NVIDIA Titan X GeForce Pascal 4K Gaming GPU 2016 Review
It’s insanely expensive, beautiful to look at and most importantly of all, it’s the best consumer market gaming GPU we’ve ever seen so far. We already said this about the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 which we recently reviewed but that was before we’d seen the arrival of the new 2016 Titan X Pascal graphics card. Now that it’s here, this is so far at least the absolute hands down winner for truly serious (and pricey) 4K gaming at its very best.
If you’ve got an extra $1200 lying around that you don’t feel a need to save for more important things and you really, really want to get the best possible processing power for 4K ultra HD gaming of the most serious kind, then there is nothing less than the Titan X Pascal card that you should aim for getting your hands on. With a new GP12 graphics processor, 3584 CUDA cores, 12GB of GDDR5X memory and a 384-bit bus combine with other features in this monster of a graphics card to offer up the most superb gaming experience available today on the consumer market. This card is total overkill for Full HD gaming even at high frame rates but very serious high-speed 1440p gamers and, most of all, 4K PC gameplay fans should be all over the new 2016 Titan, if they can afford it that is.
Nvidia has truly outdone itself with the Titan X 2016 GPU even after several other GTX 2016 GPU releases that themselves leave anything currently available from rival AMD in the dust as far as performance goes. We’re thus very curious to see what the competition is going to put out as a competitor to the Titan X Pascal.
Let’s start with the basics. This is a GPU which doesn’t really leave much room for considerations about keeping a tighter PC gaming budget in mind. No, those who are likely to spring for the Titan X Pascal card probably have the cash for their investment and want what the best they can get their hands on despite its price. Nvidia knows this and thus the whopping 70% price leap between the Titan X and the next best card the GTX 1080 is something which shouldn’t affect potential sales among the consumer market this card is aimed at. However, in exchange for all those dollars spent, this card delivers the sort of gaming goods that are a gamer’s dream. The GTX 1080 from Nvidia was a real powerhouse of a GPU in virtually all regards but the Titan X Pascal completely leaps over it in terms of power by delivering 40% more CUDA cores, a 50% bandwidth boost and a serious boost in 4K gaming performance that reaches well beyond even what the GTX 1080 is capable of. In basic terms, the Titan X Pascal card is the best piece of video processing technology you can get your hands on at the price it sells for and it’s a card that finally brings high detail 4K UHD gaming to a level of high, 60fps+ territory almost entirely across the board.
This brings us to the next great thing about the Titan X Pascal GPU. It’s quite simply the most 4K gaming-friendly GPU we’ve yet laid eyes on. When powerful cards like the old 2015 Titan X, GTX 980 Ti, the Titan Z before that and the Nvidia 295x2 were coming out on the retail market a couple years ago, in our reviews we frequently referred to the fact that they couldn’t quite match the needs of serious high frame rate 4K gaming despite their otherwise superbly powerful specs for their time. Now with the Titan X Pascal we get a GPU that finally does reach the sweet spot of 4K gaming performance and does so more than any other card we’ve yet reviewed by a wide margin. We’d go as far as to say that this is finally the truly 4K GPU that many gamers have been waiting to see. Yes, the GTX 1080 comes pretty close to deserving the same title and we even mentioned it as a serious 4K GPU when we reviewed it but the Pascal edition of the Titan X holds the title far more definitively and across a much broader range of game settings under 4K graphics settings.
Just look in more detail at the specific specs expansions that the Titan X Pascal offers over the GTX 1080. With this card you get 1,204 more CUDA cores for 3,584 instead of the 1080’s already whopping 2,560, far more texture units at 224 instead of the 160 of the GTX 1080, more ROPs at 96 over the 64 of the 1080 and the bus memory of the Titan X is considerably larger as well at 384 bits instead of the 256 bits in the 1080. Finally, X’s L2 cache sits at 3,072KB, which is a full third larger than the 2,048KB of the GTX 1080. Now, to really appreciate all of this, keep in mind that the GTX 1080 was until very recently by far the most powerful consumer market gaming GPU we’d ever seen, a unit that we considered to be the most honestly 4K-capable graphics card on the market, and here comes the 2016 Titan X to crush its specs by around 40% pretty much across the board. Thus, you can imagine the sort of internal video rendering power we’re talking about here.
