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GeForce GTX Titan: Crazy-Fast; Crazy-Expensive

Benchmarking GeForce GTX Titan 6 GB: Fast, Quiet, Consistent
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I gave you a handful of conclusions in Tuesday's story, and promised today’s data would back me up. Between then and now, I’ve run and re-run a bunch of data. How well do my first impressions carry through? Here’s what I said:

1) Pay the same $1,000 for a GeForce GTX 690 if you only want one dual-slot card and your case accommodates the long board. It remains the fastest graphics solution we’ve ever tested, so there's no real reason not to favor it over Titan.

We can stand by this one. Although it’s technically true that the GeForce GTX 690’s 2 GB per GPU potentially limits performance at high detail settings and resolutions, our tests at 5760x1200 didn’t turn up any troublesome numbers. Far Cry 3 was the one title that felt choppy—and that was the case even as far down as 2560x1600. I don’t think on-board memory is the issue.

2) The Titan isn’t worth $600 more than a Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition. Two of AMD’s cards are going to be faster and cost less. Of course, they’re also distractingly loud when you apply a demanding load. Make sure you have room for two dual-slot cards with one vacant space between them. Typically, I frown on such inelegance, but more speed for $200 less could be worth the trade-off in a roomy case.

This proved to be a little controversial. If you judge solely on performance per dollar, two Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition boards absolutely cost less and go faster than a GeForce GTX Titan. But there’s the case against poor acoustics. There’s also a discussion to be had about micro-stuttering. Our single-GPU frame latency numbers show that AMD has already made inroads into minimizing frame latency in some games, and that other titles remain problematic. But we can’t compare multi-GPU configs using the same tools. Fortunately, we have something coming soon that’ll address micro-stuttering more definitively. In the meantime, those Radeon cards are compelling, so long as you’re able to cope with their noise.

Given a number of driver updates, one 7970 GHz Edition is quicker than GeForce GTX 680. As long as Nvidia sells the 680 for more than AMD’s flagship, the Tahiti-based boards are going to continue turning heads.

3) Buy a GeForce GTX Titan when you want the fastest gaming experience possible from a mini-ITX machine like Falcon Northwest’s Tiki or iBuyPower’s Revolt. A 690 isn’t practical due to its length, power requirements, and axial-flow fan.

This is unequivocal. There’s no way to get anything faster than a GeForce GTX Titan into a Tiki, Revolt, Bolt, and so on. Why would you spend $1,000 on a card that tends to be slower than the GeForce GTX 690? This is why.

4) Buy a GeForce GTX Titan if you have a trio of 1920x1080/2560x1440/2560x1600 screens and fully intend to use two or three cards in SLI. In the most demanding titles, two GK110s scale much more linearly than four GK104s (dual GeForce GTX 690s). Three Titan cards are just Ludicrous Gibs!

Gaming at 5760x1200 is sort of the jumping-off point where one GeForce GTX 690 starts to look questionable. Of course, then you’re talking about $2,000 worth of graphics hardware to either go four-way GK104s or two-way GK110s. To me, the choice is easy: a pair of GeForce GTX Titans is more elegant, lower-power, and set up to accept a third card down the road, should you hit the lottery.

With all of that said, the benchmarks also reveal that OpenCL support isn’t fully-baked yet in the GeForce GTX Titan driver. A number of issues in synthetics and real-world apps make it clear that bugs still need to be stomped out, and that’s never a pleasant revelation about such a pricey piece of kit.

At least we know that GK110 does have the compute chops GK104 lacks. Developers who would have loved a Tesla K20X but couldn’t afford its almost-$8,000 price tag may consider $1,000 for a Titan true value. If, on the other hand, you’re a bitcoin miner—well, AMD’s GCN architecture still has the lock on hashing performance.

At the end of the day, we maintain that a $1,000, GeForce GTX Titan is for two very specific gamers, both of which we explicitly called out on Tuesday. Everyone else will still consider this a very fast, very well-built piece of hardware. However, it runs into serious competition in Nvidia’s stack, and from rapidly-improving Tahiti-based cards that got beaten up on pricing early on in their life.

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Top Comments
  • 39 Hide
    spentshells , February 21, 2013 1:14 PM
    I feel 2 7970's should have been included in the multi card setups.
  • 36 Hide
    whyso , February 21, 2013 1:07 PM
    if you use an actual 7970 GE card that is sold on newegg, etc instead of the reference 7970 GE card that AMD gave (that you can't find anywhere) thermals and acoustics are different.
  • 27 Hide
    cknobman , February 21, 2013 1:08 PM
    Seems like Titan is a flop (at least at $1000 price point).

    This card would only be compelling if offered in the ~$700 range.

    As for compute? LOL looks like this card being a compute monster goes right out the window. Titan does not really even compete that well with a 7970 costing less than half.
Other Comments
  • 27 Hide
    jimbaladin , February 21, 2013 12:33 PM
    For $1000 that card sheath better be made out of platinum.
  • 21 Hide
    aofjax , February 21, 2013 12:42 PM
    Lol, $1000.
  • 25 Hide
    Novuake , February 21, 2013 12:42 PM
    Pure marketing. At that price Nvidia is just pulling a huge stunt... Still an insane card.
  • 36 Hide
    whyso , February 21, 2013 1:07 PM
    if you use an actual 7970 GE card that is sold on newegg, etc instead of the reference 7970 GE card that AMD gave (that you can't find anywhere) thermals and acoustics are different.
  • 27 Hide
    cknobman , February 21, 2013 1:08 PM
    Seems like Titan is a flop (at least at $1000 price point).

    This card would only be compelling if offered in the ~$700 range.

