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NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN Performance Review and Frame Rating Update

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Manufacturer: NVIDIA

TITAN is back for more!

Our NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN Coverage Schedule:

If you are reading this today, chances are you were here on Tuesday when we first launched our NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN features and preview story (accessible from the link above) and were hoping to find benchmarks then.  You didn't, but you will now.  I am here to show you that the TITAN is indeed the single fastest GPU on the market and MAY be the best graphics cards (single or dual GPU) on the market depending on what usage models you have.  Some will argue, some will disagree, but we have an interesting argument to make about this $999 gaming beast.

A brief history of time...er, TITAN

In our previous article we talked all about TITAN's GK110-based GPU, the form factor, card design, GPU Boost 2.0 features and much more and I would highly press you all to read it before going forward.  If you just want the cliff notes, I am going to copy and paste some of the most important details below.

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From a pure specifications standpoint the GeForce GTX TITAN based on GK110 is a powerhouse.  While the full GPU sports a total of 15 SMX units, TITAN will have 14 of them enabled for a total of 2688 shaders and 224 texture units.  Clock speeds on TITAN are a bit lower than on GK104 with a base clock rate of 836 MHz and a Boost Clock of 876 MHz.  As we will show you later in this article though the GPU Boost technology has been updated and changed quite a bit from what we first saw with the GTX 680.

The bump in the memory bus width is also key, being able to feed that many CUDA cores definitely required a boost from 256-bit to 384-bit, a 50% increase.  Even better, the memory bus is still running at 6.0 GHz resulting in total memory bandwdith of 288.4 GB/s.

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Speaking of memory - this card will ship with 6GB on-board.  Yes, 6 GeeBees!!  That is twice as much as AMD's Radeon HD 7970 and three times as much as NVIDIA's own GeForce GTX 680 card.  This is without a doubt a nod to the super-computing capabilities of the GPU and the GPGPU functionality that NVIDIA is enabling with the double precision aspects of GK110.

Continue reading our full review of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN graphics card with benchmarks and an update on our Frame Rating process!!

The look and styling of the GeForce GTX TITAN design is very similar to that of the GeForce GTX 690 that launched in May of last year.  NVIDIA was less interested in talking about the make up of the materials this time around but it is obvious when looking at and holding the GTX TITAN that it is built to impress buyers.   Measuring only 10.5-in long the TITAN will be able to find its way into many more chassis and system designs than the GTX 690 could.

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Output configurations are identical to that of the GTX 680 cards including a pair of dual-link DVI connections, a full-size HDMI port and a DisplayPort.  You can utilize all four of the outputs at once as well for 3+1 monitor configurations.

With TITAN, NVIDIA will be releasing an updated version of GPU Boost they claim will allow for even higher clocks on the GPU than the original technology would have allowed.  This time the key measurement isn't power but temperature.

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his updated version of GPU Boost can increase the maximum clock rate because the voltage level is controlled by a known, easily measured data point: temperature.  By preventing a combination of high voltages and high temperatures that might break a chip, NVIDIA can increase the voltage on a chip-to-chip basis to increase the overall performance of the card in most cases.

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This new version of GPU Boost definitely seems more in line with the original goals of the technology but there are some interesting caveats.  First, you'll quickly find that the clock speeds of TITAN will start out higher on a "cold" GPU and then ramp down as the temperature of the die increases.  This means that doing quick performance checks of the GPU using 3DMark or even quick game launches will result in performance measurements that are higher than they would be after 5-10 minutes of gaming.  As a result. our testing of TITAN required us to "warm up" the GPU for a few minutes before every benchmark run.

February 21, 2013 | 09:21 AM - Posted by DeadOfKnight (not verified)

I see Dirt 3 Graphs on the Crysis 3 page.

February 21, 2013 | 10:00 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Fixed!

February 21, 2013 | 09:22 AM - Posted by j0hndoe

Man, that card is a BEAST. Look forward to reading more thoughts on it as you have more time with it! Great write up, Ryan. Thanks

February 21, 2013 | 10:03 AM - Posted by YTech2 (not verified)

TITAN is back for more! - Clarification - From photo provided, card offers 1 dual-link DVI-I and 1 dual-link DVI-D. For those using a DVI to VGA (Analogue) adapter would use the DVI-I.

