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


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?
  • 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 1, 2013 - link

    Oh, sorry to hear about that.
    Get well soon.
  • CiccioB - Monday, March 4, 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
  • CeriseCogburn - Monday, March 4, 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.
  • CeriseCogburn - Monday, March 4, 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.
  • CiccioB - Monday, March 4, 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
  • clickonflick - Thursday, March 7, 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


    so check the above link for specifications of titan
  • enigz - Thursday, March 7, 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

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