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Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan X review: Hail to the new king of graphics cards

Brad Chacos | March 18, 2015
Nvidia sure knows how to strike a killer first impression.

Nvidia sure knows how to strike a killer first impression.

The company revealed its new GeForce GTX Titan X not with a massive event, not with a coordinated marketing blitz, but by CEO Jen-Hsun Huang striding unannounced into Epic's Game Developers Conference panel, introducing "the most advanced GPU the world has ever seen," autographing one for Epic's Tim Sweeney, then casually striding back out.

Like a boss.

Nvidia's walking the walk to back up the talk, though. The $1,000 Titan X truly is the bestest, baddest, most firebreathing single-GPU graphics card in all the land — and it's the first one able to play many games on high detail settings at 4K resolution all by it's lonesome, with no multi-card setup necessary. It is a beast.

This is going to be fun.

Meet the Titan X

Let's talk about technical design before jumping into raw performance specs. Huang stayed vague on tech specs when he revealed the Titan X at GDC, only teasing that the graphics card contains 8 billion transistors and 12GB of memory. That extreme amount of memory led some to believe the Titan X would be a dual-GPU card, like AMD's Radeon R9 295x2 or Nvidia's own Titan Z.

Nope.

The Titan X's beating heart is the all-new 28nm GM200 graphics processor unit (GPU), which is basically the bigger brother of the GM204 chip found in the GTX 980 and 970. Since it's based on "Big Maxwell" rather than the GTX 960's newer GM206 chip, the Titan X lacks the GTX 960's H.265 decoding abilities, and likely its HDCP 2.2 compliance as well. (We've asked Nvidia but haven't received an answer yet.) GM200 can handle H.265 encoding, however. 

Built using the same energy-efficient Maxwell architecture as its GTX 900-series brethren, the Titan X packs a whopping 3072 CUDA cores — compared to the GTX 980's 2048 — along with 192 textures units. The card comes clocked at 1000MHz, with a boost clock of 1075MHz. You can see the full list of specifications in the chart at right. For most of the core GPU specs, it's basically a GTX 980 plus 50 percent more.

That 12GB of onboard RAM is clocked at a speedy 7Gbps — just like the GTX 900-series graphics cards — and it utilizes a 384-bit bus. AMD's high-end Radeon GPUs use a wider 512-bit bus, but slower 5Gbps memory, for comparison.

Physically, the black, aluminum-clad Titan X rocks three DisplayPort connections, a solitary HDMI 2.0 port, and dual-link DVI. The card draws 275 watts of power through an 8-pin and 6-pin power connection. It measures 10.5-inches long in a traditional dual-slot form factor. Unlike Nvidia's GTX 980 reference card, the Titan X has no backplate, ostensibly to better facilitate cooler airflow in multi-card setups.

 

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