Gainward GeForce GTX 550 Ti 1GB Golden Sample Video Card

Gainward crank the clocks up on the new GTX 550 Ti to 1GHz on the core. What's it do for performance?
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Tue, Mar 15 2011 9:39 AM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 91%Manufacturer: Gainward

Introduction and Package


Introduction

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Already impressed with what the GTX 550 Ti can do after looking at the MSI Cyclone II edition, it's now time to see what Gainward brings to the table with its highly popular Golden Sample series.

This is a series that's been popular for years and in recent times we've seen them come out hard and fast offering strong cooling solutions, but more importantly fantastic out of the box overclocks that have resulted in excellent performance gains over other models.

When Gainward has chosen to throw the OC tag on a model, especially the Golden Sample one, we know it means that the overclock is going to be strong verses other companies who have thrown the OC tag on and then offered us a small 10MHz core increase.

Gainward today are offering us a core clock that gets into the quadruple digits and it will be interesting to see what that does for performance. Before we get into that and the exact clocks the model carries, we'll first look at the package and then take a closer look at the card itself.


Package

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The package is very Gainward with a manual, driver CD, power convertor and a discount voucher for some software you'll probably never use. Really, there's nothing exciting going on here, but we expect that with these cheaper mid-range cards, and to be honest higher end bundles are quite plain as well these days.

Card and Specifications


The Card

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The overall cooler design is similar to what we've seen before from Gainward, but the shroud is a little different. As always, though, the black and red combination looks really good.

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A quick spin around the card will find the same 6-Pin PCI-E power connector we saw on the MSI GTX 550 Ti Cyclone II. This time it's on top of the card instead of the back, though. Across the top, but closer to the front we have a single SLI connector.

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Connectivity in typical Gainward style is different to most other cards with a full size HDMI port, VGA and Dual-Link DVI port. It's a bit of a mixed bag for me as I think this is a little weaker than the two DVI adapters, especially since we don't have a mini-HDMI to DVI adapter included. Most, though, are going to find this connection setup fine.


Specifications

Gainward has always been aggressive with the Golden Sample series and they've been especially aggressive recently with these mid-range offerings like the GTX 560 Ti. The GTX 550 Ti is no different with a default core clock of 1GHz, 50MHz up on the MSI GTX 550 Ti Cyclone II we looked at and 100MHz up on the default core.

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The increased core speed means our Shader clock has bumped up to 2000MHz. The good news is that Gainward hasn't chosen to ignore the memory either, boosting that above reference and the MSI we looked at. Here we see the 1GB of GDDR5 carries with it a 4400MHz QDR memory clock.

Test System Setup and 3DMark 11


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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASRock, Kingston, Mittoni, Noctua and Corsair.

Our benchmark line-up is going to be identical to that of the MSI GTX 550 Ti 1GB Cyclone II. That means on the NVIDIA front we've got the GTX 460 and GTX 560 Ti while on the AMD front we've got the HD 5770.

We've also got the MSI GTX 550 Ti 1GB Cyclone II which carries with it a slightly lower clock speed, so it will be interesting to see how the performance of the Gainward compares to that.

Let's get started!


3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/
Buy It Here




3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Straight away we see that extra core and memory speed help separate the GTX 550 Ti from the reference HD 5770. You can see the MSI version was pretty much neck and neck with the HD 5770.

3DMark Vantage




Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/
Buy It Here




3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.

3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.

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Vantage sees that lead increase over the HD 5770 thanks to that extra speed. We can also see the nice little performance bump we get here over the MSI version which comes with the 950MHz core.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark




Version and / or Patch Used: 2
Developer Homepage: http://www.unigine.com
Product Homepage: http://unigine.com/press-releases/091022-heaven_benchmark//



New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.

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In Heaven we can see the Gainward version is able to separate itself even more from the HD 5770 thanks to its superior tessellation performance.

Benchmarks - Resident Evil 5


Resident Evil 5

Version and / or Patch Used: Demo Benchmark
Developer Homepage: www.residentevil.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.residentevil.com/




Resident Evil 5 is a survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on September 18. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.

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Under RE5 we saw that the GTX 550 Ti Cyclone 2 from MSI was giving good performance already; the bump in core and memory speeds from Gainward, though, help make it a little faster at both resolutions.

Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2


Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/UK/default.aspx
Product Homepage: http://www.hawxgame.com/




Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2 is an arcade-style flight action game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft. The game is the sequel to Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., released in 2009.

The game begins with Colonel David Crenshaw participating in a routine patrol mission in the Middle East. After halting an insurgent attack, a volley of missiles is fired at the Air Force base that Crenshaw was stationed at, with one of the missiles disabling Crenshaw's aircraft, resulting Crenshaw being in enemy captivity. A joint strike force composed of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and a Ghost Recon squad executes an operation to rescue Crenshaw. In Scotland, Royal Navy Pilot Colin Munro encounters an unidentified passenger aircraft that explodes from an on-board bomb when undergoing training exercise. In Russia, an air force squadron led by Colonel Denisov and Captain Dmitri Sokov engages separatist aircraft but is ordered to retreat from the region after numerous Russian military installations have been attacked.

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H.A.W.X. 2 already gets very playable numbers at both resolutions, but the extra grunt on offer from the Gainward offering helps improve those numbers again slightly.

Benchmarks - Mafia II


Mafia II

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.2kczech.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.mafia2game.com/
Buy It Here




Mafia II is a third-person action-adventure video game, the sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. It is developed by 2K Czech, previously known as Illusion Softworks, and is published by 2K Games. The game is set from 1943 to 1951 in Empire Bay (the name is a reference to New York's state nickname "The Empire State"), a fictional city based on San Francisco and New York City, with influences from Chicago and Detroit. The game features a completely open-ended game map of 10 square miles. No restrictions are included from the start of the game. There are around 50 vehicles in the game, as well as licensed music from the era.

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That little bit of extra speed on the core and memory really help just push that 1680 x 1050 score up an extra couple of FPS which takes us further away from that minimum 60 FPS average we want to achieve. Its these small gains that push us a little further over that 30 FPS minimum or 60 FPS average that make overclocking so handy.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2


Lost Planet 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Test A Scene 1
Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.lostplanet2game.com/




Lost Planet 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition which is also made by Capcom, taking place ten years after the events of the first game, on the same fictional planet. The story takes place back on E.D.N. III 10 years after the events of the first game. The snow has melted to reveal jungles and more tropical areas that have taken the place of more frozen regions. The plot begins with Mercenaries fighting against Jungle Pirates. After destroying a mine, the Mercenaries continue on to evacuate the area, in which a Category-G Akrid appears and attacks them. After being rescued, they find out their evacuation point (Where the Category-G appeared) was a set-up and no pick up team awaited them. The last words imply possible DLC additions to the game, "There's nothing to be gained by wiping out snow pirates... unless you had some kind of grudge."

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While Lost Planet 2 performance does indeed jump up a couple of FPS, we're still way below that 60 FPS average we need. You're no doubt going to have to get into the options and drop the detail levels a bit.

Benchmarks - Aliens vs. Predator


Aliens vs. Predator

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.rebellion.co.uk/
Product Homepage: http://www.sega.com/games/aliens-vs-predator/




Aliens vs. Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter video game, developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original PC game, and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game is based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.

Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various different gametypes in various different ways.

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The intensive Aliens vs. Predator paints a similar picture that shows again a few extra FPS at both resolutions, but ultimately offers below that 60 FPS average we need in which we would consider playable.

