Performance in First-Person 3D Shooters
Aliens vs. Predator
The duo of affordable graphics cards takes a good start in our tests. The effective game profile in the driver allows the GeForce GTX 550 Ti SLI subsystem to match the performance of the more advanced GeForce GTX 570. SLI technology boasts a scalability of 80-90% here butthe frame rate remains rather low due to the high system requirements of Aliens vs. Predator. The game is not playable at resolutions above 1600x900 pixels unless you lower its graphics quality settings.
When overclocked, our Zotac GeForce GTX 550 Ti AMP! Edition delivers over 30 fps in single-card mode, yet this frame rate is still not high enough for a first-person shooter.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam
The second test brings a second victory to the GeForce GTX 550 Ti SLI configuration which outperforms the closest rival GeForce GTX 570, even though by a mere 3 fps in some display modes. This game is playable with comfort at resolutions up to 1920x1080.
The factory overclocking doesn’t help the Zotac in single-card mode. You’ll have to turn off some visual options if you want to play Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam on a single Zotac GeForce GTX 550 Ti AMP! Edition with comfort.
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Even a single GeForce GTX 550 Ti is good enough for running the latest version of Call of Duty: Black Ops. No wonder that the SLI configuration easily copes with that, too. It also outperforms both the GeForce GTX 570 and the Radeon HD 6950, but each of these cards delivers a playable frame rate as well.
The overclocked frequencies of the Zotac card add some more reserve of speed at 2560x1600 so that you didn’t worry about occasional slowdowns even if you are playing with FSAA turned on.
Nvidia’s programmers have been optimizing their SLI technology for a few years already and here’s the result: the scalability of the SLI tandem amounts to 80-90% in Crysis Warhead. The GeForce GTX 550 Ti SLI is comparable to the GeForce GTX 570 at 1600x900 but both are outperformed by the Radeon HD 6950 at the higher resolutions (the leader's frame rate of 20 fps is far from comfortable, though).
The extra 100 MHz of clock rate do not help the Zotac card cope with Crysis Warhead. You have to lower the graphics load by disabling FSAA and/or shadows to have a comfortable frame rate.
This game is tested with the tessellation option turned on.
The GeForce GTX 550 Ti SLI configuration doesn’t feel at its ease in the Moscow underground. Its scalability is rather low, so the tandem takes fourth place, after the GeForce GTX 570, Radeon HD 6950 and, rather alarmingly, GeForce GTX 560 Ti. If you are into this game, you may want to wait until Nvidia releases a more effective driver before you build a SLI tandem to play it.
The pre-overclocked card from Zotac is almost 20% faster than the regular GeForce GTX 550 Ti in Metro 2033 but, like in the previous game, you will have to step down your graphics quality settings to play with comfort.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat
This game runs with enabled tessellation.
The Zone is a more favorable environment for the SLI tandem which is 80-90% faster than the single card and competitive against the GeForce GTX 570 and Radeon HD 6950. Unfortunately, the GeForce GTX 550 Ti will not allow you to play comfortably at 2560x1600 notwithstanding the rather old graphic engine of this game.
The Zotac card outperforms the reference GeForce GTX 550 Ti by about 16% here.