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MSI N550GTX-Ti Cyclone-II OC Video Card E-mail
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Written by Steven Iglesias-Hearst   
Tuesday, 15 March 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
MSI N550GTX-Ti Cyclone-II OC Video Card
Closer Look: MSI N550GTX-Ti
MSI N550GTX-Ti Cyclone II OC Details
Features and Specifications
Video Card Testing Methodology
DX10: 3DMark Vantage
DX10: Street Fighter IV
DX11: Aliens vs Predator
DX11: Battlefield Bad Company 2
DX11: BattleForge
DX11: Lost Planet 2
DX11: Tom Clancy's HAWX 2
DX11: Metro 2033
DX11: Unigine Heaven 2.1
MSI N550GTX-Ti Cyclone II OC Temperatures
VGA Power Consumption
MSI N550GTX-Ti Overclocking
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Cyclone II OC Final Thoughts

All I can think to say right now is WOW, the MSI N550GTX-Ti Cyclone II OC really blew me away with its excellent cooling and overclocking capabilities. With these clocks it starts to test its bigger brother the GTX 460, not only do we have a video card here that looks good but we have a video card that will run cool and quiet no matter what you throw at it.

Significant improvements would be achieved if the screen resolution were lowered from 1920x1080 to 1280x1024 (standard for 17" to 19" monitor), I would also expect to see higher FPS results if the GTX550-Ti were run in SLI mode. Two of these bad boys in close proximity might warm your case up a bit but nowhere near the temperatures of higher end video cards.

MSI N550GTX-Ti Conclusion

Important: In this section I am going to write a brief five point summary on the following categories; Performance, Appearance, Construction, Functionality and Value. These views are my own and help me to give the MSI N550GTX-Ti Cyclone II OC Video Card a rating out of 10. A high or low score does not necessarily mean that it is better or worse than a similar video card that has been reviewed by another writer here at Benchmark Reviews, which may have got a higher or lower score. It is however a good indicator of whether the MSI N550GTX-Ti Cyclone II OC is good or not. I would strongly urge you to read the entire review, if you have not already, so that you can make an educated decision for yourself.


The graphics performance of the MSI N550GTX-Ti Cyclone II OC is not high end but this card isn't aimed at the high end price bracket. It does however deliver great price to performance out of the box, and then some more when you overclock the hell out of it. The GTX550-Ti sits directly between the GTS450 and GTX460 and just leaves the HD5770 sitting.

The appearance of the MSI N550GTX-Ti Cyclone II OC is, as I'm sure you will agree, very nice indeed. The side view is given extra attention thanks to a really simple metal piece but it makes all the difference once you install the card into your system. There are some that will surely disagree but thanks to the graphic nature of this review you can easily make your mind up for yourself.

Construction is excellent as you would expect from a company with a good reputation like MSI, there was a slight missed spot during the cleaning process but it is nothing major as it only hurts the aesthetics and not the performance. Taking the card to pieces and reconstructing it was a breeze and everything lined up perfectly, the Cyclone II cooler is solid and really adds some girth to the card turning what could be a single slot card into a 2-slot monster.

Functionality is very good, I can't help but keep singing praise for the Cyclone II cooler, it really is so good. The MSI Afterburner and Kombustor utilities are very handy when it comes to overclocking and stress testing your video card.

As of February 2012 the MSI N550GTX-Ti Cyclone II OC video card is retails for $129.99 (Newegg), at this price point it sits directly between the much loved NVIDIA GTX460 and the GTS450. Throughout our tests the three NVIDIA cards tested (GTX550-Ti, GTX460 and GTS450) shared the crown for best price per FPS with no definitive winner. The GTX460 has come down in price recently and still offers the best overall cost/performance. The potential speeds that this card can hit means you get an absolute smoker of a deal.

I have no problems recommending this card to anyone who is in the market for a great budget mid range card. you certainly could do much worse.


+ Cyclone II cooler is excellent
+ Fan at 100% is not too loud
+ Very nice looks
+ Excellent build quality
+ Great value for money
+ SLI Support
+ Good overclocking headroom
+ Good power consumption
+ Variety of outputs: D-SUB, DVI-I and HDMI


- Hot air from GPU exhausted into case
- Extra height of card may cause problems in a small form factor build


  • Performance: 9.00
  • Appearance: 9.50
  • Construction: 9.50
  • Functionality: 9.00
  • Value: 9.00

Final Score: 9.20 out of 10.

Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.

