Power, Temperature, & Noise

Last but certainly not least, we have our obligatory look at power, temperature, and noise. Next to price and performance of course, these are some of the most important aspects of a GPU, due in large part to the impact of noise. All things considered, a loud card is undesirable unless there’s a sufficiently good reason to ignore the noise.

It’s for that reason that GPU manufacturers also seek to keep power usage down, and under normal circumstances there’s a pretty clear relationship between power consumption, heat generated, and the amount of noise the fans will generate to remove that heat. At the same time however this is an area that NVIDIA is focusing on for Titan, as a premium product means they can use premium materials, going above and beyond what more traditional plastic cards can do for noise dampening.

GeForce GTX Titan Voltages
Titan Max Boost Titan Base Titan Idle
1.1625v 1.012v 0.875v

Stopping quickly to take a look at voltages, Titan’s peak stock voltage is at 1.162v, which correlates to its highest speed bin of 992MHz. As the clockspeeds go farther down these voltages drop, to a load low of 0.95v at 744MHz. This ends up being a bit less than the GTX 680 and most other desktop Kepler cards, which go up just a bit higher to 1.175v. Since NVIDIA is classifying 1.175v as an “overvoltage” on Titan, it looks like GK110 isn’t going to be quite as tolerant of voltages as GK104 was.

GeForce GTX Titan Average Clockspeeds
Max Boost Clock 992MHz
DiRT:S 992MHz
Shogun 2 966MHz
Hitman 992MHz
Sleeping Dogs 966MHz
Crysis 992MHz
Far Cry 3 979MHz
Battlefield 3 992MHz
Civilization V 979MHz

One thing we quickly notice about Titan is that thanks to GPU Boost 2 and the shift from what was primarily a power based boost system to a temperature based boost system is that Titan hits its maximum speed bin far more often and sustains it more often too, especially since there’s no longer a concept of a power target with Titan, and any power limits are based entirely by TDP.  Half of our games have an average clockspeed of 992MHz, or in other words never triggered a power or thermal condition that would require Titan to scale back its clockspeed. For the rest of our tests the worst clockspeed was all of 2 bins (26MHz) lower at 966MHz, with this being a mix of hitting both thermal and power limits.

On a side note, it’s worth pointing out that these are well in excess of NVIDIA’s official boost clock for Titan. With Titan boost bins being based almost entirely on temperature, the average boost speed for Titan is going to be more dependent on environment (intake) temperatures than GTX 680 was, so our numbers are almost certainly a bit higher than what one would see in a hotter environment.

Starting as always with a look at power, there’s nothing particularly out of the ordinary here. AMD and NVIDIA have become very good at managing idle power through power gating and other techniques, and as a result idle power has come down by leaps and bounds over the years. At this point we still typically see some correlation between die size and idle power, but that’s a few watts at best. So at 111W at the wall, Titan is up there with the best cards.

Moving on to our first load power measurement, as we’ve dropped Metro 2033 from our benchmark suite we’ve replaced it with Battlefield 3 as our game of choice for measuring peak gaming power consumption. BF3 is a difficult game to run, but overall it presents a rather typical power profile which of all the games in our benchmark suite makes it one of the best representatives.

In any case, as we can see Titan’s power consumption comes in below all of our multi-GPU configurations, but higher than any other single-GPU card. Titan’s 250W TDP is 55W higher than GTX 680’s 195W TDP, and with a 73W difference at the wall this isn’t too far off. A bit more surprising is that it’s drawing nearly 50W more than our 7970GE at the wall, given the fact that we know the 7970GE usually gets close to its TDP of 250W. At the same time since this is a live game benchmark, there are more factors than just the GPU in play. Generally speaking, the higher a card’s performance here, the harder the rest of the system will have to work to keep said card fed, which further increases power consumption at the wall.

Moving to Furmark our results keep the same order, but the gap between the GTX 680 and Titan widens, while the gap between Titan and the 7970GE narrows. Titan and the 7970GE shouldn’t be too far apart from each other in most situations due to their similar TDPs (even if NVIDIA and AMD TDPs aren’t calculated in quite the same way), so in a pure GPU power consumption scenario this is what we would expect to see.

