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The performance offered by the Zotac GeForce GTX 550 Ti AMP! isn't about to rewrite any of the performance graphics record books.
This is a card aimed squarely at the budget end of the serious gaming market, and as such it wouldn't be expected to.
It's aimed at those looking to hit playable framerates on a 20-inch or 22-inch screen at the default resolution of 1,680 x 1,050.
To a certain degree it fulfils that remit well enough.
If Nvidia's goal was to soundly smash the performance of the GeForce GTS 450 then, it can hold its head up high. The core shader count may be the same, but the added ROPs and faster core speed have paid off to offer a much-needed boast in key titles.
Even so, it still struggles to really impress when it comes to more recent DX11 titles, and this is a concern given the increasing take-up of Microsoft's latest API.
The real problem for the GTX 550 Ti though is something that originally affected the GTS 450, and it's a problem that Nvidia can't easily resolve.
When Nvidia released the GeForce GTS 450 we were impressed with its new affordable chip, particularly when it came to DirectX 10 games. Even so, the close pricing of the GTX 460 made it a tough card to recommend.
That was back when the extra £30 would buy you a card that was notably quicker.
Today you can buy a GTS 450 for just under £90, while the 768MB versions of the GTX 460 can be had for as little as £120, with the full-fat 1GB rolling in at £130.
The basic referenced clocked versions of the GeForce GTX 550 Ti start at £120, with this overclocked rendition muscling in at £129.
That's one or two pounds at most cheaper than the faster 1GB GTX 460, and the best part of a tenner more expensive than the cheapest 768MB models.
And that's a card that actually outperforms the GeForce GTX 550 Ti, even this AMP! edition from Zotac.
It's not necessarily that the GeForce GTX 550 Ti AMP! is actually a bad card, in many respects it's a perfect entry level gaming card. Unfortunately it simply doesn't make any sense in this market at that price.
Drop the pricing closer to the £100 level and you have a card worthy of serious consideration. As it is though, you're better off grabbing a GeForce GTX 460 while you can.
The boost in the core clockspeed has improved the raw performance on offer noticeably; making for smooth framerates recent games at the maximum settings.
It's quiet in operation, and won't put undue demands on your PSU either.
The winder 192-bit memory bus combined with 1GB of GDDR5 as standard ensure that there is enough bandwidth and capacity on offer to keep the GTX 550 Ti relevant for the foreseeable future.
The pricing simply doesn't make sense – it's too expensive compared to the GTX 460.
DX11 performance isn't particularly impressive, anyone looking for a serious investment is going to come up wanting.
A definite improvement over the GTS 450, but too expensive to seriously consider just now.
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