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Feature Article

Review: Nvidia's $999 GTX Titan X Shines in 4K

Money equals power.

It wasn't all that long ago that Nvidia released the GTX 980, which, up to this point, remained the fastest single-GPU on the market. At the time, though, thanks to its conservative power requirements, I noted that it wasn't the generational leap in performance one might have hoped for from Nvidia's brand new Maxwell architecture. Six months on, and that generational leap in performance is finally here. Enter the GTX Titan X, a full-fat implementation of the power-efficient Maxwell architecture that pairs a wildly over-the-top 12GB of VRAM with 7Tflops of processing power. The Titan X is big, bold, and badass, but at $999, that power is going to cost you.

Specs

The Titan X is Maxwell without compromise. It's the first GPU from Nvidia that makes use of the GM200 core, which carries 8 billion transistors in a 28nm die. It consists of six Graphics Processing Clusters, each of which contains four Streaming Multiprocessors Units, with 128 cores in each SMM block. That adds up to 24 SMM Units, 3072 CUDA Cores, 192 Texture Mapping Units and 96 ROPs.

No Caption Provided

Aside from the obvious increases in ROPs and CUDA Cores, GM200 is notable for bringing back the 384-bit memory system of the original GTX Titan, GTX 780 and GTX 780 Ti. Armed with a huge 12GB of 7GHz memory, the Titan X's memory is able to shift data at 336.5 GB/sec, a 50 percent increase over the GTX 980. Whether or not you actually need all that memory is debatable.

While it's certainly possible to max out 4GB of VRAM (just ask a disgruntled GTX 970 owner about that one), the obvious move would be to include 8GB. Even if you ran multiple displays and games at 4K with some seriously beefy textures, that'd be a lot of memory to fill. But hey, while no GPU is ever really future proof, with 12GB of VRAM on board, the Titan X will be able keep up with the ever increasing VRAM requirements of games for far longer than your average graphics card.

GPU

GTX Titan X

GTX 980

GTX 970

CUDA Cores

3072

2048

1664

Base Clock

1000 MHz

1126 MHz

1050 MHz

GPU Boost Clock

1075 MHz

1216 MHz

1178 MHz

Memory

12GB

4GB

4GB

Memory Data Rate

7000 MHz

7000 MHz

7000 MHz

Memory Bandwidth

336.5 GB/s

224 GB/s

196 GB/s

Memory Interface

384-bit

256-bit

256-bit

ROPs

96

64

56

TDP

250W

165W

145W

Fabrication Process

28-nm

28-nm

28-nm

What hasn't increased over the GTX 980 is the clock speed, which is lower by a few hundred MHz. However, as the benchmarks below show, the vastly increased CUDA cores and ROPs more than make up the difference. And hey, if you're into overclocking, the Titan X's 6+2 phase design (6 phases for the GPU, 2 for the memory) means you can crank up the power target to 110%, and the wattage from 250W to a 275W. That leaves quite a bit of headroom for overclocking, even under air. Nvidia claims that speeds of 1.4GHz are possible. While I didn't quite hit that in my testing, hitting 1.2GHz was relatively easy.

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The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that the Titan X's 250W TDP represents a significant increase in wattage over the 165W of the GTX 980. That's still less than the near 300W of the R9 290X, the power-efficient architecture giving Nvidia the space to increase performance, without dramatically heat output and needing a particularly exotic cooling solution. Still, you'll need 6 and 8-pin power from your power supply this time, with Nvidia recommending a minimum of a 600W power supply to get the job done.

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One major change from the previous GTX Titan is with the Titan X's double-precision performance. Like the GTX 980, the Titan X's double-precision performance is 1/32 the rate of single-precision performance. That's not of particular importance for gamers, but scientific types making use of double-precision instructions will find the Titan X lacking; perhaps Nvidia grew wary of people using the Titan as a cheaper alternative to its Tesla cards. Whatever the reason, Nvidia is recommending the $3000 GTX Titan Z as the best GPU for those who need double-precision.

Aside from the snazzy black exterior, the Titan X uses the same excellent reference cooler that launched with the original GTX Titan and made its way though Nvidia's high-end models such as the GTX 980. However, unlike the GTX 980, Nvidia is only allowing partners to release cards with the reference cooler, so don't expect the likes of MSI's excellent Twin Frozr cooling system to be hitting Titans anytime soon.

