It's really a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to looking at the HD 5550 GDDR5. All of a sudden NVIDIA has thrown models at us with low price tags and massive performance. The same can't be said with the HD 5550 GDDR5. In saying that, the model is in another price bracket. Considering it's under $100, you have to put that into perspective here.
Compared to what we've looked at in recent months from both ATI and NVIDIA, the performance of the GDDR5 HD 5550 is poor. We haven't looked at a card worth under $100 from either company in a while, though.
Looking at the price tag, performance of the model is actually pretty good and you can see where the card is aimed at. You look at some older games like Batman AA and Dark Void and you can see the card has no problems putting out playable FPS at resolutions as high as 1920 x 1200.
So if you look at Source based games like Team Fortress, Counter Strike and other titles in the Steam vault, you realize you've got a card that's not going to have any troubles playing budget games on a budget card. Every once in a while you'll also see a bit of a surprise come in; a bit like Batman AA.
Saying this doesn't mean that newer games aren't playable, they're just not playable at higher resolutions with higher details. It doesn't mean that on the model you won't be able to get a playable frame rate. With a bit of time tweaking the settings and lowering the resolution you shouldn't have issues with games like Far Cry 2 and Resident Evil 5.
We ultimately wonder if we really needed GDDR5 on the model, though, and that's the big question. To be honest, I think the only reason we're seeing this is because ATI want to make sure people don't forget about them. There seems to be no logical reason to start making the model with GDDR5. With that said, it doesn't mean we don't appreciate another model, but you have to really think about it; NVIDIA did the same thing with the GT 240. That card was 40nm, carried with it GDDR5 but was something that never really brought much interest.
Sure it all sounds exciting, but it's not really. Ignoring the fact that the whole GDDR5 thing for the HD 5550 seems to be more marketing than offering something new to the table, the HD 5550 with GDDR5 still continues to be a good model thanks to its aggressive price tag.
While there's better buys to be had, the bottom line is if you're looking at a card for under $100, this is probably one of the best. Don't expect huge overclocks, don't expect to game at 2560 x 1600, just expect for the card to perform better than you probably think considering its under $100 price tag. Really, that is ultimately a win for the consumer.
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