Exploring the GTX Titan, Nvidia's Supercomputer-Grade Graphics Card

Nvidia took the GK110-packed K20X graphics card and retooled it into a gaming-grade solution with serious chops, but how many frames can $999 buy?

While many of us anxiously awaited Sony's PlayStation 4 announcement, Nvidia made a little announcement of its own: its latest high-end graphics card and the first in the Kepler line equipped with the GK110 GPU. Priced at $999, the Titan costs the same as Nvidia's other high-end gaming solution, the dual-GPU GTX 690. With the equivalent of two GTX 680s on board, the 690 remains the faster option on paper, albeit by a small margin. Knowing that, why would anyone consider the Titan? Three reasons: power efficiency, memory capacity, and overclocking potential.

Two primary factors account for the Titan's distinct advantage over the GTX 690: a 50 percent increase in total VRAM (a 300 percent increase per GPU, at the same 6GHz clock speed) and the debut of the GK110 GPU on a consumer card. The GK110 was initially used in workstations and accelerated computing solutions, debuting in Nvidia's Tesla K20 and K20X cards. While the K20 and the K20X are technically capable of powering high-end gaming applications, their extraneous features, gaming-unfriendly drivers, and starting price of $3,500 ensured otherwise.

Even though the Titan maintains some of the Tesla cards' research-centric benefits, it has been slightly watered down to hit a sub-$1,000 price point. Disabling valuable features like HyperQ doesn't make the Titan any cheaper to produce than the K20, but as an invaluable tool for researchers, its absence prevents it from attracting the "wrong" customers, that is, scientific types looking for a cheaper alternative to the K20. Thus, Nvidia can enter a different market without cannibalizing its grip on another, and PC gamers get the chance to harness the next evolution of Nvidia's GPU technology at a fraction of the cost.

GTX TITAN GPU Specs
GTX TITAN Memory Specs
2688CUDA Cores
837 Base Clock (MHz)
876 Boost Clock (MHz)
187.5 Texture Fill Rate (billion/sec)
6.0 Gbps Memory Clock
6144 MBStandard Memory Config
GDDR5 Memory Interface
384-bit GDDR5Memory Interface Width
288.4 Memory Bandwidth (GB/sec)
GTX TITAN Support
Display Support
4.3OpenGL
PCI Express 3.0
GPU Boost 2.0, 3D Vision, CUDA, DirectX 11, PhysX, TXAA, Adaptive VSync, FXAA, 3D Vision Surround, SLI-readySupported Technologies
Microsoft DirectX 11.1
4 displaysMulti Monitor
4096x2160Maximum Digital Resolution
2048x1536Maximum VGA Resolution
One Dual Link DVI-I, One Dual Link DVI-D, One HDMI, One DisplayPort
GTX TITAN Graphics Card Dimensions
Thermal and Power Specs
10.5 inchesLength
4.376 inchesHeight
Dual-slotWidth
250 WGraphics Card Power (W)
600 WMinimum System Power Requirement (W)
One 8-pin and one 6-pin Power Connector

Benchmarks

The computer that we used for testing was provided by Origin PC, and it arrived stuffed with not one, but three GTX Titans, among other impressive parts. Here's the complete rundown of the relevant components:

Motherboard
Intel DX79SR
Processor
Intel Extreme Edition Core i7 3970X (OC'ed to 4.9GHz)
RAM
16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1866MHz
Hard Drive
Dual 120GB Corsair Neutron SSDs in RAID 0
Power Supply
1.2 kilowatt (1200W) Corsair PSU

Let's take a look at how the Titan performs in single-card and SLI solutions with some of today's most demanding PC games.

Crysis 3 - Max Settings
No matter what card you throw Crysis 3 at, it will get pushed to its limit. You might expect that a $999 card would be able to get better frames out of any game, but keep in mind that this is Crysis 3 with every setting maxed out at 1920x1080. Lowering motion blur and post-processing settings will immediately boost these numbers, and the game will still retain its remarkable visuals.


Batman: Arkham City - Max Settings
The Titan clearly crushes Arkham City. While the game doesn't scale in performance quite relative to the number of cards in use, dedicating a card solely to PhysX produces better results than running three cards with dynamic PhysX assignment, where the CPU would also be a viable candidate for processing.


Metro 2033 - Max Settings
Metro 2033 may not be as much of a resource hog as Crysis 3, but it's no slouch. A wealth of post-processing effects and PhysX can tax any card, but as with Arkham City, dedicating a Titan card to PhysX yields impressive results.


