The NVIDIA TITAN X 12GB Performance Review

Author: SKYMTL
Date: August 2, 2016
Product Name: TITAN X 12GB
Part Number: TITAN X
Warranty: 3 Years
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Analyzing Temperatures & Frequencies Over Time

Modern graphics card designs make use of several advanced hardware and software facing algorithms in an effort to hit an optimal balance between performance, acoustics, voltage, power and heat output. Traditionally this leads to maximized clock speeds within a given set of parameters. Conversely, if one of those last two metrics (those being heat and power consumption) steps into the equation in a negative manner it is quite likely that voltages and resulting core clocks will be reduced to insure the GPU remains within design specifications. We’ve seen this happen quite aggressively on some AMD cards while NVIDIA’s reference cards also tend to fluctuate their frequencies. To be clear, this is a feature by design rather than a problem in most situations.

In many cases clock speeds won’t be touched until the card in question reaches a preset temperature, whereupon the software and onboard hardware will work in tandem to carefully regulate other areas such as fan speeds and voltages to insure maximum frequency output without an overly loud fan. Since this algorithm typically doesn’t kick into full force in the first few minutes of gaming, the “true” performance of many graphics cards won’t be realized through a typical 1-3 minute benchmarking run. Hence why we use a 10-minute warm up period before all of our benchmarks.

The TITAN X is obviously a massively powerful card but it also boasts a TDP of about 250W. That means it outputs a massive amount of heat despite using the same heatsink as the much more efficient GTX 1080. Does this spell trouble? Let’s find out.

Temperatures actually start off quite well and remain below the 85°C mark throughout the test with very little movement. However, as we have seen in the past, NVIDIA’s Boost algorithms are meant to effectively balance power consumption, temperatures, fan speeds and frequencies in an effort to achieve optimal overall performance. That means one or more of those elements are about to be sacrificed to insure that 84°C is maintained.

The first sacrificial lamb is obviously fan speeds and acoustics (more about the noise output on the next page!) since the TITAN X’s rotational speeds beat every other reference design we’ve seen during this generation. With that being said, the difference of about 500RPMs isn’t all that much considering what’s at play here.

NVIDIA claims the TITAN X has a Base and Boost clock of 1417MHz and 1531MHz respectively. Even when running at full tilt our sample was still able to hit about 1600MHz even after hours of gameplay. While performance is indeed sacrificed to insure normal operating parameters can be maintained, it’s hard to complain about what’s happening here. I can only imagine what this card would perform like when put under water.

Raw and unadulterated framerates are the name of the game but due to the slight dips in frequency from the beginning to the end of testing, performance isn’t quite maintained. It does however highlight exactly why we insure that every test is done after a brief warm-up period.

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