Now we're starting to hit the real price jump, the EVGA GTX 550 Ti is nearly £20 more than the HD 6770 Vapor-X. By rights in the graphics world that should actually mean quite a lot with cards packed together like yellow fin tuna in Japanese killing farms.

Tip out your wallet right now and you can almost guarantee there's a graphics card available for that exact amount of cash. To the penny.

The step up from the AMD HD 5770/6770 though doesn't yield the sort of performance returns you might, quite reasonably, expect from the facts and figures on the specs sheet.

This here is the generational refresh of the ageing GTS 450, as noted by the GF 116 GPU as opposed to the GF 106 chip. Compared with its older brother the GTX 550 Ti does represent progress, with performance improving fairly significantly along with the improvements in silicon, especially in this EVGA Superclocked version with its much higher clock speed.

As well as a generally higher clockspeed the make-up of the GTX 550 Ti has changed quite significantly with this newer generation of cards coming with twice the ROPs count as the older card. At 24 ROPs that should make for some serious gaming credentials.

Sadly, while there's a fairly significant boost in performance compared with the GTS 450, there isn't much of a lead over the nearest AMD competitors, the HD 5770/6770.

The raw Heaven 2.5 benchmark figures show a lead, but only really in the same way the GTS 450 did. When it comes to real-world gaming however there doesn't seem to be the same performance lead in the DirectX 11 titles. The GTX 550 Ti does post a 1FPS lead in DiRT 3, but drops off in both the Shogun 2 and Metro 2033 benchmarks.

Where it does count though is in the older titles on the list. The Nvidia card posts significantly higher scores in both DirectX 10 benchmarks of Just Cause 2 and Far Cry 2. For the newer silicon to be slower in the more modern titles though is almost unforgiveable, especially given the price premium being asked for this overclocked graphics card.

EVGA gtx 550 ti sc

TechRadar Labs

Tech labs

Thermal performance
100% Load: Degrees Centigrade: Lower is better
EVGA GTX 550 TI SC: 69
XFX HD 5770: 73

DirectX 11 tessellation performance (2,560 x 1,600)
Heaven 2.5 Frames Per Second: Higher is better
EVGA GTX 550 TI SC: 8.9
XFX HD 5770: 7.9

DirectX 11 gaming performance (1,920 x 1,080)
Shogun 2 Frames Per Second: Higher is better
EVGA GTX 550 TI SC: 26
XFX HD 5770: 26

Power performance
100% Load Watts: Lower is better
EVGA GTX 550 TI SC: 250
XFX HD 5770: 188

DirectX 11 gaming performance (1,680 x 1,050)
DiRT 3 Frames Per Second: Higher is better
EVGA GTX 550 TI SC: 41
XFX HD 5770: 40

DirectX 11 gaming performance (1,680 x 1,050)
Metro 2033 Frames Per Second: Higher is better
EVGA GTX 550 TI SC: 13
XFX HD 5770: 14

DirectX 10 gaming performance (1,680 x 1,050)
Just Cause 2 Frames Per Second: Higher is better
EVGA GTX 550 TI SC: 37
XFX HD 5770: 29

DirectX 10 gaming performance (1,680 x 1,050)
Far Cry 2 Frames Per Second: Higher is better
EVGA GTX 550 TI SC: 68
XFX HD 5770: 53

Powermonger

It's not just in the performance stakes where the GTX 550 Ti is off the pace, the power draw of the card is rather high too. At 250W under load it's significantly more power hungry than the much more powerful HD 6850, and only a little way behind the speedy overclocked GTX 560 from Gigabyte.

Despite the more modern silicon and overclocking credentials the GTX 550 Ti still struggles against its ageing AMD GPU rivals, and doesn't really make the most of the extra £20 that you're being asked to fork out for the privilege of dropping this card in your rig.

For another £20 the HD 6850 is a proper 3D graphics card, and for £20 less the XFX HD 5770 is a proper bargain, that's where our money would go, and so should yours.

Follow TechRadar Reviews on Twitter: http://twitter.com/techradarreview