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# ConfusingJason 2011-03-15 10:09
Not exactly sure why this new card was compared to a 200 dollar 5770 combo card. That pricing is pretty far off the average for a 5770 these days since they can be had on the Egg for anywhere from $120-$150. Other reviews I've seen have the 550 and 5770 neck and neck in most gaming benchmarks. I guess opinions vary.
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# RE: ConfusingSteven Iglesias-Hearst 2011-03-15 11:07
It was compared to a $200 HD5770 Combo card because that is what I had at hand to test with.
FYI the HD5770 is closer to the GTS450... sorry to burst your bubble. Check techPowerUp also.
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# RE: RE: ConfusingVyperNeko 2011-03-15 13:32
I agree... I got an EVGA GTS 450 SuperClocked... its performance is pretty close to a 5770, but its cheaper.
About the:
- Hot Air being exhausted into case.

Wouldnt an Evercool FOX 2 Exhaustor be handy ? ... I use one ... just wondering.
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# RE: RE: RE: ConfusingSteven Iglesias-Hearst 2011-03-15 17:32
It is not myself that I worry about when I talk about hot air inside the case, it's more for the folk that don't have a high airflow case or those building a small form factor PC.
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# RE: RE: ConfusingJason 2011-03-16 08:50
So the 5770 was 92% of the relative overall performance of the 550 TI at all resolutions overall and the 450 was 79% on the techpowerup benchmarks. I'm not sure how that puts the 5770 competing with the 450 but if it does in your book then good for you. And at higher resolutions the 5770 actually competes better with the 550. Keep talking though because I like listening.
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# RE: RE: RE: ConfusingJason 2011-03-16 08:56
Also if you look at the performance per dollar chart for all resolutions you'll notice the 5770 has the highest %. Which means it performs the best for the cost of the card. Now while it may not suit everybody's needs it is not a bad card for the cost. Same cost as the 450 with almost the performance of the 550. I think which of these cards you choose depends on if you're a fan of the red team or green team personally. Both cards are solid.
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# Bad Comparisonpswfps 2011-03-15 13:44
You can get a HD6850 for the same price as the GTX550 Ti... wouldn't that have been a better/fairer comparison?
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# RE: Bad ComparisonOlin Coles 2011-03-15 14:04
Benchmark Reviews is a website for enthusiasts, by enthusiasts. Not every writer has an unlimited supply of hardware. If you want a website run by webmasters who sell themselves out to their advertisers to get free products, you'll need to go elsewhere.
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# DisappointingPinakio 2011-03-15 14:38
This launch from nVidia left me a bit disappointing since I was expecting much more from this card. 560 Ti is a awesome card and I was thinking we'd get some of it's graphic awesomeness within lower power envelope and of course in lower price. But nVidia chose to skimp in this case, rather than putting 550 Ti square to HD6850, they've pitted it against 5770 which is possibly counting it's days. Same no. of cores as GTS450(same ROP/Tex unit count?), only higher gpu/memory/shader clock- so much for Fermi's scalability. Right now HD6850 with a ~$160 tag is a better option.
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# Some Comments FailCom-Tek Chris 2011-03-15 17:24
First of all to even bring up the HD6850 is redundant. The HD6850 is a 5850, ATI took a crap card and re-badged it. Second of all price for power and let's throw in graphic driver support, Nvidia takes ATI and gives it a good body slam. If I want to cook eggs I'll buy a stove and a pan, or if I am a cheap bastard and do not have any soul I'll buy an ATI card, it will get the job done. Nvidia has done a good job on this 5xx series. I have owned all of the (BAD ASS) ATI & Nvidia cards. I build Custom Gaming PC's for a living. Both cards have pro's and cons, ATI has more cons than pro's. I am not an Nvidia Fan Boy either, I just use the best, ATI used to be the best but when they merged with AMD and sold their chipset to Micro$oft for the X-Box 360 they threw their hardcore GPU's fan boys to the curb. As for me I have the 560ti and the 580 GTX from EVGA, they both kick ass. I also have 2x 460 GTX's and 2x 465 GTX's, they are also fantastic cards but the thing I like most about the 5xx series is the cooling, they don't get as hot. I am sitting around 48C at 1920x1200 in games fully maxed out, I am using MSI Afterburner to get my heating info. This was a great article, keep up the good work Bench Mark, I look forward to every article and read all new content everyday. Thanks for making me smarter, the chicks dig it, lol.
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# RE: Some Comments FailDavid Ramsey 2011-03-15 17:41
Even a casual look at the technical specifications for the 5850 and 6850 reveals that they are different cards: different numbers of stream processors, different number of texture units, different clock speeds...I can't speak to the relative performance of the cards, but a 6850 ain't in no way a re-badged 5850.
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# I pity youTai 2011-03-16 10:54
If you build custom gaming pc's for a living and don't know the difference between 58xx series cards and 68xx series cards, I really do fear how your customers might be getting misinformed...

