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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  • chizow - Saturday, February 23, 2013 - link

    The usage is fine, as it's in reference to Nvidia's practice of overcharging it's customers with exorbitant price increases. That's usury.

    The "entitlement" comes from helping to build Nvidia from a rinky dink GPU company into the global factor it is today by spending a few thousand dollars every few years on their glorified gaming machines.

    The outrage comes from that company thinking it's OK to suddenly up the ante and charge you 2x as much for the same class and level of performance you'd expect from what you've paid every few years in an upgrade.

    It's obvious you've never bought into this market before, because you'd feel more invested in what has happened in the landscape of desktop GPUs since the 7970 launch and the rest of Kepler launch and understand what is happening here. I don't plan to buy it as most others I know who have bought in this range of GPU before, most of whom have similar sense of disappointment and disdain for Nvidia's Titan pricing strategy.

    As for the last bit...Nvidia has sold their 500+mm^2 ASIC GPUs for much less than even $500 in the past, hell the GTX 285 sold for as low as $330 and even the past GPUs with reported "terrible" yields like the GT200 and GF100 were sold for $500 in quarters where Nvidia still turned a profit. TSMC is charging slightly more per 300mm wafer at 28nm than previous nodes, but nothing close to the 100% premium being asked for with TITAN. So obviously they could sell it for less and still profit, they just chose not to.
  • CeriseCogburn - Saturday, February 23, 2013 - link

    You're an IDIOT.

    nVidia sells these for THOUSANDS EACH, and production is LIMITED, you idiot gasbag fool.

    The fact that they spare a few dies for a grand shows they are being extremely generous with their profit potential and giving you sick ungrateful whining losers a big freaking break !

    But you're FAR TOO STUPID to know that. That's why nVidia has a REAL CEO and you're a crybaby whiner FOOL on the internet, who cannot think past his own insane $360 card budget, AND GETS IT 100% INCORRECT.

    When nVidia sells one of these limited production monsters to one of you whining ungrateful OWS crybaby losers for a $1000.00, they are LOSING A COUPLE GRAND IN PROFITS, YOU IDIOT !

    Have a nice, dumbed down, idiot crybaby loser day.
  • chizow - Saturday, February 23, 2013 - link

    Production isn't limited, Nvidia and the article have shot that down from the outset, so please stop trying to use that as some "limited" production excuse.

    Nvidia will make as many of these as demand dictates, but they could've just as easily charged $300-400 less and sold untold magnitudes more GK110-based cards. That's the general impression I'm getting from all over the internet and from the circles of enthusiast I've encountered, anyways.

    Pricing these at $1K is like stealing candy from a retarded kid (you), but $600-$700 would be justified based on expected price and performance relative to previous generations and worth a look at 1 or even 2 for any enthusiast who purchased in the enthusiast range before and still allowed Nvidia to charge a premium for Kepler's overachieving performance numbers.
  • CeriseCogburn - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    No, they shot down the only 10,000 amd fanboy liar rumor, and claimed there will be "continuing availability".

    So you're a liar and a fool.
  • chizow - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    Exactly, you said these were "limited" when they are not, so you stand corrected.

    Looks like you're the liar and the fool, but why state the obvious?
  • CeriseCogburn - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    They are limited, production is NOT limitless, a gradeB skumbag fool who needs a clue from a real authority to use common sense (to paraphrase your prior stupid remark) would know that.

    nVidia CANNOT produce whatever demand is whenever demand goes over production capacity, and the price you want, you have implied it would.

    So go blow it out your tinfoil hat.
  • chizow - Monday, February 25, 2013 - link

    Production is limited by demand with GK110, not some artificial "limited" production warranting the $1K price tag as you implied. But why state the obvious about the law of supply and demand?

    Please stop trying to cover your tracks with dishonesty, you were wrong to say Titan is limited when it was not, now move along.
  • CeriseCogburn - Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - link

    Moving along would be you checking production capacity and the dates in question, of course instead you've gourd bolted reynolds wrap. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Saturday, February 23, 2013 - link

    Yes mlambert908, they are spoiled lying crybaby children.

    Thanks for being another sane voice in the wilderness.

    The crybabies need to become men and earn a living, so they stop embarrassing themselves. Not that they know or understand that, nor that they ever will, but it gets sickeningly redundant when they poo their diapers all over the place every time.

    How about they grow up, get to work, and buy a video card once without whining like spoiled brats for months on end over the evil overlords who just won't give them a huge break because... they demand it.

    Maybe the Illegal Usurper will start enforcing price controls for them in this crappy economic worldwide situation where ALL prices have been rising greatly for a number of years.

    Perhaps the fantasy world the brat fanboy crybabies live in is actually a sheltered virtual unreality absolutely separate from RL.

    Charlie D's slaves, with deranged fantasy brains, and like you said, one of the sickest cases of entitlement the world has ever seen.
  • chizow - Saturday, February 23, 2013 - link

    It's funny that you keep mentioning Charlie D., your asinine rants make him look like a genius and a prophet. Reply

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