Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan X: Australian Review

Nvidia has been kicking a lot of goals recently. It released the GTX 980, the world's most powerful single-GPU graphics card in November last year, and did the same with its laptop chips. Now there's a new king of desktop graphics, the Titan X — and this is one really really ridiculously powerful card.

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What Is It?

Specifications
  • Base Clock: 1000MHz
  • Boost Clock: 1075MHz
  • Memory Clock: 7.0Gbps
  • Memory: 12GB GDDR5
  • Power: 250W, 8pin + 6pin

Nvidia's US$999 GeForce GTX Titan X is the 2015 descendant of the original Titan, a top-of-the-line graphics card for gamers and professionals sold only via Nvidia — that is to say, a card not repackaged and sold through add-in board partners like ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte or EVGA. It is undoubtedly the most powerful card that the American technology company has ever produced.

Despite what seems like a relatively unspectacular base and boost clock of 1GHz and 1075MHz respectively, the Titan X is all about efficiency (like the GTX 980) — about getting more done in every clock cycle. It consumes only 250 Watts of power, the same as the previous Titan, but is a full 50 per cent more powerful. Instead of 6GB of VRAM as the 980 and Titan have onboard, the Titan X doubles that with 12GB. That's massive.

Compared to the GTX 980 that it (very roughly) shares its Maxwell 2 processor architecture with, though, the Titan X wipes the floor with it. 3072 general purpose CUDA cores versus 2048, 192 texture units versus 128, 96 render pipelines versus 64, 384-bit memory bus width versus 256; everything except its outright clock speed is roughly 50 per cent more powerful. It's also Nvidia's physically largest ever GPU, with 8 billion transistors across 601mm2 of silicon.

Interestingly, Nvidia has positioned the GTX Titan X as its first luxury graphics card. It's accordingly expensive, obviously, but to that end it's also amazingly well constructed. It's a weighty card, full of tightly-packed heatsink with a blower-style exhaust fan, but it's the speckled satin black painted metal shroud that just looks awesome. If you have this graphics card, you have to show it off — a case with a side window is a must.

What's It Good At?

Oh boy. When it comes to gaming, the GTX Titan X is a beast. It's massively powerful, and it almost feels like a waste to play anything but the most recent and graphically demanding titles on it. A quick bout of Left 4 Dead 2 or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive really doesn't stress the Titan X even at those titles' highest settings even at 4K. Far Cry 4 is a breeze at 1080p or 1440p, but at 4K starts to test the Titan X's strength. Battlefield 4, Crysis 3, Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous — these are the titles you should be playing.

Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan X: Average Frame Rates

Far Cry 4 (Ultra): 1080P: 99FPS 1440P: 78FPS 2160P: 42FPS Battlefield 4 (Ultra): 1080P: 108FPS 1440P: 59FPS 2160P: 59FPS Crysis 3 (Very High): 1080P: 112FPS 1440P: 60FPS 2160P: 46FPS Metro: Last Light (Very High): 1080P: 71FPS 1440P: 50FPS 2160P: 40FPS Tomb Raider (Ultimate + TressFX): 1080P: 192FPS 1440P: 111FPS 2160P: 99FPS

For the most part, a single Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan X will maintain smooth, playable frame rates at 4K resolution on Ultra quality settings on even the most punishing games out today. From a single card. That's pretty damn impressive, right? Drop quality down to High or Medium, depending on the title, and you'll rack up that 60FPS-plus holy grail of gaming — but even that's not always mandatory. For the investment you're making, you're getting one hell of a piece of silicon.

To that end, you really have to have a Ultra HD monitor to make best use of Nvidia's Titan X. I tested it on a LG 40UB800T and a Philips BDM4065UC — I'd recommend both of these for anyone looking for cheap big-screen Ultra HD gaming, although the Philips is better because it supports 4K at 60Hz with full colours. 1080p and 1440p really don't stress the Titan X and it's a bit wasted here.

But what's fascinating about the Titan X is that it doesn't struggle to get the performance levels it achieves. It doesn't produce an ungodly amount of heat, like previous generation Nvidia and AMD cards alike (anything high-end and older like the GTX 690, or even newer AMD Radeons like the R9 290X), and the 250 Watt TDP of the Titan X is as little as half of other competing cards like the AMD R9 295X2.

What's It Not Good At?

This goes without saying, but the Titan X is expensive. It's a US$999 graphics card; the cheapest I've seen it for in Australia has been a full $1499. That's a lot of money, and that necessarily restricts the market of the card to a relatively small number of people. It's worth saving your pennies for, obviously, but has understandably diminishing returns compared to a GTX 980 or GTX 970 which might be half or one third of the price.

What might be the biggest competitor to the GTX Titan X, then, is a dual-card SLI or CrossFire setup like two GTX 980s or GTX 970s, or two AMD Radeon R290Xs — as long as you have the power supply, dual-GPU motherboard and case space to support such an endeavour, at least. You can get theoretically better performance from two cards, or from a dual-GPU single card setup like the equally expensive and equally hard-to-get-to-grips with R9 295X2.

It's also worth noting that AMD is mere weeks or months off launching a brand new graphics chipset and range of competitor cards to Nvidia's top-of-the-line units; from the whispers I've been hearing these should be much, much improved from previous R9 2XX chips. If you wait awhile, you'll find yourself spoiled with more choice and probably a lot more price competition. Of course, this is true of basically any piece of electronics hardware anywhere at any given time ever.

