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Nvidia GeForce GTX 550 Ti review

Chris Finnamore
6 Apr 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
116
inc VAT

It's compact and power-efficient, but Nvidia's GeForce GTX 550 Ti doesn't have the grunt to match the competition from AMD.

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We gave the fast and overclockable Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti a Best Buy award in January. The 550 Ti is the mid-range card from the same range, which goes head-to-head with the AMD Radeon HD 6790.

PNY GTX 550 Ti

Unlike the surprisingly large HD 6790, the 550 Ti is a fairly compact card. It still takes up two expansion slots in your case, but is 223mm rather than 262mm long and only needs a single six-pin PCI Express power connector. It draws just 116W under load, compared to the HD 6790's 150W. On the rear are two DVI connectors and a mini-HDMI, so you'll need the appropriate lead, or an adaptor, to connect it to an HDMI display - PNY's version of the GTX 550 Ti (£116 from www.lambda-tek.com/componentshop) has an adaptor in the box.

Nvidia groups its stream processors into clusters, which it calls Streaming Multiprocessors. The GTX 550 Ti has four clusters of 48 stream processors, giving a total of 192 - the much more expensive GTX 560 Ti has eight clusters, for 384 stream processors in total.

This means that, despite its fast 900MHz clock speed and 1GB of GDDR5 memory, it's no powerhouse. The GTX 550 Ti lagged behind the similarly-priced AMD Radeon HD 6790 in all our tests. In Crysis at 1,680x1,050 with High detail and 4x anti-aliasing, it could only manage 35.6fps compared to 41.8fps, and when we raised the resolution to 1,920x1,080 our frame rate dropped to a barely-smooth 31.2fps, compared to 37.2fps for the AMD card. In our DirectX 11 Stalker test Nvidia's card came out with a below-par 28.3fps compared to the Radeon HD 6790's smoother 33.8fps.

MSI Afterburner

The GTX 550 Ti was easy to overclock with MSI's free Afterburner tool. We pushed up the clock speed to 998MHz and the memory to 1,996MHz, which gave us a 2-3fps boost in all our tests. This still wasn't enough to catch up with AMD's card, though.

While Nvidia's enthusiast 560 Ti is strong competition for AMD's Radeon HD 6950, the GTX 550 Ti can't compete with AMD's latest mid-range cards. The Radeon HD 6790 and HD 6850 remain our favourite graphics cards for gamers on a medium-sized budget.

Basic Specifications

Price£116
Rating***
Detailswww.nvidia.com
InterfacePCI Express x16
Crossfire/SLISLI
Slots taken up2
BrandnVidia
Graphics ProcessorNvidia GeForce GTX 550 Ti
Memory1,024MB GDDR5
Memory interface192-bit
GPU clock speed900MHz
Memory speed1.03GHz
Card length223mm

Features

Architecture192 stream processors
Anti aliasing16x
Anisotropic filtering16x

Connectors

DVI outputs2
VGA outputs0
S-video outputno
S-Video inputno
Composite outputsno
Composite inputsno
Component outputsno
HDMI outputs1
Power leads required1x 6-pin PCI Express

Extras

Accessoriesnone
Software includednone

Benchmark Results

3DMark Vantage 1680N/A
Call of Duty 4 1680 4xAA67.9fps
Call of Duty 4 1440 4xAA80.2fps
Crysis 1680 High 4xAA35.9fps
Crysis 1440 High 4xAA44.5fps

Buying Information

WarrantyN/A
Price£116
Supplierhttp://www.lambda-tek.com/componentshop
Detailswww.nvidia.com

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