PowerColor PCS+ HD 5550 GDDR5
PowerColor’s PCS designation stands for Professional Cooling System, and in the case of the PCS+ HD5550 GDDR5, that cooling system is put to good use. The GPU is cooled enough to allow for a factory overclock of 650 MHz (100 MHz over the reference Radeon HD 5550 core clock specification). The card’s GDDR5 memory is clocked at the reference 900 MHz speed.
AMD tells us that the reference Radeon HD 5550 GDDR5 board does not have CrossFire fingers, but instead implements CrossFire functionality through the motherboard’s PCIe bus. PowerColor’s PCS+ model does have the CrossFire fingers present however, and closer inspection shows that this is actually the same circuit board as PowerColor’s custom PCS+ HD5670 card. CrossFire is more effective when the cards communicate over this proprietary link, so this feature might be attractive for folks who plan to upgrade with a second card later. The robust Radeon HD 5670 PCB gives us hope that PowerColor’s PCS+ HD5550 has good overclocking potential.
This card comes with a Spartan bundle consisting of a driver CD and installation manual, which is not surprising for a product targeted at the budget segment.
The card’s cooler is identical to the one used on the PowerColor PCS+ HD5670, which is pushed to much higher core clock speeds than the PCS+ HD5550. This cooler doesn’t have any trouble keeping the lower-clocked Radeon HD 5550 GPU cool.
PowerColor’s PCS+ card has a DVI, HDMI, and VGA output, which makes DisplayPort-dependant triple-monitor Eyefinity setups impossible. This is probably not an issue with most people looking for a budget solution like the Radeon HD 5550, though.
The card’s BIOS limits for CCC Overdrive clock speeds are 850 MHz core and 1100 MHz memory. Unfortunately, voltage modification doesn’t work in MSI’s Afterburner utility, so we’re stuck with the stock voltage. The 850 MHz core speed limit is very optimistic without the ability to add some voltage, but we are able to push the card to an impressive 775 MHz core and 1025 MHz memory. This results in some very impressive performance as you will see in the overclocked benchmarks.