Nvidia Ti­tan Xp

Nvidia’s mighty GP102 chip fully un­leashed at last

Maximum PC - - IN THE LAB -

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.

$1,200, www.nvidia.com

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