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Nvidia GeForce GTX 550 Ti Review: Bridging The Budget Gap

Conclusion: The GeForce GTX 550 Ti Is As Powertful As It Needs To Be

Let’s look at the average performance across all real-world benchmarks at 1680x1050, which is the target resolution for this class of card:

Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 550 Ti delivers solid competition for the Radeon HD 5770. The aggregate numbers show them to be incredible similar, in fact, though both cards claim victories in specific applications.

That chart doesn’t include AA performance, mind you. When that visual enhancement is enabled, the GeForce GTX 550 Ti can pull ahead of the Radeon in a greater number of game titles. With this in mind, Nvidia’s new card is probably worth a few dollars more than the Radeon 5770 if you like to crank up AA--just remember that you'll probably have to lower your detail settings in many games if you want to keep your frame rates high.

Of course, individual buyers might find Radeon- or GeForce-specific features to be the deal makers. For example, if single-card, triple-monitor gaming is your thing (at a necessarily low vertical resolution, of course), the Radeon is the way to go—GeForces require two cards in SLI for triple-monitor gaming. Folks who would like to view movies and games on a 3D display will want to go with the GeForce. The Radeon HD 5770 doesn’t offer HD3D; that’s a 6000-series exclusive. There are other features to consider, such as Nvidia's CUDA and PhysX, plus AMD's APP. But if these features concern you, there's a good chance you know about them already.

The bottom line is that Nvidia needed a Radeon HD 5770 alternative, and the GeForce GTX 550 Ti is just that. The MSRP of the new card is $149, but real-world prices will fluctuate both above and below this number (for example the MSRP of the GeForce GTS 450 is $129, yet the card can be found online for as low as $110). Launch pricing is always high, but the point is if the GeForce GTX 550 Ti sticker settles close to the Radeon HD 5770, it’s a good buy. If it’s priced closer to the GeForce GTX 460 768 MB, it’s going to have a tough time—at least until the powerful card is gone from the store shelves.

Speaking of the GeForce GTX 460 768 MB, as nice as it is to see some new competition, we’re sad to see it go. This card only recently found a good niche between the Radeon HD 5770 and GeForce GTX 460 1 GB/Radeon HD 6850. The benchmarks show it to be undeniably powerful compared to the Radeon HD 5770 and GeForce GTX 550 Ti. Factory-overclocked models like Zotac’s GeForce GTX 550 Ti AMP! Edition and the MSI N550GTX-Ti Cyclone II might make the loss of older card a little less painful, mind you.

In any case, we like having plenty of options across the most important mainstream price segments, and the GeForce GTX 550 Ti is a worthy competitor for the Radeon HD 5770. The gap has been filled; let the good times roll.