Earlier this week NVIDIA announced their new top-end single-GPU consumer card, the GeForce GTX Titan. Built on NVIDIA’s GK110 and named after the same supercomputer that GK110 first powered, the GTX Titan is in many ways the apex of the Kepler family of GPUs first introduced nearly one year ago. With anywhere between 25% and 50% more resources than NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 680, Titan is intended to be the ultimate single-GPU card for this generation.

Meanwhile with the launch of Titan NVIDIA has repositioned their traditional video card lineup to change who the ultimate video card will be chasing. With a price of $999 Titan is decidedly out of the price/performance race; Titan will be a luxury product, geared towards a mix of low-end compute customers and ultra-enthusiasts who can justify buying a luxury product to get their hands on a GK110 video card. So in many ways this is a different kind of launch than any other high performance consumer card that has come before it.

So where does that leave us? On Tuesday we could talk about Titan’s specifications, construction, architecture, and features. But the all-important performance data would be withheld another two days until today. So with Thursday finally upon us, let’s finish our look at Titan with our collected performance data and our analysis.

Titan: A Performance Summary

  GTX Titan GTX 690 GTX 680 GTX 580
Stream Processors 2688 2 x 1536 1536 512
Texture Units 224 2 x 128 128 64
ROPs 48 2 x 32 32 48
Core Clock 837MHz 915MHz 1006MHz 772MHz
Shader Clock N/A N/A N/A 1544MHz
Boost Clock 876Mhz 1019MHz 1058MHz N/A
Memory Clock 6.008GHz GDDR5 6.008GHz GDDR5 6.008GHz GDDR5 4.008GHz GDDR5
Memory Bus Width 384-bit 2 x 256-bit 256-bit 384-bit
VRAM 6GB 2 x 2GB 2GB 1.5GB
FP64 1/3 FP32 1/24 FP32 1/24 FP32 1/8 FP32
TDP 250W 300W 195W 244W
Transistor Count 7.1B 2 x 3.5B 3.5B 3B
Manufacturing Process TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm TSMC 40nm
Launch Price $999 $999 $499 $499

On paper, compared to GTX 680, Titan offers anywhere between a 25% and 50% increase in resource. At the starting end, Titan comes with 25% more ROP throughput, a combination of Titan’s 50% increase in ROP count and simultaneous decrease in clockspeeds relative to GTX 680. Shading and texturing performance meanwhile benefits even more from the expansion of the number of SMXes, from 8 to 14. And finally, Titan has a full 50% more memory bandwidth than GTX 680.

Setting aside the unique scenario of compute for a moment, this means that Titan will be between 25% and 50% faster than GTX 680 in GPU limited situations, depending on the game/application and its mix of resource usage. For an industry and userbase still trying to come to terms with the loss of nearly annual half-node jumps, this kind of performance jump on the same node is quite remarkable. At the same time it also sets expectations for how future products may unfold; one way to compensate for the loss of the rapid cadence in manufacturing nodes is to spread out the gains from a new node over multiple years, and this is essentially what we’ve seen with the Kepler family by launching GK104, and a year later GK110.

In any case, while Titan can improve gaming performance by up to 50%, NVIDIA has decided to release Titan as a luxury product with a price roughly 120% higher than the GTX 680. This means that Titan will not be positioned to push the price of NVIDIA’s current cards down, and in fact it’s priced right off the currently hyper-competitive price-performance curve that the GTX 680/670 and Radeon HD 7970GE/7970 currently occupy.

February 2013 GPU Pricing Comparison
AMD Price NVIDIA
  $1000 GeForce Titan/GTX 690
(Unofficial) Radeon HD 7990 $900  
Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition $450 GeForce GTX 680
Radeon HD 7970 $390  
  $350 GeForce GTX 670
Radeon HD 7950 $300  

This setup isn’t unprecedented – the GTX 690 more or less created this precedent last May – but it means Titan is a very straightforward case of paying 120% more for 50% more performance; the last 10% always costs more. What this means is that the vast majority of gamers will simply be shut out from Titan at this price, but for those who can afford Titan’s $999 price tag NVIDIA believes they have put together a powerful card and a convincing case to pay for luxury.