Not that it matters too much. In testing, I found the GTX Titan X to be relatively quiet. However, thanks to increased wattage, it is noticeably louder than the 980 under load. It's not overly distracting by any means, and it's certainly quieter than AMD's cards, but it's something to bear in mind if noise is a big issue for you. In terms of outputs, the Titan X sports three full size display ports, one HDMI 2.0 port, and one dual-link DVI. There's also support for up to four-way SLI, should you have insanely large wads of cash to spare.

Performance

Onto performance then, and no surprises here, the GTX Titan X is the fastest single-GPU I've ever tested. At stock speed and paired with an 8-core Intel i7 5960X overclocked to 4GHz, 16GB of Corsair DDR4 RAM @ 3000 MHz, and two Crucial M550 SSDs in RAID 0, I saw between a 25 and 30 percent boost in performance over the 980, and up to a 40 percent boost over an AMD R9 290X. Naturally, there's really no point in buying this card for 1080p gaming (a GTX 970 would serve you just as well), so all testing was done at 1440p and UHD (4K) resolution.

At 1440p, the Titan X easily ran everything we threw at it, averaging 60fps. Yes, that includes perennial system killer Crysis 3. 1440p is definitely the sweet spot for high-res gaming, particularly if you want 60fps, but there were some impressive results for 4K too.

1440p

GTX Titan X

GTX 980

R9 290X

Heaven @ Ultra, 8X AA

53

38

34

Far Cry 4 @ Ultra, SMAA

85

58

58

Crysis 3 @ Very High, FXAA

60

22

19

Tomb Raider, Ultimate, FXAA, Tres FX

87

73

65

Bioshock Infinite @ Ultra, AA

130

104

90

Battlefield 4 @ Ultra, 4X MSAA, HBAO

86

60

47

Metro Last Light @ Very High

86

65

59

UHD (4K)

GTX Titan X

GTX 980

R9 290X

Heaven @ Ultra, 8X AA

32

23

19

Far Cry 4 @ Ultra, SMAA

46

38

34

Crysis 3 @ Very High, FXAA

28

22

19

Tomb Raider, Ultimate, FXAA, Tres FX

52

39

35

Bioshock Infinite @ Ultra, AA

74

55

46

Battlefield 4 @ Ultra, 4X MSAA, HBAO

61

46

36

Metro Last Light @ Very High

40

32

32

The Titan X is the first card where you can reasonably play in 4K without having to go with an SLI or Crossfire setup. You'll have to make do with a locked 30fps for the most part, or put up with some screen tearing (unless you're using a G-Sync screen), but the slowdowns during busier scenes that have plagued single-GPU 4K setups up to this point aren't an issue with the Titan X. With the exception of Crysis 3, no game dropped below 40fps.

Verdict

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Some people might call the Titan X's 12GB of VRAM and powerful innards overkill--and those people might be right. But what the Titan X represents is a glimpse at the future of the GPU, the place where they'll all be in a few years time, minus the price tag. You can even get a glimpse of what those games might look like too, thanks to the likes of Epic's Kite demo, which was powered by a single Titan X. Having seen the demo first-hand, and paused it at random to fly around in real-time, I can tell you that it's light-years ahead of today's games, at least in terms of visuals.

The Titan X is for the guy or gal who wants to be at the forefront of that, and won't accept anything less than the very best in performance. This is an enthusiast grade graphics card, with enthusiast pricing to match. But even if you don't take into account all the great Nvidia extras--GSync, GeForce Experience, DSR, to name but a few--the Titan X is, finally, a generational leap in performance over the 7-series, and the absolute best graphics card money can buy.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

markypants

Mark Walton

Mark is a senior staff writer based out of the UK, the home of heavy metal and superior chocolate.
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Avatar image for marius_fusariu
Marius_Fusariu

looks cute

Avatar image for vfibsux
vfibsux

Waste of money.

Avatar image for mrjoeyyaya
mrjoeyyaya

I tried 4k gaming on my Geforce 750ti on my i5 8GB rig... and hey... it worked! I played Painkiller Hell and Damnation, Brothers, and I even tried the new Metal Gear Solid game and it played in 4k as well. It wasn't perfect but it was playable and looked amazing... I tried Skyrim as well and that game required me to turn down a lot of graphic settings.

