The Final Word On Overclocking

Before we jump into our performance breakdown, I wanted to take a few minutes to write a bit of a feature follow-up to our overclocking coverage from Tuesday. Since we couldn’t reveal performance numbers at the time – and quite honestly we hadn’t even finished evaluating Titan – we couldn’t give you the complete story on Titan. So some clarification is in order.

On Tuesday we discussed how Titan reintroduces overvolting for NVIDIA products, but now with additional details from NVIDIA along with our own performance data we have the complete picture, and overclockers will want to pay close attention. NVIDIA may be reintroducing overvolting, but it may not be quite what many of us were first thinking.

First and foremost, Titan still has a hard TDP limit, just like GTX 680 cards. Titan cannot and will not cross this limit, as it’s built into the firmware of the card and essentially enforced by NVIDIA through their agreements with their partners. This TDP limit is 106% of Titan’s base TDP of 250W, or 265W. No matter what you throw at Titan or how you cool it, it will not let itself pull more than 265W sustained.

Compared to the GTX 680 this is both good news and bad news. The good news is that with NVIDIA having done away with the pesky concept of target power versus TDP, the entire process is much simpler; the power target will tell you exactly what the card will pull up to on a percentage basis, with no need to know about their separate power targets or their importance. Furthermore with the ability to focus just on just TDP, NVIDIA didn’t set their power limits on Titan nearly as conservatively as they did on GTX 680.

The bad news is that while GTX 680 shipped with a max power target of 132%, Titan is again only 106%. Once you do hit that TDP limit you only have 6% (15W) more to go, and that’s it. Titan essentially has more headroom out of the box, but it will have less headroom for making adjustments. So hardcore overclockers dreaming of slamming 400W through Titan will come away disappointed, though it goes without saying that Titan’s power delivery system was never designed for that in the first place. All indications are that NVIDIA built Titan’s power delivery system for around 265W, and that’s exactly what buyers will get.

Second, let’s talk about overvolting. What we didn’t realize on Tuesday but realize now is that overvolting as implemented in Titan is not overvolting in the traditional sense, and practically speaking I doubt too many hardcore overclockers will even recognize it as overvolting. What we mean by this is that overvolting was not implemented as a direct control system as it was on past generation cards, or even the NVIDIA-nixed cards like the MSI Lightning or EVGA Classified.

Overvolting is instead a set of two additional turbo clock bins, above and beyond Titan’s default top bin. On our sample the top bin is 1.1625v, which corresponds to a 992MHz core clock. Overvolting Titan to 1.2 means unlocking two more bins: 1006MHz @ 1.175v, and 1019MHz @ 1.2v. Or put another way, overvolting on Titan involves unlocking only another 27MHz in performance.

These two bins are in the strictest sense overvolting – NVIDIA doesn’t believe voltages over 1.1625v on Titan will meet their longevity standards, so using them is still very much going to reduce the lifespan of a Titan card – but it’s probably not the kind of direct control overvolting hardcore overclockers were expecting. The end result is that with Titan there’s simply no option to slap on another 0.05v – 0.1v in order to squeak out another 100MHz or so. You can trade longevity for the potential to get another 27MHz, but that’s it.

Ultimately, this means that overvolting as implemented on Titan cannot be used to improve the clockspeeds attainable through the use of the offset clock functionality NVIDIA provides. In the case of our sample it peters out after +115MHz offset without overvolting, and it peters out after +115MHz offset with overvolting. The only difference is that we gain access to a further 27MHz when we have the thermal and power headroom available to hit the necessary bins.

GeForce GTX Titan Clockspeed Bins
Clockspeed Voltage
1019MHz 1.2v
1006MHz 1.175v
992MHz 1.1625v
979MHz 1.15v
966MHz 1.137v
953MHz 1.125v
940MHz 1.112v
927MHz 1.1v
914MHz 1.087v
901MHz 1.075v
888MHz 1.062v
875MHz 1.05v
862MHz 1.037v
849MHz 1.025v
836MHz 1.012v

Finally, as with the GTX 680 and GTX 690, NVIDIA will be keeping tight control over what Asus, EVGA, and their other partners release. Those partners will have the option to release Titan cards with factory overclocks and Titan cards with different coolers (i.e. water blocks), but they won’t be able to expose direct voltage control or ship parts with higher voltages. Nor for that matter will they be able to create Titan cards with significantly different designs (i.e. more VRM phases); every Titan card will be a variant on the reference design.

This is essentially no different than how the GTX 690 was handled, but I think it’s something that’s important to note before anyone with dreams of big overclocks throws down $999 on a Titan card. To be clear, GPU Boost 2.0 is a significant improvement in the entire power/thermal management process compared to GPU Boost 1.0, and this kind of control means that no one needs to be concerned with blowing up their video card (accidentally or otherwise), but it’s a system that comes with gains and losses. So overclockers will want to pay close attention to what they’re getting into with GPU Boost 2.0 and Titan, and what they can and cannot do with the card.

Titan's Performance Unveiled Titan’s Compute Performance (aka Ph.D Lust)
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  • cliffnotes - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    Price is a disgrace. Can we really be surprised though ? We saw the 680 release and knew then they were selling their mid ranged card as a flagship with a flagship price.

