A Review of the GTX Titan Z From Nvidia GeForce – Ultimate 4K gaming GPU
Nvidia’s Titan Z graphics processing unit is definitely not one of the company’s newer GPU’s and in fact it has been available to the gamer’s market since all the way back in the middle of 2014. However, despite its “age” in the fast moving world of high-end gaming graphics technology, the Z still firmly holds its ground as one of the 3 best graphics processing cards on the consumer market today for anyone who’s really serious about 4K PC gaming taken to its current max.
Yes, the much newer Nvidia GTX Titan X is arguably a stronger performer overall, but even with its older architecture, the Titan Z still outperforms its X cousin in several key specs while coming very close to the newer model from Nvidia in other areas. While the Titan X is far superior for being a single GPU Design (in contrast to the Z’s dual GPU architecture) the Titan Z is a superb performer as an overall graphics unit.
Featuring a whole pile of awesome specifications, this is possibly the first GPU that really got serious about delivering 4K rendering power to dedicated gamers and it still continues to deliver results now.
This is still one of the best gaming GPUs on sale today and it delivers to match. This applies to a wide range of performance benchmarks (as we’ll soon see) and to its overall spread of specs, many of which are still superior to those of the newer, “better” Titan X from the same company. And when you factor AMD’s best into the equation, the Radeon R9 295X2, you still see solid and highly competitive overall performance on the part of the GTX Titan Z.
But as far as specific good features go, we can start with the cards dual GPU design. This definitely gives the Z a major kick that puts it above par in certain benchmarks and specs. Furthermore, as a direct result of those two processors, the GTX Titan Z particularly kicks ass in graphic memory and CUDA cores, featuring 12 GB of the former and 5,760 of the latter. Additionally, Nvidia piled in a gigantic 3-slot cooler for the dual GK110 GPUs to stay within reasonable temperatures and that processing power it comes with is augmented by 15 streaming clusters, 2880 shader processing units per GPU and thus 48 ROPS on a 384-bit interface of 6GB GDDR5 per GPU.
In basic terms, the Titan Z delivers a massively powerful 8 TeraFLOPS of performance from its relatively small package of goodies.
And the memory of the Titan Z is also nothing to sneer at. Nvidia equipped the GPU with 7 GBps running out of its 12GB dual GDDR setup and this running at a peak memory bandwidth of 336GB/second X 2, making this one of the fastest graphics cards on the market today, and one that only very lost its absolute #1 position to the Titan X and the Radeon 295X2.
We’ll go into much more detail on specs and highlights in the following sections but for now, the most crucial good aspects of the Titan Z are its still highly relevant specs, allowing the card to handle HD at high frame rates as well as 4K graphics like a champion while still keeping temperature and power consumption levels to within something approaching reasonable ranges.
4.5 - 63 Reviews
Just as the Nvidia GTX Titan Z is loaded with good features, so too does it come with a few defects. The most obvious and glaring of these is the cards price tag. It’s as if Nvidia simply won’t allow it to evolve accurately so that it stays in touch with obvious changes in the market landscape. The Titan Z was one very expensive card when it first came out with a retail price of over $3000 and while it has now dropped to a price tag of “just” $1,616, it still remains the most expensive consumer GPU among the major AMD and Nvidia contenders.
Given that virtually equal (in terms of overall performance) cards like the AMD 295X2 and Titan X cost $650 and $1,089 respectively, there’s no solid reason for the Titan Z to still retail for above $1500 or even anywhere near $1500. Nvidia might be doing this because of the dual GPU architecture and 12GB GDDR5 memory in the Z but the Radeon 295X2 offers both of these things as well and still manages to do it for way under $1,000.
Furthermore, the Titan Z is indeed slowly aging and despite having a performance that puts it among the top three or four GPUs on the market, the card doesn’t quite deliver as much as it could if Nvidia were to go ahead and build a dual processor card like this again right now. The improvements in the company’s GPU design technology are notable when you compare the Z with the Titan X, which performs better overall and with less of a hungry power consumption despite having only a single GPU build.
Then there is the issue of clock speed. In this department, the Titan Z underperform somewhat and Nvidia’s Titan X and AMD’s 295X2 both outdo the Z by a comfortable margin, particularly in the base clock.
