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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  • veppers - Saturday, February 23, 2013 - link

    Grow up man. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Saturday, February 23, 2013 - link

    Adults like myself face reality. Lying fanboys act like spoiled brats and cannot stand to hear or see the truth.
    You're a child.
    Reply
  • Alucard291 - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    Yup and you sound just like the spoilt brat in question. This is not engadget mate. Go away. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    So far you've posted 3 attacks against me, and added exactly NOTHING to any discussion here.

    It's clear you're the whining troll with nothing to say, so you are one that needs to go away, right ? Right.
    Reply
  • chizow - Monday, February 25, 2013 - link

    Oh the irony, you are crying about posting personal attacks and adding nothing to any discussion here? That's what every single one of your posts boils down to. Reply
  • Alucard291 - Friday, March 8, 2013 - link

    The discussion? You spew random offensive insulting nonsense against anyone who dares to point out that slower + more expensive is worse than faster and cheaper (be it amd or nv).

    You then proceed to attack people (on a very personal level I might add) for whatever other reason and go on to say that AMD (did anyone except you even mention amd? - well I'm sure some did but mostly due to your constant stream of butthurt) is terrible.

    Cool don't use them. Calm down, relax, take a breather go for a walk.

    Or of course you can continue whiteknighting some random product that you are unlikely (given the odds) to ever buy for yourself. Who cares. Just get off the neophyte train when you do it. Ok?
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Tuesday, March 12, 2013 - link

    You have no clue on any odds.
    Like I said, you people are 3rd worlder crybabies.
    Between bragging hardcore upper end users frequent Anandtech, you whine and cry about 1/3rd the price of a decent PC.
    You're all full of it, and all act like you're budget is personal malaria in sub saharan Africa, except of course when you're rig bragging.
    This is the USA, except of course wherever you penniless paupers reside.
    Reply
  • RussianSensation - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    Yes, yes. Keep eating NV's marketing. 36-38% faster than a $430 HD7970GE for $1000???!!

    http://www.computerbase.de/artikel/grafikkarten/20...

    Heck, you can buy a $500 Asus Matrix Platinum 7970 and those overclock to 1300mhz, which makes the Matrix 30% faster than the GTX680. Do the math and see where that ends up relative to the Titan.

    http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/hardware-canu...

    This is really a $699 card max.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Saturday, February 23, 2013 - link

    Why buy a crashing piece of crap amd cannot even write drivers for ?
    Forget it.
    AMD is almost gone too, so "future proof" is nowhere except in nVidia's pocket.
    Now and in the future, nVidia wins period.
    Idiots buy amd.
    Reply
  • Hrel - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    The problem with that reasoning, that they're raising here, is that the 7970 is almost as fast and costs a lot less. The Titan is competing, based on performance, with the 7970. Based on that comparison it's a shitty deal.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...

    $430. So based on that I'd say the highest price you can justify for this card is $560. We'll round up to $600.

    Nvidia shipping this, at this price, and just saying "it's a luxury product" is bullshit. It's not a luxury product, it's their version of a 7970GHE. But they want to try and get a ridiculous profit to support their PhysX and CUDA projects.

    Nvidia just lost me as a customer. This is the last straw. This card should be pushing the pricing down on the rest of their lineup. They SHOULD be introducing it to compete with the 7970GHE. Even at my price range, compare the GTX660 to the 7870GHE, or better yet the sub $200 7850. They just aren't competitive anymore. I'll admit, I was a bit of a Nvidia fan boy. Loved their products. Was disappointed by older ATI cards and issues I had with them. (stability, screen fitting properly, audio issues) But ATI has become AMD and they've improved quality a lot and Nvidia is USING their customers loyalty; that's just wrong.

    I'm done with Nvidia on the desktop. By the time I need a new laptop AMD will probably have the graphics switching all sorted; so I'm probably done with Nvidia on laptops too.
    Reply

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