NVIDIA GeForce GTX 550 Ti 1GB Review
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The last six months or so have been rife with “refreshed” GPU releases as both AMD and NVIDIA vied for market dominance. People who were in the market for a new graphics card were treated to a glut of mid to high end cards that hit literally every price point from $180 on up to $700 so there was definitely no lack of choice. However, those with a bit less liquid capital were left high and dry since the technology gracing the HD 6000 and NVIDIA 500 GPUs never did filter down to lower end cards. To this day, the sub-$150 market is cluttered with previous-generation cards in the form of the GTS 450 and GT 430 along with AMD’s own HD 5700, 5500 and 5400 series.
NVIDIA is now trying to apply the lessons learned with the previous GTX 500 cards into a card that hits a significantly lower price point than the $250 GTX 560 Ti. Dubbed the GTX 550 Ti, this new member in the GeForce family hits the $149 price point while incorporating some unique features like support for NVIDIA Surround which we aren’t used to seeing in a product with mass market appeal. This also happens to mark one of the few times we see the GTX moniker slapped onto a budget-friendly graphics card.
To many, the GTX 550 Ti will be considered the spiritual successor to the wildly successful GTS 450 1GB. This is only partially true since it isn’t meant to replace the GF106-based GTS 450 but rather act as bridge between two segments within NVIDIA’s current lineup. The “new” GF116 is supposed to offer significantly higher performance and boasts similar power consumption as the GTS 450 so successor or not, parallels between the two need to be drawn. This also means NVIDIA is gunning for AMD’s HD 5770; a card that’s been sitting pretty at $150 for as long as many can remember.
With the GTX 460 768MB retailing for $130 after rebates at many retailers and the 1GB version not too far off at $160, things look a bit tough for NVIDIA’s new kid on the block. Yet we have to remember that early spring usually marks the starting point of the crazy pre-summer game release schedule so if there was ever a time to cater to budget gamers, it’s now.
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