    We knew then the real flagship was going to come at some point. I admit I assumed they would replace the 680 with it and charge maybe 600 or 700. Can't believe they're trying to pawn it off for 1000. Looks like nvidia has decided to try and reshape what the past flagship performance level is worth. 8800gtx,280,285,480,580 all 500-600, we all know gtx680 is not a proper flagship and was their mid-range. Here is the real one and..... 1000

    Outrageous.
    Reply
  • ogreslayer - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    Problem here is this gen none of the reviewers chewed out AMD for the 7970. This led Nvidia to think it was totally fine to release GK104 for $500 which was still cheaper then a 7970 but not where that die was originally slotted and to do this utter insanity with a $1000 solution that is more expensive then solutions that are faster then it.

    7950 3-way Crossfire, GTX690, GTX660Ti 3 Way SLI, GTX670SLI and GTX680SLI are all better options for anyone who isn't spending $3000 on cards as even dual card you are better off with the GTX690s in SLI. Poor form Nvidia, poor form. But poor form to every reviewer who gives this an award of any kind. It's time to start taking pricing and availability into the equation.

    I think I'd have much less of an issue if partners had access to GK110 dies binned for slightly lower clocks and limited to 3GB at 750-800. I'd wager you'd hit close to the same performance window at a more reasonable price that people wouldn't have scoffed at. GTX670SLI is about $720...
    Reply
  • HisDivineOrder - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    Pretty much agree. GPU reviewers of late have been so forgiving toward nVidia and AMD for all kinds of crap. They don't seem to have the cahoneys to put their foot down and say, "This far, no farther!"

    They just keep bowing their head and saying, "Can I have s'more, please?" Pricing is way out of hand, but the reviewers here and elsewhere just seem to be living in a fantasy world where these prices make even an iota of sense.

    That said, the Titan is a halo card and I don't think 99% of people out there are even supposed to be considering it.

    This is for that guy you read about on the forum thread who says he's having problems with quad-sli working properly. This is for him to help him spend $1k more on GPU's than he already would have.

    So then we can have a thread with him complaining about how he's not getting optimal performance from his $3k in GPU's. And how, "C'mon, nVidia! I spent $3k in your GPU's! Make me a custom driver!"

    Which, if I'd spent 3k in GPU's, I'd probably want my very own custom driver, too.
    Reply
  • ronin22 - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    For 3k, you can pay a good developer (all cost included) for about 5 days, to build your custom driver.

    Good luck with that :D
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - link

    I can verify that programmer pricing personally.

    Here is why we have crap amd crashing and driver problems only worsening still.
    33% CF failure, right frikkin now.
    Driver teams decimated by losing financial reality.

    "Investing" as our many local amd fanboy retard destroyers like to proclaim, in an amd card, is one sorry bet on the future.
    It's not an investment.

    If it weren't for the constant crybaby whining about price in a laser focused insane fps only dream world of dollar pinching beyond the greatest female coupon clipper in the world's OBSESSION level stupidity, I could stomach an amd fanboy buying Radeons at full price and not WHINING in an actual show of support for the failing company they CLAIM must be present for "competition" to continue.

    Instead our little hoi polloi amd ragers rape away at amd's failed bottom line, and just shortly before screamed nVidia would be crushed out of existence by amd's easy to do reduction in prices.... it went on and on and on for YEARS as they were presented the REAL FACTS and ignored them entirely.
    Yes, they are INSANE.
    Perhaps now they have learned to keep their stupid pieholes shut in this area, as their meme has been SILENCED for it's utter incorrectness.
    Thank God for small favors YEARS LATE.

    Keep crying crybabies, it's all you do now, as you completely ignore amd's utter FAILURE in the driver department and are STUPID ENOUGH to unconsciously accept "the policy" about dual card usage here, WHEN THE REALITY IS NVIDIA'S CARDS ALWAYS WORK AND AMD'S FAIL 33% OF THE TIME.

    So recommending CROSSFIRE cannot occur, so here is thrown the near perfect SLI out with the biased waters.

    ANOTHER gigantic, insane, lie filled BIAS.

    Congratulations amd fanboys, no one could possibly be more ignorant nor dirtier. That's what lying and failure is all about, it's all about amd and their little CLONES.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Saturday, February 23, 2013 - link

    Prices have been going up around the world for a few years now.

    Of course mommies basement has apparently not been affected by the news.
    Reply
  • trajan2448 - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    Awesome card! best single GPU on the planet at the moment. Almost 50% better in frame latencies than 7970. Crossfire,don't make me laugh. here's an analysis. Many of the frames "rendered" by the 7970 and especially Crossfire aren't visible.
    http://www.pcper.com/reviews/G...
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    So amd has been lying, and the fraps boys have been jiving for years now....
    It's coming out - the BIG LIE of the AMD top end cards... LOL
    Fraudster amd and their idiot fanboys are just about finished.

    http://www.pcper.com/reviews/Graphics-Cards/NVIDIA...

    LOL- shame on all the dummy reviewers
    Reply
  • Alucard291 - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    What you typed here sounds like sarcasm.

    And you're actually serious aren't you?

    That's really cute. But can you please take your comments to 4chan/engadget where they belong.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    Ok troll, you go to wherever the clueless reign. You will fit right in.

    Those aren't suppositions I made, they are facts.
    Reply

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