Well, the day is finally here…part two! Today is the day we can show you what this beast can do. But first, if you haven’t already, do go read our introduction to TITAN to get a grasp on how TITAN is used and overclocked.
Just because it’s so pretty (I mean, really, it’s a great looking GPU), here are a couple quick photos before we get to testing.
Of course, like AMD, NVIDIA also supplies their own benchmarks graphed for our viewing pleasure. As we mentioned, the small form factor is a big deal with TITAN. It’s more powerful than a GTX 680 and quieter to boot.
The other graph we have for you is graphed relatively, not with actual FPS. They compared 3-way SLI TITANs with two GTX 690’s in quad-SLI. Not many games scale well with that fourth GPU and these results bear that out. As a side note, the GTX 690 does out perform TITAN in most cases when it comes to raw FPS. They freely admit that, hence a part of the reason TITAN is an alternative to the GTX 690 rather than a replacement.
So we’ve established that TITAN looks great and you’ve already seen the features it includes. Now you’ve seen a little bit of what you can expect from NVIDIA’s slides. It’s time to put this beast on a test bed and see what it can do.
Like all our GPU reviews, our test bed consists of an Ivy Bridge based system with an i7 3770K and RAM running at a reasonable DDR3-1866.
|CPU||i7 3770K @ 4.0 GHz|
|MB||ASUS Maximus V Extreme|
|RAM||G.Skill TridentX DDR3-2600 @ 1866MHz 9-9-9-24|
|GPUs||ASUS GTX 670 DirectCU II TOP
MSI GTX 680 Lightning
HIS HD 7970 X Turbo *
2 x AMD HD 7970’s in CrossfireX**
ASUS ARES II
NVIDIA GTX TITAN
|OS||Windows 7 Professional x64|
*Note the HD 7970 X Turbo was the only GPU tested with AMD’s new driver with our GPU test setup. It is a HD 7970 with strong stock clocks, operating at 1180 MHz Boost and 1500 MHz on the memory.
**The HD 7970s in CrossfireX were a HIS HD 7970 X Turbo and a HIS HD 7970 IceQ X2 GHz Edition, both operating at 1180 MHz on the core and 1500 MHz on the memory, which is the stock clocks for the X Turbo.
Here’s that installed photo again with the nice green glow.
Before we start in with the results, we’ll have a look at overclocking the TITAN.
Like all GTX 6xx parts before it, the TITAN has a six percent buffer on the power target. Immediately below that is the temp target slider (which is at 80° C at stock). In between is the prioritization selector. Note these are the overclocked settings. As you can see, the 24/7 stable overclock settled in at a solid +129 MHz on the GPU and a much more than expected + 450 MHz on the memory (actual as measured in GPUz is +225 MHz).
That overclock couldn’t come without a bit of voltage increase. I hinted at it before, but didn’t specify the extent you can overvolt TITAN. It’s not much. The stock voltage on this card is 1162 mV (1.162 V). It can be increased up to 38 mV for a final high limit of 1200 mV (1.2 V). It would be better if there were more voltage to play with of course, but if that would lead to a lot of dead GPUs (and I don’t know if it would), you can’t fault them for preventing that. There’s not a lot of voltage headroom, but some is absolutely better than none!
We’re giving away a little bit of info about the performance by showing you these screenshots, but what’s an overclock without stability testing?
Yes, those numbers are real and with one GPU.
NVIDIA Boost 2.0
As mentioned in the initial article, the 876 MHz stock boost clock was quite conservative. When run for short periods and a moderate distance from the temp target (at stock that’s 80 °C), it was boosting to 1006 MHz consistently. If you adjusted the fan profile to keep it away from 80 °C, it would probably stay there indefinitely.
The stock fan profile favors silence, so the card lets itself get right to the 80 °C mark. You can see that almost half way through the Heaven line. I took note of the temperature when it dipped like that and it was 77 °C, which is the point where it starts to throttle frequency to maintain the temperature target.
Now things get interesting. What you should first know is that I did adjust the fan profile to be more aggressive after overclocking. The GPU never topped 65 °C during this run, and the temp target was set at 90 °C.
