Earlier this week NVIDIA announced their new top-end single-GPU consumer card, the GeForce GTX Titan. Built on NVIDIA’s GK110 and named after the same supercomputer that GK110 first powered, the GTX Titan is in many ways the apex of the Kepler family of GPUs first introduced nearly one year ago. With anywhere between 25% and 50% more resources than NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 680, Titan is intended to be the ultimate single-GPU card for this generation.

Meanwhile with the launch of Titan NVIDIA has repositioned their traditional video card lineup to change who the ultimate video card will be chasing. With a price of $999 Titan is decidedly out of the price/performance race; Titan will be a luxury product, geared towards a mix of low-end compute customers and ultra-enthusiasts who can justify buying a luxury product to get their hands on a GK110 video card. So in many ways this is a different kind of launch than any other high performance consumer card that has come before it.

So where does that leave us? On Tuesday we could talk about Titan’s specifications, construction, architecture, and features. But the all-important performance data would be withheld another two days until today. So with Thursday finally upon us, let’s finish our look at Titan with our collected performance data and our analysis.

Titan: A Performance Summary

  GTX Titan GTX 690 GTX 680 GTX 580
Stream Processors 2688 2 x 1536 1536 512
Texture Units 224 2 x 128 128 64
ROPs 48 2 x 32 32 48
Core Clock 837MHz 915MHz 1006MHz 772MHz
Shader Clock N/A N/A N/A 1544MHz
Boost Clock 876Mhz 1019MHz 1058MHz N/A
Memory Clock 6.008GHz GDDR5 6.008GHz GDDR5 6.008GHz GDDR5 4.008GHz GDDR5
Memory Bus Width 384-bit 2 x 256-bit 256-bit 384-bit
VRAM 6GB 2 x 2GB 2GB 1.5GB
FP64 1/3 FP32 1/24 FP32 1/24 FP32 1/8 FP32
TDP 250W 300W 195W 244W
Transistor Count 7.1B 2 x 3.5B 3.5B 3B
Manufacturing Process TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm TSMC 40nm
Launch Price $999 $999 $499 $499

On paper, compared to GTX 680, Titan offers anywhere between a 25% and 50% increase in resource. At the starting end, Titan comes with 25% more ROP throughput, a combination of Titan’s 50% increase in ROP count and simultaneous decrease in clockspeeds relative to GTX 680. Shading and texturing performance meanwhile benefits even more from the expansion of the number of SMXes, from 8 to 14. And finally, Titan has a full 50% more memory bandwidth than GTX 680.

Setting aside the unique scenario of compute for a moment, this means that Titan will be between 25% and 50% faster than GTX 680 in GPU limited situations, depending on the game/application and its mix of resource usage. For an industry and userbase still trying to come to terms with the loss of nearly annual half-node jumps, this kind of performance jump on the same node is quite remarkable. At the same time it also sets expectations for how future products may unfold; one way to compensate for the loss of the rapid cadence in manufacturing nodes is to spread out the gains from a new node over multiple years, and this is essentially what we’ve seen with the Kepler family by launching GK104, and a year later GK110.

In any case, while Titan can improve gaming performance by up to 50%, NVIDIA has decided to release Titan as a luxury product with a price roughly 120% higher than the GTX 680. This means that Titan will not be positioned to push the price of NVIDIA’s current cards down, and in fact it’s priced right off the currently hyper-competitive price-performance curve that the GTX 680/670 and Radeon HD 7970GE/7970 currently occupy.

February 2013 GPU Pricing Comparison
AMD Price NVIDIA
  $1000 GeForce Titan/GTX 690
(Unofficial) Radeon HD 7990 $900  
Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition $450 GeForce GTX 680
Radeon HD 7970 $390  
  $350 GeForce GTX 670
Radeon HD 7950 $300  

This setup isn’t unprecedented – the GTX 690 more or less created this precedent last May – but it means Titan is a very straightforward case of paying 120% more for 50% more performance; the last 10% always costs more. What this means is that the vast majority of gamers will simply be shut out from Titan at this price, but for those who can afford Titan’s $999 price tag NVIDIA believes they have put together a powerful card and a convincing case to pay for luxury.

So what can potential Titan buyers look forward to on the performance front? As always we’ll do a complete breakdown of performance in the following pages, but we wanted to open up this article with a quick summary of performance. So with that said, let’s take a look at some numbers.

GeForce GTX Titan Performance Summary (2560x1440)
  vs. GTX 680 vs. GTX 690 vs. R7970GE vs. R7990
Average +47% -15% 34% -19%
Dirt: Showdown 47% -5% 3% -38%
Total War: Shogun 2 50% -15% 62% 1%
Hitman: Absolution 34% -15% 18% -15%
Sleeping Dogs 49% -15% 17% -30%
Crysis 54% -13% 21% -25%
Far Cry 3 35% -23% 37% -15%
Battlefield 3 48% -18% 52% -11%
Civilization V 59% -9% 60% 0

Looking first at NVIDIA’s product line, Titan is anywhere between 33% and 54% faster than the GTX 680. In fact with the exception of Hitman: Absolution, a somewhat CPU-bound benchmark, Titan’s performance relative to the GTX 680 is actually very consistent at a narrow 45%-55% range. Titan and GTX 680 are of course based on the same fundamental Kepler architecture, so there haven’t been any fundamental architecture changes between the two; Titan is exactly what you’d expect out of a bigger Kepler GPU. At the same time this is made all the more interesting due to the fact that Titan’s real-world performance advantage of 45%-55% is so close to its peak theoretical performance advantage of 50%, indicating that Titan doesn’t lose much (if anything) in efficiency when scaled up, and that the games we’re testing today favor memory bandwidth and shader/texturing performance over ROP throughput.

Moving on, while Titan offers a very consistent performance advantage over the architecturally similar GTX 680, it’s quite a different story when compared to AMD’s fastest single-GPU product, the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition. As we’ve seen time and time again this generation, the difference in performance between AMD and NVIDIA GPUs not only varies with the test and settings, but dramatically so. As a result Titan is anywhere between being merely equal to the 7970GE to being nearly a generation ahead of it.

At the low-end of the scale we have DiRT: Showdown, where Titan’s lead is less than 3%. At the other end is Total War: Shogun 2, where Titan is a good 62% faster than the 7970GE. The average gain over the 7970GE is almost right in the middle at 34%, reflecting a mix of games where the two are close, the two are far, and the two are anywhere in between. With recent driver advancements having helped the 7970GE pull ahead of the GTX 680, NVIDIA had to work harder to take back their lead and to do so in an concrete manner.

Titan’s final competition are the dual-GPU cards of this generation, the GK104 based GTX 690, and the officially unofficial Tahiti based HD 7990 cards, which vary in specs but generally have just shy of the performance of a pair of 7970s. As we’ve seen in past generations, when it comes to raw performance one big GPU is no match for two smaller GPUs, and the same is true with Titan. For frames per second and nothing else, Titan cannot compete with those cards. But as we’ll see there are still some very good reasons for Titan’s existence, and areas Titan excels at that even two lesser GPUs cannot match.

None of this of course accounts for compute. Simply put, Titan stands alone in the compute world. As the first consumer GK110 GPU based video card there’s nothing quite like it. We’ll see why that is in our look at compute performance, but as far as the competitive landscape is concerned there’s not a lot to discuss here.

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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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