Benchmarking GeForce GTX Titan 6 GB: Fast, Quiet, Consistent

Results: Two- And Three-Way SLI Performance

All of our single-card game testing took place on a Windows 8-based test bed. Unfortunately, a number of the three- and four-way SLI tests we ran on GeForce GTX Titan and 690 exhibited lower-than-expected results or crashes. So, we transitioned back to the Geek Box machine supplied for Tuesday’s story, which was already running Windows 7 on a couple of striped SSDs. We’re working with Nvidia to figure out why Windows 8 wasn’t cooperative.

Battlefield 3

From one to two to three GeForce GTX Titan cards, Battlefield 3 scales nicely. Meanwhile, it’s clear that two GeForce GTX 690s in four-way SLI struggle, dipping to minimum frame rates as low as 5 FPS.

That’s not a one-time occurrence, either. On multiple occasions, Fraps records frame rates that drop under 20. Although the GeForce GTX 690s do well on average, spiking up above 100 FPS even, more consistent performance delivered by two Titan cards yields smoother game play.

Borderlands 2

Scaling from one to three GeForce GTX Titans isn’t as clean under Borderlands 2. But the jump to two GK110-based boards is enough to average in excess of 100 FPS. Moreover, two Titans enable a higher minimum frame rate than two GeForce GTX 690s employing four GK104 GPUs.

The Quad-SLI solution doesn’t swing as far up and down in this game as it did under Battlefield 3. However, a quartet of GK104s working cooperatively still appears less consistent than two GeForce GTX Titan boards in two-way SLI.

There doesn’t seem to be a reason to drop $3,000 on a trio of Titans. If you’re prepared to part ways with $2,000, though, a pair makes more sense than GTX 690s.

Far Cry 3

Two GeForce GTX Titans are almost as fast as a pair of GeForce GTX 690s in Quad-SLI on average. But they also achieve a better minimum frame rate. Beyond what the numbers indicate, though, playing this game on four GK104s just feels choppy, as it did on a single GeForce GTX 690 at 2560x1600 and up. Far Cry 3 is a perfect example of why someone interested in a multi-card config should prefer a couple of big, powerful GPUs over four smaller chips spread across two GeForce GTX 690s.

Just look at the even performance of two Titans compared to a pair of GeForce GTX 690s.

Three-way SLI isn't quite as consistent, nor does it yield the substantial jump you see from one card to two. But as a means of kissing 70 FPS, on average, in a very demanding game, a trio of GeForce GTX Titan cards goes unmatched.

Hitman: Absolution

Hitman: Absolution scales reasonably well from one card to two. However, the difference between two or three GK110s and four GK104s is very small in this game's standalone benchmark. We ran our results past Nvidia to confirm what we considered to be suspect findings. Company representatives acknowledged they aren't seeing any scaling from the built-in test, though they do observe higher numbers within the actual game.

The overlapping lines clearly indicate a bottleneck of some sort. It's improbable that the 4.6 GHz hexa-core machine we used for testing limits performance, and given the fact that Nvidia says scaling looks correct in the game itself, we'd be inclined to suspect an issue with the benchmark sequence.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Skyrim started its life severely platform-limited, so we're surprised to see it scaling reasonably well from one to two GeForce GTX Titans. The third GK110-based board is superfluous, though we know there are other titles far more graphics-bound than this one.

The four GK104s you find on a pair of GeForce GTX 690s get outperformed by two Titans. So, again, it's easy for us to point out that Nvidia's latest is best suited to multi-GPU configurations, just as it is ideal in high-performance mini-ITX enclosures.

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria

The jump from one GeForce GTX Titan to two yields a modest speed-up in World of Warcraft. However, this is another title not necessarily known for its demanding game engine, so platform-oriented bottlenecks are likely getting in the way of better scaling.

As with Hitman, it'd appear that there is no difference between two and three GK110s, or four GK104s.

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167 comments
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    Top Comments
  • spentshells
    I feel 2 7970's should have been included in the multi card setups.
    39
  • whyso
    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.
    36
  • jimbaladin
    For $1000 that card sheath better be made out of platinum.
    27
  • Other Comments
  • jimbaladin
    For $1000 that card sheath better be made out of platinum.
    27
  • aofjax
    Lol, $1000.
    21
  • Novuake
    Pure marketing. At that price Nvidia is just pulling a huge stunt... Still an insane card.
    25
  • whyso
    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.
    36
  • cknobman
    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.
    27
  • downhill911
    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.
    12
  • spookyman
    well I am glad I bought the 690GTX.

    Titan is nice but not impressive enough to go buy.
    20
  • spentshells
    I feel 2 7970's should have been included in the multi card setups.
    39
  • hero1
    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.
    12
  • raxman
    "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.
    16
  • realibrad
    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.
    -1
  • aofjax
    I wonder if I can build a whole new $1000 rig that can match/exceed a single Titan.....
    13
  • Memnarchon
    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.
    14
  • outlw6669
    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 :)
    18
  • Memnarchon
    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
    13
  • Hellbound
    The card is not worth $1000.. $800 should have been the price point.
    6
  • ilysaml
    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.
    24
  • blubbey
    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.
    22
  • mayankleoboy1
    Would have liked some video conversion bemchmarks too.
    And i hope you are planning a new article with the OpenCL drivers updated ? :)
    5
  • phenom90
    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...
    9