NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Gaming Review

ccokeman - 2013-02-15 19:38:51 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: February 21, 2013
Price: $999

NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Introduction:

After taking a stroll through the feature set and visuals of NVIDIA's GTX Titan, it's time to put it to the test to find out if indeed it is a Titan (pun intended) among video cards. Packing a full 2688 CUDA cores in its five Graphics Processing Clusters, it is equipped with the feature gamers have been clamoring for: a larger frame buffer size. To that end the GTX Titan is equipped with a 6GB frame buffer running through a 384-bit bus for the most memory bandwidth available on an NVIDIA graphics card. This helps drive performance when using maximum settings in games along with running larger resolutions, including up to 4K.

When you look at the feature set, the GK110-equipped GTX Titan is geared strictly towards the gamer and has the graphics power to run the entire NVIDIA Ecosystem off of a single card equipped with a single GPU. Packing two, three, or four into a supporting motherboard should provide the ability to run every game on the market at maximum settings; in other words, as NVIDIA states, a Tri-SLI equipped system can run Crysis 3 at maximum settings using a surround resolution of 5760x1080. It's been an ongoing joke over the years but the holy grail was to run Crysis with maximum settings. Here we have a solution that purports to do just that.

It's time to get past the mindless banter and see what the GTX Titan can really deliver as a gaming video card and decide whether or not it is the world's most powerful GPU.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Specifications:

Graphics Processing Clusters
5
Streaming Multiprocessors
14
CUDA Cores (single precision)
2688
CUDA Cores (double precision)
896
Texture Units
224
ROP Units
48
Base Clock
836 MHz
Boost Clock
876 MHz
Memory Clock (Data rate)
6008 MHz
L2 Cache Size
1536K
Total Video Memory
6144MB GDDR5
Memory Interface
384-bit
Total Memory Bandwidth
288.4 GB/s
Texture Filtering Rate (Bilinear)
187.5 GigaTexels/sec
Fabrication Process
28 nm
Transistor Count
7.1 Billion
Connectors
2 x Dual-Link DVI
1 x HDMI 1 x DisplayPort
Form Factor
Dual Slot
Power Connectors
One 8-pin and one 6-pin
Recommended Power Supply
600 Watts
Thermal Design Power (TDP)1
250 Watts
Thermal Threshold2
95° C

 

NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Features:

 

 

All information courtesy of NVIDIA

NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Testing:

Testing of the NVIDIA GTX Titan will consist of running it and comparison cards through the OverclockersClub.com suite of games and synthetic benchmarks. This will test the performance against many popular competitors. Comparisons will be made to cards of a range of capabilities to show where each card falls on the performance ladder. The games used are some of today's newest and most popular titles, which should be able to provide an idea of how the cards perform relative to each other.

The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustments will be made to the respective control panels during the testing to approximate the performance the end user can expect with a stock driver installation. I will first test the cards at stock speeds, and then overclocked to see the effects of an increase in clock speed. The cards will be placed in order from highest to lowest performance in each graph to show where they fall by comparison. The NVIDIA comparison cards will be using the 316.96 beta drivers while the GTX Titan will run the 314.09 driver. The AMD-based cards will be using the Catalyst 13.1 drivers and latest CAP profile.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Video Cards:

 

 

Overclocking:

Manual overclocking on NVIDIA's latest creation is much the same as the GK104-based GTX 6XX series cards. By utilizing a clock speed increase managed as a Boost clock, the Kepler architecture works much like the latest Core series processors from Intel in some respects. By manually tweaking the core and memory clock speeds I was able to reach upwards of 1150MHz in some games and 1124MHz in others on the GTX Titan Kepler core even though the target temperature was not reached. Adjusting the memory sliders in EVGA's Precision overclocking tool I was able to squeeze the 6GB of memory to a high of 1624MHz.

These increases amount to a 20% boost on the core and just over 8% on the GDDR5 memory. Reasonably stout on the core but less so on the memory. Using the overvoltage feature of GPU Boost 2.0 can overclock some additional clock speed if the core can handle it. However you will have to acknowledge that you understand the risks realizing that the voltage levels may impact the lifespan of the silicon. With only two AIB partners in the North American market (ASUS and EVGA), the available overclocking tools will be ASUS GPU Tweak and EVGA's Precision tool, which we used as our overclocking tool for this review.

