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

Conclusion

In many ways, the GeForce GTX Titan X conclusion writes itself. Priced at $1000, Nvidia’s new single-GPU flagship assumes a position previously occupied by the original Titan. That card’s GM200-powered successor is faster (by a lot), more feature-packed and equipped with twice the GDDR5 memory. Meanwhile, it costs the same, occupies an identical form factor and sports a similar power rating. Bonus points for being the only graphics card you can put in a mini-ITX form factor and get playable frame rates at 3840x2160 out the other end.

What about the competition?

AMD’s Radeon R9 290X launched almost 17 months ago at $550 and now sits in the $350 range. It’s a great board for 2560x1440 play, and two get the job done at 4K. But now you’re talking about a much hotter, much noisier combination requiring at least four expansion slots worth of space. Plus, you’re tied to the limitations of CrossFire. Want an example? How about the folks who bought Far Cry 4 and are getting a multi-GPU profile four months later? There’s an elegance to single-processor solutions, and it’s difficult to appreciate until you’re forced to deal with stuttering, noise or a slow update.

The Radeon R9 295X2 is a better-built way to achieve CrossFire with two Hawaii GPUs, and I was really impressed by it last year (particularly right after Nvidia announced Titan Z for $3000). You’ll find the 295X2 well under $1000 today, making it both faster and cheaper than GeForce GTX Titan X. But the water-cooled bruiser doesn’t quite play in the same space. It’s big and averages around 500W under load. If you’re able to overlook a comparative lack of grace, AMD’s Radeon R9 295X2 remains a more practical approach to 4K gaming in an ATX case than GeForce GTX Titan X. Continual price adjustments ensure it remains a force at the high-end.

And what of something new from AMD? We, like so many others who expected the company’s Hawaii successor last year, are still waiting for more information.

Nvidia’s SLI technology is not impervious to multi-GPU artifacts. It had its own issues under Far Cry 4, even. But if the idea of two GPUs in your 4K gaming rig doesn’t bother you, a pair of GeForce GTX 980s is also worth considering. They’ll be substantially faster for just a bit more money than the Titan.

As the owner of a mini-ITX-based gaming machine limited to 2560x1440, though, GeForce GTX Titan X is currently my only option for an upgrade to Ultra HD, even if it means dialing back quality a little bit to get smoother performance in certain titles. That distinction alone makes Nvidia’s GM200-powered flagship my unicorn, worthy of recommendation. Of course, somewhere on the other end of the spectrum is a wealthy Sheikh rocking room enough in his chassis for three or four Titan X cards. In his case, there is no combination of graphics hardware able to match the Titans in SLI.

By all measures this is a niche product, ideal for only certain PC gamers. But if you’re in its target demographic, GeForce GTX Titan X has no equal. Though the appeal is narrow, such high-end hardware earns our Tom’s Hardware Recommended award.

  • 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!
    Reply
  • 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
    Reply
  • chiefpiggy
    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
    Reply
  • rolli59
    Would be interesting to comparison with cards like 970 and R9 290 in dual card setups, basically performance for money.
    Reply
  • esrever
    Performance is pretty much expected from the leaked specs. Not bad performance but terrible price, as with all titans.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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...
    Reply
  • 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).
    Reply
  • skit75
    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.
    Reply
  • 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
    Reply