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The NVIDIA TITAN X 12GB Performance Review

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
DX11 / 4K: Hitman / Rise of the Tomb Raider

Hitman (2016)


The Hitman franchise has been around in one way or another for the better part of a decade and this latest version is arguably the best looking. Adjustable to both DX11 and DX12 APIs, it has a ton of graphics options, some of which are only available under DX12.

For our benchmark we avoid using the in-game benchmark since it doesn’t represent actual in-game situations. Instead the second mission in Paris is used. Here we walk into the mansion, mingle with the crowds and eventually end up within the fashion show area.


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Rise of the Tomb Raider


Another year and another Tomb Raider game. This time Lara’s journey continues through various beautifully rendered locales. Like Hitman, Rise of the Tomb Raider has both DX11 and DX12 API paths and incorporates a completely pointless built-in benchmark sequence.

The benchmark run we use is within the Soviet Installation level where we start in at about the midpoint, run through a warehouse with some burning its and then finish inside a fenced-in area during a snowstorm.[/I]

TITAN-X-345-44.jpg

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
DX11 / 4K: SW Battlefront / Division / Witcher 3

Star Wars Battlefront


Star Wars Battlefront may not be one of the most demanding games on the market but it is quite widely played. It also looks pretty good due to it being based upon Dice’s Frostbite engine and has been highly optimized.

The benchmark run in this game is pretty straightforward: we use the AT-ST single player level since it has predetermined events and it loads up on many in-game special effects.


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The Division


The Division has some of the best visuals of any game available right now even though its graphics were supposedly downgraded right before launch. Unfortunately, actually benchmarking it is a challenge in and of itself. Due to the game’s dynamic day / night and weather cycle it is almost impossible to achieve a repeatable run within the game itself. With that taken into account we decided to use the in-game benchmark tool.

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Witcher 3


Other than being one of 2015’s most highly regarded games, The Witcher 3 also happens to be one of the most visually stunning as well. This benchmark sequence has us riding through a town and running through the woods; two elements that will likely take up the vast majority of in-game time.

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
DX12 / 1440P: Ashes of the Singularity / Hitman

Ashes of the Singularity


Ashes of the Singularity is a real time strategy game on a grand scale, very much in the vein of Supreme Commander. While this game is most known for is Asynchronous workloads through the DX12 API, it also happens to be pretty fun to play. While Ashes has a built-in performance counter alongside its built-in benchmark utility, we found it to be highly unreliable and often posts a substantial run-to-run variation. With that in mind we still used the onboard benchmark since it eliminates the randomness that arises when actually playing the game but utilized the PresentMon utility to log performance

TITAN-X-345-48.jpg

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Hitman (2016)


The Hitman franchise has been around in one way or another for the better part of a decade and this latest version is arguably the best looking. Adjustable to both DX11 and DX12 APIs, it has a ton of graphics options, some of which are only available under DX12.

For our benchmark we avoid using the in-game benchmark since it doesn’t represent actual in-game situations. Instead the second mission in Paris is used. Here we walk into the mansion, mingle with the crowds and eventually end up within the fashion show area.


TITAN-X-345-49.jpg

TITAN-X-345-75.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
DX12 / 1440P: Quantum Break / Rise of the Tomb Raider

Quantum Break


Years from now people likely won’t be asking if a GPU can play Crysis, they’ll be asking if it was up to the task of playing Quantum Break with all settings maxed out. This game was launched as a horribly broken mess but it has evolved into an amazing looking tour de force for graphics fidelity. It also happens to be a performance killer.

Though finding an area within Quantum Break to benchmark is challenging, we finally settled upon the first level where you exit the elevator and find dozens of SWAT team members frozen in time. It combines indoor and outdoor scenery along with some of the best lighting effects we’ve ever seen.


TITAN-X-345-50.jpg

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Rise of the Tomb Raider


Another year and another Tomb Raider game. This time Lara’s journey continues through various beautifully rendered locales. Like Hitman, Rise of the Tomb Raider has both DX11 and DX12 API paths and incorporates a completely pointless built-in benchmark sequence.

The benchmark run we use is within the Soviet Installation level where we start in at about the midpoint, run through a warehouse with some burning its and then finish inside a fenced-in area during a snowstorm.[/I]

TITAN-X-345-51.jpg

TITAN-X-345-77.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
DX12 / 4K: Ashes of the Singularity / Hitman

Ashes of the Singularity


TITAN-X-345-52.jpg

TITAN-X-345-78.jpg


Hitman (2016)


TITAN-X-345-53.jpg

TITAN-X-345-79.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
DX12 / 4K: Quantum Break / Rise of the Tomb Raider

Quantum Break


TITAN-X-345-54.jpg

TITAN-X-345-80.jpg


Rise of the Tomb Raider


TITAN-X-345-55.jpg

TITAN-X-345-81.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Overclocking; As if it Wasn't Fast Enough

Overclocking; As if it Wasn't Fast Enough


So if you’ve reached this part of the review you’ll likely know the TITAN X is ridiculously fast but that’s not to infer there’s no room left in its boundless tank of performance. Hardly. After spending just two days with this thing I can say that NVIDIA was actually a bit conservative with their out-of-box clock speeds. Why? Well from a percentage-based perspective it actually has the highest amount of overclocking headroom I’ve seen from any Pascal-based GPU. Talking to a few other members of the press and lucky system builders who have been testing it, I’m not alone either. There are however a few limits we need to be aware of.

