Buying a Nvidia Titan: What You Need To Know
Today, we’re going to tackle perhaps the most interesting Nvidia GPUs on the market: the Titan series.
The first Nvidia Titan was the GTX Titan, released alongside the GTX 700 series. Sometime later, the Titan Black and Titan Z followed, each pushing the 700 series’ architecture to its absolute limits. These were all GTX branded cards, meaning that at the time, these cards were being targeted at gamers.
You may notice the lack of a “GTX” in the title. That isn’t a typo or oversight- we’ll explain below.
What makes the Titan series different from other GPUs?
They aren’t considered GTX series anymore, and rather curiously, they haven’t been absorbed by Nvidia’s Quadro line either. The Quadro line, for those unfamiliar, are Nvidia’s server-grade professional GPUs, but the Titan series now seems to be aiming at a similar crowd.
There are two Titan cards currently on the market: the Titan Xp and the Titan V. These cards cost $1200 and $2999, respectively. To say they’re the most expensive of Nvidia’s offerings is an understatement: they’re the most expensive of anyone’s offerings.
The performance is pretty stellar, at least. The Titan Xp is 27% more powerful than the GTX 1080, while the Titan V is a staggering 55% more powerful. This makes the current Titan series the most powerful GPUs on the market, but…
Should I consider buying an Nvidia 10-series GPU instead?
They really aren’t worth the money unless you have very specific needs that they happen to meet.
These 30%-50% performance increases are coming at the cost of 2x, 3x and higher price increases. From a gamer’s value perspective, cards like the Titan are a disaster. Instead, we’d recommend taking a look at our GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 breakdowns- these are much more reasonably-priced cards for high-end gaming needs.
What are the Titan cards for, if not for gaming?
Machine learning, AI, and self-driving cars. In other words, extremely specific uses that make more sense for “supercomputer” than “server graphics card” or “gaming GPU”. While the Titan Xp and Titan V are both more powerful than any current GeForce GPU, this is ultimately marginal compared to their massive price increases, so they’re a spectacularly bad value from a gaming standpoint.
Pretty much, the only reason for you to be buying either of these cards is for vanity or if you plan on doing tasks that can actually take advantage of their crazy processing cores. Tasks like GPU-based video rendering should also be accelerated by these cards, but seriously: if all you’re doing is playing video games, get a GTX card.
The Titan Xp is the more affordable of the current Titan cards, coming in at $1200 MSRP when you order directly from Nvidia. The Titan Xp shares the same architecture as the GTX 1080 and 1080 Ti, pushing the Pascal architecture to its absolute limits.
Interestingly enough, it actually has a Star Wars Collector's Edition. Two of them, in fact: one corresponding to the Jedi Order, and another corresponding to the Galactic Empire. This includes a special box, display case, and green/red LEDs inside the cards for extra visual flair.
At the time of writing, these Collector's Edition cards are still available, and actually slightly cheaper than their vanilla Xp counterparts. If you're a Star Wars fan and want to show it off in your PC build, the Collector's Edition Titan Xp may actually be exactly what you're looking for.
Gaming performance wise, this card slightly outperforms the GTX 1080 Ti, a card currently retailing for $700-$800. Where it gets more interesting is in raw compute and the other features we spoke about earlier in the article: if those sound enticing to you, then go for it!
If you have more money to spend and want the true king of GPU compute, however...keep reading.
Gilded and wildly expensive, the Nvidia Titan V is the king of graphics cards.
Interestingly, the Titan V uses the Volta architecture, which is Nvidia's next-gen architecture. This means that the next generation of Nvidia GPUs will likely be able to eke out similar or better gaming performance than this card. A 30% performance increase over Pascal, across-the-board, would be nothing to sniff at.
In raw gaming performance, this translates to a 27% advantage over the GTX 1080 Ti, which is the most powerful gaming GPU currently on the market. However, this does come at a significant price increase. The Titan V is over three times the price of the 1080 Ti, so from a value perspective...it's not the right choice for a gamer.
Where the Titan V excels is in any area where GPU compute can be used. This includes machine learning, artificial intelligence, folding @ home, cryptocurrency mining...etc. These are the areas where you will be able to make use of the Titan V, with gaming being more of a fringe benefit than anything else.