Yes, various Analogue displays are still being used.

I do wonder about the performance of the TITAN in Stereoscopic Systems.

February 21, 2013 | 10:21 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Well from what I'm seeing three gtx 680sc are better (faster) than two titans and I'm running 6000×1200 I could only afford two and with the limited quality of titan cards I think I'll pass...

February 21, 2013 | 10:22 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

meant to say limited quantity I'll be passing......

February 26, 2013 | 02:18 PM - Posted by John Doe (not verified)

Indeed, while the fuckers are eVGA are eating their hamburgers over those shitty "SuperClocked" cards they ripped you off $20 each.

"Superclocking" is flashing the cards BIOS 50 Mhz over the stock clock and HOSING BLIND FUCKERS.

sigh...

April 9, 2013 | 09:22 AM - Posted by Cito (not verified)

OMG!!!!!!!!!!!! 20$ WOW!!! they are robing people blind.....

Dude chill its just 20 bux i did it might as well.

But if you were to talk about the signature edition now then i would agree with you.

February 21, 2013 | 10:28 AM - Posted by D1RTYD1Z619

Finally a BF3 2560 x 1440 gtx 680 2gb sli benchmark. Do you think you'll bench the Titan against the 680 4gb versions?

February 21, 2013 | 11:05 AM - Posted by tackle70 (not verified)

BTW the temporary fix for CF stuttering is to either use Radeon Pro or MSI Afterburner to limit the framerate. If you are in a setting where you can get fairly consistent framerates at or above your monitor's refresh rate, you just limit the framerate to your refreshrate (60 in most cases). Otherwise, you limit it to around your average FPS.

It's not a perfect solution, but it does reliably deal with stutter on crossfire 7970s.

March 28, 2013 | 04:24 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I'm so vindicated, and so disappointed...

" We aren't ready to show our full sets of results yet (soon!) but the problems lie in that AMD's CrossFire technology shows severe performance degradations when viewed under the Frame Rating microscope that do not show up nearly as dramatically under FRAPS. As such, I decided that it was simply irresponsible of me to present data to readers that I would then immediately refute on the final pages of this review - it would be a waste of time for the reader and people that skip only to the performance graphs wouldn't know our theory on why the results displayed were invalid. "

AMD sucks so badly, standard apologist mantra is issued.
This is the sub par life of AMD video cards.

They really suck, but our test that is more accurate than fraps shows that, so we will refute our own test and say they don't really suck, so we won't show you the pathetic cheaty runt missed frame data and PROVE AMD HAS BEEN CHEATING LIKE HECK FOR YEARS ON END!

Some of us always knew it, and always said it, and we were attacked relentlessly.
Well, let the attacks continue, as the cover up is still ongoing.

Maybe by now AMD has fixed their YEARS LONG ISSUES so a just cleaned up totally new result can be shown soon --- FORGETTING THE YEARS AMD USERS SUFFERED WITH THE AMD CRAP THAT WON'T BE SHOWN UNTIL IT IS "FIXED".

Then of course the bank robbers get off scott free.
Good job AMD, the Mob wishes it had that kind of pull, as does every politician in the entire world.

February 21, 2013 | 11:54 AM - Posted by Dan (not verified)

So, if you have $1k to power a 5760x1080 gaming setup, do you personally go with the Titan, 2x7970, 2x680 or a 690?

February 22, 2013 | 01:35 AM - Posted by Eric B (not verified)

3x7970

February 21, 2013 | 11:58 AM - Posted by grommet

Where are the promised "TITAN up the graphics" quotes?
I am disappointed.

February 21, 2013 | 12:18 PM - Posted by luciano (not verified)

Your framerate rating method looks like the best.
Could you guysreview, as other user comment here suggests, the frame cap "fix" results?
Thanks for the great review

February 21, 2013 | 12:28 PM - Posted by Tommy (not verified)

No 2560x1600?

No 690 sli in the sli results?

February 23, 2013 | 11:12 AM - Posted by btdog

No answer to your first question, but to your second question, a 690 is technically already in SLI (it's two 680s SLI'd on one card)

February 24, 2013 | 08:03 PM - Posted by Tommy (not verified)

I should have been more specific. By 690 SLI I mean quad-sli 690s.