In our final general opinion, we’d have to state that the GTX Titan Z is creeping towards the twilight of its desirability at the price its now selling for. The card is lacking in a few key specs and this also reduces its attractiveness. However, on the whole, it is still an absolutely superb GPU for 4K and really heavy duty (high frame rate) HD PC gaming. The only issue is with Nvidia reducing the price of a new card down to something much more reasonable under the circumstances. Below $1000 would be ideal.
• CUDA Cores: 2 x 2880
• GPU Cores: 5760
• Memory Bus Width: 2 x 384-bit
• Texture Units: 2 x 240
• ROPs: 2 x 48
• Boost Clock: 876MHz
• Memory Clock: 7000 MHz GDDR5
• VRAM: 2 x 6GB GDDR5
• Form Factor: dual slot
• Total Memory Bandwidth: 336.5 GB/s
• GPU: GK110
• Architecture: Kepler
• Transistors: 2 x 6.2B (billion) 12.4 billion
• Manufacturing Process: 28nm
• Power Supply: 500 watts
The chief highlights of the Nvidia GTX Titan Z are its general processing specs. As we’ve already mentioned, this is one powerful card even if it doesn’t quite match the Titan X and the AMD Radeon 295X2 in certain aspects. Thus, to summarize the areas in which it does at least outperform its newer Nvidia cousin:
First and foremost, there is the memory of the Titan Z. This piece of dual GPU architecture features a solid 12GB GDDR5 memory that completely outsizes the 8 gig RAM of the X. This is a major power kick that gives at least a partial edge to the Z. 12GB of RAM is ridiculously large for a GPU even now in mid-2015 and back in mid-2014, at the time of the Titan Z’s release, it was simply massive for a graphics cards. On the other hand, RAM alone doesn’t make a card grand. The AMD Radeon 295X2 also delivers 12 GB and it’s only marginally superior to the Titan X.
Moving on, the raw processing power fo rthe GTX Titan Z is huge as well. We’re talking about 8.988 TeraFLOPS, which also outshine the 6.144 of the X by huge comfortable margin. This kind of floating point performance creates an overall 4K readiness that is slightly superior to that of the Titan X.
The Titan Z also delivers 106.6 GPixels of pixel rate in comparison to the 96 of the Titan X and its number of shading units/stream processors sits at a whopping 5760 as opposed to the 3072 of the X. In both these regards, the Titan Z is a superior machine for simply rendering 4K graphics on the screen more quickly and with greater precision between frames.
Relating to the above, there are also the Titan Z’s texture rate, texture mapping units and a memory bandwidth, all of which either slightly or majorly outdo those of the Titan X and pretty much any AMD GPU except possibly the Radeon 295X2. The texture rate and texture mapping units of the Z are particularly larger. Since the card offers twin processors, these are more than doubled in the Z to 426 and 480 vs the 192 of the Titan X, respectively. For memory bandwidth, we see the same, the Titan Z offers a whopping 672GB/s over the 337 GB/s of the Titan X.
Even the AMD 295X2 with its equally dual core design doesn’t quite match the Titan Z in a number of key specs. Most notable is the RAM offered by AMDs version of a dual core GPU. It sits at only 8 GB, though the 295X2 offers far more transistors, with 12.4 billion of them instead of the 7.08 billion of the Titan Z
4.5 - 63 Reviews
Now we get down to the meat of this review and the core of what makes or breaks the general quality of the Nvidia GTX Titan Z. We’re now going to cover several key performance benchmarks before moving onto how the card does under conditions of 4K resolution at high detail levels and how it compares to AMD’s comparable Radeon R9 295X2.
As you’ll see, the Titan Z is a powerful performer even now and as its overall benchmark metrics indicate, the card manages to deliver results without overheating, over consuming or making too much noise as it strains itself.