Avatar image for youngzen69
youngzen69

If you don't already know the GTX 980Ti or maybe one of AMD's upcoming cards is the card to get! At three hundred and something dollars less and performance wise pretty much on par with the GTX Titan X the GTX 980Ti is the winner. The Titan 2015 is a fail! In fact I am returning my GTX Titan X and downgrading to the GTX 980Ti! Anyway that 12gb of vram will never get utilized and the slightly larger amount of Cuda cores won't make much of a difference in video rendering.

Avatar image for youngzen69
youngzen69

For those on a budget the GTX 970 or maybe one of AMD's upcoming budget cards is the card to get! Unless you get lucky and find someone selling the GTX 980 at a really cheap price somewhere in the same price range as the GTX 970. I wouldn't bother with the GTX 980. Like the Titan X the GTX 980 is overpriced for what you get. Performance per dollar wise the GTX 970 is unbeatable as of this posting.

Avatar image for indy2005
indy2005

4 of these in SLI should last until next year at least.

Avatar image for blackeagle84
blackeagle84

<< LINK REMOVED >> Try next month.

Avatar image for MohammadSubhan1
MohammadSubhan1

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Lol. Maybe for 1 or 2 hours.

Avatar image for ahmedin1997
Ahmedin1997

That jab at GTX 970 owners. Too funny.

Avatar image for youngzen69
youngzen69

I have a Titan X and I would have to say that a single Titan X still struggles in 4K benchmarks to get above 30fps. So I wouldn't say that its quite ready for 4k. At least not a single GTX Titan X but at 1440p I can max out all the settings in the Titan X Nvidia control panel like ambient occlusion, anisotropic, antialiasing, etc. and still get fps well above my monitors refresh rate capabilities which is like 80fps!


Intel i7 4790k

Maximus VII impact mini itx motherboard

16gb 2133 ram

GTX Titan X

Three 480gb ssd's raid 0, plus 2tb hard-drive

Asus blu-ray-drive

Windows 8.1 64bit

Avatar image for euroguy86
Euroguy86

<< LINK REMOVED >> I've found simply turning off AA improves frames by quite a lot at 4K :)

Avatar image for youngzen69
youngzen69

In case you guys was wonder how this card might perform on CPU intensive games like Day Z. In short coming from a GTX 780TI the Titan X still struggles fps wise. Only difference is that the Titan X has 12 gb vram as oppose to the 780TI 3 gb of vram. Which now means that I can crank things up such as resolution, rendering distance, antialiasing, clouds, shadows, texture, etc. without much of an impact on an already struggling fps.

Avatar image for admiral_199
AdmiraL_199

I played battlefield 4 in 1600x900 14" laptop GTX 660m 2GB getting 58 fps, what is your study based upon?!! marketing I guess, every year there should be a new graphic card withplenty of #####$ so money is power what power! you mean money to buy and buy cause we can't fill the Greed of the industerial companies .. There must be laws seatted to force those assholes to produce upgradable products in computure industery and other industeries.. otherwise they will keep ripping our money to the END.

Avatar image for Ghost_Turtle
Ghost_Turtle

<< LINK REMOVED >> You must be new to PC gaming...

Avatar image for demrocks
Demrocks

Untill GPU's can play 4k ultra at concistent 60 fps nothing shines in 4k.


Not even the 390x will do it, perhaps the 17 teraflop monster dual gpu from amd the 395x might do it but untill we see benchmarks its all speculation.


And seriously paying 1200 euro for 1 gpu when you can buy a 295x for half that price and scores better at 4k is kinda silly.

Mad props for Nvidia tough as the Titan X can do realy awesome stuff, but the price just kills it.


Avatar image for justin12421
justin12421

<< LINK REMOVED >>

Agreed. I feel I wasted money buying a 4k pc that cant really run 4k. Im selling while I can and playing my ps4 for a couple more years

Avatar image for amra1971
amra1971

Radeon R9 295x2! beats titan x and titan z...

Avatar image for euroguy86
Euroguy86

<< LINK REMOVED >> The 295X2 is 2 x fully fledged 290X GPU's on 1 x PCB, The Titan X is a single GPU, The Titan Z is 2 x Titan Blacks on 1 x PCB and in the majority of things is roughly neck and neck with the 295X2.

Avatar image for Beasthunt
Beasthunt

<< LINK REMOVED >> You know, you are right. I watched a video today and in many games the only thing to beat the 295x2 was 980 in SLI.

