PowerColor Radeon 5550 512MB DDR3
The PowerColor Radeon 5570 DDR3 is a graphics card well-suited to people on a fairly tight budget. It has a reasonable price tag of approximately $70 USD (though it can be found for $60 after rebate) and can serve as a good upgrade in an older system. It’s not passively cooled but that really doesn’t seem to matter since the fan is incredibly quiet, even under full RPMs.
In terms of gaming, the 5550 is limited to 1280 resolution and medium quality settings if you want to achieve decent framerates overall. Further improvements are achievable if you disable antialiasing and ratchet down the eye candy a bit. If you have an older PC, then this card could be a nice upgrade in a swap-and-drop since it doesn’t draw much power. For someone with an older OEM machine, this could be a nice swap-and-drop card, likely requiring no power supply upgrade or anything else other than a driver update. And make no mistake, there is a considerable market out there for people in this situation or similar.
When compared to the Sapphire 5550 card we recently reviewed, the PowerColor 5550 kicks its butt around the block and back again, providing about 50% better performance than the Sapphire card. No doubt the DDR3 memory and higher clock speeds provided by PowerColor make a big difference. Factor in a lower profile single-slot active cooler that’s virtually silent, and along with a competitive price tag, this PowerColor 5500 is a much better purchase.
Powercolor’s Radeon 5550 DDR3 is a solid budget card, consuming little power and offering an easy upgrade for consumers on a very modest budget. In comparison to the Sapphire 5550, this PowerColor card wins hands-down, and while the price tag of $70 here is pretty good, it gives cause for hesitation for one reason only: a Radeon 5670 costs less than $20 more and offers considerably better gaming performance. The bottom line here is that if you’re on a very tight budget and want a card for primarily home media uses or an HTPC, then grab the 5550; it runs cool and quiet and offers affordable horsepower. If you have any aspirations of doing anything more demanding though, then jump up to the PowerColor 5670 for the extra price of what amounts to only a pizza. Eat one less pizza, jump up to a great budget gaming card? Can’t beat that.
PowerColor Radeon HD5550 512MB DDR3