Performance: Synthetic 3D, Game Benchmarks

Performance – 3DMark 11

Given the age of 3DMark 06, and the fact that Intel HD now supports DirectX 11, I’ve decided to drop 3DMark 06 from our benchmarks. That leaves us with just 3DMark 11 for our synthetic 3D tests. Let’s see what it has to say.

The results here are remarkably close with the exception of the older GT 525M, which falls behind the pack. Surprisingly, we see that our synthetic benchmark shows the GT 640M LE falling behind the GT 630M. This will be a problem if it is reflected in real-world gaming – so let’s find out if it is.

Performance – Gaming

All our real world gaming tests for this laptop will be conducted at its native resolution of 1366×768. The XPS 15z is not tested in many of these benchmarks, so to make up for that (and provide an interesting comparison) I’m going to throw in the Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3 and its GT 640M. 

Remember, the difference between the 640M LE and the 640M is that the LE model is based off the older Fermi architecture while the 640M is Kepler.

We start with Dawn Of War 2: Retribution. This older real time strategy game is still demanding for a mid-range laptop because it places strain on both the CPU and GPU. If either is lacking, the game’s framerate suffers. 

In this game we see that the GT 630M actually does outrun the GT 640M LE by a small margin. Believe me, I wanted to be certain of this result, so re-tested it several times. The difference in CPU performance may be to blame.

The Acer Aspire M3’s GT 640M falls behind, but as mentioned, this game is sometimes CPU bound. The low-voltage processor in the Acer Aspire M3 is the reason for this result.

Let’s move on to Civilization 5 and see how the GT 640M LE stacks up there.

Civilization 5

Though sometimes called a CPU bound game, Civilization 5 wrecks GPUs more than anything else. The end-game can be demanding on a laptop graphics solution even at modest detail settings. Our benchmark consists of gameplay a save file that is 375 turns in. The map size is normal and there are 8 opponents. 

In this game we see that the GT 640M LE beats the GT 630M, but just barely. The performance difference would not be noticeable to the end user without a FPS counter in the background. The GT 640M is noticeably quicker, while the HD 7660G doesn’t quite break 30 FPS on average and also has a much lower maximum framerate. With that said, this game is playable on all of the laptops represented here.

Diablo III

This new Blizzard game can run on most any modern laptop with Low FX and low detail turned on, but to really enjoy the art you need to play the game at High detail. Can these laptops handle the game at this setting? Let’s find out.

Suddenly the GT 640M LE jumps way out ahead, as does the GT 640M. The game takes advantage of the faster graphics hardware available in these mid-range graphics solutions. This results in a significant difference in gameplay. I find Diablo 3 to be acceptable at the GT 630M when playing at high detail, but not great. The GT 640M LE, on the other hand, plays the game without flaw. 


Next up is Skyrim. You probably already know about this game and already know it’s demanding, though not a system killer. Our benchmark consists of simple real-world gameplay in an outdoors area. You’ll find that the game runs even quicker in some dungeons (though those with numerous lighting effects can impact performance).

Once again we see the GT 640M LE strutting its stuff. This time it offers an average framerate that’s 9 higher than the GT 630M as well as a much higher maximum framerate. The GT 640M is faster still. With that said, all of the laptops tested here offer a playable experience at medium detail. In fact, the 640M LE and 640M can handle high detail.

Battlefield 3

Our Battlefield 3 benchmark is taken from an early mission in the campaign. We test at medium detail, which is the most a mid-range laptop can typically handle. How does this impact performance?

Once again, all of the laptops tested offer a playable experience but the GT 640M LE is smoother than the GT 630M, while the GT 640M is faster still. 

At this point I think it’s quite clear that, so long as CPU performance is not a factor in the game you are playing, the GT 640M LE will provide a nice boost over the GT 630M or a Radeon HD 7660G (the fastest integrated GPU available on a Trinity APU). 

The real question is the value of the GT 640M LE, and that’s hard to determine. Technically, the GT 630M equipped ASUS N56VM is the most expensive laptop in this comparison, but it is also a premium laptop with a nice display and more powerful processor. You can potentially find the GT 630M in laptops priced as low as $629. The GT 640M LE, on the other hand, usually can’t be found in laptops selling for less than $850. And the GT 640M? It’s awesome, but good luck finding one. Few models offer it and those that do are often out of stock. 

Overall, I think the Y480 offers decent gaming bang for your buck. You will receive much better performance for a similar price if you move to a 15.6 laptop, however, as you can find laptops of that size with GT 650M and GTX 660M GPUs for $1000 (or slightly less). 


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