Nvidia Titan Xp
Nvidia’s mighty GP102 chip fully unleashed at last
BLEEDING-EDGE GPUs have been coming thick and fast from Nvidia of late. This new Titan Xp board, for instance, finds itself among a family of at least three other seriously high performance graphics cards based on Nvidia’s smash hit Pascal family of GPUs.
We’ve had the GeForce GTX 1080 and its GTX 1080 Ti sibling, as well as the Titan X. Admittedly, only two of those are based on the bad boy GP102 graphics chip that sits supreme in the Pascal GPU lineup. But the point is that Nvidia has been cranking out big-money boards at a frightening rate over the last year or so.
That’s not going to change any time soon, what with Nvidia recently giving a sneak peak of an early board based on its upcoming Volta GPU architecture. The pace is relentless and Nvidia’s rival, AMD, is struggling to keep up. But Volta and AMD’s response are stories for another day. Right now, we’re concerned with the ultimate manifestation of the Pascal architecture.
Titan Xp is, quite simply, the GP102 chip fully unlocked and unleashed, all 12 billion transistors of it. Count ’em. Unlike the GTX 1080 Ti and Titan X boards, Titan Xp has all 3,840 CUDA cores and 240 texture units switched on. Like the Titan X, it also has all 96 render outputs enabled, and thus the full meaty goodness of a 384-bit memory bus and 12GB of VRAM. Yum.
It also sports a Boost clock of 1,582MHz. That’s identical to the 1080 Ti and a smidge quicker than the Titan X. It all adds up to 12.1 Tflops of processing power, and the title of undisputed heavyweight GPU champ. It’s the most powerful gaming card ever.
If all that constitutes objective fact, how you view it subjectively is another matter. The Xp clocks in at $1,200. On the one hand, that’s the same as the outgoing Titan X, meaning you get a little more for the same money. On the other, the 1080 Ti is barely over half the cost, at $699.
Thus, the additional $500 buys you about 7–10 percent more of everything: 7 percent more CUDA cores and texture units, 9 percent more render outputs, and so on, compared to the 1080 Ti. At best, you’re looking at 10 percent better performance— and, most of the time, not even that. Allow us to let you in on a non-secret: That’s not a big enough performance step that you will be able to feel the difference in games.
What’s more, it’s not as though even the Titan Xp is infallible in terms of gaming performance. There is a long list of games that it can’t render smoothly at 4K with high levels of antialiasing enabled. One might argue that lots of AA at 4K is somewhat moot, and that’s probably true for 4K panels from 32 inches and down in terms of size. But on a big 40-inch-plus 4K panel, you’re going to want to run AA, and sometimes it will be AA of the performance-sapping MSAA variety. At that point, you’re going to be pretty pissed that your $1,200 GPU can’t handle the heat, and you find yourself knocking it down to 2x MSAA, or switching it off altogether to get nice frame rates.
Not that you’ll do any better with some other GPU. The Titan Xp is as good as it currently gets. And a lot of the time, it’s very good indeed. Paired with a sub-4K gaming panel, the result is often ridiculously smooth gaming performance. But the price creates expectations of something stellar, something completely different, an experience unlike any other. And that simply isn’t the case. If you absolutely positively must have the best, this is it. But the regular 1080 Ti, if such a thing as a $699 GPU can ever be called “regular,” is a far, far better buy.
Nvidia Titan Xp
INTERSTELLAR The fastest graphics card in the known universe, the end.
BLACK HOLE Will eat all of your dollars and gives relatively little in return.