When Nvidia launched the GTX 1080 earlier this year, it didn’t take long before rumors of a new Titan-branded card followed in its wake. Unlike the GP100, which will utilize HBM2 and launch in early 2017, the Nvidia (not GeForce) Titan X is based on a different piece of silicon: GP102. This new top-end card combines a wider memory bus and higher core counts with the same GDDR5X that debuted with the GTX 1080, and it offers significantly higher performance — if you can stomach the price.
Multiple reviews of the card are up at Hot Hardware, PC Perspective, and Tom’s Hardware Guide. The Titan X packs 3,584 cores, 224 texture units, and 96 ROPS, with a base clock of 1417MHz and a boost clock of 1531MHz. That’s 40% more cores and texture units than the GTX 1080 and 50% more ROPs, though these gains are offset by decreased clock speeds, which are roughly 12% lower than the GTX 1080. Memory bandwidth is up to 480GB/s, and the TDP is just 250W — impressive for a card with specs like these.
Here’s the bottom line: This GPU is statistically a monster, and it performs like one. THG notes: “If you were of the mind that one GP104 couldn’t handle 3840×2160, Titan X could be your solution.” AMD’s Fury X has already been generally outclassed by the GTX 1070 and 1080, but fans of Team Red could at least point to a handful of DirectX 12 titles where the Fury family competed well against Nvidia’s latest GPUs. That’s gone at the top end — even when the Fury X manages to trade shots with the GTX 1080, Nvidia’s Titan X obliterates them both by 20-40%. This is the first GPU that can drive 4K at high frame rates — but boy, it comes at a price.
More than two months after launch, the GTX 1080 is functionally a $650 – $750 GPU (expected MSRP is $599, but good luck finding one at that price). Now, Nvidia has launched an even higher-end SKU, available only from its own website. The Nvidia Titan X is absolutely the fastest and most powerful GPU on the market, but at $1,200, it’s not any kind of deal. Its price/performance ratio is poor by any measure — you’re paying nearly 2x as much money for a top-end performance increase of 40%.
The flip side to this, however, is that cards like the Titan X aren’t made for people who have to ask how much the GPU costs — they’re designed for people who can afford to throw insane amounts of money at a product. If you want the absolute best GPU performance money can buy, the Nvidia Titan X is the best GPU on the market. Keep in mind, however, that these ultra-expensive GPUs don’t hold their value particularly well, and Nvidia has a history of cutting them off at the knees once it needs to respond to a competitive imbalance.
A $1,200 Titan X doesn’t just give Nvidia an enviable pole position, it also establishes a huge amount of leeway in the company’s price structure. Let’s say AMD’s top-end Vega is faster than the GTX 1080 and comes in at $700. Nvidia can easily address that with a future GTX 1080 Ti for, say, $750 — then trim prices on the GTX 1080 if it needs to. Last year, the GTX 980 Ti offered 95%+ of the GTX Titan X’s performance for hundreds of dollars less. There’s nothing stopping Nvidia from doing the same thing this year, and the company has explicitly left itself room to maneuver.
One last point, while we’re on the topic. With the Titan X, Nvidia has unambiguously seized the performance crown in every benchmark, period, whether in DX12 or DX11. But this was always going to happen, simply as a result of how AMD and Nvidia chose to launch their respective hardware. Nvidia shot for the high-end first, AMD chose to refresh its entry-level and midrange products. As a consequence of that, NV’s 14nm hardware completely dominates the old 28nm cards from AMD.
Given that Vega is supposed to be a completely new architecture compared with GCN, it’s pointless to speculate on whether or not AMD can or can’t close the gap. It’s not as simple as just predicting what Fat Polaris might look like, or what kind of performance it could offer. There are other factors to consider as well, like AMD’s use of HBM2 as compared to GDDR5X. The bottom line is, everyone knew that delaying its high-end hardware would leave AMD unable to compete against Nvidia at the top-end of the market — including AMD.
If you don’t like the idea of buying a $1,200 GPU in August that might be outclassed by a $750 GPU come December, don’t invest in Titan-class cards. But if you want the fastest GPU money can buy now, period, the Nvidia Titan X has no competition.
Now read: How to buy the right video card for your gaming PC