The good part is that TITAN is capable of 1100 MHz numbers, pretty consistently. The bad news is that it doesn’t hold above it for very long. Temperature was not a problem here, so there are other factors at play with boost clock. While it behaved exactly as predicted at stock, things were a bit more unpredictable when overclocked.
Temperature and Power Consumption
As mentioned, the stock fan profile built into the TITAN BIOS favors silence over keeping temperatures low. It is designed to keep the card at 80 °C and that’s precisely what it does.
Don’t take this graph as an indication of how well the TITAN’s cooler performs though. At its maximum stable overclock with its maximum voltage, the temperature didn’t break 65 °C.
As impressive as the cool temperatures the GPU runs is the cooler itself. Blower style coolers aren’t known for silence, but NVIDIA did a very good job on this cooler. As blower coolers go, this is the quietest one I’ve heard. Or not heard, as it were. The most audible sound is air. Just, air. It’s not as quiet as some large-fanned, heatpipe coolers we’ve reviewed, but for a blower, its acoustics are impressive.
TITAN was made to be powerful, but also to have a reasonable level of power consumption. While it does draw significantly more than the Matrix HD 7970 (which is clocked at 1100 MHz), it also out-performs it.
Ok, enough about measuring the card, let’s put it to use!
All video cards we test are tested per our Video Card Testing Procedure. Long story short – benchmarks are run at their default settings and games are tested at 1080p with all settings turned to max.
3DMark03 has favored AMD throughout the current generation of AMD vs. NVIDIA, but the TITAN brings NVIDIA right back into contention when you overclock it, taking out the single 7970 in our lineup and getting close to the ARES II, though the higher clocked 7970 pair doesn’t waver.
In our only DirectX 10 test, TITAN shows its power. Vantage is strongly CPU dependent, but if you get a big enough disparity in graphics score, it can still show a solid difference. That’s precisely what it does here.
TITAN looks good in 3DMark 11, taking out the HD 7970 by a fair margin and even makes a respectable showing when compared to the dual 7970 options.
More of the same in Heaven. TITAN is tearing up the single GPU competition.
Take note: these 3DMark Fire Strike comparison numbers are not from the hardware comparison list above. This is an independent graph from our testing for the 3DMark launch, so just take note what’s being compared.
Well, TITAN is certainly a benchmarking beast. Let’s see what happens when you game with it.
We’re off to a good start with AvP. It’s not leaps and bounds above the HD 7970, but does win out.
Batman: AC is just the opposite. It didn’t scale all that well in CrossfireX, but absolutely takes advantage of TITAN’s powerful GPU. Overclocked, it actually beat the CFX 7970s in this game.
BF3 brings us back to reality a bit. Still quite healthy gains over the single HD 7970.
Civilization V certainly likes TITAN. Most modern GPUs (GTX 680 & HD 7970) don’t show much of a difference, but the processing capability of TITAN makes a huge difference in Civilization V.
Dirt 3 is another strong one, with TITAN performing much closer to the dual HD 7970 offerings than the other single-GPU cards.
Metro 2033 was equally impressive. TITAN is definitely in a class of its own.
While we don’t have a database of cards benched with Farcry 3 and Crysis 3, I’m sure you’re all anxious to know how it performs. Time was slim after our benching / gaming suite, but I popped off a few Fraps runs for you.
|Farcry 3||1080p, 8x MSAA, Everything Maxxed||65.3|
|Farcry 3||5760×1080, 8x MSAA, Everything Maxxed||25.0|
|Farcry 3||5760×1080, 2x MSAA, Everything Maxxed||37.6|
|Crysis 3||1080p, 8x MSAA, Everything Maxxed||37.1|
|Crysis 3||1080p, FXAA, Evereything Maxxed||68.0|
|Crysis 3||5760×1080, 8x MSAA, Everything Maxxed||14.0|
|Crysis 3||5760×1080, 2x MSAA, Everything Maxxed||20.7|
|Crysis 3||5760×1080, FXAA, Everything Maxxed||22.0|
But can it play Crysis 3? Yes. Not with all the eye candy up across three monitors, but it can indeed play at what felt like a very smooth 37 FPS on 1080p with everything turned up as far as it would go. (Note the Crysis 3 results were taken very quickly and I have not fleshed out testing for that game yet; it was acquired about an hour before finishing this review and testing time was very slim.)
