NVIDIA GeForce GTX 550 Ti - Rejuvenating the Mainstream

Introducing the Cards

The MSI N550GTX-Ti Cyclone II OC

Lately, MSI has been updating the designs of their custom cooler and we have already seen them done so with their third-generation Twin Frozr III cooler. Now, they are also refreshing the design of their Cyclone cooler and the MSI N550GTX-Ti Cyclone II OC card we have here is one of the first cards to make use of this new second-generation Cyclone II cooler.

The most notable change to the cooler is the inclusion of what MSI calls “Propeller Blades”. These blades are angled such that more air is forced onto the heatsink. Speaking of which, the heatsink on this new Cyclone II cooler is visibly larger. Furthermore, the card comes with the usual Military Class suite of components such as solid capacitors and ferrite chokes to help the card run more cool and efficiently. With these improvements, hopefully we will see the card turn in a good performance in our temperature test.

Finally, as the “OC” suffix denotes, this card is factory overclocked at 950MHz at the core, 1900MHz at the shaders and 4300MHz DDR at the memory - a substantial bump of 50MHz at the core and 200MHz DDR at the memory.

The MSI N550GTX-Ti Cyclone II OC uses an improved design of the original Cyclone cooler that was used on MSI's mainstream graphics cards.

The card packs the usual twin DVI ports and single mini-HDMI port.

The cooler has been redesigned with "Propeller Blades" and a visibly larger heatsink.


The Palit Geforce GTX 550 Ti Sonic

Palit’s Sonic series of cards have also been some of the quickest in the market and this card is no different. Factory overclocked at a full 1GHz at the core, 2000MHz at the shaders and 4400MHz DDR at the memory, this card has significantly higher clock speeds when compared to a reference card, which should also translate to some decent performance increases. To keep the card cool Palit has decided to simply go for a custom cooler to keep the card’s temperatures under control. It has a blocky single-fan cooler with a radial design heatsink, which is quite similar to the base heatsink employed by the MSI Cyclone cooler. While solid capacitors were noted on the PCB, ferrite chokes were given a miss on this card. Perhaps a cost saving measure at this mainstream segment.

The Palit GeForce GTX 550 Ti Sonic has the familiar black and orange theme that is actually quite attractive really.

The Palit card offers a DVI port, a VGA port, and a single full-sized HDMI port.

The Palit card uses a radial heatsink design similar to that employed by MSI's Cyclone cooler. The only difference is that this card doesn't have the twin peripheral heatsink arrays by the sides.

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