Value and Conclusion
|8.8||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 550 Ti adds yet another item to the overcrowded mainstream plate, in the GPU buffet. At the outset, any addition is a good one for the buyer, as it increases consumer choice and tends to affect pricing of other products in the segment, but then it also adds to the confusion. You may have all the world's review data on the back of your mind, but when you stare at a rack of pretty-looking graphics card boxes, all in the same price-range, it becomes a mind-numbing and almost traumatic experience to pick the right card, and often things as trivial as box design affect your choice.|
GTX 550 Ti is a good performer for screens sized 22-inch and below, that use sub-HD resolutions. 1680x1050, 1440x900, and 1600x900 are popular gaming resolutions in this category. The GTX 550 Ti is a fair bit faster than its predecessor, the GeForce GTS 450. It makes games such as Crysis, that were close to unplayable at 1680x1050 with GTS 450, playable, with over 25 FPS. On the other hand, it's still slower than the previous generation GeForce GTX 460 768MB, which is not only faster at 1680x1050, but also $20 cheaper, making for an overall better option...while stock lasts.
While NVIDIA perfected its Fermi architecture with the GeForce 500 Series allowing for higher clock speeds, it is also coming at higher power draw for the GTX 550 Ti. The card draws more power on load than a GTX 460 768 MB, the performance per Watt figure took a bigger beating as a result. Overall, GeForce GTX 550 Ti is a fairly good choice, if you can keep track of every other option in this card's proximity. Look out for the cheaper, faster GTX 460 768 MB without prejudice toward its 25% lesser memory amount, also look out for Radeon HD 6850 from the red camp, which is just about $10 costlier, but significantly faster. 1680x1050 is the ideal resolution, if full HD gaming is something you require for the near future, you're better off buying a $250 graphics card now than two of these at different points in time. NVIDIA partners are selling GTX 550 Ti with overclocked speeds at almost no price premium. It makes for a good bargain, but even with overclocked speeds, things don't change much for the GTX 550 Ti in its competitive neighbourhood. A smarter move would have been a 140$ card that can win in its segment.
ZOTAC's GeForce GTX 550 Ti AMP! Edition comes with leading clock speeds out of the box, at a reasonable price premium of $10. It offers the most complete output connectivity of all GTX 550 Ti cards tested today with dual DVI, full size HDMI and full size DisplayPort. On the other hand its cooler feels a bit weak, which results in higher temperatures and more load noise than on other GTX 550 Ti cards.