Nvidia GeForce GTX 550 Ti Review: Bridging The Budget Gap

Zotac's GeForce GTX 550 Ti AMP! Edition

With a 7.5”-long PCB, Zotac's factory-overclocked model is surprisingly small (about ¾” smaller than the reference card, in fact). This is a great attribute for folks short on room in their cases. But don’t let its size fool you--this card is quite potent, with a 1 GHz core and a 2 GHz shader clock. That's 100- and 200 MHz faster than reference, respectively. The memory is also pushed past its reference specification at 4400 MT/s effective, overclocked 350 MHz.

We like the card’s visual treatment, emphasizing a black cover and orange honeycomb grating, both staples of the Zotac color scheme. We’ll see if the fan is capable of keeping the highly-clocked card cool in our temperature benchmarks, and if it can do so while generating minimal noise.

Zotac’s AMP! Edition stands apart from the reference card’s mini-HDMI output with full-sized HDMI, plus a full-sized DisplayPort option. The HDMI output is version 1.4-compatible, meaning it supports 3D displays. And it can bitstream lossless HD audio, too. Like the reference card, it also sports a pair of dual-link DVI outputs.

With full-sized HDMI and DisplayPort outputs, this card doesn’t need much in the way of adapters, although a DVI-to-VGA option would be appreciated. It does come with a Molex-to-PCIe adapter for the auxiliary power cable requirement. There’s a driver/utility CD, user's manual, quick installation guide, Zotac case badge, and GeForce-accelerated software pamphlet.

The driver CD contains Zotac’s Firestorm software, the company’s simple but effective overclocking tool. We’re fans of the no-nonsense interface, but voltage control would have been a nice addition for this scalable card.

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  • hardcore_gamer
    It consumes more power than the 6850, which is significantly faster.
    6
  • Pherule
    192-bit, good move there.
    0
  • AMD_pitbull
    So, when is the release date on this? Or is it going to be another paper launch by the green team?
    0
  • zooted
    So it consumes more power, and is louder than the 460 768, yet performs just about on par with the 5770? What was the point of this card?
    6
  • hardcore_gamer
    The far superior, less power consuming 6850 is available for only $10 more..This card is pointless
    9
  • scook9
    zootedSo it consumes more power, and is louder than the 460 768, yet performs just about on par with the 5770? What was the point of this card?

    To cost a lot clearly lol
    0
  • dark_lord69
    "On par with the 4870"
    "The MSRP of the new card is $149"
    Well.. in that case I'll stick with my 4870 that I bought for $80.
    8
  • sithtis
    zootedSo it consumes more power, and is louder than the 460 768, yet performs just about on par with the 5770? What was the point of this card?


    God i was thinking exactly the same... whats the point of that. a 460 768 cost around 140 and less noise less power better performance... i really really dont get it?

    6850 or 460 768 are the cards to get... here in Canada you can get a 5770 for less than 100$
    2
  • K2N hater
    @Don

    How about the minimal FPS? Any substantial change on FPS once all eye-candy settings are enabled?
    0
  • cleeve
    K2N hater@DonHow about the minimal FPS? Any substantial change on FPS once all eye-candy settings are enabled?


    Minimum FPS readings should be there for most of the games we've benched.

    As for adding eye-candy settings, not sure that makes sense for this class of card as it might push FPS down to unpleasant levels.
    2
  • cleeve
    AMD_pitbullSo, when is the release date on this? Or is it going to be another paper launch by the green team?


    Looks like they're for sale on NewEgg right now.
    1
  • Anonymous
    Btw ... from what I gather its 5 - 7 % better than the 5770 but costs about 30% more than the 5770 ... i dont think that its worth it !
    2
  • cleeve
    zootedSo it consumes more power, and is louder than the 460 768, yet performs just about on par with the 5770? What was the point of this card?


    To be fair, we only had factory overclocked cards to test for power readings as we said in the article. having said that, chances are a reference GTX 550 Ti would have pushed 80 watts in our load test. 25 watts isn't a big deal, really. Assuming you live in a place with high electricity rates like 16 cents/killowatt hour, we're talking a difference of 0.4 cents per hour of gaming between the 5770 and GTX 550 Ti. That's under a gaming load, at idle the difference would be infinitesimal.

    As far as noise, all of the cards have about the same nominal levels. under load the Zotac is as loud as the 5770, the MSI is a bit louder but as we mentioned in the article the MSI cooler doesn't get that loud during regular operation, and keeps the GPU a lot cooler. Also, the GTS 450 shares the same cooler as the GTX 550 Ti reference card, and it's quite quiet.

    In any case, it's not as cut and dry as you might think by simply glancing at the charts.
    1
  • cleeve
    ignanikBtw ... from what I gather its 5 - 7 % better than the 5770 but costs about 30% more than the 5770 ... i dont think that its worth it !


    Absolutely right!

    However, this often changes to fit the market after unreasonably high launch pricing. If the 550 Ti falls to within $10 of Radeon 5770 pricing it'd be viable.

    That's obviously not the case yet, though, and the Radeon 5770 is easily a better buy at $125 right now.
    0
  • zooted
    CleeveAbsolutely right! However, this often changes to fit the market after unreasonably high launch pricing. If the 550 Ti falls to within $10 of Radeon 5770 pricing it'd be viable. That's obviously not the case yet, though, and the Radeon 5770 is easily a better buy at $125 right now.
    The thing is, it was supposed to bridge the gap between the 460 and the 5770, but it performs way too close to the 5770 side of the spectrum.
    1
  • cleeve
    zootedThe thing is, it was supposed to bridge the gap between the 460 and the 5770, but it performs way too close to the 5770 side of the spectrum.


    To me, the point is price/performance. There's not really bad cards anymore, just bad prices.

    Launch pricing usually sucks, but the bottom line is if it settles close to the 5770 it's good, and if it costs close to a GTX 460 768MB its not. :)
    1
  • zooted
    ^Fair enough
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  • cyrusfox
    sithtisGod i was thinking exactly the same... whats the point of that. a 460 768 cost around 140 and less noise less power better performance... i really really dont get it?6850 or 460 768 are the cards to get... here in Canada you can get a 5770 for less than 100$


    Yep, read anands review, pretty much said the same thing. Tom seems like you may be giving Nvidia a little too much leeway with this lackluster offering. 550 would make a great choice if it was $30-$50 cheaper. As it stands. it is a horrible offering and much better cards are available at that price.
    1
  • megamanx00
    Considering the 5770 is as cheap as $119, it's gonna be tough for nVidia to price it too much higher.
    1
  • ScrewySqrl
    my guess is in 4-6 weeks, teh 550 will be about $125-130, and will be competitive at that price.

    right now the 450 is priced about like a 460SE, and performs similarly (the SE would pull ahead at 1920x1080 res, or with AA enabled because its wider memory bus (256 vs 192) and all same-speed RAM.
    2