Forget the RTX 3070. Buy a Titan XP.

It feels like we spent most of the last year discussing it and with the Nvidia RTX 3090 the undisputable king of prosumer chips right now, it’s little wonder you can barely get one for double RRP. It’s very easy to blame miners and a silicone shortage for this but let’s be real. We were all waiting to jump on this chip at release and those of us who could, did. It’s not miners killing off supply for this specific chip; it’s us. 10k CUDAs and more than double the VRAM of a 2080ti? What is this wizardry? Then reality sets in and it becomes apparent that getting a 3090 at RRP is practically impossible. And so you look at the RTX 3070 hoping to get a better deal. Afterall, it’s in less demand by miners and gamers thanks to the 3080 and 3060 existing in more palatable dollar to power ratios. Right? Right?

That’s a funny joke.

Don’t get me wrong, it is possible to get this card for under £700 if you’re smart about it. And quick. But why? Let’s say you’re a solo freelancer or small studio looking to upgrade your much overworked 1050tis or P5000s? Let’s say you really resent spending triple or even quadruple RRP on a Dual-Link capable and decently powerful chip. With Quadro prices also artificially inflated, what can you do?

You can buy a used Titan X Pascal for under £500. That’s a prosumer card which is comparable to a 2080 Super for less money than Nvidia’s current mid-range consumer gaming chips.

So time for the caveats. I know, it’s a 10-series card. I know, it was was usurped by the 1080ti not long after release and I know; you’re losing RTX which for us in CG actually means something. But unless you’re specifically dealing with RTX workloads (in which case perhaps consider a used 2060 Super or 2070), this really is your only option right now. The Titan XP was never a popular card; mostly because it was almost instantly power-crept by cheaper offerings on release. It was also not priced competitively to begin with. But four years is a long time and second-hand Titan XP prices are now quite generous given that this is still a professional grade card. In most speed rankings I can find, it’s pretty close to the 3070 if not exceeding it in most benches (except raytracing). Having run a new 3070 in 3D Mark and compared it with my now very used 1080ti’s results (a card very comparable to the Titan XP), this is pretty easy to believe.

While the XP is easy competition for the 3070, you’re gaining 4gb of VRAM in exchange for around 1,500 CUDA cores. You’re also gaining Dual-Link and various Prosumer benefits. Real-world, the two are almost identical in performance. Until raytracing or gaming gets involved; then all bets are off.
It is worth noting that while being somewhat decent at it, this is not a gaming card. I’d recommend looking at a GTX 1660ti for a ‘cheap’ 30-series alternative if gaming is your primary use. You’ll get far better value even with inflated prices.

Only last week I saw one go on Ebay for £340. I’m not saying this is the trend, but a quick google search at time of writing will show that the average second hand price is anywhere from £300 to £700 on most reputable online marketplaces. Given that the significantly less powerful 3060 is currently averaging at around £600 upwards, it’s a no-brainer for non-raytracing pipelines.

Conclusion

Buying a used 4-year old GPU at almost RRP may leave a bad taste in your mouth and 2 years ago I’d have laughed at the concept too. But spending money here is definitely the best stop-gap option I can think of until Nvidia release the next generation and it all starts again. The Titan XP is as solid a card as it was in 2017 and cheaper to boot. Just be sure to ask what the chip’s previous use was or you may find it quite literally dead on arrival. Either way, let me know your thoughts below. Would you consider a Titan XP in 2021 or do you feel like it’s a relic which needs to be forgotten? Have you managed to get your hands on a 30-series card and feel like an old Titan can’t begin to compare for professional use? Let me know your opinion!

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