    As for compute? LOL looks like this card being a compute monster goes right out the window. Titan does not really even compete that well with a 7970 costing less than half.
  • 12 Hide
    downhill911 , February 21, 2013 1:08 PM
    If titan costs no more than 800USD, then really nice card to have since it does not, i call it a fail card, or hype card. Even my GTX 690 make more since and now you can have them for a really good price on ebay.
  • 20 Hide
    spookyman , February 21, 2013 1:14 PM
    well I am glad I bought the 690GTX.

    Titan is nice but not impressive enough to go buy.
  • 39 Hide
    spentshells , February 21, 2013 1:14 PM
    I feel 2 7970's should have been included in the multi card setups.
  • 12 Hide
    hero1 , February 21, 2013 1:17 PM
    jimbaladinFor $1000 that card sheath better be made out of platinum.


    Tell me about it! I think Nvidia shot itself on the foot with the pricing schim. I want AMD to come out with better drivers than current ones to put the 7970 at least 20% ahead of 680 and take all the sales from the greedy green. Sure it performs way better but that price is insane. I think 700-800 is the sweet spot but again it is rare, powerful beast and very consistent which is hard to find atm.
  • 16 Hide
    raxman , February 21, 2013 1:19 PM
    "We did bring these issues up with Nvidia, and were told that they all stem from its driver. Fortunately, that means we should see fixes soon." I suspect their fix will be "Use CUDA".

    Nvidia has really dropped the ball on OpenCL. They don't support OpenCL 1.2, they make it difficult to find all their OpenCL examples. Their link for OpenCL is not easy to find. However their OpenCL 1.1 driver is quite good for Fermi and for the 680 and 690 despite what people say. But if the Titan has troubles it looks like they will be giving up on the driver now as well or purposely crippling it (I can't imagine they did not think to test some OpenCL benchmarks which every review site uses). Nvidia does not care about OpenCL Nvidia users like myself anymore. I wish there more people influential like Linus Torvalds that told Nvidia where to go.
  • -1 Hide
    realibrad , February 21, 2013 1:19 PM
    Titan is made for a very small segment. The Microstutter issue for high end systems is very annoying, becuase you spent thousands, and at that point, it should work perfectly. A 690 will kill just about any game, but it does have microstutter issues. Why not get a Titan, who may have a slightly lower FPS, but a much better over all game.

    The Titan has a much smoother feel with the lows being better, and micro stutter almost completly gone. Now, if you go triple SLI with a 690, micro stutter is gone, but you are likely to do insane resolutions, and the lower amount of memory will bit you.

    The only reason to get a 690, is if you plan to only get 1, because you cant afford 2k in titans.
  • 13 Hide
    aofjax , February 21, 2013 1:22 PM
    I wonder if I can build a whole new $1000 rig that can match/exceed a single Titan.....
  • 14 Hide
    Memnarchon , February 21, 2013 1:27 PM
    Actually this card seems to be an engineer miracle (comparing GF110 vs GK110 its almost twice performance from one generation to an other). The frame latencies from such a gaming beast are also impressive.
    But its a single gpu ffs. Cut the memory to 3GB 384bit GDDR5 keep the SMX at 14/15 (2,688 cores) and priced it $750. (Its expensive again but it would sell a lot more)
    Then take a full GK110 15/15 (2,880) SMX with 6GB 384bit GDDR5 give it 100Mhz more on the core and name Titan Ultra at $1000+...
    Everyone is happy then.
  • 18 Hide
    outlw6669 , February 21, 2013 1:32 PM
    I was defiantly expecting more from Titan, especially for that $1000 price tag.
    Really, I would like to see it priced around $650ish before it is considered competitive.

    Also, way to go AMD; your GCN arch really is the king of compute!
    I was honestly expecting Titan to tromp the HD 7970 GHz and am pleasantly surprised.
    Future APU's with GCN onboard is looking better and better :) 
  • 13 Hide
    Memnarchon , February 21, 2013 1:40 PM
    outlw6669I was defiantly expecting more from Titan, especially for that $1000 price tag.Really, I would like to see it priced around $650ish before it is considered competitive.Also, way to go AMD; your GCN arch really is the king of compute!I was honestly expecting Titan to tromp the HD 7970 GHz and am pleasantly surprised.Future APU's with GCN onboard is looking better and better

    Actually Chris Angelini has already answered this.
    Chris AngeliniWe did bring these issues up with Nvidia, and were told that they all stem from its driver. Fortunately, that means we should see fixes soon.


    Also Anandtech made some tests also and revealed that Titan is better at compute power: Anandtech
  • 6 Hide
    Hellbound , February 21, 2013 1:41 PM
    The card is not worth $1000.. $800 should have been the price point.
  • 24 Hide
    ilysaml , February 21, 2013 1:54 PM
    People who say that Titan should be sold for $800, my question is why the hell should it be even sold @ the $800 range? It's not even twice faster than HD 7970 or GTX 680, in most cases it's 35%...that card should be $100-200$ more than a GTX 680/HD 7970 GHz. For me this card is just good for it's appearance.
  • 22 Hide
    blubbey , February 21, 2013 1:58 PM
    People are missing the entire point of this. This is not a card for you or I. This is not a value card. This is at $1k for pure profit. This is an e-peen card, pure and simple.
  • 5 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , February 21, 2013 2:02 PM
    Would have liked some video conversion bemchmarks too.
    And i hope you are planning a new article with the OpenCL drivers updated ? :) 
  • 9 Hide
    phenom90 , February 21, 2013 2:11 PM
    i would never buy a titan that costs $1k... i would rather choose hd 7970 instead if i'm going to purchase a new card.. a $400 card vs $1k card... only idiot will buy a card that $600 more expensive to gaming on single 1080p.. and since amd began to put more efforts on their driver support.. and hopefully their driver will turn out to be as polished as nvidia.. i may try radeon in my next purchase...
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