Manual overclocking is not the only way to see a performance boost with the GTX Titan. GPU Boost 2.0 will dynamically adjust the clock speed, voltage, and fan speeds to gain the best possible thermal and clock speed performance. By adjusting the target temperature (80 °C stock) you can see a boost in clock speed with nothing other than moving a slider and enjoying the game. The boost clock for the GTX Titan is supposed to be 876MHz while running up against the target temperature of 80 °C. One thing I saw was that the clock speeds on the core were routinely above 950MHz showing that the GTX Titan has indeed hit that sweet spot utilizing GPU Boost 2.0. Noise and GPU thermals are kept in check with the new Vapor Chamber cooling solution and all new fin array. In my testing I saw a maximum of 63 °C during the overclocked testing.

 

Maximum Clock Speeds:

Testing for the maximum clock speed consisted of looping Unigine 3.0 for 30 minutes each to see where the clock speeds failed when pushed. If the clock speed adjustment failed, then the clock speeds and tests were rerun until they passed a full hour of testing.

 

 

  1. Metro 2033
  2. Crysis 3
  3. Batman: Arkham City
  4. Battlefield 3
  5. Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0
  6. Unigine Valley 1.0
  7. Sid Meier's Civilization V
  8. DiRT 3
  9. Mafia II
  10. 3DMark 11

 

  1. Temperatures
  2. Power Consumption

NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Testing:

Part first-person shooter, part survival horror, Metro 2033 is based on the novel of the same name, written by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. You play as Artyom in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, where you'll spend most of your time traversing the metro system, with occasional trips to the surface. Despite the dark atmosphere and bleak future for mankind, the visuals are anything but bleak. Powered by the 4A Engine, with support for DirectX 11, NVIDIA PhysX, and NVIDIA 3D Vision, the tunnels are extremely varied – in your travels, you'll come across human outposts, bandit settlements, and even half-eaten corpses. Ensuring you feel all the tension, there is no map and no health meter. Get lost without enough gas mask filters and adrenaline shots and you may soon wind up as one of those half-eaten corpses, chewed up by some horrifying manner of irradiated beast that hides in the shadows just waiting for some hapless soul to wander by.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Metro 2033, the GTX Titan is clearly the fastest single GPU equipped card in its class. When compared to the dual GPU GTX 690, the GTX Titan is within 10FPS at 1920x1080 and within 5FPS at 5760x1080. Overclocking gets the GTX Titan that much close to stock GTX 690 performance numbers.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Testing:

This third installment of the Crysis franchise, developed by Crytek and distributed by Electronic Arts, uses the CryEngine 3 game engine, and requires a DirectX 11 ready video card and operating system due to its demanding graphics engine.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crysis has been the standard by which video cards have been measured for a while now. In this game the GTX Titan proves it can play the game at 1920x1080 with maximum settings enabled. Playing in surround mode will require at least another card or relaxing the settings to get to playable frame rates. The answer to the question seems to be yes, it can play Crysis and is the only card to make it through the surround testing.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Testing:

Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to Batman: Arkham Asylum released in 2009. This action adventure game based on DC Comics' Batman super hero was developed by Rocksteady Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Batman: Arkham City uses the Unreal 3 engine.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So far the GTX Titan is trending at over 80% of a GTX 690's performance. Batman is no different with the Titan scoring above every single GPU card in the comparison field.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Testing:

Battlefield 3 is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE and published by Electronic Arts. Battlefield 3 uses the Frostbyte 2 game engine and is the direct successor to Battlefield 2. Released in North America on October 25, 2011, the game supports DirectX 10 and 11.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At 1920x1080, the GTX 680 and HD 7970 are fairly close in performance. Pull the GTX Titan and GTX 690 into the mix and you have a pair of cards that stand above the rest.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Testing:

