Leadtek Winfast GT 640 Server GPU Low Profile HTPC Preview


Today, we are taking a look at the Leadtek Winfast GT 640 Server GPU. It features a low-profile GPU which users may be interested in for HTPC and server applications. With the new Ivy Bridge CPU, we now have access to PCIe 3.0, and to tackle this nVidia bought out the new Kepler based GPU 600 series. Over the next few articles I will take a look at some GPU offerings that might be of use in servers, workstation and HTPC applications.

The cards I am looking for will need to be:

  • Low Profile
  • Can be single or double slot width
  • PCI Express (PCIe) 3.0 based
  • As my expertise lies with nVidia based products I’ll stick with these. I know there are AMD options out there too so those may come later.

I’m looking at the cards one at time, so my thoughts are at the time written, I’ll not have compared them at the time to any other card. I may, at the end of this series, do a summary of devices looked at and pick a best of the bunch.

Leadtek Winfast GT 640 Server GPU Preview

The first card I’m taking a look at is the Leadtek Winfast GT 640 Server GPU. This looks rather nice for a small profile situation. The card fits into a single slot. It will take up the entire width of a slot, with the heatsink/fan combo. This heatsink/fan is in a shroud, and will take air from around the fan blades, then push the air to the front of the card over/through the heatsink. This is a very effective cooling method. However if there is another card in the neighbouring slot that covers the fan blades the cooling efficiency will be affected. A heatsink/fan without a shroud is more desirable in this case.

Leadtek Winfast GT 640 Server GPU Low Profile | Servethehome Preview
Leadtek Winfast GT 640 Server GPU Low Profile

It is worth pointing out that there are two GT 640 options out there, the other being a larger dual slot design. We are specifically looking at Leadtek’s low profile design here.

Leadtek WinFast GT 640 Server GPU Low Profile Specifications

GPU NVIDIA GeForce® GT 640
Graphics Bus PCI Express 3.0
Memory size 1024MB/2048MB DDR3
Core clock 900 MHz
Memory clock 900 MHz (1800 MHz)
Output DVI-I, DVI-D, HDMI, DisplayPort
Memory Interface 128-bit
Memory Bandwidth (GB/sec) 28.5
CUDA Cores 384
HDCP support Yes

The specs above look very impressive, the Kepler based GPU brings us many more CUDA cores, this does not bring us a huge performance boost over the Fermi based GPU’s with fewer CUDA cores, but it can still crunch textures more efficiently. Kepler also means PCI Express 3.0 gets introduced to the graphics world, in turn meaning less bottlenecking as textures get passed between the system and video memory. This isn’t going to be a huge benefit with the GT 640 based GPU’s limited to DDR3 based memory in contrast to higher end GDDR5 GPU cards, but PCIe will become more important later as software catches up on the new technology.

The card comes in both 1GB and 2GB versions, I would highly recommend the 2GB version over the 1GB, for having slower DDR3 memory having the textures closer to the GPU will help performance.

Now onto the connections at the back, in Leadtek’s specs it says, 2x DVI, HDMI and a Display Port, but looking at the picture I can see a VGA connector, only one DVI port, and a HDMI port. I would have forgone the VGA connector for a display port even on a separate low profile back plate, but HDMI and DVI covers most monitors and TVs so that may be OK. Just be wary of Leadtek’s specs here. I tried to take a look at the manual for this card and double check, but the manual is a “General Guide” and covers a heap of other cards nothing to do with the GT 640. I find this really naff, it just confuses the heck of anyone looking at it. Making a manual for all  card combinations and in the end achieves nothing but confusion and saving a few dollars. This is something Leadtek needs to improve upon. Leadtek has been around for a long time and I expected so much better from them.
With all of that said, overall this card should do very well. If you can give it room with nothing in the slot right next to it, with its cooling method, it should be able to cope with high work loads for a long time. The manual and website are not so good (sorry to be so blunt). Video cards should not need too much user input, the default settings are usually fine for almost everything especially in the lower specc’d boards, but a novice will get swamped with things that have nothing to do with this card. The specs on the website are wrong, let the buyer beware. Performance wise the GT 640 should play modern games fairly well, it will out perform the HD 4000/2500 from Intel by a large margin, and cope with high resolution graphical design. While the card itself may be a good option, Leadtek needs to correct the errors on the site as they have been live for months now.


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