Last week we reviewed the reference GTX Titan Black, honestly this is a product that Nvidia really doesn't like to see reviewed as they claim it is a professional series product. The past 2 months however we have been a little surprised that even on Nvidia's own website the Titan Black started to appear in their own gaming benchmarks. This happened roughly at the time-frame when Watch Dogs was released, and we know that title is hungry for graphics memory. So as such we could no longer leave Titan Black 'not reviewed' at Guru3D.com.
We do understand why Nvidia doesn't really like to see any reviews, honestly the 300 EURO cheaper 780 Ti will offer you roughly the same performance, with the one difference; you now have 6 GB of graphics memory. And sure, Nvidia always has been a little conservative on graphics memory opposed to AMD. These are decisions at corporate level in regard to BOM (Bill of Materials) costs. But with pending titles like GTA5 and the recently released Watch Dogs, all of a sudden that 3 GB limit was rather marginal. Also Ultra HD gaming took an uplift in the enthusiast space, and at a 4K resolution when you use AA, you'll be very happy to have more than 3 GB memory. That makes 6GB models relevant, in certain conditions. Fact remains, this is a double precision product (irrelevant for gamers) originally aimed at the professional market, but now sits in the consumer gaming domain as well and yeah, it is a 1000 USD product. We had hope to see the 780 Ti being released in 6GB models, but since that would obliterate the Titan Black sales, Nvidia does not allow its board partners to release SKUs based on 6GB.
Talking about board partners, Gigabyte manages to offer something special. Though you will receive the product in a reference based model, they deliver a 600 Watt WindForce cooler with the product, and yeah... the combination rocks hard. In fact it rocks so hard that Gigabyte can even overclock (+117 MHz on the base clock) the product for you - with lower than reference temperature and noise levels I must add. The downside, you need to install the cooler yourself. But with a little tender love & care this is a 15 minute job that doesn't pose too much risk. The installation is very easy, the gain grand.
Admittedly I like the reference design from Nvidia, these are good dual-slot cards from an aesthetics point of view. Obviously I like the WindForce cooler better. It creates a dark black monster really. Taste differs per person though, I understand that all too well.
Cooling & Noise Levels
The cooling itself, you really can't complain about. Once you've installed the WindForce cooler two things go into effect, at a factory overclock (this card runs a 1111 MHz Boost frequency) it still runs cooler stressed opposed to reference. These difference are not huge, but you will stay below 77~78 Degrees whereas Nvidia's reference design kicks it towards 83~84 degrees C. The best thing however is that the cooler remains very quiet, unusually quiet for a product in this class really. The downside, heat is disposed of inside your chassis, as such you will need to make sure that the inside of the chassis is well ventilated with an intake and exhaust fan.
The GK110B Kepler GPUs are rated as having a 250 Watt TDP, we measure that to be a little better though, roughly 225~245 Watts (under full stress) per GPU. At this performance level that is okay. We think an 600 Watt PSU would be sufficient. Also let me state that we measure peak power consumption, the average power consumption is a good notch lower depending on GPU utilization.
The card can be considered to be slightly faster than the reference Geforce GTX 780 Ti yet you gain more graphics memory helping you with extreme AA modes at high monitor resolutions. It also makes these cards a little more future proof. Drivers wise we can't complain at all, we did not stumble into any issues. And with a single GPU there's no micro-stuttering (if that ever bothered you) and no multi-GPU driver issues to fight off. Performance wise, really there's not one game that won't run seriously good at the very best image quality settings. Gaming you must do with a nice 27-30" monitor of course, at 2560x1440/1600. Now, we can discuss the advantages of a 6GB framebuffer, but after the Watch Dogs launch we hopefully can all agree, 6GB is justified when you keep games like GTA5 and Watch Dogs in mind. The latter one eats away framebuffer tremendously if you activate Ultra quality settings and apply a few hip AA settings, the game will easily pass 3GB graphics memory utilization - fast.
The boost modes can be configured with temperature targets relative to maximum power draw and your GPU Core frequency offsets. Saying that I realize it sounds complicated, but you'll have your things balanced out quite fast. This GPU can take 1150 MHz fairly easily really, and with a bit more tweaking boosting at 1200 MHz is a very viable option.
In our previous review we stated that the GeForce GTX Titan Black is mucho bueno -- VERY impressive. But it is as impressive as the 780 Ti, with more graphics memory at hand. Luckily Gigabyte improves on that. The cooler offers better temperatures and lower sound levels whilst the card is factory overclocked for you at a 1111 MHz Boost clock frequency. This will give the product a bit more bite and it does make it a little more attractive over the 780 Ti for example, especially with 6GB of graphics memory on board.
Now yes, we still say that price / performance wise you really should go with the 6GB GeForce GTX 780, IF you need that extra memory. I mean, if you game at 2560x1440 (WQHD) then it's barely relevant to go for 6 GB. But in this configuration the Gigabyte Titan Black WindForce edition is downright darn fast in performance. Very fluid framerates is what you'll play your games with. It does so while hardly making any noise and keeps the product at low temperatures. A GeForce GTX Titan Black with 6GB in return will offer you fluid framerates while gaming with the newest game titles and you get a reserve for titles that like 3GB+ in terms of graphics memory. Now, the card is a hint faster compared to the reference GeForce GTX 780 Ti and is a notch faster compared to the regular GeForce GTX Titan Black, that's not a bad performance position to be in alright. There still remains to be room left for tweaking. Overall the product is just impressive and has great aesthetics. A lovely product with all the graphics memory in the world you need.
Though these cards are probably a notch too expensive, we have to say that we like what we see. Sure, you need to mount the cooler yourself in a DIY fashion, but really... that is a fun job and makes you appreciate the product even more. Combined with the factory overclock, very low noise levels and formidable cooling temperature we just have to give this product our Top Pick award. Expensive yes, but it is such a sweeeeeet product.