For most of the people reading Gizmodo, this is a bit of a moot point, but the Titan X doesn't have the double-point precision performance levels of the original Titan. Trade-offs at the GPU level have been made to maximise gaming performance instead of FP64; these are calculations that are important for scientific research, stock market trading and so on. It isn't targeted as much at developers and non-gaming computer professionals as the previous model. If you're a gamer, ignore this entirely — it's basically a positive for you guys.

Should You Buy It?

Nvidia GeForce Titan X
90

Price: from US$999

Like
  • Peerless performance.
  • Amazingly well built.
  • Enough power for true 4K gaming.
Don't Like
  • Very expensive.
  • Overshadowed by potential SLI competitors.
  • No 3rd party extras.

The Titan X is the top single-GPU graphics card of today — there's no doubt whatsoever about that. It's hugely powerful, and to that end it can push out 60fps smooth performance at Ultra HD resolutions, as long as you have an appropriately expensive monitor or TV to flatter it. This is the card to buy if you want to play 4K; 1080p or 1440p is a doddle, obviously. Despite the power, it's actually reasonably lightweight in terms of its power and heat performance.

There are more powerful single-card solutions out there, like AMD's Radeon R9 295X2, and there is no doubt in my mind that you'd get better performance out of a SLI GeForce GTX 980 setup. But neither of those potential systems is as easy and seamless to get running as the Titan X, and also have much higher power and chassis space requirements.

Nvidia is definitely going for a more luxe feel with the Titan X, in everything from board and heatsink and fan design to the simple sleek black packaging (which, incidentally, means no free games or added extras). It has delivered in spades, though — in a world where gaming hardware is commoditised the Titan X definitely stands out and feels special.

It's an expensive card, definitely, but any wizened gamer knows that you have to pay to play. The Titan X is a pricey piece of computing hardware, but in the scheme of a 4K gaming system it's probably not even the most expensive part. It's also future-proofing of the highest order, in an age of transition from Full to Ultra HD. What I'm saying is that there a bunch of ways to justify the Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan X's existence, so pick your favourite and go out and buy one.

Originally posted on Gizmodo on April 2, 2015.


Comments

    The GTX 980 only has 4GB of VRAM

      yeah thats the only reason i havent gone for a 980 yet, cards need to com in 6-8gig now considering the recent trend of HD textures wanting 6gig or more vram

    "and there is no doubt in my mind that you’d get better performance out of a SLI GeForce GTX 980 setup"

    Can't you get 2 980's for roughly the same price as well? Hmm...

      As someone who has used SLI & Crossfire for the better part of 6 years I can say this is my last. Ever since day one I have had issues with dual cards, after two Nvidia driver updates and almost 3GB of patches on Dragon Age Inquisition I still have texture pop in issues when SLI is active. From my experience you will be extremely lucky to have 2 out of 3 AAA games that even have SLI / Crossfire support. In a time where EA & Ubisoft cant even get games to run on a single GPU what [email protected]%ing chance do they have of coding it for a dual set up??

      If you buy a dual GPU Card / Cards your gaming experience may vary but basically this it how it will play out.

      1. Buy new game & install - It's even still in the original plastic!!! omgs!

      2. Most often AAA developers will release a patch months after launch for SLI support so step two is often waiting 1 - 6 months.

      3. Ok so the day finally is here where you and the rest of the 0.4% market who will be playing your console ported game on PC with SLI! Now you're probably thinking GREAT finally 50% increase performance here we come! Nope! You CAN expect a 50% performance increase but the much.. much more likely scenario will be such a minimal benefit you won’t even notice the extra 5FPS.

      4 .... months later, 5FPS higher and you're ready to play Dragon Age Inquisition, Watch_Dogs, Farcry 4, Dying light or any other game SLI gave a headache with but.. Wait there is an issue with bad stuttering, texture popping or unexpected crashes? Welcome to step..

      5. You will be looking at a lot of forums and treads trying to find the same random issue everyone else is having with the game running in SLI. I will normally spend a good amount of time leading up to game releases checking for fix's as most of my time spent after installing a new game is to figure out the best way to play it on SLI.

      I’m not even using some weird card it’s a 680 GTX, even with a well-built card and like 5 years of software updates they still can’t get it right. Currently I can play DA:I with everything at Ultra or High but the textures pop around ( Actual performance increase is notable with SLI ) Farcry 4 has a weird ghosting issue that only happens when I use SLI so I’ve been plauing FC4 with SLI Disabled. Deadlight from last time I played it there was no FPS increase wether SLI was on or off. Watch_dogs last I checked ( 2 Months ago ) SLI made the FPS worse. I’ve had Two 680s SLI two 570s a 290 GTX and a dual GPU single ATI card running crossfire all have had massive issues and has been an absolute hassle to have. Do yourself a favour and don’t go dual GPU.

    When do the 9 series TI models come out?

      There was a rumour they are preparing to launch a 980 ti soon but just a rumour. I wish they would release the double chip single card again. I will ditch my SLI to use a pcie SSD + dual GPU single card setup.

      Some time after summer in America apparently. http://videocardz.com/55299/nvidia-geforce-gtx-980-ti-to-be-released-after-summer

    Are you sure the product review is sponsored by Dicksmith? Dicksmith doesn't even sell graphic cards.

    Last edited 07/04/15 12:39 pm

      They gotta make money too dude, I would much rather they advertise like this than in BS reviews.

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