DiRT 3 is the third iteration of this series. Published and developed by Codemasters, this game uses the EGO 2.0 game engine and was released in the US on PC in May of 2011.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DiRT 3 is traditionally a game that is dominated by AMD cards. The GTX Titan just blows away the HD 7970 6GB and delivers performance numbers closer to GTX 690 performance when overclocked.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Testing:

Civilization V is a turn-based strategy game. The premise is to play as one of 18 civilizations and lead the civilization from the "dawn of man" up to the space age. This latest iteration of the Civilization series uses a new game engine and massive changes to the way the AI is used throughout the game. Civilization V is developed by Firaxis Games and is published by 2K games and was released for Windows in September of 2010. Testing will be done using actual game play with FPS measured by Fraps through a series of five turns, 150 turns into the game.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this game the GTX Titan delivers excellent FPS even at 5760x1080, easily again the fastest single GPU card in the comparison.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Testing:

Mafia II is a third-person shooter that puts you into the shoes of a poor, Sicilian immigrant, Vito Scarletta. Vito has just returned home from serving overseas in the liberation of fascist Italy, to avoiding his jail sentence, to finding his family in debt. The debt must be repaid by the end of the week, and his childhood friend, Joe Barbaro, conveniently happens to have questionable connections that he assures will help Vito clear the debt by that time. As such, Vito is sucked into a world of quick cash. Released in North America for PC in August of 2010, the game was developed by 2K Czech, published by 2K, and uses the Illusion 1.3 game engine.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mafia II performance from the GTX Titan continues the trend of delivering the highest FPS when compared to the single GPU cards. The GTX 690 is faster with its pair of GK104 cores.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Testing:

Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0 is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on the Unigine engine. This was the first DX 11 benchmark to allow testing of DX 11 features. What sets the Heaven Benchmark apart is the addition of hardware tessellation, available in three modes – Moderate, Normal and Extreme. Although tessellation requires a video card with DirectX 11 support and Windows Vista/7, the Heaven Benchmark also supports DirectX 9, DirectX 10, DirectX 11 and OpenGL 4.0. Visually, it features beautiful floating islands that contain a tiny village and extremely detailed architecture.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this new iteration of Unigine's popular Heaven benchmark, the GTX Titan's performance follows the trend again at 1920x1080. At 5760x1080 it delivers a measurable performance increase against the GTX 690 and GTX 680.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Testing:

Unigine Valley 1.0 is a new non synthetic benchmark built upon the Unigine engine that showcases a very detailed wide open environment. This DX 11 ready GPU stress test uses a wide range of graphics technologies to put the GPU through its paces much like Unigines acclaimed Heaven Benchmark. Instead of a series of floating islands we get a picturesque view of the Siberian wilderness through a flythough with both up close and distant views.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The GTX Titan's performance mirrors that seen in the Heaven Benchmark version 4.0. Again much better than the GK104 implementations, as well as AMD's best HD 7970 implementation by a measurable margin.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Testing:

3DMark: The just released version of Futuremark's popular 3DMark suite is designed to let a wider range of the user base the ability to make a comparative analysis of the gaming prowess of their systems from entry level PCs to notebooks and Extreme Gaming PCs.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this test the GTX Titan again delivers the best single GPU performance, easily besting the HD 7970 6GB.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Testing:

Temperature testing will be accomplished by loading the video card to 100% using Unigine's Heaven Benchmark Version 3.0, with MSI's Afterburner overclocking utility for temperature monitoring. I will be using a resolution of 1920x1200 using 8xAA and a five-run sequence to run the test, ensuring that the maximum thermal threshold is reached. The fan speed will be left in the control of the driver package and video card's BIOS for the stock load test, with the fan moved to 100% to see the best possible cooling scenario for the overclocked load test. The idle test will involve a 20-minute cool-down, with the fan speeds left on automatic in the stock speed testing and bumped up to 100% when running overclocked.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Temperature testing the GTX Titan is a bit odd when you look at how the target temperatures are used to manage performance levels under GPU Boost 2.0. At stock speeds using the default fan parameters, the GTX Titan runs right up to the target temperature of 80 °C.The tradeoff is that even at 80 °C the card is just a quiet as can be. Ramping the fans up does pay dividends by keeping the card right around 60 °C under load allowing the Boost clock to stay as high as possible. Running the GTX Titan with the fans maxed out does bring along some noise, however this noise is more so reminiscent of a GTX 680 at full song than anything else. Where the GTX Titan excels even further is when put into a chassis.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Testing:

