GeForce GTX Titan X Review: Can One GPU Handle 4K?

Results: Temperature, GPU Boost And Noise

Temperatures and Infrared Measurements

In order to get precise infrared thermal measurements, we’re using either a special tape or lacquer with known emissivity. The transparent paint, which is used by board manufacturers for so-called tropicalizing, is well-suited for analyzing the backs of PCBs (or other surfaces with unknown emissivity). The largest measurement errors occur when normal infrared thermometers, which invariably have dihedral angles too large to capture the VRM pins, are used. Doubly so if the emissivity can’t be set exactly.

This is why we’re using an Optris PI450, which doesn’t just provide us with high-resolution pictures in real time, but also allows us to define all measurement sites exactly.

First, we look at the GeForce Titan X’s temperatures in a closed PC case during a gaming workload. The set maximum of 83 degrees Celsius is reached quickly, but never surpassed.

GPU Boost Frequency

Plotting frequency and temperature over time shows that Nvidia's GPU Boost rating of 1190MHz drops dramatically once the thermal target is reached. It then stabilizes after several steps at 1164MHz. Shorter and shallower drops happen whenever the graphics card’s workload gets a little too high and threatens to push up the temperature.

Temperatures after Prolonged Operation

No backplate, you ask? Most of them are useless eye candy on today's gaming graphics cards anyway, unless they are specifically engineered for their designated purpose. In a bid to improve airflow in multi-card configurations, Nvidia doesn't equip its GeForce Titan X with one. So, what happens to the memory modules on the back of the board, which don't receive any cooling whatsoever?

There’s no question that 102 degrees Celsius is more than what you’d want to see over the long term. Although we understand Nvidia's rationale, for this particular card, a backplate still might have been smart.

Nvidia’s approach to exhausting waste heat out of the graphics card’s I/O panel is well-executed. We measure 78 to 80 degrees Celsius where heated air leaves the card. That number fluctuates a bit, though.

The GeForce Titan X’s front doesn’t have any thermal problems. Its hottest spot is the bare PCB, which is only visible around the PCI Express interface.

Fan Speed

The fan reaches its maximum RPM after only nine minutes in our closed be quiet! Silent Base 800 PC case. After that, its rotational speed essentially stay the same until the graphics load lightens. Nvidia's thermal solution is tasked with keeping GM200 at 83 degrees Celsius or less, which pushes the fan to 2460 RPM during gaming with an average power consumption of 224W.

Noise

As always, we use a high-quality microphone placed perpendicular to the center of the graphics card at a distance of 50 cm. The results are analyzed with Smaart 7. The ambient noise when our readings were recorded never rose above 26 dB(A). This was noted and accounted for separately during each measurement.

Let’s first take a look at the frequency spectrum as Nvidia's fan keeps GM200 at 83 degrees Celsius in a gaming workload:

We don’t observe any low motor noises, which we sometimes hear from the fans used by many of Nvidia's board partners. What we do hear is a pleasant whooshing noise spanning a relatively wide band of the spectrum. It starts right above two somewhat more pronounced areas at 1.2 and 1.9kHz. Coil whine, which is usually found between 6 to 7kHz, is completely absent. The rest, from 10kHz upwards, is just pure air movement.

The following table summarizes the situation a little differently. First, we ascertain fan speed in a closed case. That value is then dialed in manually on an open test bench. This way, we get around the fact that you just can’t measure a graphics card on its own in a closed case with the rest of the system running.


Open Case (Test Bench)
Open Case (Fixed RPM, Case Simulation)
Closed Case (Full System)
Idle
31.2 dB(A)
N/A
N/A
Gaming Loop
44.2 db(A)
44.5 dB(A)
39.7 dB(A)

Apart from the fact that GeForce Titan X can’t hold its maximum GPU Boost frequency over prolonged periods of time, Nvidia’s reference cooler is still the benchmark that all other direct heat exhaust (DHE) coolers are measured against.

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361 comments
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  • Yuka
    Interesting move by nVidia to send a G-Sync monitor... So to trade off the lackluster performance over the GTX980, they wanted to cover it up with a "smooth experience", huh? hahaha.

    I'm impressed by their shenanigans. They up themselves each time.

    In any case, at least this card looks fine for compute.

    Cheers!
  • chiefpiggy
    The R9 295x2 beats the Titan in almost every benchmark, and it's almost half the price.. I know the Titan X is just one gpu but the numbers don't lie nvidia. And nvidia fanboys can just let the salt flow through your veins that a previous generation card(s) can beat their newest and most powerful card. Cant wait for the 3xx series to smash the nvidia 9xx series
  • chiefpiggy
    Quote:
    Interesting move by nVidia to send a G-Sync monitor... So to trade off the lackluster performance over the GTX980, they wanted to cover it up with a "smooth experience", huh? hahaha. I'm impressed by their shenanigans. They up themselves each time. In any case, at least this card looks fine for compute. Cheers!

    Paying almost double for a 30% increase in performance??? Shenanigans alright xD
  • rolli59
    Would be interesting to comparison with cards like 970 and R9 290 in dual card setups, basically performance for money.
  • esrever
    Performance is pretty much expected from the leaked specs. Not bad performance but terrible price, as with all titans.
  • dstarr3
    I don't know. I have a GTX770 right now, and I really don't think there's any reason to upgrade until we have cards that can average 60fps at 4K. And... that's unfortunately not this.
  • hannibal
    Well this is actually cheaper than I expected. Interesting card and would really benefit for less heat... The Throttling is really the limiting factor in here.
    But yeah, this is expensive for its power as Titans always have been, but it is not out of reach neither. We need 14 to 16nm finvet GPU to make really good 4K graphic cards!
    Maybe in the next year...
  • cst1992
    People go on comparing a dual GPU 295x2 to a single-GPU TitanX. What about games where there is no Crossfire profile? It's effectively a TitanX vs 290X comparison.
    Personally, I think a fair comparison would be the GTX Titan X vs the R9 390X. Although I heard NVIDIA's card will be slower then.
    Alternatively, we could go for 295X2 vs TitanX SLI or 1080SLI(Assuming a 1080 is a Titan X with a few SMMs disabled, and half the VRAM, kind of like the Titan and 780).
  • skit75
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Interesting move by nVidia to send a G-Sync monitor... So to trade off the lackluster performance over the GTX980, they wanted to cover it up with a "smooth experience", huh? hahaha. I'm impressed by their shenanigans. They up themselves each time. In any case, at least this card looks fine for compute. Cheers!
    Paying almost double for a 30% increase in performance??? Shenanigans alright xD


    You're surprised? Early adopters always pay the premium. I find it interesting you mention "almost every benchmark" when comparing this GPU to a dual GPU of last generation. Sounds impressive on a purely performance measure. I am not a fan of SLI but I suspect two of these would trounce anything around.

    Either way the card is way out of my market but now that another card has taken top honors, maybe it will bleed the 970/980 prices down a little into my cheapskate hands.
  • negevasaf
    IGN said that the R9 390x (8.6 TF) is 38% more powerful than the Titan X (6.2 TF), is that's true? http://www.ign.com/articles/2015/03/17/rumored-specs-of-amd-radeon-r9-390x-leaked
  • chiefpiggy
    1472755 said:
    People go on comparing a dual GPU 295x2 to a single-GPU TitanX. What about games where there is no Crossfire profile? It's effectively a TitanX vs 290X comparison. Personally, I think a fair comparison would be the GTX Titan X vs the R9 390X. Although I heard NVIDIA's card will be slower then. Alternatively, we could go for 295X2 vs TitanX SLI or 1080SLI(Assuming a 1080 is a Titan X with a few SMMs disabled, and half the VRAM, kind of like the Titan and 780).


    What games dont have a crossfire profile? And why bother comparing a Titan X SLI vs a 295x2 when the SLI would cost almost 4x as much? Sure the performance would marginally be better (30-40% max), but at what cost? At a performance per dollar perspective the Titan X and Tian X SLI would be scraping the very bottom of the barrel.
  • giovanni86
    I was hoping for far better results. Though priced at $1k may seem worth wild, will be waiting to see if EVGA releases something.
  • chiefpiggy
    192459 said:
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Interesting move by nVidia to send a G-Sync monitor... So to trade off the lackluster performance over the GTX980, they wanted to cover it up with a "smooth experience", huh? hahaha. I'm impressed by their shenanigans. They up themselves each time. In any case, at least this card looks fine for compute. Cheers!
    Paying almost double for a 30% increase in performance??? Shenanigans alright xD
    Your surprised? Early adopters always pay the premium. I find it interesting you mention "almost every benchmark" when comparing this GPU to a dual GPU of last generation. Sounds impressive on a purely performance measure. I am not a fan of SLI but I suspect two of these would trounce anything around. Either way the card is way out of my market but now that another card has taken top honors, maybe it will bleed the 970/980 prices down a little into my cheapskate hands.


    Just because it's one gpu doesn't mean people should pay twice for less performance. If you can't see that than I honestly do not understand... And they're supposed ace in the hole is the 12 GB of vram and G-Sync performance, but for a "4k" card I for one and not impressed
  • chiefpiggy
    1490340 said:
    IGN said that the R9 390x (8.6 TF) is 38% more powerful than the Titan X (6.2 TF), is that's true? http://www.ign.com/articles/2015/03/17/rumored-specs-of-amd-radeon-r9-390x-leaked


    It's completely up to you whether or not to believe the rumors that come out over time, but I would usually just wait until the actual card to come out and then compare the benchmarks :p

    Unless of course we're talking about the GTX 970 scandal
  • backoffmanImascientist
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Interesting move by nVidia to send a G-Sync monitor... So to trade off the lackluster performance over the GTX980, they wanted to cover it up with a "smooth experience", huh? hahaha. I'm impressed by their shenanigans. They up themselves each time. In any case, at least this card looks fine for compute. Cheers!
    Paying almost double for a 30% increase in performance??? Shenanigans alright xD
    Your surprised? Early adopters always pay the premium. I find it interesting you mention "almost every benchmark" when comparing this GPU to a dual GPU of last generation. Sounds impressive on a purely performance measure. I am not a fan of SLI but I suspect two of these would trounce anything around. Either way the card is way out of my market but now that another card has taken top honors, maybe it will bleed the 970/980 prices down a little into my cheapskate hands.


    Single (and Crossfired) 295X2 vs 2 GTX Titans in SLI coming right up, read and weep:

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-r9-295x2-crossfire-performance,3808-4.html
  • Amdlova
    nothing to see here. another epic fail
  • photonboy
    SLI 2xTitan X + GSYNC.

    If money was not an issue that's what I would do.

    *And why do people whine about the COST of any of the Titan cards? NVidia isn't misleading anybody here; if you don't think it's worth the cost then don't buy it.

    I don't complain because my FERRARI wasn't a good value.
  • 10tacle
    I've bought Nvidia cards for the last 5 years, my last AMD card being a 5770. However, I have a bad taste in my mouth left with the 970 snafu (although currently I'm okay with the performance of mine at 1440p...for *now*...but I bought it for tomorrow too). Between that and this less-than-stellar result of this new Titan, I'm just not getting the warm and fuzzy feeling of confidence I used to with Nvidia. And who knows if THIS card's specs are truly correct, huh?? Depending on what AMD trots out with the new Radeon 3xx series, I just may be switching back to the Red Team as I make the move to 4K next year.
  • Cash091
    Quote:
    1472755 said:
    People go on comparing a dual GPU 295x2 to a single-GPU TitanX. What about games where there is no Crossfire profile? It's effectively a TitanX vs 290X comparison. Personally, I think a fair comparison would be the GTX Titan X vs the R9 390X. Although I heard NVIDIA's card will be slower then. Alternatively, we could go for 295X2 vs TitanX SLI or 1080SLI(Assuming a 1080 is a Titan X with a few SMMs disabled, and half the VRAM, kind of like the Titan and 780).
    What games dont have a crossfire profile? And why bother comparing a Titan X SLI vs a 295x2 when the SLI would cost almost 4x as much? Sure the performance would marginally be better (30-40% max), but at what cost? At a performance per dollar perspective the Titan X and Tian X SLI would be scraping the very bottom of the barrel.


    It totally comes down to a performance per dollar thing. I'm shocked that with the 295x2 beating this in benches, they went with such a high price tag. $700 would have been a decent, yet high, price point for this card. I can see the appeal of this card, but the 295x2 outshines it. As the article states, the only people who want this are ones who don't have room to cool the 295x2 in their cases. What would be interesting to see, is 2 of these vs. 2 295x2's(or 290x/295x2)!
  • TechyInAZ
    Impressive at 4k resolutions. I thought this card would run for $1500, glad it's only $1000 (even though I can almost guarantee you I won't buy it, even if I had the money).

    I wish they did at least 2 way SLI tests, that would of been fun.

    Any chance of trying three 4k monitors with a 3 or 4 way SLI titan X config?

    I prefer the silver finish on the regular titan and titan Z also, pure black doesn't look that great. :)
  • chiefpiggy
    67821 said:
    SLI 2xTitan X + GSYNC. If money was not an issue that's what I would do. *And why do people whine about the COST of any of the Titan cards? NVidia isn't misleading anybody here; if you don't think it's worth the cost then don't buy it. I don't complain because my FERRARI wasn't a good value.

    As companies strive for perfection, they should make their cards the most appealing to all audiences as they can.

    In your case, you "own a Ferrari." When someone buys a Ferrari (or any car, house, etc.), it is assumed that they are in for a more permanent investment. New graphics cards, by nature, are released every year-year and a half, causing new graphics cards to become outdated and obsolete within 3-5 years after being released. When someone gets a Ferrari, it's assumed that the car will retain most, if not all of its value after being purchased. Whereas graphics cards are concerned, they lose value relatively quickly.
  • nikoli707
    lol at some of you complaining about the cost of a professional card designed for double floating point numbers. it cost the same as the last titan… you cannot find a keplar titan for under $500 even now.

    otherwise its a beast like we knew it would be, even at a paltry 1000mhz? show us the classified at 1400mhz.
  • Blueberries
    Putting a water loop on a Titan X could potentially be a real workstation option, especially if you're willing to wipe your vbios.
  • skit75
    1912439 said:
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Interesting move by nVidia to send a G-Sync monitor... So to trade off the lackluster performance over the GTX980, they wanted to cover it up with a "smooth experience", huh? hahaha. I'm impressed by their shenanigans. They up themselves each time. In any case, at least this card looks fine for compute. Cheers!
    Paying almost double for a 30% increase in performance??? Shenanigans alright xD
    Your surprised? Early adopters always pay the premium. I find it interesting you mention "almost every benchmark" when comparing this GPU to a dual GPU of last generation. Sounds impressive on a purely performance measure. I am not a fan of SLI but I suspect two of these would trounce anything around. Either way the card is way out of my market but now that another card has taken top honors, maybe it will bleed the 970/980 prices down a little into my cheapskate hands.
    Single (and Crossfired) 295X2 vs 2 GTX Titans in SLI coming right up, read and weep: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-r9-295x2-crossfire-performance,3808-4.html


    ROFL! Weeping from laughter.

    Beatrice... is that you? "That is not how this works... that's not how any of this works!"