do with GDDR5, assuming it's economically feasible. Of course if it isn't, then this card simply loses except in that niche market that wants to run three monitors.
    3. I think the word you were looking for in reference to the absence of a PCIE power connector is "eschew."
    4. Interesting, I noted that the box image is of a Seraphim from the game Sacred 2. Might that game be included with the card, is it meant to advertise that the card supports PhysX (which Sacred 2 will use), or is there a copyright lawsuit on the way?
  • dalethepcman
    If this card retails for the $100 this article is implying then its a really tough sell. The 7750 outperforms the 640 in every way except loaded power consumption and for a meager $10 more....
  • cumi2k4
    where's the 6770 in this benchmark?
  • bin1127
    wow... is this card going to sell for $75?

    I think nvidia doesn't want to kill amd outright and comes up with these really bad products.
  • rohitbaran
    cumi2k4where's the 6770 in this benchmark?6770 is slower than 7750. It is also older gen. Why put that?
  • songorocosongo
    As always Nvidia only makes good products for the high-end market and forgets about low-end or just makes crappy ones. This shouldn't surprise anyone