So what can potential Titan buyers look forward to on the performance front? As always we’ll do a complete breakdown of performance in the following pages, but we wanted to open up this article with a quick summary of performance. So with that said, let’s take a look at some numbers.

GeForce GTX Titan Performance Summary (2560x1440)
  vs. GTX 680 vs. GTX 690 vs. R7970GE vs. R7990
Average +47% -15% 34% -19%
Dirt: Showdown 47% -5% 3% -38%
Total War: Shogun 2 50% -15% 62% 1%
Hitman: Absolution 34% -15% 18% -15%
Sleeping Dogs 49% -15% 17% -30%
Crysis 54% -13% 21% -25%
Far Cry 3 35% -23% 37% -15%
Battlefield 3 48% -18% 52% -11%
Civilization V 59% -9% 60% 0

Looking first at NVIDIA’s product line, Titan is anywhere between 33% and 54% faster than the GTX 680. In fact with the exception of Hitman: Absolution, a somewhat CPU-bound benchmark, Titan’s performance relative to the GTX 680 is actually very consistent at a narrow 45%-55% range. Titan and GTX 680 are of course based on the same fundamental Kepler architecture, so there haven’t been any fundamental architecture changes between the two; Titan is exactly what you’d expect out of a bigger Kepler GPU. At the same time this is made all the more interesting due to the fact that Titan’s real-world performance advantage of 45%-55% is so close to its peak theoretical performance advantage of 50%, indicating that Titan doesn’t lose much (if anything) in efficiency when scaled up, and that the games we’re testing today favor memory bandwidth and shader/texturing performance over ROP throughput.

Moving on, while Titan offers a very consistent performance advantage over the architecturally similar GTX 680, it’s quite a different story when compared to AMD’s fastest single-GPU product, the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition. As we’ve seen time and time again this generation, the difference in performance between AMD and NVIDIA GPUs not only varies with the test and settings, but dramatically so. As a result Titan is anywhere between being merely equal to the 7970GE to being nearly a generation ahead of it.

At the low-end of the scale we have DiRT: Showdown, where Titan’s lead is less than 3%. At the other end is Total War: Shogun 2, where Titan is a good 62% faster than the 7970GE. The average gain over the 7970GE is almost right in the middle at 34%, reflecting a mix of games where the two are close, the two are far, and the two are anywhere in between. With recent driver advancements having helped the 7970GE pull ahead of the GTX 680, NVIDIA had to work harder to take back their lead and to do so in an concrete manner.

Titan’s final competition are the dual-GPU cards of this generation, the GK104 based GTX 690, and the officially unofficial Tahiti based HD 7990 cards, which vary in specs but generally have just shy of the performance of a pair of 7970s. As we’ve seen in past generations, when it comes to raw performance one big GPU is no match for two smaller GPUs, and the same is true with Titan. For frames per second and nothing else, Titan cannot compete with those cards. But as we’ll see there are still some very good reasons for Titan’s existence, and areas Titan excels at that even two lesser GPUs cannot match.

None of this of course accounts for compute. Simply put, Titan stands alone in the compute world. As the first consumer GK110 GPU based video card there’s nothing quite like it. We’ll see why that is in our look at compute performance, but as far as the competitive landscape is concerned there’s not a lot to discuss here.

The Final Word On Overclocking
POST A COMMENT

336 Comments

View All Comments

  • justaviking - Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - link

    On Feb 22, the review closed wtih this teaser:
    "Wrapping things up, on Monday we’ll be taking a look at the final piece of the puzzle"

    Monday was two days ago. Am I impatient? Yes. I am really looking forward to seeing what you have to say about Origin’s tri-SLI full tower Genesis PC.

    Did I miss it somehow?
    Reply
  • avel - Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - link

    I've been thinking the same thing. While I was waiting I found that Tomshardware has a tri sli titan review up. Maybe Anand will have theirs up today. Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - link

    Unfortunately it's going to be a few more days. I'm currently out of commission with the flu, so I haven't been able to finish my work on the Genesis system yet. Reply
  • justaviking - Friday, March 01, 2013 - link

    Oh, sorry to hear about that.
    Get well soon.
    Reply
  • CiccioB - Monday, March 04, 2013 - link

    It would be nice if you could also address TheJian's post.
    In particular on the reasons for choosing such games instead of those listed and, most of all, if in the future the list of games used will change with at least a part of those more modern ones.

