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Review | Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan X

by on March 20, 2015
 

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When Nvidia unveiled the new GeForce GTX Titan X during GDC, I have to admit I was pretty excited.  That excitement doubled when I got a chance to see it up close for myself, along with a few demos that included the Unreal Engine 4 demo showing a kid and his kite, as well as Shadows of Mordor in 4K.

Needless to say, I came away impressed and was amped up about putting it through its paces on my own PC at home.  With a $999 price tag (which was revealed this week at GTC 2015), it’s certainly not for the budget-conscious user, but it’s a graphics card that is aimed at the gamer who wants the best of the best.

The GTX Titan X uses a new single-chip Maxwell GM200 GPU that features 8 billion transistors, 3072 CUDA cores, a whopping 12GB of DDR5 RAM and fully supports DirectX 12. The Titan X’s base clock frequency at 1000MHz, which can be overclocked to 1075MHz without breaking a sweat.

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From a physical standpoint, the black, aluminum-based Titan X has three DisplayPort connections, a single HDMI port and a dual-link DVI connector. The card requires about 275-watts of power, which is pretty small when you consider how much of a beast the Titan X is. For PSU connections, it uses an 8-pin and a 6-pin power connection, and the card measures 10.5-inches long.

Software-wise, the Titan X supports VXGI (Voxel Global Illumination), which assists developers in creating much better dynamic lighting and VR Direct, which improves virtual reality rendering and was used for many of the VR demos at GDC this year. MFAA (Multi-Frame-Sampled-Anti-Aliasing) is also supported and helps to smooth out those annoying jagged edges in games, but does so without hurting performance as much as MSAA.

So how well does the Titan X perform? In short, magnificently.  I tested out the graphics card with Acer’s XB280HK 4K gaming monitor that supports Nvidia G-Sync. For those unfamiliar with G-Sync, it basically syncs up the monitor and the graphics card so that their refresh rates match, in order to eliminate screen tearing and stuttering effects, and quite frankly, it works very well – I’ll have a review of the monitor by itself shortly as well.

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Testing out Shadow of Mordor in 4K Ultra settings, the game averaged about 40FPS, which included the use of the optional Ultra HD texture pack.  The game looked phenomenal and I consistently found myself trying to get through a battle quickly so that I could take in the amazing environments.

Metro: Last Light, which is another gorgeous game to look at, performed similarly, giving me about 40FPS as well on its Very High settings in 4K resolution. Finally, I busted out Battlefield 4 and was happy to see it get around 50FPS on Ultra settings in 4K.  I fell in love with not only how smooth it was, but how detailed the game looked. Generally speaking, you’d need an SLI setup to get this kind of performance out of Battlefield 4, so kudos to the Titan X for performing this well on its own.

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It should also be noted that while dual-GPU units such as the Radeon R9 295X2 can pump out higher overall benchmark numbers, the were various times where the Titan X still produced smoother experiences, especially in a game like Shadow of Mordor, that fluctuated severely on 4K ultra settings on the R9 295X2, while the Titan X, which as I mentioned before, uses a single GPU, was a lot smoother.

For those that like to do a little overclocking to your graphics card, and frankly, who doesn’t (?), the Titan X offers up a nice boost and one that actually translates into some noticeable performance enhancements.  Though Nvidia had stated that the Titan X could get to 1075MHz easily, I was able to get it to around 1380MHz without a hitch and at 4K Ultra, I was able to get Battlefield 4 to about 55FPS, while even in the most intense moments, never went below 35FPS, while Shadow of Mordor was hitting 55-57FPS. I was also happy to see that the Titan X’s temperature was only increasing by about 33-35ºF.

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So at $999, is the Titan X worth a buy? I say yes. Sure, you can get a GTX 980 SLI setup for a tad over $1000, but not you’re talking about taking up a lot more space in your PC case.  In addition, it’s more likely you’ll come across issues with an SLI or CrossFire setup, as opposed to a single card, while drivers aren’t available nearly as often as single card ones. So while the raw horsepower of a dual card setup can top a Titan X, consider the trade off, and there’s just no easier way to get quality 4K gaming right now than with Nvidia’s new baby.

Final Score: 4.5 out of 5

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