February 21, 2013 | 01:19 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I take it when they bring out a dual-GPU TITAN to compare against the 690s, it will be far better? Then you can test SLI for both dual-GPU TITAN and 690s. Will watch this space

February 21, 2013 | 01:36 PM - Posted by MarkT (not verified)

Feels like the drivers for titan are premature, Ryan is this the kind of perforance Nvidia is expecting or are there upcoming driver enhancements for this card?

February 21, 2013 | 01:53 PM - Posted by Zorkwiz

I'm not sure why this review justified a Gold Award at the $1000 price point. Sure, it's the best single GPU card you can get and the power/thermals look impressive, but the conclusion basically says that it's beaten in single screen setups by both the 690 and 680 SLI, which are the same price or cheaper.

I'm not convinced that the promise of better multi-monitor gaming performance gives it the Gold, especially since you guys have such a limited set of benchmarks for those setups thus far.

I'd still love to own one, but I feel like $899 would have made it a viable option, not $999.

February 21, 2013 | 06:31 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

How could $100 really matter in a card this pricey?

Your other point is fair, but I HAVE seen the 5760x1080 numbers and the potential perf advantage there is realized.

February 25, 2013 | 03:59 PM - Posted by HeavyG (not verified)

The people willing to pay for this card are going to buy it regardless if it is $999, $899, or $1099. There is a specific market for it, and it surely isn't the "best bang for your buck" target.

Heck, I bought a 690 just for the cool factor. I have the space on my board, and the 680s would have squeaked by a bit more in terms of performance. The 690 looked way cooler and I liked the idea of one day adding a 2nd 690. This card is really no different.

And by all means, you can still buy 680 SLIs if you want. Nobody is stopping you and nobody is saying that it isn't the right choice for you.

February 21, 2013 | 02:32 PM - Posted by Kitten Masher (not verified)

It's great to see some concrete frame rating data, but I feel like your presentation and analysis of it is a bit off.

Specifically, when you're looking at the distribution of rates, you're using a bar graph to try to help us infer the variance. Why don't you just show us a graph of the distribution of the frame ratings instead? I think visually it would be much easier to compare looking for a "skinnier" distribution with a smaller variance, and you can still mark up the distribution percentiles on it. I'm really curious to see how that might look with the crossfire data you showed, I would almost expect to see two 'mounds' on either side of the mean (although I could be wrong).

Also, your analysis feels a bit hollow, sometimes just reiterating what we saw in the graph without telling us what truly matters: do we care? Was there 'stuttering'? This is especially true since you can't just base it off of a % difference in the times across the percentiles. The actual time taken is also important, and it is also relative to the recorded FPS. All in all, what frame rate times actually mean to the end user isn't as black and white as "lower is better".

OR I'm completely clueless as to what's going on.

Anyways, it's still awesome to see some frame rating data and I look forward to seeing more in the future!

February 21, 2013 | 07:05 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Appreciate the feedback, I'll look into that presentation option for data this week.

As for the analysis, I was kind of purposefully vague as I have a lot more data and compile to present the "whole" picture of CrossFire versus SLI.  

February 22, 2013 | 11:30 AM - Posted by Lord Binky (not verified)

Some games like Mechwarrior Online do not support SLI, so single GPU performance is still relevant.

February 25, 2013 | 04:07 PM - Posted by HeavyG (not verified)

It is relevant, but MOST games support SLI. Games that don't support it on release typically don't do very well. Take Rage, for example.

As for Mech Warrior... it is still in beta, right? It is using CryENGINE 3, right? I don't see it being a problem for too long, but I have been wrong before. After all, I pre-ordered Aliens Colonial Marines.

February 21, 2013 | 03:29 PM - Posted by serpico (not verified)

thank you, I appreciate the frametime graphs.

February 21, 2013 | 06:21 PM - Posted by 6GB Guy (not verified)

Could you test the TITAN against the GTX 680 4GB versions and the Sapphire HD 7970 TOXIC Edtion? It would be interesting to see how well a 6gb 7970 does against the Titan.

February 21, 2013 | 08:40 PM - Posted by ocre (not verified)

man you really went the extra mile on your frame time method. I second that it could be the best method so far. Great work. cant wait till your finally the point you can reveal all your findings. I know you put so much work into it. It seems very promising.

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