Titan for its part is the traditional big NVIDIA GPU, and while NVIDIA does what they can to keep it in check, at the end of the day it’s still going to be among the more power hungry cards in our collection. Power consumption itself isn’t generally a problem with these high end cards so long as a system has the means to cool it and doesn’t generate much noise in doing so.

Moving on to temperatures, for a single card idle temperatures should be under 40C for anything with at least a decent cooler. Titan for its part is among the coolest at 30C; its large heatsink combined with its relatively low idle power consumption makes it easy to cool here.

Because Titan’s boost mechanisms are now temperature based, Titan’s temperatures are going to naturally gravitate towards its default temperature target of 80C as the card raises and lowers clockspeeds to maximize performance while keeping temperatures at or under that level. As a result just about any heavy load is going to see Titan within a couple of degrees of 80C, which makes for some very predictable results.

Looking at our other cards, while the various NVIDIA cards are still close in performance the 7970GE ends up being quite a bit cooler due to its open air cooler. This is typical of what we see with good open air coolers, though with NVIDIA’s temperature based boost system I’m left wondering if perhaps those days are numbered. So long as 80C is a safe temperature, there’s little reason not to gravitate towards it with a system like NVIDIA’s, regardless of the cooler used.

Load GPU Temperature - FurMark

With Furmark we see everything pull closer together as Titan holds fast at 80C while most of the other cards, especially the Radeons, rise in temperature. At this point Titan is clearly cooler than a GTX 680 SLI, 2C warmer than a single GTX 680, and still a good 10C warmer than our 7970GE.

Idle Noise Levels

Just as with the GTX 690, one of the things NVIDIA focused on was construction choices and materials to reduce noise generated. So long as you can keep noise down, then for the most part power consumption and temperatures don’t matter.

Simply looking at idle shows that NVIDIA is capable of delivering on their claims. 37.8dB is the quietest actively cooled high-end card we’ve measured yet, besting even the luxury GTX 690, and the also well-constructed GTX 680. Though really with the loudest setup being all of 40.5dB, none of these setups is anywhere near loud at idle.

It’s with load noise that we finally see the full payoff of Titan’s build quality. At 51dB it’s only marginally quieter than the GTX 680, but as we recall from our earlier power data, Titan is drawing nearly 70W more than GTX 680 at the wall. In other words, despite the fact that Titan is drawing significantly more power than GTX 680, it’s still as quiet as or quieter than the aforementioned card. This coupled with Titan’s already high performance is Titan’s true power in NVIDIA’s eyes; it’s not just fast, but despite its speed and despite its TDP it’s as quiet as any other blower based card out there, allowing them to get away with things such as Tiki and tri-SLI systems with reasonable noise levels.

Much like what we saw with temperatures under Furmark, noise under Furmark has our single-GPU cards bunching up. Titan goes up just enough to tie GTX 680 in our pathological scenario, meanwhile our multi-GPU cards start shooting up well past Titan, while the 7970GE jumps up to just shy of Titan. This is a worst case scenario, but it’s a good example of how GPU Boost 2.0’s temperature functionality means that Titan quite literally keeps its cool and thereby keeps its noise in check.

Of course we would be remiss to point out that in all these scenarios the open air cooled 7970GE is still quieter, and in our gaming scenario by actually by quite a bit. Not that Titan is loud, but it doesn’t compare to the 7970GE. Ultimately we get to the age old debate between blowers and open air coolers; open air coolers are generally quieter, but blowers allow for more flexibility with products, and are more lenient with cases with poor airflow.

Ultimately Titan is a blower so that NVIDIA can do concept PCs like Tiki, which is something an open air cooler would never be suitable for. For DIY builders the benefits may not be as pronounced, but this is also why NVIDIA is focusing so heavily on boutique systems where the space difference really matters. Whereas realistically speaking, AMD’s best blower-capable card is the vanilla 7970, a less power hungry but also much less powerful card.