Power consumption of the system will be measured at both idle and loaded states, taking into account the peak voltage of the system with each video card installed. I will use Unigine's Heaven Benchmark version 2.5 to put a load onto the GPU using the settings below. A 15-minute load test will be used to heat up the GPU, with the highest measured temperature recorded as the result. The idle results will be measured after 15 minutes of inactivity on the system. With dual-GPU setups, the two core temperatures will be averaged.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a direct competitor to the HD 7970 6GB, it is impressive to have NVIDIA take such a large die and deliver the kinds of power consumption numbers the GTX Titan has.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Conclusion:

The definitions of the word Titan all point to being great in size and strength. Things of which that embody what the GTX Titan is at its core. Equipped with an immense core count and 6GB of frame buffer, it has everything the gamer is looking for in a single GPU video card. In each and every benchmark it was the fastest single GPU card hands down. Not quite the equal of the GTX 690, but edging closer at around 80+% of its performance. The objectives NVIDIA had when putting together the Kepler core were fully realized with this release.

The GTX Titan is a bit unique in that it is not only designed and equipped to be the best gaming GPU core on the market but has the ability to work as a gateway for the budding CUDA developer using its 896 Double Precision cores. As a card built for the enthusiast, the GTX Titan has a feature set that includes GPU Boost 2.0; a radical shift in philosophy for NVIDIA as it's no longer using a power target or threshold to manage the boost clock of the GPU but a temperature target. The reasoning behind this switch is that silicon degradation happens with high temperatures and voltages. NVIDIA found that the power target method of limiting performance prematurely reduced the boost clock dropping performance needlessly when there was thermal headroom still available with GPU Boost 1.0. GPU Boost 2.0 works by setting the default temperature target and basing the boost clock headroom on that temperature information. The boost clock speed for the core is 876MHz according to NVIDIA, however in my testing I saw upwards of 950MHz on the core regularly or about another 8% boost in performance over the stock solution.

GPU Boost gives the end user some basic overclocking right out of the box, but manual overclocking can prove even more fruitful. NVIDIA stated it was seeing up to 1100MHz on the core in its testing; a level I was able to reach and exceed at between 1124 and 1150MHz depending on the application. Memory overclocking came in just over 1600MHz at 1625MHz. Both reasonable overclocks that drives the GTX Titan's performance ever closer to that of the GTX 690. To allow the enthusiast to try for even more clock speed, the GTX Titan does support overvolting the GPU core within reason at 1200mv. Enabling the overvoltage control entails acknowledging that the overvoltage level will damage the GPU. Short and sweet, and to the point.

Overclocking is a great way to boost performance but the cooling of the GPU has to be capable of dissipating the heat generated by the massive core on the GTX Titan. NVIDIA did its homework and used a large vapor chamber-based solution that keeps the thermals in check whether running at stock clock speeds or boosted above stock levels. Running at stock speeds, the cooling solution ran the GPU core temperature right up to the target temperature of 80 °C and kept it right on that mark regardless of the GPU loading. Manually controlling the fan speed to 85% dropped the temperature to 63 °C when fully loaded in my testing. Pretty significant when you look at it. Cranking the fan speed up is going to raise the noise level of the GTX Titan but no where near what we have seen in the past. When using the target temperature as the guiding principle the card is dead silent. I could not even hear it running in the chassis during my testing.

As a single card, the GTX Titan is phenomenal; as a pair or set of three there is nothing the combination could not play. For that kind of graphics horsepower there is a price. In this instance it comes in at $999; a tough pill to swallow that will likely relegate the GTX Titan to those systems where only the best hardware is used for the discriminating buyer or extreme gamer. To that end NVIDIA has given the GTX Titan the looks to go with the hardware and it will deliver all the FPS that you want for a high end gaming fix, for a price!

 

Pros:

 

Cons: