While the 9550 sounds like it has something to do with the previous generation of 9500 cards, it actually has nothing to do with them. The 9550 is here to offer an upgraded 9600 SE with there being one major difference. The 9550 offers a 128-bit memory bus as opposed to the slower 64-bit bus on offer with the 9600 SE.
Fortunately we are lucky enough to have two different 9550's on offer here today and not only will we have a look at how the compare against each other but also how the cards compete against the GeForce FX 5500 and FX 5700LE.
9550 Participant Cards
- PowerColor 9550
PowerColor has chosen to follow the reference design from ATI for their first revision Radeon 9550. One thing that was quite surprising is that PowerColor have chosen to include 256MB of memory on their card compared to 128MB on the GeCube 9550.
As you can see the cooler on the card isn't the most exciting and it only covers the core. You get your DVI and VGA connector as well as the TV-Out port which we have grown so accustom to.
Having a look at the back of the card you notice something out of the ordinary and we will have a quick look at the 9550 on offer from GeCube before we check out the benchmarks.
- GeCube 9550 Extreme
GeCube, on the other hand, has decided to go a little bit further with their 9550 and one of the most noticeable things we can see is the cooler on the front of the card.
This cooler, unlike the one on the PowerColor unit, covers the memory as well which while at first you might not think is important, once you pay more attention to the card you notice that it uses faster clocked BGA memory.
This cooler is found on the some of the faster 9600 XT models on offer from GeCube. While this card uses BGA memory, it also only uses 128MB as opposed to 256MB like we see on the PowerColor card. What performance influence will this mean? Read on a little further as we find out.
Moving around to the back of the card, it is slightly disappointing to see that there is no type of cooling on the rear memory. Something that stood out was the bolt-on heatsink. This helps make the heatsink more secure and effective than previous designs.
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