Additionally, the NVIDIA Titan X Pascal comes with other massively powerful specs which leave anything else on the market in the dust, at least so far. These include a GDDR5X memory which is clocked at 5GHz for a total useful data rate of 10Gbps, a 12GB onboard memory that’s a third larger than the 8GB of the GTX 1080 and a 480Gbps memory bandwidth. All of these powerhouse specs are kept running by an impressively efficient 250 watt power requirement which runs through a main 8-pin power feed and one 6-pin supplemental feed as an auxiliary. Oddly however, the base clock of 1,417MHz and boost clock of 1,531MHz in the Titan X are lower than those of the GTX 1080. This is the one metric in which this flagship GPU underperforms its closest cousin on the current market.
Physically, the Titan X Pascal borrows a lot of its design elements from those found in the Nvidia 2016 GTX cards like the 1080 and 1070, with a thermal venting system that consists of a large vapor chamber and a radial fan which both play into a dense heat sink fin setup which is remarkably good at doing its job of keeping this GPU cool, considering the power it outputs. There’s also a smaller rear heat sink on the card which further helps with cooling, especially for the VRM. In addition to these design features, the X comes wit a 7+2 dual-FET power array and a power delivery network for its PCB which has been optimized for low impedance. The result of all these combinations is a card that runs with remarkable power efficiency for its performance metrics and one that delivers some very impressive voltage and heat control.
Finally, we love the connectivity specs in the new Titan X. It shares these in common with its 2016 GTX cousin GPUs and we have to say that the ports in the card are indeed very advanced –in fact they go beyond the needs or even capabilities of any current PCs or 4K TVs on the market. Thus, you’ll get your hands on a single HDMI 2.0b output, a more ordinary dual-link DVI output, and DisplayPort 1.2 ports which are certified for DP 1.3/1.4 readiness already. In other words, while such display technologies are barely even available on the market, the Nvidia Titan X is already prepared to support 4K displays with 120Hz refresh rates and 5K monitors at 60Hz. It can even reportedly handle 8K display at 60Hz by using two cables and its multi-stream support though this is something we doubt anybody will be testing easily or soon.
4.5 - 5 Reviews
There is very little to criticize in the Titan X and overall, at least in terms of design and performance, we’d definitely call this the single best GPU we’ve yet seen, without a single doubt. It’s an absolute monster of a performer and for serious 4K UHD gamers, the Titan X Pascal is THE genuine 4K gaming card they’ve been waiting for since 4K PC gaming became a serious thing.
That said, the sheer monstrous power of this graphics card could possibly be criticized in an oblique way for being so insane by current PC technology standards. Basically, unless you’re very loose with your budget and very, very serious about the real deal in heavily practiced smooth 4K gaming pretty much across the board, the Titan X Pascal delivers far more than you’re ever likely to need for the majority of more conventional PC gameplay needs. This card performs at a level that goes way, way beyond what you’d need for even the most intense, fastest Full HD gameplay and even for 1440p gaming, the Titan X Pascal is a definite piece of heavy-duty overkill under most setups.
With such power of course there is also a price to be paid, and for the Titan X it is expensive indeed. This is definitely not a budget-oriented gamer’s card and its roughly $1200 price tag makes it more than twice as cheap as the also amazingly powerful GTX 1080, never mind its price in comparison to more conservative new GPUs like the GTX 1070 and GTX 1060 cards, or the majority of AMD’s considerably weaker (but also much cheaper) graphics cards. In other words, the price of the Titan X Pascal card is quite possibly its biggest defect, even if we understand why Nvidia would retail the card at such a steep premium, because you’re definitely getting what you paid for here.
Finally, like all of the 2016 high performance Nvidia GPU’s we’ve reviewed so far, the Titan X is not designed to handle SLI configurations easily. In fact, as we explained in detail in our GTX 1080 and 1070 reviews, the manufacturer has made joining more than two Nvidia cards into a single SLI configuration downright cumbersome and very difficult. Of course, with the sort of power that this Titan X version offers, SLI is likely not going to be a concern for most gamers who buy it but for those who really want to push things to their limits this particular card or its cousins, multi-card SLI has become an obstacle course in difficulty.
It’s expensive, it’s monstrous overkill for the majority of gamers and it’s downright absolutely awesome. It’s impossible not to love the Titan X 2016 card and marvel at its power. After at least a couple years of including the disclaimer that this card doesn’t quite offer the ideal in 4K gaming of smooth performance at high detail at 6o frames per second or more for so many other GPUs we’ve reviewed to-date, we can finally say that a card has arrived which DOES offer these sorts of performance metrics and it’s great to see this happen.
