The GTX 550 Ti series is going to be interesting in the sense that it addresses a very specific market, it makes it a hard to pinpoint and position product though, that market probably is not the Guru3D.com audience. Fact remains that end-users with a monitor resolution up-to roughly 1600x1200 will get enough performance out of the card to have it play decent games with. Fact remains that a GeForce GTX 560 Ti you can much, MUCH more performance. Now it's not that the 550 Ti is bad product, no Sir... its the simple fact that performance is too far away from its bigger brother.
Performance wise, direct competitors would be the GeForce GTX 460 768MB and SE model and from ATI the Radeon HD 5770, and that last one can be found for 90 EUR already here in the stores.
NVIDIA literally cut in half the shader processor count and as such we see a tremendous performance difference of a product that should have been merely 20~25% slower opposed to that GTX 550 Ti.
Priced right, the GeForce GTX 550 Ti however can be a very successful product. Initially we have been afraid to see this product retail at 150 EUR / 175 USD and luckily that's not happening (talking about reference based product of course). You'll notice that the price is to settle in the 130 USD bracket. Factory overclocked and customized products however might get into problems pricing wise. The product as tested today will cost you 159 USD (Newegg) and that's a lot of money for this performance level. But again the word that I'm getting back from board partners is that the "default" clocked and cooled cards will cost as little as 130 USD, and that sounds fair enough.
Looking at the product itself, MSI did a nice job with it. Cool looking PCB and well cooled on all important area's. Fully stressed the card does not exceed 50 Degrees C and it remains quiet at all times. Monitor connectivity wise you'll have everything needed to get yourself up-and running. The heat and noise are thus not an issue, the power consumption was a tad higher then the advertised TDP. Then again, our MSI card comes factory overclocked with a slightly higher GPU voltage.
Overclocking wise we pushed the card to really sick stuff, we reached 1102 MHz on the core, 2204 MHz on the shader processors and pushed the memory towards 2313. Now for that to happen we did push the GPU core voltage towards 1.15V with the help of afterburner. But surely the clock frequency this card series can take is definitely impressive.
So there you have it, the GXT 550 Ti does by far not have the thrill and excitement written over it as the GTX 560 Ti release had. But priced right though the card however can be an appealing alternative to those in the lower monitor resolutions and HTPCs. But yeah, we had hoped for a little more alright. Then again we always do... :)The card as shown today from MSI however has all factors right, nice looks, great cooling, low noise and massive tweakability if you like to fool around with it a little. Gaming up-to 1600x1200 with this card is fine really, and at 1920x1200 here and there even quite playable with slightly dated titles and image quality settings. If you can pick one up for 130 USD, well... why the heck not ?
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