The Nvidia Geforce GTX Titan Z
Announced in March of 2014, the GeForce GTX Titan Z was touted by NVIDIA as the world’s fastest graphics card, boasting of two full GK110 GPUs and priced accordingly, at a dizzying $2999 at launch. Despite a minor delay, NVIDIA was able to release it in May of the same year and at the promised price point.
The boast of being the world’s fastest graphics card is not a bluff. The specifications of the Titan Z are no laughing matter: 5,760 CUDA cores, 12 GB of GDDR5 memory, 8.1 Teraflops of peak compute performance and a power requirement that blows past what the PCI Express can offer all point to a video card that was indeed designed to be the fastest at that point in time. Of course, NVIDIA was caught off guard when AMD released the R9 295X2, which is a dual GPU that can occupy the same market as the Titan Z while costing only $1499, but NVIDIA can’t be faulted as they were just outplayed by the red team.
Regardless of being beat in terms of price, the GTX Titan Z still justifies its price tag. In terms of aesthetics, it is a very handsome piece of hardware, with the same industrial design that started with the GeForce GTX 690. In fact, the Titan Z looks very similar to the GTX 780 that it is based on, albeit longer and requiring 3 PCI slots as opposed to the 2 required by the 780.
The Titan Z has an all metal finish and a thick backplate that does double duty as a heatsink and extra protection for the components during installation and maybe even during shipment. The outputs are somewhat unimpressive since there’s only a pair of dual-link DVI ports, full-sized HDMI, and Displayport. This means you can only use drive a single 4K display with one Titan Z, a shame when the 295X2 actually let you output to 4 x 4K panels. That being said, the space on the ports isn’t wasted as the available ones are used for the exhaust.
Performance-wise, various benchmarks have already pointed to the GTX Titan Z being outmatched by the R9 295X2, but it’s not a clear win for AMD (as is the case with most of AMD’s offerings). While the R9 is indeed faster, it is a 500-watt card while the Titan Z is only rated for 375 watts. Of course, at the high end of things, most users aren’t really interested in power efficiency. There’s already a ton of lower end models that provide decent gaming performance while sipping power.
One area where this marked improvement in power efficiency comes into play is with GPGPU applications. People who fold or mine bitcoins 24/7 could get a Titan Z and the card could end up paying for the higher price tag in terms of reduced electricity bills. But then again, Nvidia already has Tesla for the GPGPU market. As the GeForce name implies, this card is solely targeted towards gamers with a budget to spare.
In terms of gaming, the Titan Z really does give you what you pay for. It is the fastest GeForce card from its generation and carries all the advantages (and disadvantages) of the Kepler architecture it is based on. To even beat the performance of a Titan Z, you need to get two GTX 780 Ti’s and use it in SLI, which isn’t exactly ideal as compatibility could be a problem.
As mentioned above, the Titan Z has all the advantages of a Kepler card, which includes low power consumption. For comparison, the R9285X2 draws as much as 676 watts on a Sandy Bridge-E system, while a pair of GTX 780 Tis in SLI configuration draws 624 watts. The Titan Z, on the other hand, only draws a mere 530 watts. This is where the Titan Z really starts to show a little bit of promise.
If you have to have top of the line performance without wreaking havoc on your electricity bill, the Titan Z may be a good compromise. It’s also a candidate for an upgrade if the amount of hardware on your system is already maxing your PSU. An extra 140+ watts of power saved are nothing to balk at. Of course, most people would say that you can just buy a better PSU using the money you would save on the R9 295×2, which is a valid argument if you don’t mind replacing a still-working PSU or if the PSU you’re buying is cheap enough. But it could go either way in scenarios like this.
At the end of the day, the GeForce GTX Titan Z is a decent card that has its place in the market, however small. The biggest (and only) flaw is that Nvidia seems to have priced the card out of the market, a mistake that AMD managed to use to their advantage with the R9 295×2. If you already have the Titan Z, you don’t have to feel bad – it’s a great gaming card that is as fast as it is power efficient. But if you’re just looking for a new high-end card to purchase, it is best to look somewhere else, as there are certainly better options from both AMD and NVIDIA’s other offerings.