NVIDIA Surround Testing
TITAN shows its strength with one monitor. At 1080p, TITAN shows it can out-game any card on the market right now and even get close to the dual GPU monster ARES II. What happens when you plug three monitors into it? Note the competition in this graph is a little different than that above. It was tested only with GPUs that have been in my hands. I’m the only one of our reviewers fortunate enough to have a tri-monitor setup for extreme resolution testing.
|ASUS GTX 670 DirectCU II TOP
ASUS Matrix HD 7970 Platinum
ASUS ARES II
NVIDIA GTX TITAN
The disparity isn’t quite as strong as with a lower resolutions. The ARES II’s dual GPUs really show their strength when it comes to multi-monitor testing. While TITAN is impressive in its own right, showing an obvious difference between itself and the highly clocked Matrix HD 7970, there just isn’t any substitute for having two powerful GPUs processing all those pixels.
Pushing the Limits
Now let’s push on the TITAN with a 4.9 GHz 3770K underneath it. Vantage & Heaven Xtreme were both the most difficult to pass, with no gain on the GPU above the +129 MHz 24/7 overclock. The memory did show it had some more life left in it, cranking up to +550 MHz for all the benchmarks you see here. Both of these are by far personal bests for these respective benches on a single GPU.
TITAN showed it had some extra MHz left for us in 3DMark 11 and 3DMark Fire Strike; 5 MHz to be precise, completing both of these at +144 MHz.
Four benchmarks, all with impressive results, which are all by far personal bests for single GPU benching.
Final Thoughts & Conclusion
Let’s get one thing out of the way first: the NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN is indeed the most powerful GPU in the world. As a single GPU card, it leaves all other single-GPU cards in the dust. It also benchmarks like crazy. I didn’t optimize anything for those runs you see. Everything but the overclocks were at default (i.e. detail settings, etc.), so even at those clocks, there are more points to be had. I’ve got a strong feeling that k|ngp|n will be putting an EPower board on some of these and making us all drool.
But… There’s always a but, isn’t there? This card is a cool grand. One. Thousand. Dollars. It is not what anyone with any bit of sense would call a good deal. As you can see in our testing above, two HD 7970s do a good job of beating it in most situations. Assuming the games you play scale decently with Crossfire HD 7970s (for around $800, mid-range), you’ll save a good chunk of money by going that route. Or you could spend the same amount on a GTX 690 or two GTX 680’s and have better performance.
NVIDIA isn’t claiming the TITAN will beat those combinations in raw performance. However, two GPUs (or a single GPU on one PCB, the much more expensive ARES II notwithstanding) aren’t always what one would consider silent. They also draw a whole other GPU’s worth of additional power. The TITAN is very quiet. It is also extremely efficient relative to the power it puts out. The TITAN, in this reviewer’s humble opinion, is a very good, $800 GPU. It just has a $200 premium tacked on for being the most powerful GPU in the world.
Let’s not forget the double precision computing performance, the most powerful yet in a consumer part. Not only is this the strongest GPU for gaming, it’s also the least expensive GPU with powerful double precision computing capabilities. It’s not a full on Tesla powerhouse with ECC and some other more specialized features. Enabling DP also drops the frequency to stay within the TDP. There probably aren’t a whole lot of people that will take advantage of this feature, but it may just broaden the market for those that will, with a more reasonably priced option, relatively speaking.
While TITAN’s price may give plenty of people pause, NVIDIA certainly thinks it will sell at a kilobuck. Without a doubt, TITAN does live up to the billing as the world’s most powerful GPU. It runs cool, quiet and efficiently to boot and even overclocks well. For those reasons, it is worthy of being Overclockers Approved.