Synthetics Final Thoughts
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  • etriky - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    OK, after a little digging I guess I shouldn't be to upset about not having Blender benches in this review. Tesla K20 and GeForce GTX TITAN support was only added to Blender on the 2/21 and requires a custom build (it's not in the main release). See http://www.miikahweb.com/en/blender/svn-logs/commi... for more info Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Monday, February 25, 2013 - link

    As noted elsewhere, OpenCL was broken in the Titan launch drivers, greatly limiting what we could run. We have more planned including SLG's LuxMark, which we will publish an update for once the driver situation is resolved. Reply
  • kukreknecmi - Friday, February 22, 2013 - link

    If you look at Azui's PDF, with using different type of kernel , results for 7970 are :

    SGEMM : 2646 GFLOP
    DGEMM : 848 GFLOP

    Why did u take the lowest numbers for 7970 ??
    Reply
  • codedivine - Friday, February 22, 2013 - link

    This was answered above. See one of my earlier comments. Reply
  • gwolfman - Friday, February 22, 2013 - link

    ASUS: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...
    OR
    Titan gfx card category (only one shows up for now): http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Sub...

    Anand and staff, post this in your news feed please! ;)
    Reply
  • extide - Friday, February 22, 2013 - link

    PLEASE start including Folding@home benchmarks!!! Reply
  • TheJian - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    Why? It can't make me any money and isn't a professional app. It tells us nothing. I'd rather see photoshop, premier, some finite analysis app, 3d Studiomax, some audio or content creation app or anything that can be used to actually MAKE money. They should be testing some apps that are actually used by those this is aimed at (gamers who also make money on their PC but don't want to spend $2500-3500 on a full fledged pro card).

    What does any card prove by winning folding@home (same with bitcoin crap, botnets get all that now anyway)? If I cure cancer is someone going to pay me for running up my electric bill? NOPE. Only a fool would spend a grand to donate electricity (cpu/gpu cycles) to someone else's next Billion dollar profit machine (insert pill name here). I don't care if I get cancer, I won't be donating any of my cpu time to crap like this. Benchmarking this proves nothing on a home card. It's like testing to see how fast I can spin my car tires while the wheels are off the ground. There is no point in winning that contest vs some other car.

    "If we better understand protein misfolding we can design drugs and therapies to combat these illnesses."
    Straight from their site...Great I'll make them a billionaire drug and get nothing for my trouble or my bill. FAH has to be the biggest sucker pitch I've ever seen. Drug companies already rip me off every time I buy a bottle of their pills. They get huge tax breaks on my dime too, no need to help them, or for me to find out how fast I can help them...LOL. No point in telling me sythentics either. They prove nothing other than your stuff is operating correctly and drivers set up right. Their perf has no effect on REAL use of products as they are NOT a product, thus not REAL world. Every time I see the word synthetic and benchmark in the same sentence it makes me want to vomit. If they are limited on time (usually reviewers are) I want to see something benchmarked that I can actually USE for real.

    I feel the same way about max fps. Who cares? You can include them, but leaving out MIN is just dumb. I need to know when a game hits 30fps or less, as that means I don't have a good enough card to get the job done and either need to spend more or turn things down if using X or Y card.
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Monday, February 25, 2013 - link

    At noted elsewhere, FAHBench is in our plans. However we cannot do anything further until NVIDIA fixes OpenCL support. Reply
  • vanwazltoff - Friday, February 22, 2013 - link

    the 690, 680 and 7970 have had almost a year to brew and improve with driver updates, i suspect that after a few drivers and an overclock titan will creep up on a 690 and will probably see a price deduction after a few months. dont clock out yet, just think what this could mean for 700 and 800 series cards, its obvious nvidia can deliver Reply
  • TheJian - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    It already runs 1150+ everywhere. Most people hit around 1175 max OC stable on titan. Of course this may improve with aftermarket solutions for cooling but it looks like they hit 1175 or so around the world. And that does hit 690 perf and some cases it wins. In compute it's already a winner.

    If there is no die shrink on the next gens from either company I don't expect much. You can only do so much with 250-300w before needing a shrink to really see improvements. I really wish they'd just wait until 20nm or something to give us a real gain. Otherwise will end up with a ivy,haswell deal. Where you don't get much (5-15%). Intel won't wow again until 14nm. Graphics won't wow again until the next shrink either (full shrink, not the halves they're talking now).
    Reply

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