Avatar image for Fade2black001
Fade2black001

390x has it beat

Avatar image for Beasthunt
Beasthunt

<< LINK REMOVED >> I could tell by those 390x benchmarks.....

Oh, that's right.

Avatar image for onefai
Onefai

I won't call it "shines in 4k." It is more like playable in 4k. Maybe another year or so. We don't even have fast 4k monitor.

Avatar image for invizo
invizo

Lol they actually listed the 970 as having 4GB. As a side note, this card will be thrown away from old age before anything asks for 12GB VRAM, even at 4K nothing uses 6GB. Just sayin.


Avatar image for jimmy1974
jimmy1974

<< LINK REMOVED >> well gta v was using over 13gb of vram everything full inc AA settings at 4K and it totally destroyed my 980 ti sli setup, so 3 or 4 way would get you a constant 60fps or 2x titan x or z

Avatar image for Lpedraja2002
Lpedraja2002

I'll just wait for two or three generations of video cards. I bet that by t hen mid-range cards will have acceptable performance in 4k.

Avatar image for insane_metalist
insane_metalist

If only they made it 8GB for $750 now that would be very reasonable.

Avatar image for IJONOI
IJONOI

People moaning about the 4k fps. That's with AA turned on. And at the resolution it just isn't necessary. Not too mention a humongous resource wh0re.

Probably most of these game engines also aren't designed to run at that level of detail.

Avatar image for gtg246x
gtg246x

<< LINK REMOVED >> I completley agree...The best part about this new card, is no need for Multi-GPU 4k, and you just turn off AA. My XB0248HK is waiting for it to arrive :)

Avatar image for jecomans
jecomans

Finally found an Australia price for the Titan X (EVGA, from PCCG) and it is $1500. Straight double the cost of the GTX980. Might get a couple of them then.

Avatar image for mikemackenzie24
mikemackenzie24

So what this article is saying is that this video card has the capabilities to play games at 4k resolution with only a single card?


I currently run a single r9 280x and 4k resolutions DESTROY my card. I believe you need 2x Titans to game effectively. So this is pretty amazing for a single card to handle 4k.


What about connecting this to a large 4k TV like the Samsung HY7250? << LINK REMOVED >>


Would this be able to push enough "stream" video or games on a 4k TV?

Avatar image for mordeaniis
Mordeaniis

A lot of these settings are ridiculous. Why 4xMSAA for BF?

Avatar image for tjax3
tjax3

<< LINK REMOVED >>


I agree and with 4k there is no need for any Anti-Aliasing. They need to do some 4k specs without any of that

Avatar image for hoyholyhoy
hoyholyhoy

You should be using games like Crysis, Ryse, Skyrim with the heaviest ENB's you can find, not games that run on Unreal 3...

Avatar image for ALLIAMOS
ALLIAMOS

that is why i love pc,

gaming pc = men

Avatar image for rickphoenixxx
RickPhoenixxx

Not with Crysis 3 it doesn't. Not even 30 FPS with all settings on high, what a waste of money.

Avatar image for mordeaniis
Mordeaniis

<< LINK REMOVED >> First of all, it's not really a gaming card, it's a computing card that can also play games for spoiled rich kids.
Second of all... It's still better than anything else can manage. Crysis 3 at high settings and 4K? That is a monumental task. It's playable, that should be enough at 4K. Expecting more is ridiculous.

Avatar image for thereal25
thereal25

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Disagree.

I'm not sure why you say it's a "computing" card and not a gaming card. Seems to me that this card is designed with games in mind more than anything else.


Also why would you assume that only "spoiled rich kids" would buy this card? Could not an adult want one?


Furthermore, anything sub 60fps on 4k is simply not good enough.


... and certainly not "future proof".


Avatar image for aenews
aenews

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Well Crysis 3 is pretty smooth @4K Very High on my 970 3-Way Setup

Avatar image for abcdef-1353
abcDEF-1353

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> thanks dude

Avatar image for Horndawgie
Horndawgie

PC fanboys who can afford better tech than the PS4/X1: we are the master pc race, so much more powerful than the weak consoles.

PC fanboys who can't afford this card: I am happy with my 970 because this is not necessary blah blah blah....


Tools.

Avatar image for Madridiq8e
Madridiq8e

I'm going to wait until they release a single GPU which can handle 4k gaming on average 60fps, my 780 is still good