Very capable and well built card for the gamer!
May 7, 2012 (Updated May 7, 2012)
Review by koihoshi
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Good card, great bang for the buck, easy to tweak for modders and hardcore gamers.
Cons:The price makes SLI not as desirable for 2 cards.
The Bottom Line: Great card, easy to tweak, good quality, versatile (SLI compatible for upgrades later) and good bang for the buck. Another good product from EVGA.
This review is mostly geared for those that are gamers, who perhaps make their own machines or know how to install their own cards. I will try to be as simple as I can in explaining some things, but I feel to review the card fully it is only fair not to leave out the technical aspects.
Recommend this product?
Earlier in the year I had been working to build a gaming computer to replace my ancient gaming PC. I had an 8800GT which I was using, but unfortunately it overheated and the solder literally melted and weeped on the board. The card was toast. Having realized the 8800GT is a dinosaur in comparison to the new cards on the market, I set out to find a good card for a decent price that offered good performance.
I went on a hunt for a good card and found this EVGA 550 Ti card. The reviews were fantastic and everyone I had talked to likes them so far. The actual true NVidia version (sold by Nvidia themselves, not EVGA) was more expensive and only had 1gb of memory instead of the 2gb that EVGA was pushing on the card. For me this was more of a selling point since I could save a little and have more capability with it.
I reviewed the clock specs of the NVidia vs the EVGA card and they were just about dead on the same. It seemed a no brainer to me to go with the EVGA card, so I did.
Coming from the 8800GT, the 550 Ti pulls in at a strong 900mhz core clock speed, 2gb of memory, 1800mhz shader clock, sli compatible, dual monitor capable and is blazing fast in comparison.
Upon installing the card, it was very easy to install, easy to install the drivers and go through everything I needed to get the card working. The wonderful thing is that EVGA supplies through their website, a few utilities for monitoring and overclocking which were free to download. I was able to modify my fan settings, overclock settings and watch the card heat and fan rpm, frames per second and everything I wanted in real time, tweak it and get the card exactly where I wanted it.
For the average user, overclocking and tweaking your settings may not be something you are interested in, nor necessary. But whether you are looking for a capable card to upgrade for gaming or if you simply are looking for a versatile card, the 550 Ti is a great choice.
Another thing that made me happy is that the card IS SLI Compatible should you decide down the road you wish to buy and add on another.
On running a computer with an i7 2600k processor and 8gigs ram, this card easily plays on full settings for most games I've thrown at it. I have been able to play StarCraft II in FULL DETAIL in 1920x1080 at almost 60fps and only in extremely busy times does it flinch.
I also have been playing games such as WoW (World of Warcraft) In 1920x1080 in full detail which also has been nearly 60fps at all times. The card does fantastic on full detail and runs extremely smooth. Other games such as Star Wars: The Old Republic, only in very busy areas such as a starport will the frames per second drop slowly on full detail, most other times it is crunching away without a care in the world.
The graphics are beautiful and being able to play games in high or full detail makes it a pleasure to play games again rather than having to suffice for the lower end of things.
EVEN when you are running the card at high capacity, the fan isn't ridiculously noisy or a nuisance and is actually not bad.
Most of the time the heat seems to range on high resolution in high detail at around 65C-72C, if you modify your fan settings and have good case ventilation those numbers are easy to attain, and with some very good ventilation probably a bit lower. I know what you're thinking... "WOW! 72C THAT'S HOT!" well, yes, obviously you wouldn't want to touch something that hot. However, a GPU (graphics processing unit) can be made to run as hot as 90C on some cards, so these temperatures are actually quite NORMAL for this card. In fact, most games it stays in the lower to mid 60C range, only on very demanding games have I ever seen it reach as high as 72C and that was overclocked.
I feel that for the price, this is a good bit of card. Unfortunately in a year it'll be "out of date" by technology standards, but for what it comes with, the tools you can download and tweak and with the ability to do SLI with it... it comes with a lot of potential to keep you happy for a good while. The only downside to that is that with almost $200 that I spent on the card at the time it came out, spending $400 on 2 cards for SLI makes that not such an acceptable idea for now. But eventually when the price comes down it'll be something I'll consider.
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