On Thursday Nvidia's latest "most powerful graphics card in the world" hits the market — the Kepler-based GeForce GTX Titan. Packed with a ridiculous number of CUDA cores, all the Teraflops you can eat and innovative features like display overclocking, it's sure to impress the hell out of people that watch performance monitors and keep their frame rate displayed at all times.
What impresses me the most about the GeForce GTX Titan is that I have one that's been running Far Cry 3 at max settings not two feet from my head for more than eight hours, and I can barely hear it.
The GeForce GTX Titan was built to power the world's first gaming supercomputers. In fact it utilises the same GK110 graphics processing units used in each of the 18,688 Tesla K20X GPU accelerators inside Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Titan — the world's fastest supercomputer. With 2688 CUDA cores and 7.1 billion transistors, the GK110 is pushing the limits of what the 28 nanometre scale can hold. There are many, many angels on this pinhead.
The card features 6GB on onboard memory and a 384-bit memory interface, making it perfect for players looking to go super high definition or string together multiple monitors. It's capable of three-way SLI, a configuration Nvidia says is the only way to enjoy Crysis 3 maxed out across three monitors (5760x1080 resolution) at a playable frame rate. No doubt that claim will be vigorously tested by enthusiasts that pick up three of the cards when they officially release on Thursday.
What I've got here on my desk is the latest iteration of Digital Storm's Bolt. The super-slim PC has come quite a long way since I first tested it back in October. Back then it was noisy and novel, powerful enough to run games relatively well, but within minutes the system and graphics card fans would be working so hard you couldn't hear yourself think.
Since then Digital Storm has revised the case design for the Bolt, increasing ventilation, maximizing air flow and integrating a better power supply, significantly muffling the sound of the world's thinnest gaming PC. Thanks to the GTX Titan's GPU Boost 2.0 technology, the Bolt Titan Edition is ready to handle the toughest PC games while remaining whisper-quiet.
Originally launched with the GTX 680, Nvidia's GPU Boost technology was originally designed to dynamically adjust the GPU's clock speed according to a predefined power target. It provided a modest boost in performance, but had a tendency to limit clock speed at low temperatures, where there was still room to improve.
GPU Boost 2.0 controls the power of Titan based on a temperature target, rather than a power target. The default temperature target is 80 degrees Celsius (users can tweak it manually as well). The Titan will automatically boost the GPU clock frequency to the highest it can go while still remaining at or below that target.
This high degree of temperature control means that the Titan never has to over-exert itself, which keeps the card's acoustic profile incredibly low. It's wonderfully silent. Coupled with a design that blows air from back to front, it's the perfect graphics card for small form factor PCs.
The GeForce GTX Titan is as versatile as it is powerful, giving users total control over the balance of power and performance. Nvidia has unlocked the ability to extend voltage limits beyond normal operating limits, as long as the tweaker accepts the possibility of their technical hubris causing damage.
The card will even has the potential to increase the refresh rate of your monitor using display overclocking, making vertical sync (VSync) screen tearing reduction prettier than ever. VSync is usually capped at a monitor's refresh rate — generally 60 Hz. GPU Boost 2.0 has the potential to adjust the pixel clock of your display, allowing it to hit higher refresh rates. It won't work with all monitors, but when it does work it will be glorious.
You'll be hearing a lot about the Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan in the coming week. Benchmarks should start hitting on Thursday morning. Digital Storm's Titan Edition Bolt will be hitting (look for a full review on Thursday). Maingear has several different form factor systems ready to go. Origin PC lays claim to the world's first liquid-cooled Titan (coupled with GPU Boost 2.0's temperature sensing it should be pretty amazing).
But the most amazing thing about the GeForce GTX Titan is what you won't hear.