• CUDA Cores: 3584
• Texture Units: 160
• ROPs: 96
• Core Clock: 1417MHz
• Boost Clock: 1,531MHz
• Memory Clock: 10GHz GDDR5X
• Memory Bus Width: 384-bit
• VRAM: 12GB
• TDP: 250W
• GPU: GP102
• Architecture: Pascal
• Transistor Count: 12 billion
• Manufacturing Process: 16nm FinFET
• Launch Date: 05/27/16
• Launch Price $1200
As explained above repeatedly, the Nvidia Titan X is one ridiculously fast GPU thanks to its Pascal architecture. Without a doubt, at least among the current offerings of 4K PC graphics cards, this card completely beats everything else on the market right now. It’s almost 40% faster than tha GTX 1080, at least 60% faster than the old Titan X and far more powerful than AMD’s Fury and Fury X cutting edge GPUs respectively. And this is just the kind of average performance superiority the X offers. If we go into specific examples of performance superiority in particular 4K graphics-capable games at particular detail settings, the capacity of the Titan X can massively outpace that of predecessors or rivals. Thus, for example, when running a game like Rise of the Tomb Raider at a 4K resolution under maximum detail settings, the x delivers frame rate performance that’s genuinely smooth and stays in the 60+fps range. These are truly impressive metrics and possible thanks largely to the hardcore internal processing specs of the card and by the extreme efficiency of its Pascal chip architecture.
In basic terms, even in a single unit configuration, the Titan X is an absolute killer for 1440p gaming at high frame rates (not just normal frame rates but high frame rates) and the best card there is today for serious 4K gaming. For 1080p PC gaming, this card is total overkill under almost any normal circumstances.
Serious Power Efficiency
Despite the immense performance capacity of the Titan X Pascal, Nvidia has still packed a huge quantity of power consumption control into the card as well. This translates in practical terms into almost twice times the power efficiency of the old Titan X and a need for only about 100 watts more than what is required to run the much weaker GTX 980Ti card (165 watts), with the Titan X Pascal running on an 8-pin connector (and supplementary 6-pin connector) which requires 250 watts of power. That truly is an impressive level of power consumption considering the absolutely top-shelf performance of this card.
Awesome New Technology
The core reason for why the Titan X Pascal can manage all of the above power consumption and performance benchmarks so well lies in the fantastically advanced new GPU technology that powers the card. After years of 28nm manufacturing for chipsets for both Nvidia and AMD, at least Nvidia has now escaped into 16nm transistor design with the Pascal architecture of this Titan X and its GTX cousins for 2016. On top of this, the Pascal system also packs in performance enhancing 3D FinFET processor features and a new cutting-edge GDDR5X memory technology which is much faster and more efficient than the GDDR5 of the most recent previous AMD and Nvidia GPUs. These technologies mean a massive generational leap in development that translates directly into the far superior speed, performance, graphics processing power and power usage that we’re seeing with the GeForce GTX 1080.
While we’re on the highlights of the Titan X, we also need to mention a few other software features that have been packed into this GPU. For starters, Nvidia has added in their new “Simultaneous multi-projection” technology to the card, which allows for image improvement in multi-monitor gaming rigs and in-game frame rate performance by rendering the very edges of the display space at lower resolution, thus increasing core FPS performance. Simultaneous multi-projection also improves VR rendering efficiency considerably, at least according to Nvidia.
Additionally, there is a new “in-game 3D camera system” called Ansel which has also been placed in the Titan X. This technology allows for pausing a given game, moving the in-game “camera” around the visual environment for a more refined viewing angle and grabbing screen shots which can then also be enhanced with filters, special effects and resolution augmentation. 360 degree bubble screenshots can also be taken inside VR headsets through the new Ansel technology of the X GPU.
Finally, the Titan X Pascal offers support for HDR and copy-protected 4K streams while also offering Nvidia “Fast Sync” technology for smoothing out tearing in situations where the GPU is putting out hundreds of frames per second on a monitor that only supports a given limited max frame rate. This feature performs tear reduction and frame rate smoothing while at the same time avoiding harmful latency issues.
4.5 - 5 Reviews
Finally, we get down to some of the meaty details about how well the Nvidia Titan X Pascal card actually works on its key metrics for gaming at different resolutions and how it manages to handle heat, noise, power consumption and 4K gameplay in particular. We’re also comparing the card here to some of its main rivals on the current market.
General performance during gameplay
To summarize the general performance of the Titan X Pascal during gameplay in one word, we’d go with spectacular. By the standards of all other GPUs we know, this card just blows away the hurdles of processing graphics even under some the toughest conditions and resolutions. As a graphics card for 1080p gaming, the Titan X is utterly insane and its performance at both 4K UHD and 1440p resolutions is downright stunning. 4K UHD is what particularly impresses with the Titan X Pascal because it clearly shows this GPU to be THE graphics card for very serious gamers at resolution, like no other GPU we’ve yet reviewed.
