Developments in graphics card technology may be slowing but the nVidia GeForce GTX Titan offers a glimpse of the future. nVidia has taken a high-end workstation chip – the GK110 Tesla – and repackaged it for gamers.

The Asus GeForce GTX Titan has a complex chip, more than twice as many transistors as nVidia’s fastest single-chip consumer card, the GTX 680.

While GTX 680 and 690 reach 3090 and 5621 single-precision Gflops respectively, the Asus GeForce GTX Titan sits in between with 4500 Gflops, or 4.5 Tflops. Even double-precision floating-point operations hit a sizzling 1.3 Tflops.

The problem is that raw ‘Compute’ speed doesn’t automatically convert into startling application performance. The gaming landscape is going to change, but for now, the amazing capabilities of the Titan remain of limited use to Windows gamers.

Besides gamers with deep pockets, the Titan is as likely to appeal to programmers and professionals who’ve hankered after the kind of number crunching that prohibitively expensive workstation chips undertake. A sub-£1000 price makes the Titan look affordable.

Many of the Titan’s specifications are no better than you’d find on the GTX 680 or dual-chip GTX 690. Indeed, some of the Titan’s specifications are quite pedestrian.

Its standard 837MHz core-clock speed, for example, is considerably below the 1006MHz of the typical GTX 680. The memory clock of 1502MHz (6008MHz DDR effective) is also matched by the 680.

The Titan beats the GTX 680 with its 224 texture units and 48 raster operations – the 680 has just 128 and 32 of these respectively. The GTX 690, though, has twice as many, and so touts better figures than the Titan.

A similar story is seen in the number of stream processors, where the Titan’s figure of 2688 eclipses the 1536 of the 680, but the GTX 690, with its two sets of 1536 stream processors, is triumphant once more.

And this superiority of specifications for the 690 also plays out in gaming figures.

Asus GeForce GTX Titan: Performance

The Titan may be in a different class to the GTX 680, but in our tests it often fell some way behind the dual-GPU GTX 690, despite the latter costing around £100 less.

The Asus GeForce GTX Titan gets closest to the GTX 690 in Crysis 2, finishing just 0.1fps behind on a 1900 x 1200 display – 75.7fps to the 690’s 75.8fps. The 680 finishes a long way down on 45.6fps.

The Titan falls back on larger 2560 x 1600 displays, finishing on 45.3fps compared to the 690’s 48.1fps.

In Stalker: Call of Pripyat, the Asus GeForce GTX Titan is further off the pace, hitting 121.7 and 91.0fps at the top two resolutions, as opposed to the 690’s 137.3 and 101.6fps.

The 680 is again a long way back, on 86.4 and 62.1fps. The situation is similar on BattleForge, where the Titan’s 99.9 and 68.1fps are some way off the 690’s figures of 113.2 and 82.3fps. Once more, the 680 languishes, on 68.0 and 47.7fps.  

The Asus GeForce GTX Titan does fare well on power consumption though. Whilst the 680 and 690 have TDPs of 195W and 300W respectively, the Titan draws a relatively modest 250W.

Given that the Titan has so much power, to be undercutting the 690 by 50W is a solid achievement. In real-world testing, we were seeing around 214-218W, as opposed to the 690’s 261W.

The GTX 680 consumed the least power, although it was only needing around 30W less than the considerably more powerful Titan – which fared very well in noise pollution too, proving quieter than either the 680 or 690.

It’s very pleasing to see oppressive sound levels on graphics cards starting to disappear. The card needs to be connected to a six-pin and an eight-pin connectors, so make sure your PSU is suitably equipped.

Asus GeForce GTX Titan: Specs

  • nVidia GeForce GTX Titan
  • 6GB GDDR5 memory
  • 837MHz core clock (boost to 876MHz)
  • 1502MHz memory clock (6008MHz DDR effective)
  • 384-bit memory interface
  • 2688 stream processors
  • 224 texture units
  • 48 ROP units
  • PCI-E interface
  • DirectX 11.1
  • 2 x DVI, 1 x HDMI, 1 x DisplayPort
  • 1x 8-pin and 1x 6-pin PSU connector needed
  • 3-year warranty
  • nVidia GeForce GTX Titan
  • 6GB GDDR5 memory
  • 837MHz core clock (boost to 876MHz)
  • 1502MHz memory clock (6008MHz DDR effective)
  • 384-bit memory interface
  • 2688 stream processors
  • 224 texture units
  • 48 ROP units
  • PCI-E interface
  • DirectX 11.1
  • 2 x DVI, 1 x HDMI, 1 x DisplayPort
  • 1x 8-pin and 1x 6-pin PSU connector needed
  • 3-year warranty

OUR VERDICT

It’s hard to say what to make of the nVidia GeForce GTX Titan. It should prove popular amongst professionals needing workstation-like number crunching. For consumers, though, its benefits are less obvious. It’s likely to grow in stature in coming years, but for now the GTX 690 offers faster gaming at a lower price. And for less than half the price, the 680 remains the real value card for all but really demanding gamers.

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