NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN 6GB Performance Review

Author: SKYMTL
Date: February 20, 2013
Product Name: GeForce GTX TITAN
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So here we are at the end of another ultra high end graphics card review and this oneís been a long time in coming. The GeForce GTX TITAN and by association NVIDIAís GK110 has been the focus of rumors and rampant speculation since Kepler was introduced. Now that itís finally here, reactions are bound to be mixed due to a stratospheric price and the mere presence of GTX 690s in the channel. However, what at first looks like a mixed bag of tricks actually works in a variety of different ways to deliver a gaming experience like no other.

In order to approach TITAN with an open mind, you have to remember its unique place within an evolving PC gaming market. This isnít a mass-market product like the GK106 and to a lesser extent NVIDIAís GK104 variants, nor is it a limited edition card which wonít be available in two monthsí time. Rather, the $1000 entry cost puts the GeForce TITAN firmly into the realm of exclusivity and is for people who can afford to pay through the nose for performance. This is an aspirational item like a Ferrari or Lamborghini and isnít marketed to the people who buy Fords, Chevys and Kias.

But is the cost justified? That depends on the way you look at the GPU performance world. From a framerate perspective, TITAN just canít muster the raw horsepower necessary to compete blow for blow against a GTX 690 despite its parallel pricing strategy. It fares even worse when you compare its price / framerate ratio against the GTX 680 and HD 7970 GHz Edition which both retail for about 50% less but end up 36% and 24% behind respectively. Indeed, like any supercar, the TITAN is a poor value when viewed through certain color glasses.

If the GTX TITANís price is exclusively associated with raw frame rates, it seems like NVIDIA may have completely misjudged its positioning somewhere along the line. $1000 for a product that simply strides in the vast open space between the GTX 680 and GTX 690 yet is priced identically to the latter seems absolutely preposterous at first glance. But it isnít. NVIDIAís strategy here is spot-on and there are two reason for that: frame times and consistency.

When it comes to a consistent gameplay experience, the TITAN is head, shoulders and knees above its compatriots. The low standard deviation shown between frame times is a fraction of what other solutions offer, which in turn leads to significantly smoother onscreen performance. For example, the GTX 690 exhibits many of the issues normally associated with dual GPU cards like minor stuttering and outright frame hesitation, a situation the TITAN deftly avoids by virtue of being a single core solution. Gamers wonít have to wait for the latest SLI profile for optimal new game support either. So while the GTX 690 may outclass the TITAN in terms of raw framerate production, the GK110 clearly holds the edge this key area.

Even though it is a single GPU solution, AMDís HD 7970 GHz just isnít in the same league as the GeForce TITAN. Its comparative frame times border on abysmal and no amount of overclocking will improve that fact. Had AMD addressed the stuttering in key games like Far Cry 3 and Hitman Absolution (both of which are Gaming Evolved titles I may add) we could be having a very different conversation right now, especially considering the GHz Editionís strong framerates.

Are there things about the GTX TITAN that could be improved? Sure. The Power Limit still sticks its nose into overclocking far too often, an astronomical price of $1000 will drive many enthusiasts away and then there's the looming threat from AMD. If AMD continues to sink untold millions into their Gaming Evolved program, we may see more situations like Dirt Showdown which allow Radeon cards to pull significantly ahead of higher priced GeForce offerings. For now it feels like NVIDIA is falling behind in the key area of developer partnerships and that could prove to be a thorny issue in the years to come.

Ironically, even though its GK110 core packs an astounding 7.1 billion transistors, the TITANís relative efficiency and small acoustical footprint are also front and center. Our sample barely consumed more power than a HD 7970 GHz yet returned substantially better performance and maintained unbelievably low fan volumes.

Voltage tuning and GPU Boost 2.0ís focus on a Temperature Target rather than Power Limits also add some value to this equation and take a small step towards justifying the TITANís associated costs. But seriously, at $1000 one expects everything but the kitchen sink.

TITAN is a card built for people who want a top-tier solution but arenít willing to compromise on in-game performance consistency. At this point in time and likely well into the future it is the best solution available for high performance, consistent, stutter-free gaming. Is that worth the cost of entry? It certainly should be.


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