Hi. I just bought an Ivy Bridge i5-3570K barebone kit along with a 550Ti, but don't find it to be an especially impressive performer for my various flight and train sims. So, I am wondering what you think would be best for DX9 (and OpenGL) gaming, the GTX 280 or GTX 550Ti. Tigerdirect has a good deal on refurbished 280s, though I'd need to buy a new PSU since the barebones cames with a 650W. I run XP 64 and XP 32/SP3 and doubt I'm going to be running anything in the future that requires DX10/11.
The PSU is an Ultra 650W, and the mobo is a Gigabyte GA-Z77-DS3H. For reasons too numerous to mention, I won't be upgrading to an OS later than XP, at least not a Microsoft one. XP is more than enough. SLi actually causes problems with some of these sims anyway, and it's generally recommended to have a single faster GPU over SLi or X-fire arrangements. I'm only asking about the 280 because the price is so good and the 550Ti is a little underwhelming. However, I'm not sure if the various reviews and comparisons posted here and other places on the internet are based on games that run newer DirectX specifications or not. FYI, here are the semi-modern games I'll be running
FSX + various addons
Trainz 2009, 2010, and 2012
Battlefront I & II
The GTX280 is about as fast as a GTX460. Which is faster then the 550TI. If you find the 550TI underwhelming then I'm not sure the next card up is going to impress you. Perhaps a GTX560(TI)? There is always the 6870 or 7850 as well.
I'm still looking for more opinions! Let me clarify things. First, thanks for those links, Rick - I haven't seen that PSU ranking before. I know the Ultra isn't a good power supply run anywhere near it's limits, hence why I won't run a 280 despite nVidia claiming a minimum 550W supply but your link is extremely helpful in understanding the hierarchy.
560's or otherwise don't make financial sense; as it stands, it'll only cost me about $50 more to trade my current card and buy a new PSU. I've already worked out the finances - I'm just wondering about technical capabilities and I'm confining this discussion to the 550Ti versus the 280.
I would probably grab the 550ti just on heat/power draw alone. The GTX280 isn't that much faster but will use a lot more electricity. So unless you find a GTX280 for a heck of a steal I'd just get the 550ti