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REVIEW: Nvidia GeForce Titan graphics card

GeForce_GTX_Titan.jpgreview-line.JPG Name: Nvidia GeForce Titan

Type: DirectX 11 compatible graphics card

Specifications: Click here for full specs

Price as reviewed: From £839

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Housing the most powerful single GPU in the world, the Nvidia GeForce Titan card is an absolute beast. But is its graphical grunt a match for the dual GPU GTX 690, especially considering its extraordinarily high cost? Check out our full review to find out!

review-line.JPGNvidia's GeForce Titan takes the company's £2,800 Tesla K20 "supercomputer" board and reworks it for a luxury consumer market. Dubbed the GK110, it's got a stonking price tag, with the card selling for upwards of £800. That's twice the price of Nvidia's next-best single GPU card, the GTX 680. Can it justify it?

Key Specs

CUDA Cores: 2688
Core Clock: 837 MHz
Boost Clock: 876 MHz
Texture Fill Rate: 187.5 Gigatexels/sec
Memory Amount: 6GB GDDR5
Memory Data Rate, effective: 6.0 Gbps
Memory Interface: 384-bit
Memory Bandwidth: 288.4 GB/sec
Power & Thermal: 250 W
On-board Outputs: DL-DVI-I, DL-DVI-D, HDMI, DisplayPort
Bus Type: PCI Express 3.0
Size: 10.5" x 4.37", dual-slot

Put the Titan against the GTX 680 and you can quickly see what that extra money is going on, with 2688 CUDA cores in the Titan (with 896 double precision cores that can be switched on and off in the Nvidia control panel for intense computing tasks) against 1536 in the GTX 680. Onboard RAM is tripled too in the Titan to 6GB of GDDR5 against the GTX 680's 2GB, while bandwidth leaps from a 256-bit bus in the GTX 680 to a 384-bit interface in the Titan.

If the Titan is looking flabby by comparison anywhere, it's in terms of clock speeds - the Titan has a core clock of 837 MHz and a boost clock of 876 MHz, while the GTX 680 has a core clock of 1006 MHz and boost of 1058 MHz. With the Titan the larger chip, it'd inevitably run at incredible temperatures if clock speeds weren't dialled back a bit, which would render the system unstable if not kept in check.

We've been running the Titan in a PC Specialist Vanquish Prodigy Titan pre-built system (Core i7 3770k @ 4.4GHz, 8GB RAM), which you can pick up here for £1799.

Benchmarking

3D Mark 11 Graphics Score:
Titan - 4530
GTX 680 - 3031

3D Mark Fire Strike Graphics Score:
Titan - 4571
GTX 680 - 3122

Gaming Framerates

Throwing the dual-GPU GTX 690 into the mix, the GTX 680, GTX 690 and Titan all make mincemeat of 1080p gaming benchmarking tests. The following benchmarks therefore are performed at maximum DirectX 11 graphics settings at 2560x1600 resolutions.

Heaven 3.0 DirectX 11 tessellation FPS performance (higher is better)
GTX Titan: 56
GTX 690: 70.3
GTX 680 : 40

Batman: Arkham Asylum FPS performance (higher is better)
GTX Titan: 99
GTX 690: 105.4
GTX 680: 66

Sleeping Dogs FPS performance (higher is better)
GTX Titan: 34
GTX 690: 39.3
GTX 680: 23.3

The Titan seems less powerful than the GTX 690, which is capable across the board of higher benchmarks. However, the GTX 690 is a dual GPU card, and with it you'll have to contend with SLI scaling and SLI profiles, not to mention microstutter issues and the usually-lengthy wait for driver optimisation. Weighing up whether or not the GTX 690 performance boost and cheaper price wins out over the convenience of the Titan isn't an easy question to answer. Titan's increased 6GB VRAM compared to the 2x 2GB of VRAM in the GTX 690 could prove useful over time as higher resolutions become the standard, while it's significantly less power hungry than the GTX 690, running cooler (and thus quieter) too. Likewise, running two GTX 680 cards in SLI is a marginally more affordable way to reach similar heights (potentially faster too depending on your set-up and overclocking courage), providing you've got the power and cooling necessary to keep things stable.

If the Titan can't always manage double the speed of the GTX 680 at roughly double the price however, what you're left with is really a niche product. The convenience of the single GPU will likely mean it's most often found in pre-built systems, the sort of "money is no object" set ups that wealthy PC gamers with no desire to go under the hood are courted by. Enabling the double precision CUDA cores will make this a very attractive card for 3D modellers on a tight budget though, with the card's supercomputer heritage putting its computing pedigree to the fore.

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Verdict:

An impressive card, wrestling with whether or not the Titan is worthy of its high price is an argument you're going to have to sit and have a long, hard think about. There's unlikely to be a single GPU that comes anywhere near the Titan for sometime, but those looking to save a fair few quid and are prepared to work an SLI set-up into their build may get more bang for their buck.review-line.JPG

4/5

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