NVIDIA today unveiled the GeForce GTX 550 Ti GPU, and earlier we took a look at MSI's version. See that review for a general introduction to the new GPU.
This time on the test bench we have Gainward's GeForce GTX 550 Ti offering. Also departing from the reference design, they have a newly designed cooling solution, custom power and PCB design and amped up core and memory clock speeds. So how does their GTX 550 Ti GS, or "Golden Sample", perform? Let's get started and find out!
Gainward's GTX 550 Ti GS measures in at approximately 190 millimetres in length (7.48 inches) under an inch shorter than NVIDIA's reference design, and requires a minimum of 400W or greater system power supply. Cooling is provided by a custom cooler design from Gainward with an aluminium fin array that allows for efficient heat transfer and dissipation. No cooling is provided for the memory chips apart from the airflow from the PWM controlled fan.
As with the majority of mainstream NVIDIA graphics cards it features support for NVIDIA's SLI multi-GPU technology, 3D Vision, 3D Vision Surround (two cards required), CUDA technology, PhysX acceleration and Microsoft DirectX 11 game support, as well as a variety of video enhancement technologies under the NVIDIA PureVideo HD umbrella. More information about these technologies can be found here.
Inside the box we find a quick start manual and a software/driver disc for installation. One PCI-Express 6-pin to dual-Molex power connector is present, as well as a 25% off discount voucher for "Super LoiLoScope", which is a video encoding/editing application that makes the most of NVIDIA's CUDA acceleration. Overall a fairly typical package from Gainward.
Gainward's GTX 550 Ti GS has moved away from the NVIDIA reference design chosen by some manufacturers. The first change was the mini-HDMI connector, replaced by a full-sized HDMI, plus the addition of a VGA connection, replacing the second DVI connector seen in reference design cards. As with the GTS 450 and GTX 460 it features bitstreaming support for both Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio, especially handy for home theatre PCs.
On the edge of the card we find a single SLI connector. Due to the mainstream nature of this card NVIDIA has limited its scaling abilities to two cards. Only the GTX 465, 470, 480, 570 and 580 allow for more than two cards in SLI.
At the top of the card there's a single PCI-Express 6-pin power connector, which is a pretty standard power configuration for a GTX 550 Ti video card, not straying from the NVIDIA reference design. However, they did move the power connector to the top rather than leaving it at the end of the card.
In addition, Gainward's GTX 550 Ti GS features Hynix H5GQ1H24AFR-T2C GDDR5 memory specified to run at 1250 MHz (5000 MHz GDDR5 effective), which seems to be a common implementation on the most GTX 550 Tis on the market.