In testing of these following games at all of the three major gaming resolutions, we get an idea of what the Titan X Pascal delivers when measured against the competition in terms of an average score. That is to say, the following frame rates, unless otherwise stated, show the average performance of the Titan X and key Nvidia or competitor GPUs as they operate when their peak performance and slowest performance are averaged out:
• 1080p performance
You can certainly use the Titan X Pascal GPU as your graphics card of choice for 1080p Full HD gaming but we’d say that there’s really no reason to unless you’re also buying this GPU for its true purpose, which is 4K gaming. Quite simply, when it comes to 1080p gameplay, the Titan X is total overkill across the board for any game we can think of at nearly level of detail. Even high frame-rate Full HD gamers can easily save money by going for the GTX 1070, AMD’s RX 480 or even the GTX 1080 4K GPU if they want serious power. With all of these, Full HD performance is completely stunning as well but at a much lower price. Buying the Titan X Pascal for purely 1080p PC gameplay is a bit like using a Ferrari to run a suburban newspaper delivery route.
Rise of the Tomb Raider (1080p)
Nvidia Titan X Pascal: 167 fps
GTX 1080: 132 fps
GTX Titan X Maxwell (old Titan X): 105 fps
GTX 980 Ti: 102 fps
AMD Radeon R9 Fury X: 70 fps
Hitman (2016) (1080p)
Nvidia Titan X Pascal: 134 fps
GTX 1080: 108 fps
GTX Titan X Maxwell (old Titan X): 79 fps
GTX 980 Ti: 77 fps
AMD Radeon R9 Fury X: 84 fps
• 1440p performance
At 1440p resolution, the gaming chops of the Titan X Pascal are just as remarkably robust as we’d expect from its specs profile. This isn’t only a capable 1440p gaming GPU, it’s actually closer to an ideal card for high frame-rate 1440p gaming even at high detail levels and that’s an impressive as hell achievement. Capable of regularly hitting 100+fps for 1440p games of assorted types (as the frame rate readouts below show) the Titan X Pascal delivers the heavy duty goods smoothly enough for even very performance-insistent gamers to be happy with its performance.
Rise of the Tomb Raider (1440p)
Nvidia Titan X Pascal: 114 fps
GTX 1080: 91 fps
GTX Titan X Maxwell (old Titan X): 73 fps
GTX 980 Ti: 69 fps
AMD Radeon R9 Fury X: 58 fps
Hitman (2016) (1440p)
Nvidia Titan X Pascal: 103 fps
GTX 1080: 82 fps
GTX Titan X Maxwell (old Titan X): 61 fps
GTX 980 Ti: 59.5 fps
AMD Radeon R9 Fury X: 68 fps
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (DX11) (1440p)
Nvidia Titan X Pascal: 145 fps
GTX 1080: 121 fps
GTX Titan X Maxwell (old Titan X): 88.8 fps
GTX 980 Ti: 100.5 fps
AMD Radeon R9 Fury X: 83 fps
• 4K UHD (2160p) performance
4K ultra HD gaming is the real design intention of the Titan X Pascal in a way it has been with no previous GPU we’ve seen. Even the remarkably high-performing GTX 1080, which delivers mostly excellent 4K UHD gaming at very good frame rates doesn’t offer up the consistency of 60+ fps speed that the 2016 Titan X Pascal card does. In basic terms, we’d argue that this is the first true, full power 4K GPU we’ve yet laid eyes on.
Rise of the Tomb Raider (2160p)
Nvidia Titan X Pascal: 62 fps
GTX 1080: 46 fps
GTX Titan X Maxwell (old Titan X): 39 fps
GTX 980 Ti: 36 fps
AMD Radeon R9 Fury X: 32 fps
Hitman (2016) (2160p)
Nvidia Titan X Pascal: 59 fps
GTX 1080: 48 fps
GTX Titan X Maxwell (old Titan X): 37.5 fps
GTX 980 Ti: 34 fps
AMD Radeon R9 Fury X: 37 fps
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (DX11) (2160p)
Nvidia Titan X Pascal: 81 fps
GTX 1080: 67 fps
GTX Titan X Maxwell (old Titan X): 48 fps
GTX 980 Ti: 53 fps
AMD Radeon R9 Fury X: 37 fps
For the kind of heavy duty gaming performance it delivers and specs it offers, the Titan X Pascal card is a remarkably decent power consumer. The maximum GPU clock output we saw on this card reached 1,858MHz with a 5,32MHz memory clock at a speed of about 10.2Gbps, all of which are actually not quite as good as those of the GTX 1080. However, this is the case largely to to the simple fact that the Titan X’s GP102 chip is much larger and much more complex, which also means that it requires more power, though not as much as has been the case with many top-shelf older graphics cards we’ve seen, especially from AMDs lines.
