Graphics Cards Guide

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 550 Ti - Rejuvenating the Mainstream

Mainstream Refresh

Mainstream Refresh

NVIDIA geared up for the new year in a big way by releasing the fantastic GeForce GTX 560 Ti. Packing 384 CUDA cores, the GeForce GTX 560 Ti shook up the mainstream to high-end markets and forced AMD to cut prices of both 2GB and 1GB variants of the Radeon HD 6950 and also the Radeon HD 6870, effectively removing the Radeon HD 6870 out of the picture and positioning the beefier Radeon HD 6950 as the GeForce GTX 560 Ti’s main competitor. Nevertheless, in spite of this move, the GeForce GTX 560 Ti remained to be really popular.

And now, NVIDIA is following up with the new GeForce GTX 550 Ti, in an attempt to rejuvenate their mainstream Fermi offerings. In terms of specifications, the GeForce GTX 550 Ti is very similar to the older GeForce GTS 450, but with some differences. While the two parts continue to have 192 CUDA cores, the new GeForce GTX 550 Ti gets a wider 192-bit memory bus interface for increased memory bandwidth. To accommodate a 1GB framebuffer on a 192-bit memory interface, NVIDIA has ensured that the GeForce GTX 550 Ti’s memory controller is capable of supporting mixed density memory chips.

Elsewhere, NVIDIA has also improved the anti-aliasing performance of the GeForce GTX 550 Ti by increasing the number of raster operating units (ROPs). The GeForce GTX 550 Ti has 24 ROPs, an increase of eight, and hopefully this will pay dividends when we enable anti-aliasing.

Other than the increase in the number of ROPs, the GeForce GTX 550 Ti also gets much higher clock speeds. In stock form, a reference GeForce GTX 550 Ti will be running at a staggering 900MHz at the core (that's close to a full 1GHz), 1800MHz at the shaders, and 4100MHz DDR at the memory. Comparing this to the older GeForce GTS 450 equivalent clock speeds 783MHz, 1566MHz and 3608MHz DDR, the clock speeds of the GeForce GTX 550 Ti a substantial increase of around 14%. which, along with the increased memory bandwidth and bump in ROPs count, should give a good increase in performance.

All things considered, the increased memory bandwidth, bump in ROPs count, and higher clock speeds, should give the GeForce GTX 550 Ti a good increase in performance over the older GeForce GTS 450. But before we continue, here is a quick look at how NVIDIA’s new part compares against its closest rivals.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 550 Ti and competitive SKUs compared
Model NVIDIA GeForce 
GTX 550 Ti
NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Ti NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 AMD Radeon HD 6850 ATI Radeon HD 5770 ATI Radeon HD 5750
Core Code GF116 GF106  GF114 GF104 Barts PRO Juniper XT Juniper  PRO
Transistor Count 1170 million 1170 million  1950 million 1950 million 1700 million 1040 million 1040 million
Manufacturing Process 40nm 40nm 40nm 40nm 40nm 40nm  40nm
Core Clock 900MHz 783MHz  822MHz 675MHz 775MHz 850MHz  700MHz
Stream Processors 192 Stream Processors 192 Stream Processors  384 Stream Processors 336 Stream Processors 960 Stream processing units 800 Stream processing units 720 Stream processing units
Stream Processor Clock 1800MHz 1566MHz  1644MHz 1350MHz 775MHz 850MHz 700MHz
Texture Mapping Units (TMU) or Texture Filtering (TF) units 32 32  64 56 48 40 36
Raster Operator units (ROP) 24 16  32 24 32 16 16
Memory Clock 4100MHz GDDR5 3608MHz GDDR5  4008MHz GDDR5 3600MHz GDDR5 4000MHz GDDR5 4800MHz GDDR5 4600MHz GDDR5
DDR Memory Bus 192-bit 128-bit  256-bit 192 / 256-bit 256-bit 128-bit  128-bit
Memory Bandwidth 98.5GB/s 57.7GB/s  128GB/s 86.4 / 115.2GB/s 128GB/s 76.8GB/s 73.6GB/s
PCI Express Interface PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16  PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16 PCIe ver 2.0 x16  PCIe ver 2.0 x16
Molex Power Connectors 1 x 6-pin 1 x 6-pin  2 x 6-pin 2 x 6-pin 1 x 6-pin 1 x 6-pin 1 x 6-pin
Multi GPU Technology SLI SLI SLI SLI CrossFireX CrossFireX  CrossFireX
DVI Output Support 2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link  2 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link 1 x Single-Link, 1 x Dual-Link 2 x Dual-Link  2 x Dual-Link
HDMI 1 (mini-HDMI) 1 (mini-HDMI) 1 (mini-HDMI) 1 (mini-HDMI) 1 1 1
DisplayPort None None None None 1 (DisplayPort 1.2) 1 1
HDCP Output Support  Yes Yes  Yes Yes Yes Yes  Yes
Street Price  Launch price: US$159 ~US$129 ~US$249 ~US$199 ~US$189 ~US$139  ~US$109