Sparkle Computer Co. Ltd has been around for nearly two decades manufacturing graphic controllers. The company solely manufactures NVIDIA-based GPUs and they target their graphic cards at budget conscious consumers. The company is not as popular with their cards as brands like ASUS, MSI, XFX, etc. but their cards are slowly becoming increasingly popular amongst gamers. Sparkle have launched the GeForce GTX 550 Ti, a mainstream card that is designed for casual gamers and also features NVIDIA technology such as DirectX 11 support, CUDA, 3D Vision ready as well as a host of other features. Read on to know about the 550 Ti from Sparkle.

The layout keeps the card cool even under load

Design and Features
Like with most graphic card manufacturers, Sparkle has redesigned the look of the GeForce GTX 550 Ti as compared to the reference model from NVIDIA. With the reference model, there was a huge casing over the entire GPU. Sparkle have modified this casing and have added fins that are exposed. The fan is placed on top of the heatsink, whereby with this design, one could expect this card to run cool even under load. Like the reference model, the Sparkle 550 Ti’s core clock runs at 900 MHz. Sparkle hasn’t deviated much in terms of specifications from the base NVIDIA model and have also built it with a 1 GB GDDR5 memory.

Dual DVI connectors and a mini HDMI port

Dual DVI connectors and a mini HDMI port

The Sparkle GeForce GTX 550 Ti has also followed the reference card’s specification by using the same memory clock speed which is 4100 MHz as well as the processor clock which is 1800 MHz. As for connectivity, Sparkle have added two DVI ports along with a mini HDMI port. This card has 2-way SLI technology and coupled with another SLI supported GPU, this would make for a great dual GPU solution. Apart from this, the 550 Ti features NVIDIA technology such as CUDA, PhysX, etc. as well is 3D Vision ready and NVIDIA surround ready. This card also features Microsoft DirectX 11 technology which is the latest version for processing multimedia such as gaming and video. This mainstream card is not a big card but it does occupy up to two slots on an ATX sized motherboard. This card requires a 6-pin power connector to be powered and requires minimum system power of 400W.

Test Rig Specifications
Processor: Intel Core i7-2600K CPU @ 3.40 GHz
Motherboard: GIGABYTE P67A-UD3R
Memory: Corsair Dominator GT 6 GB DDR3 (3 x 2 GB)
Hard drive: WD Velociraptor  300 GB
GPU: Sparkle GeForce GTX 550Ti 1GB GDDR5
PSU: Cooler Master Silent Pro 1000W

Performance
The Sparkle GeForce GTX 550 Ti was compared to the XFX Radeon 6790 and the Galaxy 550 Ti. In the entry level graphic card test we conducted recently we saw that these are the only other cards in a similar price range that can be matched up to it. From the graph below we can see that the XFX Radeon 6790 card wins slightly across most games. In the 3D Mark Vantage benchmarking test, the Sparkle GTX 550 Ti recorded a 3D Mark score of 12252 and a GPU score of 9752. This is pretty decent for a card of this pricing. The exhausting Heaven benchmark scored an average frame rate of 51.8 and a score of 1306. However, this score was recorded with the Heaven benchmark running at a resolution of 1280 x 1024.

Comparison table

Comparison table

This card fared well in games and had an average frame rate that ranged from 45 to 75. This is decent for a card in the sub 10k price range. Games were tested with a screen resolution of 1680 x 1050 and mainstream games like Resident Evil 5 scored an average of 75.2 fps, Mafia 2 scored an average frame rate of 58.8 while Far Cry 2 scored 71.8 fps. Other games tested were Dirt 2 which noted an average of 68.3 and Just Cause 2 which recorded an average frame rate of 45.12. Just Cause 2 was the only game which ran a bit slow. But it is definitely playable.

Score Graph

Score Graph

While testing the temperature of the card we used the FurMark tool which stresses the card a lot. The idle temperature of the 550 Ti is pretty cool with it running at 32 degrees Celsius. The maximum temperature noted was 64 degrees Celsius which means that it does not get too heated in a cabinet.

Different design from the stock version

Different design from the stock version

Verdict
The Sparkle GeForce GTX 550 Ti is priced at a market operating price of Rs. 7,950. As the chart above suggests, the Radeon 6790 card from XFX had slightly superior frame rates. However, as seen in the table above, the Sparkle GeForce GTX 580 is a cooler card and loses out to the 6790 by only a small margin. That being said, if one is looking for a card in this price range, the 550 Ti should not be overlooked.

Publish date: September 12, 2011 5:30 pm| Modified date: December 18, 2013 8:29 pm

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