First and foremost NVIDIA hasn’t allowed for any software-based voltage unlocking, at least for the time being. In my conversations with them, there were some vague rumblings of potential over-voltage tools in the future but no promises they would ever materialize.

There’s also the nature of this direct-sale, reference-only card; it will never be available with a custom heatsink and that’s quite disappointing since the stock cooler isn’t meant to hold the fort when the TITAN X is pushed above its predetermined limits. It runs hot but I’m positive anyone who puts it under water will realize some unreal performance.

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So with all of that being said, what was achieved? With the generous 20% Power Limit overhead NVIDIA currently provides, a constant core frequency of 1923MHz and GDDR5X modules that operated just north of 11Gbps. Remember, the TITAN X’s Boost speed is listed at about 1500MHz. It did require a fan speed of 50% but that still wasn’t all that bad from an acoustics perspective.

Naturally, the kind of raw framerates that are achievable at those speeds is like trying to take a drink from a fire hose. Words just can’t describe it so I’ll let some charts do the talking. In short what you are seeing is a single TITAN X achieve performance levels that almost approach two GTX 1080’s in SLI. I don't care what side of the AMD / NVIDIA divide you are swinging from; that's just bonkers.

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Conclusion

Conclusion


Unlike many of the other conclusions I’ve written in the last few months, this one is actually going to cut right to the chase and leave it at that. The reason for this is quite simple actually: the TITAN X stands completely alone in its own little self-made Never Never Land of performance, price, power consumption and future potential. It is hugely capable yet will prove to be a bridge too far for the vast majority of buyers.

For the sole purposes of this review I’m looking at the TITAN X from a pure and unadulterated gaming standpoint. In the coming days I’ll be addressing what NVIDIA’s new flagship has to offer for professionals interested in more compute-oriented tasks. However, in terms of gaming there’s plenty to talk about since this thing isn’t a barn burner in terms of achievable framerates, it’s a fully-fledged thermonuclear attack. If it wasn’t for the heavily overclocked processor beating at the heart of my system I’m positive many of the games would have encountered a CPU bottleneck at 1440P. Let me say that again: the Pascal-based TITAN X has the somewhat unfortunate capability to become processor-limited at 1440P with absolutely maxed-out settings. That’s astounding.

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If we’re talking about real-world gameplay performance, the TITAN X is able to provide framerates that are simply mind boggling. We’re talking about 30% to 50% higher than a GTX 1080 Founders Edition which was already a high water mark for current generation DX11 and DX12 throughput. In many scenarios its minimum framerates were faster than the GTX 1080’s averages and it overclocks like the dickens too with 1900MHz well within reach.

Compare it to the fastest AMD card right now, the Fury X, and the TITAN X is a good 60% to 90% faster while requiring just 18W more from your power supply. Of all the metrics you’ve seen in this review, the performance per watt status is the one that impressed me the most. I also have a feeling that given the current state of the GPU market, this card could stay perched atop its totem pole for the foreseeable future too. It is just that far ahead of anything else.

TITAN-X-345-90.jpg

When reviewing this kind of product it is quite easy to get caught up in the excitement of a free sample and massive benchmark numbers while forgetting about the fact something like the TITAN X costs real money. A lot of money too given the $1200 price tag and the fact this is the most expensive single GPU card in living memory.

I’ll freely admit to being a bit giddy once I started to process the FCAT numbers but with the card staring me in the face, I’m forced to put myself into a buyer’s shoes. So would I spend $1200 on a graphics card like this? Probably not but that’s solely because my conscience (ie: the girlfriend) would look at me and insist I was absolutely daft for even contemplating another PC-related purchase before we redo the kitchen or I put a ring on her finger. Or both. Them’s the breaks…..

Now if I would listen to that little devil on my other shoulder and risk eternal damnation in my own household, there’s no doubt the TITAN X would provide some comfort at least. The amount of heat it puts out could warm my room on those cold winter nights, the soothing muted roar of its fans could lull me to sleep and….ok enough of that!

Let’s just say that if I had the disposable income or wherewithal to royally piss off She Who Must Be Obeyed and plop down $1200 on this GPU, I would do it. It is preposterously, ludicrously fast and truth be told even though the performance per dollar metrics really aren’t great, particularly when you take pre-overclocked GTX 1080’s into consideration, they certainly aren’t debilitating to the TITAN X’s outlook either. The deep learning community and gamers with cash to burn will lap it up regardless.

Comments about any leading edge product will typically see two extreme and very vocal sides to the debate. One side will lambaste it because it is an ultra high performance item which is unabashedly expensive, proving that company xyz can and will charge whatever they want for a product they know will sell to a niche market. The other side will look at something like the TITAN X and think about buying it because it is a no-holds-barred ultra high performance GPU which is unabashedly expensive. Somewhere between those is a unique subset who will see the TITAN X as a killer productivity tool. Neither side will be wrong in their opinions since they simply have different sets of wants and needs.

With all of this being said, I am going to sit back and look at the TITAN X for what it is: an expensive technological tour de force which thumbs its nose at withholding performance for the sake of price. It simply says “I’m doing it my way”, then drops the mic and walks away.
 
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