Brute Force With Three-Way SLI...
There are few different scenarios where I personally think Nvidia’s GeForce GTX Titan makes sense (and many where it doesn’t). A very high-end gaming PC is, naturally, one of the applications for this board. I’m not talking about a $2,000 machine with one really nice graphics card. Think bigger—like multiple flagship GPUs operating in concert. That’s the rarified air of gaming-oriented hardware.
See, if you’re satisfied with a single dual-slot card, and you plan to game at 2560x1600 or 5760x1080, one GeForce GTX 690 is the most elegant option (albeit at $1,000). Beyond that, you’re looking at two GeForce GTX 690s or two/three GeForce GTX Titans as the most beastly combinations available. Of course, we could also get into three or four GeForce GTX 680s and Radeon HD 7970s, but until we can get capture-based frame time analysis going in the lab, it’s going to be difficult to quantify the experience those super-parallel setups deliver.
Nevertheless, in order to demonstrate the very upper limits of what GeForce GTX Titan can do, Nvidia had Geek Box build us one of its Ego Maniacal X79 gaming systems with three cards. The box is a monster, centering on SilverStone’s Temjin TJ11B-W. Aluminum though the big case might be, it still weighs darned near 40 pounds completely empty. Packed with hardware, it took a FedEx semi-trailer, a pallet, and a big lift gate to get it into my garage.
All set up, though, the finished product clearly reflects the Geek Box crew’s attention to detail. Cable management is easily handled through the use of individually-sleeved power supply wires, while water-cooling applied to the CPU and motherboard voltage regulation circuitry helps address the typical standing-air issues we bring up any time we debate cooling strategies.
Not that air flow is an issue in the TJ11B-W. In fact, fan noise is perhaps this setup’s most prescient weakness. It’s not loud, per se. But when Nvidia is trying to demonstrate the sound of three Titans running quietly, and all you can hear is air moving through radiators, well, we call that an exercise in futility. The good news, of course, is that three Titans, back to back to back, are incredibly quiet.
To be fair, the Ego’s acoustic output is likely a product of its Core i7-3970X processor running at a stable 4.6 GHz—likely set in an effort to mitigate the potential for platform bottlenecks behind three potent GPUs. The six-core CPU sits on Asus’ Rampage IV Extreme motherboard, and is fed data through 32 GB of Corsair Dominator memory in a quad-channel configuration. Two of the company’s Neutron GTX SSDs form a 480 GB striped array, pretty much guaranteeing that you won’t spend any time waiting for levels to load.
Because the machine’s acoustic properties would have interfered with some of our benchmarks, we transplanted the Titans into our test bed. But not before jumping into 3DMark 11 and generating scores in excess of (redacted—look out for benchmarks in a couple of days) using the Extreme preset and GPU clock rates in excess of 1,100 MHz.
Completely unrelated to the Ego Maniacal’s performance, it’s really interesting that Geek Box is borrowing liberally from BMW M GmbH with its logo. Although I’m an AMG guy myself, the colors and lines are very classy. Still, I’d think someone in Germany might take issue with the homage.