We usually look at mainstream and high-end graphics cards, but the Zotac GeForce GT 640 Zone Edition managed to catch our attention since it is passively cooled. The idea of having a silent video card without any active cooling fans is a big deal for the HTPC crowd and those users want silence. The Zotac GeForce GT 640 Zone Edition video card was announced in July 2012, but has yet to make it to the retail market for some reason. We held this review on purpose as there is no sense in reviewing a video card that you can not buy. Zotac informed us that the card is now shipping and should become available to purchase online in the next week or two. So, we figured that now is the perfect time to take a look at this zero noise graphics card!
The Zotac GeForce GT 640 Zone Edition uses the NVIDIA GK107 ‘Kepler’ 28nm GPU that has 384 CUDA cores (shader units) and 16 ROPs. This card is clocked at 902MHz and does not feature a boost mode. When it comes to memory you’ll find that this card has 2048 MB (2GB) of DDR3 memory that runs on a 128-bit memory bus. Most mainstream and high-end cards today use GDDR5 memory, but DDR3 memory is less expensive to use. The 2GB of DDR3 memory runs at 891MHz on this particular card.
Zotac GeForce GT 640 Video Cards:
Zotac makes four different GeForce GT 640 cards and all feature the same core clock speeds, so be careful which you buy. Zotac has a standard card, a passive card, a low profile card and one with less memory. We are looking at the Zotac GeForce GT 640 Zone Edition video card with model number ZT-60204-20L.
The Zotac GeForce GT 640 Zone Edition is a dual-slot graphics card that looks pretty sharp. As you can see the passive cooler uses three copper heat-pipes and the aluminum cooling fins wrap around the back of the card for increased surface area. Zotac used a black PCB that is just 5.75″ long for this card, but the cooling fins extend past the end of the circuit board, making the card 6.5625″ in total length.
This card has a simple design as there is no need for additional power and there is no SLI connector for Multi-GPU setups. As long as you have a 350W or greater power supply with 20Amps on the +12V rail and a PCI Express x16 graphics slot on your motherboard you should be good to go with this card.
Turning the Zotac GeForce GT 640 Zone over you can see that it doesn’t have a back plate or any of the DDR3 memory chips on the back of the black colored PCB. The serial number sticker is the most important thing that is located on the back of this card. This number is critical if you plan on ever RMA’ing it under the 2-year limited warranty period should anything ever go wrong. Zotac is using PCB model number 23A-DN256-05Ain case you are curious.
With the card flipped this direction you can see the three copper heatpipes that help keep the GK107′ GPU temperatures at bay. You can also see another pair of labels and more importantly a fan header that is located just above the PCI Express x16 slot connector on the left side. If you wanted to add a video card cooling fan to this card you are able to with this small 2-pin fan header. Also notice that there is thermal padding on the far left side to help transfer heat from the VRM area to the cooling fins.
The Zotac GeForce GT 640 Zone Edition has DVI-I, DVI-D & mini-HDMI when it comes to video outputs. Zotac only includes a DVI to VGA adapter, so you better have a mini-HDMI to full size HDMI adapter at home if you plan on using this for your HTPC build. This card was designed for the home theater PC crowd, so it is beyond us why Zotac would include a VGA adapter and not an HDMI adapter. Someone at Zotac dropped the ball here and forgot who this card is for.
The GeForce GT 640 does support running three monitors thanks to NVIDIA Surround technology. Also, if you are worried about 4K monitor support for the future you are in luck! This card has 4K video decoding capabilities, so you can run at a 4096×2160 resolution if you can afford one of the $25,000+ 4K monitors right now.
You might have noticed that we went over this card is that the heat sink wrapped around the back of the PCB. If you thought this card would have issues with motherboard chipsets, then pat yourself on the back for catching that. The second we plugged this video card into our ASUS P9X79 Deluxe motherboard we noticed that it wasn’t sitting flat and that it was resting on the chipset cooler. The card still worked, but would not seat into the slot or secure with the PCIe locking mechanism. If your motherboard has the chipset cooler right above the primary PCIe x16 slot then you might have some issues.
Let’s take a look at the retail box and bundle then jump into game testing!