Is the Nvidia Titan X the Ultimate VR GPU?



Let us get one of my pet peeves out of the way first. Nvidia should start a new naming convention. The GeForce GTX TITAN X was king of the hill before the GTX 1080 came out. Nvidia quite correctly needed to release an updated Titan. Instead of calling it TITAN X II or something very distinct they just dropped a few words. The top end card goes from GeForce GTX TITAN X to TITAN X. Marketing people, what are you thinking?

OK, so back to what the technical folks at Nvidia managed to do with TITAN X. TITAN X is, of course, based on their new Pascal architecture. Pascal brings a new 16 Nanometer FinFET process which significantly improves upon energy efficiency and allows Nvidia to cram more transistors into the same space as before. All this means more speed and less fan noise (in theory)

Virtual Reality needs as much power as possible. Virtual Reality headsets render games and applications at a resolution equivalent to 3024x1680 and need to do so at a sustained 90 FPS. Failure to maintain a constant 90 FPS results in stuttering and potentially leading to VR nausea.

VR Simultaneous Multi-Projection Technology

The Pascal-architecture provides several technologies to assist with VR. Simultaneous Multi-Projection technology we can implement several new techniques. One such technique is Lens Matched Shading, which increases pixel shading performance by rendering more natively to the unique dimensions of VR display headset. Lens Matching prevents rendering many pixels that would otherwise be discarded before the image is output to the VR headset.

VR Single Pass Stereo

Another technique is Single Pass Stereo which allows the head-mounted display's left and right displays to share a single geometry pass. Single Pass means it is done once for the left eye and once for the right eye instead of twice.


How does the previous generation GeForce GTX TITAN X stack up against the PASCAL-based TITAN X spec for spec? Very well indeed when you compare the specifications side by side below:

SpecificationGeForce GTX TITAN XTITAN X (PASCAL)
CUDA Cores30723584
Base Clock10001417
Boost Clock10751531
Memory Clock7.0 Gbps10 Gbps
Memory Config12 GB GDDR512 GB GDDR5X
Memory Interface384-Bit384-Bit
Memory Bandwidth (GB/s)336.5480
Max Temp94 C94 C
Power (W)250250
System Power Needed600600
DisplayDual Link DVI-I, HDMI 2.0, 3x DisplayPort 1.2DP 1.43, HDMI 2.0b, Dual Link-DVI

View Full SpecsView Full Specs
VR benchmarks are almost non-existent at this moment in time. Instead, selecting an existing benchmark and driving it at a resolution higher than 3024x1680 with a target of 90 fps would be the goal. 

Fallout 4 3840x2160 (4K)

In the Fallout 4 example below you can see the PASCAL-based TITAN X manage (almost) 90 fps at 4K resolution. Fallout 4 developer Bethesda's have already stated that Fallout 4 will be coming to VR sometime before June 2017. You can be assured that if you pick up the TITAN X Fallout 4 will be fully playable in VR with all the bells and whistles turned on.

* Benchmarks courtesy of TechPowerUp

Crysis 3 3840x2160 (4K)

Crysis is known in the industry as the benchmark to bring a machine to its knees. Crysis 3 continues this reputation. At 3840x2160 (4K) resolution the TITAN X does pull in some high numbers and would be playable on a regular monitor with an average of 45 fps. However, if this were a VR-based game at the equivalent of 3024x1680, it may start to struggle a little to maintain 90 fps.

* Benchmarks courtesy of TechPowerUp

Project Cars 3840x2160 (4K)

Project cars is one of the most demanding VR games out there. If you turn on all the graphics settings, even a GTX 1080 will start to lag. Can the TITAN X handle it?

* Benchmarks courtesy of TomsHardware

At 4K Ultra Detail the TITAN X manages an average of over 98 fps, impressive. In reality within VR, you would turn off settings such as lens flare so your results would be even higher.

TITAN X and Supersampling

Supersampling is a form of AA (Antialiasing) where the resolution is rendered at a higher resolution than what the Rift or Vive can natively display. Some games provide built-in methods to supersample such as Eve Valkyrie. Others, such as Edge of Nowhere and Lucky‚Äôs Tale, do not.

TITAN X will certainly be able to Supersample any VR game out there today. Even Project Cars will have some headroom to supersample. 

Related: How to Supersample Oculus Rift games

Is Titan X the Ultimate VR GPU?

The answer to this question depends on the games you wish to play and the size of your wallet. If you want to play Project Cars at maximum settings and toy with Supersampling, then yes. However, the main downside is the cost of this bad boy. The GTX 1080 retails for $699, but the TITAN X retails for a whopping $1,200, and that is even if you can find it in stock.

Quite simply the TITAN X is the fastest single GPU graphics card available for VR today



Steven Paterson

Based in California. I am Scottish, I like Scotch and, oh yeah, a little VR too.