If aliens ever land and say, “Take us to your single-GPU leader,” you’ll have to find a GTX Titan that’s available for a viewing. The Titan is without a doubt the fastest single-GPU card available today, but it’s not the fastest single video card, as that distinction still belongs to dual-GPU behemoths such as the Asus Ares II and the Nvidia GTX 690. A lot of people don’t enjoy messing with SLI and CrossFireX, though, and for them the Titan offers the highest level of performance possible at this time without any dual-card shenanigans. It also brings some new technology to the table, has a smaller form factor and lower TDP than the GTX 690, and includes heavily revamped tuning software designed for quiet operation, making it one of the most well-rounded and impressive GPU packages we’ve encountered in recent memory.
As with the GTX 690, both EVGA and Asus offer Titans that are 100 percent Nvidia's design inside and out.
The Titan has existed for more than a year in the supercomputer world in the form of the Telsa K20X, which costs around $5,000. It's Nvidia's Big Kepler GPU, meaning it’s the most powerful implementation of the company’s current architecture, and for context it's almost double everything compared to a GTX 680 GPU. It has twice the transistors, almost double the CUDA cores, triple the frame buffer, a wider memory bus, better double-precision performance for compute, and totally revamped tuning software. Given its massive parallelism and size the card runs at a much slower clock speed than a GTX 680, however, moving along at 836MHz compared to the 680's 1,006MHz clock speed. It's a half-inch longer than the GTX 680, but is a worthy successor to the flagship cards we tested last year, as it offers a sizable performance increase over all of them, dual-GPU cards excluded, of course.
In terms of new technology, its tuning software now lets you dictate a maximum temperature for the card, which helps keep it totally silent at all times. Out of the box it’s set to 80 C but you can nudge it up to 95 C if you're feeling saucy; the card can handle it. You can also over-volt the Titan, which is a first for a "stock" card from Nvidia. The GeForce GTX logo is now controlled by software, too, so you can make it breathe and tweak its brightness level. It will supposedly also let you "overclock" your display's refresh rate, allowing you to bypass VSync to achieve higher frame rates.
In testing, we saw the Titan reign supreme over its single-GPU competitors, but it could not topple the Ares II, Radeon 7990 Devil 13, or GTX 690 cards. It's also not as fast as dual-card SLI and CrossFireX configurations, which isn't surprising, but the Titan is close to them despite using only one GPU, which is quite impressive. It also requires exactly half the power requirements, needing just one 6-pin and one 8-pin PCIe connector. Overall it's a good 10-15 percent faster than the GTX 680, which is great and all, but not for double the price.
In the end, the main goal of the Titan is twofold: to provide a kick-ass GPU to fit inside the increasingly popular SFF rigs, and to convincingly take the single-GPU crown back from AMD's HD 7970 GHz edition. On both of these fronts it's definitely Mission Accomplished, which can mean only one thing: It’s your move, AMD!