One might assume that a GPU priced at over $40,000 would be the ultimate choice for gaming, but the truth is far more intricate. In actuality, this Nvidia GPU doesn’t even come close to integrated graphics solutions.
Before getting disappointed, it’s important to note that I’m referring to Nvidia’s H100 featuring the GH100 chip, also known as Grace Hopper. It’s a powerful data center GPU designed for high-performance computing (HPC) tasks, not for gaming on a regular PC. It lacks display outputs and coolers, as it is intended for data centers and server environments where it is cooled by powerful external fans.
Although it “only” has 14,592 CUDA cores (which is fewer than the RTX 4090), it boasts an enormous amount of VRAM and a massive bus. The GPU has a total of 80GB of HBM2e memory, divided into five HBM stacks, each connected to a 1024-bit bus. Additionally, unlike Nvidia’s consumer GPUs, this card still supports NVLink, allowing it to seamlessly integrate into multi-GPU systems.
The question arises: Why does this GPU perform so poorly in general usage and games?
To demonstrate this, YouTuber Gamerwan received four of these H100 graphics cards for testing and decided to install one in a regular Windows system to evaluate its performance. This particular model is a PCIe 5.0 and had to be paired with an RTX 4090 due to the lack of display outputs. Gamerwan also 3D-printed a custom-designed external cooler to ensure optimal GPU performance.
Getting the system to recognize the H100 as a proper GPU required some effort, but once Gamerwan overcame the obstacles, ray tracing support was enabled. However, as the subsequent testing revealed, a non-data center platform offers very limited support for other functionalities.
In a standard 3DMark Time Spy test, the GPU only scored 2,681 points. In comparison, the average score for the RTX 4090 is 30,353 points. This places the H100 somewhat between the consumer GTX 1050 and GTX 1060. Furthermore, it performs almost the same as AMD’s Radeon 680M, which is an integrated GPU.
The gaming tests yielded poor results as well, with the graphics card averaging 8 frames per second (fps) in Red Dead Redemption 2. The lack of software support is evident here – despite its maximum power capability of 350 watts, the system struggles to push it beyond 100W, resulting in significant performance limitations.
Several factors contribute to this subpar gaming performance. Firstly, despite being a powerful GPU on paper, the H100 differs significantly from the AD102 GPU that powers the RTX 4090 in terms of architecture. It only has 24 raster operating units (ROPs), which is a significant reduction compared to the RTX 4090’s 160 ROPs. Additionally, only four out of 112 texture processing clusters (TPC) are capable of rendering graphics workloads.
Nvidia’s consumer GPUs receive extensive software support to ensure optimal functioning. This includes optimized drivers and comprehensive system support from developers, both in games and benchmark programs. Unfortunately, there are no drivers available that optimize the H100’s performance for gaming, resulting in the extremely poor performance witnessed.
We have previously seen the impact of drivers with Intel Arc, where improved driver support led to performance gains, making Arc a viable choice for budget GPU buyers. However, without Nvidia Game Ready drivers and access to the rest of Nvidia’s software stack, including the impressive DLSS 3, the H100, despite its $40,000 price tag, is unsuitable for any type of gaming.
In essence, the H100 is a computing GPU rather than a graphics card in the traditional sense. It was specifically designed for various HPC tasks, with a particular focus on AI workloads. Nvidia maintains a dominant position over AMD in the field of AI, and GPUs like the H100 play a significant role in that regard.
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Deepak Sen is a tech enthusiast who covers the latest technological innovations, from AI to consumer gadgets. His articles provide readers with a glimpse into the ever-evolving world of technology.