For the purposes of this article, we acquired a trio of retail ready GeForce GTX 550 Ti cards from three of NVIDIA’s premiere board partners, ZOTAC, Asus, and MSI. All three of these cards are factory overclocked and feature custom coolers and PCB designs. As was the case with the GeForce GTX 450, there will be many GeForce GTX 550 Ti cards overclocked right out of the gate, hence the arrival of the cards you see pictured here.
The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 550 Ti AMP! Edition card is the highest clocked of the cards we’ll be featuring here, yet it is also the smallest. The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 550 Ti AMP! Edition card sports a 1GHz GPU clock, with 2GHz shaders, and 1GB of 1100MHz (4400MHz effective) GDDDR5 memory. The output configuration on the card consists of a pair of dual-link DVI outputs, an HDMI output, and a DisplayPort output, although only two outputs can be used simultaneously. Bundled with the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 550 Ti AMP! Edition card, we found a few pieces of documentation, a case badge, a DVI to VGA adapter, and a single PCI Express 6-pin power adapter. There was also an obligatory driver / utility CD, which contained copies of some useful apps, like vReveal, Nero Vision Xtra, CoolIris, XBMC, and Kylo.
Next up, we have the MSI N550GTX-Ti Cyclone II. The N550GTX-Ti’s PCB is about an inch longer than ZOTAC’s card and it is outfitted with a much larger circular cooler, dubbed the Cyclone II. MSI clocks their card at 950MHz for the GPU, 1950MHz for the shaders / CUDA cores, and 1075MHz (4300MHz effective) for the memory. The MSI N550GTX-Ti Cyclone II’s outputs consist of dual, dual-link DVIs and a single mini-HDMI output. Bundled with the card are a typical array of documents, drivers and adapters, although MSI also throws in a mini-HDMI to full-sized HDMI adapter. We should also point out that MSI’s Afterburner overclocking / tweaking utility is included as well, which is arguably one of the better apps of its kind.
Finally, we have the Asus GTX 550 Ti DirectCU TOP edition. The Asus GTX 550 Ti DirectCU TOP is about the same size as the MSI card, but it sports yet another different PCB design. The “DirectCU” in the card’s model name is a reference to the cooler, which uses copper heat-pipes that make direct contact with the GPU, to enhance cooling performance. This card’s GPU is clocked at 975MHz, with 1950MHz, shaders, and 1026MHz (4104MHz effective) memory. The Asus GTX 550 Ti DirectCU’s outputs consist of an HDMI output, a VGA output, and a dual-link DVI output. And bundled with the card were a quick setup guide, driver / utility CD, and a single PCIe 6-pin power adapter.
All of the GeForce GTX 550 Ti cards you see pictured here require only a single PCIe 6-pin power feed and despite their differences in size and appearance, all three of the coolers used on these cards are nice and quiet. In fact, throughout testing, none of them spun up to the point they were audible over our test PSU and stock Intel Core i7 CPU cooler.