Benchmarks - Street Fighter IV


Street Fighter IV

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.streetfighter.com/




While Street Fighter IV features models and backgrounds rendered in 3D, the gameplay remains on a traditional 2D plane, with the camera having freedom to move in 3D at certain times during fights, for dramatic effect. Producer Yoshinori Ono has stated that he wanted to keep the game closer to Street Fighter II. A new system called "Focus Attacks" ("Saving Attack" for the Japanese version) has been introduced, as well as Ultra moves. The traditional six-button control scheme returns, with new features and special moves integrated into the input system, mixing classic gameplay with additional innovations.

All the characters and environments in Street Fighter IV are rendered as 3D models with polygons, similar to the Street Fighter EX sub-series Capcom produced with Arika. However, there are a couple of key differences. Art director and character designer Daigo Ikeno, who previously worked on Street Fighter III 3rd Strike, opted for non-photorealistic rendering to give them a hand-drawn look, with visual effects accented in calligraphic strokes, ink smudges and ink sprays during the fights.

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Street Fighter IV already sees strong performance, but the overclock just helps us gain a few more FPS. Overall it's not going to make a difference, but who are we to complain about some extra FPS.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2


Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/
Buy It Here




The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

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Like some of our other games that are already offering good playable numbers, the 1GHz core clock from Gainward just helps offer slightly more performance.

Benchmarks - Batman Arkham Asylum


Batman Arkham Asylum

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.batmanarkhamasylum.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.batmanarkhamasylum.com/





Batman: Arkham Asylum exposes players to a unique, dark and atmospheric adventure that takes them to the depths of Arkham Asylum - Gotham's psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. Gamers will move in the shadows, instigate fear amongst their enemies and confront The Joker and Gotham City's most notorious villains who have taken over the asylum.

Using a wide range of Batman's gadgets and abilities, players will become the invisible predator and attempt to foil The Joker's demented scheme.
Batman: Arkham Asylum features an original story penned exclusively for the game by famous Batman author and five-time Emmy award winner Paul Dini, whose credits include Lost season one and Batman: The Animated Series.

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Strong Batman AA performance is again seen and we do indeed see a couple of extra FPS when compared to the MSI offering. Overall we've got some strong numbers which offer great numbers for people who even use more gaming orientated 120Hz monitors.

Temperature Test


Temperature Tests



The temperature of the core is pulled from MSI Afterburner with the max reading used after a completed run off 3DMark Vantage and the Performance preset.

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The Gainward GTX 550 Ti runs a lot warmer than the MSI Cyclone II version we looked at. This will indeed be something you take into consideration.

Sound Test


Sound Tests



Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).

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That heat comes because the card is near silent, though. You can see between idle and load there's not even a single dB separating the two values.

Power Consumption Tests






Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a SSD hard drive is used with a single CD ROM and minimal cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.

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Power draw is pretty much identical between the two GTX 550 Ti cards in both idle and load.

Final Thoughts




Gainward today up the ante by offering us a 1GHz clock out of the gate that gives really nice performance overall at 1680 x 1050 and even 1920 x 1200 depending on the age of the game or the amount of detail you want to run.

Not only have they chosen to increase the core, though, they've also given a nice bump to the memory clock which helps push performance up again, and what you end up with is a card that simply performs well at the above mentioned resolutions.

While the card does indeed run quite warm at a little over 70c, that's due to the decision for Gainward to opt for a near silent solution. The heat might be considered a little warm for a mid-range card like this, but the model has a tolerance for over 90c and we can't see any way the card would get there.

Also, in a case with some structured air flow that temperature would probably drop down a little; so would other cards, though, and that's something you need to take into consideration. If you're looking for something that will let you game at 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200 here and there in a near silent environment, though, this is a very good option.

Aggressive pricing from NVIDIA on the series and its overall performance help the series look very attractive. The extra length that Gainward has gone to by offering a 1GHz card and a cooler that runs at near silence is what makes this a stand out model.

We've got something a little different to the previous GTX 550 Ti we looked at and depending on what exactly you're after, this could well be a better choice.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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