Battlefield 3 - Max Settings
Battlefield 3 is another game capable of proving your system's worth, and unlike with Metro 2033 or Crysis, the Titan performs well above par.


Total War: Shogun 2 - Max Settings
Total War: Shogun 2 may not appear as visually stunning as some of the other games we benchmarked, but there can be hundreds of units on the battlefield at any given time, and in this case, HDR lighting increases the tax on the GPU(s).


The Witcher 2 - Max Settings
The "ubersampling" option in The Witcher 2 almost pushes the Titan to its limits, but it's nothing that a single card can't handle. The technique is one of the most inefficient anti-aliasing techniques, even more so than FSAA (Full Screen Anti-Aliasing). While this isn't an exact calculation, expect ubersampling to halve your frame rates. Turning off ubersampling kept the frame rate above 100fps during most of our test run, for example.


Is a Titan worth $999?

Anyone shelling out just over a grand (post tax) on a graphics card expects top-of-the-line performance. The Titan's primary competition would be Nvidia's own GTX 690 (the equivalent of two GTX 680s) or a pair of cheaper graphics cards working in tandem, but you'd have to deal with increased power consumption and heat with the latter option. You could survive on, say, a single GTX 680 for about $500, with max settings in most games, running at a reasonable clip (30fps or higher). But if you want, or need, the highest frame rate possible, along with every graphical flourish under the sun, and you aren't confined to a pesky budget, the GTX Titan should be at the top of your shopping list.

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Discussion

480 comments
Tyson8earzz
Tyson8earzz

Interesting read but total overkill for gaming. Whats fast and new now will be old and outdated regardless if the card cost $1000 or $10,000. Save your money and get a GTX 670 ftw edition for 370 w/ MIR and enjoy it for the next 2 yrs or so. I buy a new vid card every 2+ yrs and sell the old one on craigslist to recoup a bit of the new purchase price.

Overkillhazard
Overkillhazard

GTX 670 ftw+; it's cheaper than the lowest cost model of the 680, and runs great in its own right.

IJONOI
IJONOI

Felt like crying when I learnt they'd released a new card 6 months after buying a 690. Thank god, its actually slightly less powerful, power usage and overclocking aside... seriously who needs to overclock anything above a 680 with the current level of games. 

Edward Yen
Edward Yen

What is expensive is relative to one's purchasing ability at the time. For me it's the SoundBlaster I bought back in the 90's when I was in high school. I worked a whole summer to be able to afford it.

Chuck Renninger
Chuck Renninger

The gtx 690 was $1,000 at one time aswell.......but that's dual gpu (2X 680)...it's expensive? your point? This thing kick's the 690's silicon ass...duh.

Mauro Figueiredo
Mauro Figueiredo

You guys are a little wrong,the Titan almost doubles the performance of a single GTX 680,so,instead of buy 2x680 for SLI for example,just buy 1 titan for the same price,and you will have 2x performance,much better than SLI performance,check this out,it's the proof,a real benchmark that never fails,did by real buyers: http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/high_end_gpus.html

Zerot
Zerot

sadly dude to the structure of the development cycle high end cards are always stretched very short and "never" woth the money.


Jean Arias
Jean Arias

Thats a lot of money for a card with a single gpu.

Francesco Alessi
Francesco Alessi

I spent $2500 on a Open GL Wildcat card about 13 years ago... worst purchase I think I ever made. The problem with those high-end video cards were they were great at rendering the Open GL stuff, but horrible at every other type of video. I ended up pulling it out and putting in a 300 dollar video card that could do directX and other stuff that was common.

Edward Williams
Edward Williams

for me was my tower, then next up is my EVGA GTX680 FTW 4gb I just got recently...

comandobee
comandobee

Defintely not worth it. All of my thoughts have been expressed in previous comments (basically, a $400 card will get you around 80% of the same results) but I'd like to point out that Total War Shogun 2 is more of a test on your CPU, until you turn up AA and AF.

Steven Williamson
Steven Williamson

That's an outrageous price to pay for a card! I want one haha

Tom McMahon
Tom McMahon

Alienware for me, it had 3 8800 Ultras in it, Q6850.. Think the total was just over £4k. That was all my money from first job :P Ironically the worst PC I've ever owned also, despite the crude as hell water cooling, overheated in 15 mins flat. But single component? My 690!

Daniel Courtney
Daniel Courtney

We could reach freaking Mars now with the power house of computers at our disposal

Dre Basquiat Guevara
Dre Basquiat Guevara

what is the most expensive Nvidia Card though is this the Best they really have or the best Mainstream that is considered possible to be purchased by the General public ?

