UPDATED: Nvidia's new midrange on Gainward's steroids
Nvidia today launched its new mid-range offering dubbed the Geforce GTX 550 Ti. We did not receive the reference model but we believe you won’t shed any tears over it as our guest is none other than Gainwards GTX 550 Ti Golden Sample. As you probably know by now, the GTX 550 Ti is based on the 40nm GF116 GPU which sports 192 CUDA cores paired up with the 192-bit memory interface and 1GB of GDDR5 memory.
In order to stand out of the crowd that launched reference based GTX 550 Ti cards, Gainward overclocked the GPU and memory as well as implemented specially designed cooling. As far as availability goes, it’s quite likely that you’ll be able to purchase Gainwards GTX 550 Ti GS and other GTX 550 Ti cards already today, here.
Reference GTX 550 Ti clocks are 900MHz for the GPU and double that for shaders. However, Gainward boosted its card by another 100MHz so the GS (Golden Sample) GPU runs at 1000MHz. GS memory clock is 4400MHz (efective).
The card’s cooler comes with a large heatsink and will take care of thermals. Maximum consumption stands at 116W (for overclocked GS card TDP is about 30W higher) and the card comes with one 6-pin PCI-Express power connector.
Just like Nvidia, Gainward opted for a dual-slot cooling cooler but Gainward’s solution is different from the reference one. As you can see from the pictures below, Gainward chose to use a large circular heatsink and an 8cm fan.
The GTX 550 Ti GS’ plastic shroud is protected by nylon cover that should be removed prior to use.
The card is only 19.2cm long and looks quite cute. The 6-pin power connector is at the end of the card. The fan uses a 4-pin connector and you can regulate RPM via Gainward’s ExperTool. Of course, MSI’s Afterburner or other similar tools will also do the trick.
The memory is cooled by air passing through the heatsink, where the heatsink is so low that it almost touches the memory chips.
Gainward decided to use only one dual-link DVI, unlike Nvidia’s reference version that comes with two. However, Gainward did a good thing by using a standard HDMI connector, whereas the reference card has only mini-HDMI. Furthermore, Gainward’s card comes with one VGA out.
The SLI connector means you can daisy chain two GTX 550 Ti for improved performance.
That Gainward’s card is a mainstream product is evident from the relatively small package. However, ‘Golden Sample’ and ‘GOOD’ mean that this is not your ordinary mainstream offering, but rather an overclocked card with special cooling.
Gainward’s ‘GOOD’ edition cards come with several different video outs, due to which there are no other connectors in the box other than the 6-pin power cable.
Motherboard: EVGA 4xSLI
CPU: Core i7 965 XE (Intel EIST and Vdrop enabled)
Memory: 6GB Corsair Dominator 12800 7-7-7-24
Harddisk: OCZ Vertex 2 100 GB
Power Supply: CoolerMaster Silent Pro Gold 800W
Case: CoolerMaster HAF X
Fan Controler: Kaze Master Pro 5.25"
Operating System: Win7 64-bit
AMD 11.2 CCC
For reasons of technical nature, we will not be able to show comparisons with HD 5770 or GTX 460 768MB today, but we will have them soon enough. However, the tests clearly show that the GTX 550 Ti is significantly slower than the GTX 460 1GB or AMD HD 6850.
Aliens vs Predator
Overclocking; Temperatures; Noise
All three parameters are satisfactory. Gainward GTX 550 Ti GS has 100MHz faster GPU clock and 296MHz (effectively) faster memory. Additional overclock was not that much, but we couldn’t expect more given that the fact already runs at 1GHz.
Core temperatures didn’t go over 74°C and the fan is pretty quiet.
Nvidia today launched its new mid-range graphics card dubbed the GTX 550 Ti. We received a special, factory overclocked version made by Gainward, the GTX 550 Ti Golden Sample. The GTX 550 Ti GS card’s GPU is up from reference 900MHz to 1000MHz, whereas the memory runs at 1800MHz.
Gainward did a good job with overclocking and reference cooling but even with all its effort, it didn’t do much to help Nvidia stage a surprise with its GF116 chip. GTX 550 Ti GS’ performance is pretty good and it will provide some nice gaming performance, but the competition is fierce and its price of €140, here, means that it has much to do to prove itself.
GOOD edition cooling keeps temperatures below 74°C, where Golden Sample’s cooler remains almost inaudible. Like reference cards, the GS’ I/O panel features a dual-link DVI connector. However, while the reference card uses mini-HDMI connector, the Golden Sample has a standard sized HDMI one.
Of course, GTX 550 Ti supports DirectX 11 and will consume around 116W in worst case scenarios. The card has 1GB of GDDR5 which judging by the results is enough for the card’s ticker – the GF116 chip.
In conclusion, Gainward’s GTX 550 Ti Golden Sample is a quality graphics card with pretty good performance, but pricing is something that might throw some users off. Having said that, the card will definitely be interesting to those who want a special flavored and silent GTX 550 Ti.
UPDATE: About one week after the original review, we managed to include more cards in our comparison charts. Results clearly say that Gainward GTX 550 Ti golden Sample card is much faster that reference based GTX 550 Ti, on average more than 10%.
Note that many partners slashed pricing last week in order to position the cards better, so Geforce GTX 550 Ti is available already at €122. Our test sample, Gainward’s GTX 550 Ti GS, is still a bit pricier but in return you get a quiet card with a nice punch.