Obviously, the 6850 and 6870 were made to fill in the price gaps between the 5850 and 5870. The architecture is slightly different with fewer steam processors but shorter pipelines, not to mention better tessellation performance. The 6xxx series cards also tend to scale 90%-100% when crossfired vs the 50-80% from the previous generations.
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# RE:I pity youCom-Tek Chris 2011-03-16 20:38
............Don't pity me or my customers, their Happy I promise, 10+ years of repeat business in my area, 35+ Small-medium business customers over 3200+ builds in that time, I'm good. Maybe my point was a tad understated, so let me correct my initial reply. ATI is weak! Their driver support is weak, the 6800 series are what the 5700 series should have been. Really its no different than what nvidia did with the 8000/9000 series. Ok so its not a direct rebadge but its not gold either. And sure the 550Ti is going to be within $10, but what do you want? A card with proven driver support? Or another weak ass card from ATI who is taking a dump on their fanbase everytime they release a new card. Lol, if your feelings are hurt AMD/ATI fanboys, my apologies. BTW, I own a 1090T 6 Core, I love it.
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# not a fanboy? u sure?Pinakio 2011-03-16 15:29
Some people just don't know that it's better to admit their fanboyism before talking about something without any practical sence. At least one would have an excuse that way! AMD made the 68xx series of cards to replace the 5830HD and 5770HD and provide a little less performance than 58xxHD class of cards in much lower price and power. This was also a ploy to fend off GTX460(a truly fantastic card!). AMD designed the 68xx series in such a manner that they can mass produce them and cut price to bones. HD6850 is selling ~$160 @newegg and is much faster(25-30%) than a GTX550 Ti which has a tag of $150. Either nVidia would've to do some drastic price cuts or you know what to buy! No fanboyism here, simple logic. You even can buy a GTX460 1gb for lower bucks than that. I don't know what nVidia was thinking when pricing the GTX550 Ti, perhaps they wish to sell it on the good graces of it's bigger brother the 560 Ti. Sorry, but in this case the 'Titanium' does not shine! At least not @ $150.
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# RE: not a fanboy? u sure?Olin Coles 2011-03-16 15:44
Actually, Pinakio, you are incorrect. AMD was kind enough to fly me (and others) to San Jose, California and gave us a full pre-launch presentation of their Barts GPU and HD6800 series video cards. These cards do not replace the 5830 and 5770, nor were they ever intended to. To quote AMD: "Barts Design Goals: AMD Radeon HD 5800 series-class performance optimized at lower power and price". They followed this with a chart showing the 6850 and 6870 virtually parallel to the older 5850 and 5870. Google for "03_DavidCummings_HD680 0.pdf" and turn to page 6.
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# RE: RE: not a fanboy? u sure?Olin Coles 2011-03-16 15:54
Since you might not find the NDA document, visit here: 0-pg4.jpg 0-pg6.jpg

Make sure that when you paste the URL, it doesn't turn "HD6800-pg" into "HD680 0-pg"
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# RE: RE: RE: not a fanboy? u sure?Pinakio 2011-03-16 19:44
Actually, Olin it does not matter now what AMD's PR said during the launch but what has become of Barts series of gpus. It's proven that HD6850/6870 lags behind their 58xx counterparts and as such Barts is not the replacement or upgrade of HD5850/5870, but cayman is. Barts class gpus would and should be an upgrade option for those mainstream users who own HD5770/HD5830. AMD might not like that but it's true. I said what I said because someone was claiming that HD6850 was a re-badged HD5850 which is not true.
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# RE: RE: RE: not a fanboy? u sure?Com-Tek Chris 2011-03-16 20:45
I think your a fanboy who got his feel goods hurt. You said what you said? Have you actually held a HD6850 and a HD5850 in your hand? I have 2 of each about 6 feet from me, hit me up if you want them, they have under 4 hours of use in single and crossfire use. I'll almost give them away. They are turd cards compared to the 2x 465 GTX EVGA SSC Cards I have. With all joking/bad mouthing aside, you have to admit, Nvidia has a better card when it comes to 1. Price vs Performance and 2. Driver Support and 3. Cooling, way cooler with the 5xx series.
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# A little over pricedAli 2011-03-18 01:17
What i believe, in fact GTX550 is rightly placed according to its specification. if we see Nvidia,s whole line up then u may have a GTX460 to counter HD6850 and GTX560 to counter HD6870, then there is no point to rebadge a GTX460 class card as GTX550 rather its better to produce a good competing card against HD5770 but after all its a little over priced.
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