Overall, the Titan X manages to keep its power consumption below the 250 watt limit even under maximum load conditions and this is a decent level in our view, especially when you compare it to what older GPUs often reached, with the old AMD 295x2 card being a particularly notorious example with a maximum power consumption of nearly 600 watts.
As for specific power consumption metrics, the Titan X Pascal card can hit as high as 260 watts with cooling system throttling in place but reducing the maximum fan speed on the card will induce lower full load power consumption levels of 220 to 230 watts. However, this will also cause significant temperature increases right to the peak of the card’s limit, about 86 degrees Celsius.
Under much calmer idle conditions, the X is a smooth and economical power user, averaging about 12 watts at full idle and only about 13 to 14 watts if used for rendering the video from a Blu-ray disc or dual monitors without gaming of any kind taking place. In basic terms, what really drives up its wattage is heavy duty gaming at 4K resolutions and this is where the Titan X quickly hits to within 20 or 30 watts of its ceiling.
As we said, these are superb power consumption metrics for a GPU that offers so much sheer performance power. To give a comparison, AMD’s series of R9 Fury and R9 Fury X GPUs from last year both hit close to 280 and 295 watts respectively of power consumption under peak load conditions. And if we compare the Titan X Pascal to a much older 2014 GPU from Nvidia, the considerably weaker Titan Z,
Heat and Noise generation
Just as it does relatively well in terms of power consumption, the Titan X also deliver decent performance in how well it handles heat and noise. Nvidia’s new and much more efficient Pascal architecture does a lot to help the card minimize heat release even under load conditions due to the architecture’s efficient design, which is all the more impressive when you consider that this is a purely air-cooled GPU. As for noise, we’d say that Nvidia is and generally always has been good at designing GPU’s which manage it remarkably well despite the rigors their air cooling systems go through.
Thus, we can break down temperature range and noise as follows. For heat generation, under idle conditions the Titan X performs better than a long list of older and current competing cards with an average temperature of 31 degrees. Impressively, this is actually better than the 35 degree average of both the Nvidia GTX 1080 and the much less powerful GTX 1060 1440p gaming card from the same brand. By comparison, the older Maxwell Titan X from 2014 managed an average idle temperature of 35 degrees. In fact, the new Titan X is nearly the only model among all the major 2015 and 2016 performance GPUs which runs so cool when idle; the only premium model which beats it is the AMD R9 Radeon Fury X, with an idle temperature of 28 degrees.
On the other hand, when put to full load stresses, the Titan X Pascal heats up rapidly but tops off at a ceiling temperature of 85 degrees. This is hot, but it’s also not onerously hot and there are older models such as the AMD 295x2 which run considerably hotter at 95 degrees when stressed. On the other hand, a majority of Nvidia’s older Titan and GTX cards do run cooler during full load stresses.
Finally, for noise generation, the Titan X Pascal is a very quiet machine when idle, running at a level average of 34 decibels, which is quieter than a majority of Nvidia GTX cards and quieter than many AMD cards in the competitor brand’s top range. Under full stress loads, the Titan X ramps up its noise level to only 40 decibels and this is quite impressive as well, and comparable to the noise output of the other 2016 Nvidia cards like the 1080, 1070 and the 1060.
Also, for some idea about what these decibel levels mean, refer to the following:
• Jet takeoff (200 feet): 120 dBA (intolerable noise)
• Shout (5 feet): 100 dBA
• Heavy truck: (50 feet) 90 dBA (Very loud)
• Urban street: 80 dBA
• Normal conversation at 5 feet: 60 dBA
• Office, classroom: 50 dBA (Moderate)
• Living room: 40 dBA
• Bedroom at night: 30 dBA
• Rustling leaves: 10 dBA Barely audible
As we’d said earlier, the Nvidia Titan X GPU for 2016 is no budget graphics card or anything close to it. Nvidia definitely built and priced this puppy with more discerning and less budget conscious buyers in mind. It retails for $1200.
4.5 - 5 Reviews
• The best GPU for 4K gaming we’ve yet seen
• Absolutely stunning FPS performance in all major resolutions
• Excellent power efficiency
• Decent temperature control
• Quiet card, low noise even under load
• Pascal architecture is stunning
• GDDR5X memory is superb
• Very expensive at more than $1000
• 3+ card SLI config requires complicated unlocking
• Total overkill for HD gaming