    If you made a choice there must be a reason. It would be nice to let us know which it is. Avoiding giving reasons for your choices is a reason for many to have doubts on impartiality and/or professionalism.

    Thanks in advance
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Monday, March 04, 2013 - link

    Dream on, you play as many games as the person you have a problem with.

    The site is amd gpu biased out the wazoo, and every blind pig knows it. They failed to get a card from nVidia years ago (a certain G92) and it's been open hatred ever since. Same thing happened to Tom's.

    I'm sure there are other reasons - I've seen some stated - "the confident and arrogant nVidia reps" was one theme.
    The intense "hatred" right now for anyone profitable, especially above and beyond the pined for "take down the giants (Intel and nVidia)" AMD underdog dream of these fantasy activists.

    The desire for the "competitive war" to continue so this site has a reason to exist and do video card reviews, thus the failing piece of crap company AMD must be propped continuously, it is after all fully compliant with "self interest" even if it is, and it is, extremely unethical and completely immoral.

    So don't expect any answers, and there's exactly ZERO chance fair and equitable is the answer.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Monday, March 04, 2013 - link

    Don't get me wrong, the site is great, I've been reading it forever, before it was even on the map, and of course people are human and have certain pressures and personal tastes.
    That won't ever change.

    They have many sections, the podcasts are a recent cool addition for some added flavor, and like anything, especially evaluating tow competing entities, perfection is impossible.
    Reply
  • CiccioB - Monday, March 04, 2013 - link

    I like this site for GPU reviews. I have always found its review better than those done by many other sites.
    They are rich in technical description and give many answers many other sites don't even imagine to question.
    Or ask and answer only by doing a copy & paste from here, and sometimes even without understanding much of what they are C&P.
    The computational tests done here, even in the past years, have not been found anywhere. Others use stupid synthetic benchmark mostly based on OpenCL that require two minutes hack to double their performances or are biased depending on who has sponsored the tests (see AMD and SiSandra Benchmark Suite).

    However I have been thinking that the game choice was always "random".
    Review after review some good games suddenly disappeared to leave space to others that have not real meaning (i.e. games that do 150+ FPS on high end systems are quite ridiculous to bench). Same for very old games recently superseded by new release. And some games never reviewed at all.
    For example, I would like to know games like StarCraft 2, that had big problems with SLI/Crossfire at the time it was published, run now on the latest GPUs with latest drivers. Or games like Arma2 that were unplayable. But I still see Crysis Warhead benches, which is not exacly interesting nor indicative of anything while others already have Crysis 3 benches.
    It would also be a good option to add Physx option when possible. For example, with such a beast like Titan many games have enough room to run Physx at high levels. How does that compare with a SLI solution? Or with no Physx at all? How that impact on these GPUs rather than GK104 or older Fermi?

    But apart these requests, it would really be nice to understand the choice of reviewed games. Because it is well known that games are good or bad on certain architectures more than others, and choosing only most of those that adapt to one or to another with no apparent reason really makes these test quite cheap with respect to others, like for example those done by Techpowerup like it has been addressed before.

    Not answering rally means feeding the doubts. Which for many may change in not being doubts anymore.

    Sorry for my English, it is not my native language
    Reply
  • clickonflick - Thursday, March 07, 2013 - link

    i agree that the price of this GPU is really high , one could easily assemble a fully mainstream laptop online with dell at this price tag or a desktop, but for gamers, to whom performance is above price. then it is a boon for them

    for more pics check this out

    http://clickonflick/nvidia-geforce-gtx-titan/

    so check the above link for specifications of titan
    Reply
  • enigz - Thursday, March 07, 2013 - link

    CeriseCogBurn, you shit from your mouth, don't you? I've owned both nvidia and amd cards, I go for performance and I most certainly do not care about spending. It is not about the company. I don't go around slamming the other team online like the bloody ball-less keyboard warrior you are. Do you not realise that that your comments make you look like those "fanboys" which you go around insulting? Go grab a paper towel to clean off all that shit dripping down your chin, then sit down and try to absorb what I've just said while I'll be off to get my Titan. At least AMD and NVIDIA are capable of producing graphics and computing solutions for consumers worldwide while you, Sir, are just capable of being an asshole right here at Anandtech. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now