ASUS GTX550 Ti DirectCU TOP ReviewRHKCommander959 -
Category: Video Cards
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NVIDIA has finally worked its way toward a mid-range offering for the 500-series with the new GTX 550 Ti. The GTX 550 has the same CUDA core count of the GTS 450 with 192, which is half that of the GTX 560 Ti. The memory bus is increased to 192-bit combined with the now common 1GB of GDDR5 and the increased bus size directly correlates to more memory bandwidth. The memory controller can also use mixed density memory ICs, which is how 1GB was managed with a 192-bit memory bus. NVIDIA has designed the GTX 550s to overclock up to 1 GHz core speed without increasing voltage, with the reference speed being at 900 MHz core. The new design is claimed to provide 28% faster performance and 20% more performance per watt over the GTS 450. The new cards are aimed at casual gamers using 1680x1050 resolution and 4xAA opposite the Radeon HD 5770s. NVIDIA has created an Optimal Playable Settings list of 714 games to suggest good settings for each card.
ASUS has already designed a DirectCU TOP version of the GTX 550 for the launch and this beast has two large 8mm copper heatpipes in direct contact with the core that is clocked at 975 MHz. The card also has software voltage controls that can increase overclockability further! The DirectCU edition cards from ASUS also come with many nice features. This card has a stiffening bracket to help keep the PCB straight and the GPU core is reinforced with glue on each corner to help keep it anchored to the board while also helping to keep it from bending. In addition,high quality chokes, MOSFETs, and capacitors are used on the card for better operation and efficiency. Cheaper chokes often emit an annoying high-pitched buzzing sound, whereas the Super Alloy Power chokes are solid. Connectivity shouldn't be a problem for most gamers at this level, as the card has VGA, DVI, and HDMI outputs available.
The dark knight theme is shared among many of the new ASUS cards, with NVIDIA getting green and AMD getting red, fittingly. This makes it very obvious which brand is which on the shelves. The front of the box boldly and proudly states the overclocked speed of 975 MHz, with some feature icons shown below, as well as the card type. Flipping over to the back covers most things that the front left out and explains key elements like the Super Alloy Power that improves performance 15%, leads to a 2.5x longer lifespan, and results in 35 °C cooler operation. The back also shows that the card has voltage modulation built into the ASUS SmartDoctor overclocking and card settings program. The card has one VGA, DVI, and HDMI output to be highly connectible.
One of the four sides of the box has bar codes and recommended system requirements listed in several languages to guide potential customers on proper installation basics. The other three sides are all the same and show the ASUS logo, "GTX550 Ti DirectCU TOP", 1GB GDDR5 memory, and 975 MHz factory overclock.
The graphics card is protected in the standard anti-static polyethylene bag that is coated with a metallic film that creates a Faraday cage around it. The card sits on top of a cardboard platform that holds the only accessory, a power cable adapter comprised of a pair of male Molex connections to a female 6-pin PCI Express connector. Underneath the platform are the installation guide and driver disk.
With everything unpacked, let's get a look at the new card!