General performance during gameplay
So how does the GTX Titan Z perform overall during gameplay? The simple answer is that it does a fantastic job overall but it’s not quite as solid a performer as the AMD Radeon 295X2. Across the board, except maybe at some games at Full HD settings and extremely high frame rates, the Titan Z does an admirable job of delivering fps of well over 100 for HD, well into the 70’s for 2560 x 1440 resolution and into the 40 to 50+ fps range at 4K resolution and maximal detail settings. However, in all of these areas, AMD’s R9 295X2 seems to generally outperform the Titan Z by a small margin, rarely more than 10% but always by at least a few percentage points.
How does the Titan X do on power consumption? As can be expected, the card eats it up to a level above that of many lesser cards but then the Titan Z is also working on two GPU cores and (if you’re using the card for what it’s built to handle) rendering some very serious high resolution graphics at maximal frame rates. Nonetheless, despite the performance it draws form its power usage, the Z does relatively well in sucking up roughly 479 to 570 watts at full strain and only 130 to 155 watts when idle.
This may seem like a high wattage but when you compare the card to the R9 295X2, the Titan Z comes across as the much more efficient model. While delivering an average of only 10% more gaming performance, the 295X2 eats up an average of 510 to 659 watts when under full load and between 150 and 160 watts while idle. AMD’s cards have been known for their heavy power consumption and only recently has the company made a serious effort to resolve this with the X300 series and Fury X GPUs. The 295X2 however is still a hungry power user.
b> Heat generation
Heat generation is something Nvidia is known for being good at minimizing, especially when you consider the fact that their cards are generally air cooled models, something that applies to the Titan Z as well. Despite its size and massive processing engine, the Titan Z manages an average idle heat generation of 37 to 43 degrees Celsius while performing at between 83 and 91 degrees while under heavy use with a reasonably difficult game at 4K resolution.
These heat specs are marginally inferior to those of AMD’s R9 295X2b but then the AMD dual core model offers a liquid cooling system and the Titan Z relies exclusively on air cooling fans. Nonetheless, the Titan Z is less efficient at keeping heat low than its newer Titan X cousin.
To keep things simple here, the Titan Z is very good at being relatively quiet while both almost resting at idle conditions and working at full speed under heavy load conditions. While idle, the Titan Z manages between 35 and 38 decibels and only ramps this up to between 42 and 45 decibels during heavy gameplay. 35 decibels is just a bit noisier than the background conversation noise of a nearly empty living room and even 45 decibels is about as loud as the average background noise in an office. Not too bad for a card with last year’s design.
The most fundamental benchmark of the GTX Titan Z is its capacity to handle high intensity games at 4K resolution and highest possible detail settings. We can fortunately say that the Z does well at this, better than all other Nvidia cards except maybe the Titan X and almost as well (within 10% or less) as the AMD R9 295X2, which is AMD’s single most powerful GPU package.
Some average results for assorted games at 4K resolutions at ultra or maximum detail levels go as follows:
Battlefield 4: The Titan Z manages 40 to 44 frames per second 70% of the time and drops below 30 fps only about 3% of play time.
Crysis 3: At Crysis 3, we see performance decreae and frame rates rarely go above 20 fps while even dipping to between 20 and 15 fps 30% of the time. However, at slightly reduced detail settings, the GTX Titan Z can manage as many as 30 to 35 fps on this difficult game.
Metro: Last Light: For Metro: Last Light, the Titan Z delivers between 38 and 50 frames per second, bringing it close to an ideal 55 to 60 fps rate that’s the ideal for 4K GPUs.
Hitman Absolution: This isn’t a particularly daunting 4K PC game and here we see the Titan Z perform quite well by delivering between 45 and 57 frames per second.
In all of these metrics of 4K gameplay, the Titan Z underperforms the AMD R9 295X2 but never by more than 10% and sometimes by as little as just one or two percentage points. The two cards are very close to being an equal match.
Nvidia's GTX Titan Z GPU is currently selling on Amazon.com for $1,561.24. This is just over half of its original $3,000 retail price but still much more expensive than the $650 of the AMD R9 295X2.
4.5 - 63 Reviews
• One of the three best 4K-capable GPUs on sale today
• Very close to ideal performance at 4K resolution
• Excellent Full HD and 1440p performance
• Moderate power consumption and noise levels
• Powerful 12GB RAM
• aging architecture and processor
• Runs a little hot compared to other Nvidia models
• Expensive relative to performance