Where do we start with the MSI N550GTX-Ti Cyclone II OC video card? This little video card is rather impressive due to it’s appearance, features, clock speeds, price and general performance. It does have a couple negatives, but we’ll touch on that in a second.
The MSI N550GTX-Ti Cyclone II OC features a nice factory overclock, nothing too wild, but enough to make a noticeable difference in the games we tested. We found that the overclock helped the card run between 2 to 9% faster than the NVIDIA GeForce GTX550 Ti
reference design in our testing, but that was expected since it operates
at a 950MHz versus the standard 900MHz clock speeds. We were able to overclock the core up to 1047MHz without increasing the GPU voltage, so this card has plenty more headroom in it for those that want to do overclocking. If you wanted to use the MSI Afterburner utility to increase the voltage and fan speed we don’t doubt that the 1.1GHz mark might be able to be reached.
Speaking of the fan, this card used the new Cyclone II GPU cooler. This is a mean looking GPU cooler that is a bit on the large side, but it does amazingly well and ran 17C cooler than the custom cooler used on the ASUS Ultimate GTX550 Ti and that is impressive. The Cyclone II doesn’t look much different than the Cyclone I, but we see the changes made with the “Propeller Blade” technology on the 90mm fan. With the fan spinning at 1260RPM at idle and 2760RPM at load, it was audible in our test system. The other thing we noticed is that the card had a hum to it that we didn’t hear on the ASUS version of the GTX550 Ti. MSI said that they use Solid State Choke (SSC) to prevent high-frequency “BUZZ” noises from overclocking or high loads, but our ears told a different story as other brands don’t have the same buzz this card has. To be fair we only heard it on the open test bench and once the card was inside a case the buzz couldn’t be heard. We were still shocked by this and asked MSI about it since their press release talks about solid state chokes. We were then told that not all of the chokes on the card are solid state, so the 2 traditional chokes on the card are likely the cause of the humming that wasn’t heard on the ASUS card that has all solid chokes.
When it comes to pricing the MSI N550GTX-Ti Cyclone II OC is priced at $144.99 plus $4.99 shipping, after a $10 mail-in rebate that is going on right now. This makes it the least expensive custom cooled NVIDIA GeForce GTX 550 Ti video card available at Newegg right now. The least expensive card would be the EVGA GeForce GTX 550 Ti that is $129.99 shipped after a $20 mail-in rebate and has nearly identical clock speeds. So for $20 extra what do you get with the MSI card that you don’t with the EVGA? Well, you get a completely different look, a better GPU cooler, a 1-year longer warranty and a mini-HDMI-to-HDMI adapter. The choice and if it is worth it is totally up to you!
Legit Bottom Line: The MSI N550GTX-Ti Cyclone II OC is another great example of a custom GeForce GTX 550 Ti video card that costs less than $150 and performs very well!