Zotac GeForce GTX 550 Ti AMP Edition Review

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Zotac GeForce GTX 550 Ti AMP Edition Review

The Zotac AMP edition of Nvidia’s new budget GPU, the GTX 550 Ti, pushes the clock speeds to a full 1GHz—more than 10 percent higher than the default 900MHz. It amounts to a $150 card with 1GB of GDDR5 memory that performs moderately well in modern games, if you’re willing to dial down features like antialiasing. When you compare the performance to Sapphire’s Radeon HD 6790, the GTX 550 Ti falls a little short on the gaming side, despite the beefed-up clock speeds.

However, Zotac doesn’t seem to be aiming this card at gamers, but rather at digital media junkies and home theater PC enthusiasts. Inside the box, you’ll find software offers, including 30 percent off vReveal (a GPU-accelerated package for cleaning up shaky-cam video footage), 20 percent off Nero Vision, and promos for XBMC (the popular HTPC front end) and CoolIris (a 3D-accelerated media browser).

Zotac’s take on the GTX 550 Ti hits the sweet spot for HTPC systems, but gaming performance is lackluster.

The card itself is quite compact, at just 7.5 inches long, and only requires a single PCI-E power connector. It still takes up two PCI-E expansion slots, but at least the big fan keeping the overclocked GPU and memory cool is relatively quiet. Unlike a number of Nvidia-based cards, the Zotac ships with a native, full-size DisplayPort connector. Other attachments include a pair of dual-link DVI ports and an HDMI output with full support for HDMI audio.

Despite requiring only a single power connector, Zotac’s 550 Ti card consumes more power than the Radeon HD 6970 in our demanding full-throttle test, in which we run the Unigine Heaven benchmark at 2560x1600 with 4x AA and extreme tessellation settings. However, it also generated a higher score than the AMD part in that particular test. The GTX 550 Ti fared less well in other games compared to Sapphire’s $150 card.

If you’re looking for a relatively low- power, compact card for a home theater PC that can still handle games at HD resolution, the Zotac may be just what you want. It’s short, quiet, and has the chops for GPU-accelerated media transcoding. Gamers on a budget might look instead to Sapphire’s HD 6970.

$149, www.zotacusa.com

Zotac GeForce GTX 550 Ti AMP Edition

HOBBES

Compact size; GPU-accelerated media tool offers; low price.

GARFIELD

Lacking in gaming horsepower.

8

Specifications

Sapphire Radeon HD 6790 Zotac GTX 550 TiAsus ENGTX 460 TOP 768MBXFX Radeon HD 6850 1GB
Die Size (square millimeters)
255
238
332255
Transistor Count
1.7 billion
1.17 billion
1.95 billion
1.7 billion
Memory Bandwidth (GB/s)
134.4
98.5
192128
Stream Processors / Shader Processors
800
192
336960
Texture Units
40
32
5648
ROPs
16 24
2432
Core Clock
840MHz
1,000MHz
675MHz775MHz
GDDR 5 Memory Clock
1,050MHz 1,100MHz
900MHz1,000MHz
Memory1GB GDDR51GB GDDR5768MB GDDR5
1GB GDDR5
Power Connectors2 x 6-pin1 x 6-pin2 x 6-pin1 x 6-pin

*AMD and Nvidia computer cores are not directly comparable.

Benchmarks

Sapphire Radeon HD 6790 Zotac GTX 550 TiAsus ENGTX 460 TOP 768MBXFX Radeon HD 6850 1GB
3DMark 2011 (Extreme)
3,216
2,779
3,2013,596*
3DMark Vantage Perf
13,315
12,559
13,73714,292*
Unigine Heaven 2.1 (fps) 14
16
18*16
Crysis (fps) 20 17
1924*
BattleForge DX11 (fps) 31
3138*36
Far Cry 2 / Long (fps) 68 7788*85
HAWX 2 DX11 (fps) 62
83
85*68
STALKER: CoP DX11 (fps) 26 25
2528*
Just Cause 2 (fps)26293030*
Aliens vs. Predator (fps) 22
19
2123*
F1 2010 (fps)
39
33
36
46*
Metro 2033 (fps)11
615*9
Power @ idle (W)
137132128*133
Power @ full throttle (W)226263248218*
Street Price$150$150$160$170

Asterisk denotes best result. Our test bed is a 3.33GHz Core i7-975 Extreme Edition in an Asus P6X58D Premium motherboard with 6GB of DDR3/1333 and an 850TX Corsair PSU. The OS is 64-bit Windows Ultimate. All games are run at 1920x1200 with 4x AA.

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