Max Echegaray
Max Echegaray

This piece of equipment can run absolutely anything at max graphics! FOR A THOUSAND DOLLARS

Adam Miller
Adam Miller

I might get one but I'm waiting to see the kinds of specs next gen games require. I am not going to assume that just because console has just caught up that the GTX 680's or the Titans of this world will be enough to run a PC game that is now spreading its wings because it can. I'd hate to spend £840 on a card that next year could be obsolete because the required specs go higher than expected in next-gen.

jochimm
jochimm

Wow, this astonishes me, but not in a good way.
I get alsmost exatly those frames with crysis 3 with a GTX 670 FTW (not even 400 $) max settings, 1920x1080 and 2x TXAA (only motion blur disabled). 
You would certainly expect a lot better from a 1000 $ card.
In the high end range there is a certain point where you start to pay exponentially more for only a (relatively) small improvement and this proves it.

Bob Rea
Bob Rea

$400 cpu was the most I ever spent on one item

TigerClaw
TigerClaw

I'm happy with my GTX 680, It runs Crysis 3 fine with all settings set to Very High.

Zack Temple
Zack Temple

I got 2x 680s I'm good till next gen:)

NightmareP3
NightmareP3

My 460GTX is still keeping me happy , however my Quad Core 2.41ghz CPU is starting to annoy me alot.

Zac Santerre
Zac Santerre

3200. Long time ago. Back when the 8800 gtx wasto of the line. Sli

maitkarro
maitkarro

Wait for the newer Drivers and all the games might get 50% more performance fps wise. As I've taken to noticed the changelogs of the Nvidia Drivers.

orpheus-livepa
orpheus-livepa

@maitkarro so much speculation on here, almost everyones got an opinion, but no evidence to back it up, but hey im with you on the driver front (",) 

maitkarro
maitkarro

You don't have to have a nvidia card to see that info...

maitkarro
maitkarro

@orpheus-livepa@maitkarroRelease Highlights:

This is the GeForce Game Ready driver for the Crysis 3. It delivers a smoother gaming experience, improves single GPU performance by up to 5%, and boosts SLI performance by up to 65% (compared to GeForce 310.90 WHQL driver).

Instantly apply optimal game settings for Crysis 3 with GeForce Experience

EA’s recommended GeForce GPU for Crysis 3 is a GeForce GTX 560 or higher. For the Hi-Performance PC Specification, EA recommends GeForce GTX 680.

GeForce R313 drivers also provide significant performance increases in other top games like Assassin’s Creed III, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, and Far Cry 3.

New in GeForce 314.07 Drivers
Increases performance by up to 5% in Crysis 3 (measured with GeForce GTX 680 at 1920x1080 high settings).

New in GeForce R313 Drivers

    Performance Boost – Increases performance for GeForce 400/500/600 series GPUs in several PC games vs. GeForce 310.90 WHQL-certified drivers. Results will vary depending on your GPU and system configuration:
    GeForce GTX 690:
      Up to 65% in Crysis 3 Up to 24% in Assassin’s Creed III Up to 15% in Civilization V Up to 14% in Call of Duty: Black Ops II Up to 12% in Dirt 3 Up to 11% in Just Cause 2 Up to 9% in Deus Ex: Human Revolution Up to 8% in Far Cry 2 Up to 7% in Far Cry 3 Up to 7% in Batman: Arkham City Up to 7% in Dragon Age II Up to 5% in Battlefield 3 Up to 4% in Shogun: Total War Up to 4% in Stalker: Call of Pripyat
    GeForce GTX 670:
      Up to 28% in Assassin’s Creed III Up to 11% in Civilization V Up to 8% in Far Cry 3 Up to 6% in Just Cause 2 Up to 5% in Deus Ex: Human Revolution Up to 5% in Dirt 3 Up to 5% in Batman: Arkham City Up to 5% in Far Cry 2 Up to 4% in Call of Duty: Black Ops II Up to 3% in Shogun: Total War Up to 3% in Stalker: Call of Pripyat
    NVIDIA SLI TechnologyAdds or updates the following SLI profiles:
      Crysis 3 – updated SLI profile Warframe– updated SLI profile DmC: Devil May Cry– added SLI profile
    NVIDIA 3D Vision Adds the following profiles:
      Crysis 3 – rated Excellent Dead Space 3 – rated PoorResident Evil 6- rated Good

maitkarro
maitkarro

@West123 @maitkarro I know, I just backed up my info even more just incase, also it helps those people who don't have time to look it up, if per chance they come across here and never have taken the chance to look at the change/update log before downloading the driver, or well for other GPU users.