In this review the GeForce GTX 550 Ti is being tested with the binary driver (NVIDIA 280.13 release) and compared to the GeForce GT 240, GeForce GTX 460, and GeForce GT 520 graphics cards as the available NVIDIA cards for comparison. On the Radeon side the Catalyst 11.8 driver was used and the Radeon HD 5830, Radeon HD 6570, Radeon HD 6770, and Radeon HD 6870 graphics cards were benchmarked again for the GeForce GTX 550 Ti competition. Ubuntu 11.10 was the operating system on the Intel Core i5 2500K system used for testing.
It is worth reiterating that this EVGA GeForce GTX 550 Ti graphics card comes with a factory overclock. The factory overclock is having the GF116 Fermi core running at 951MHz (verus 900MHz reference), 1903MHz on the shader clock (versus 1800MHz reference), and 4356MHz on the GDDR5 video RAM (versus 4100MHz reference). The binary NVIDIA Linux driver still does not support overclocking for Fermi hardware. NVIDIA Linux engineers have said that with Fermi (and future GPUs) it is a lot more complicated and offering up the CoolBits support for these newer generations of products is a low-priority. As a result, there is no clock manipulation support under Linux and so this GF116 graphics card could not be overclocked further nor could it be down-clocked to NVIDIA's reference specifications. At least most other features of the Fermi hardware is supported under Linux with the binary driver, including 3D Vision, SLI, and PureVideo (via the wonderful VDPAU).
Another advantage to the binary driver over the Nouveau stack is working power management, automated fan control, and other features. The PowerMizer states for this graphics card are 50/135/101MHz, 405/324/810MHz, and 951/2179/1903MHz (graphics, memory, and processor clocks).