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Differences What are the advantages of each

Front view of GeForce GTX 550 Ti

Reasons to consider the
Nvidia GeForce GTX 550 Ti

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Significantly higher clock speed 900 MHz vs 750 MHz 20% higher clock speed
Significantly higher effective memory clock speed 4,104 MHz vs 2,300 MHz Around 80% higher effective memory clock speed
Better passmark score 1,929 vs 903 Around 2.2x better passmark score
More render output processors 24 vs 16 8 more render output processors
Lower TDP 116W vs 150W Around 25% lower TDP
Front view of GeForce GTS 250

Reasons to consider the
ZOTAC GeForce GTS 250

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Higher texture rate 48 GTexel/s vs 28.8 GTexel/s More than 65% higher texture rate
More texture mapping units 64 vs 32 Twice as many texture mapping units
Higher memory clock speed 1,150 MHz vs 1,026 MHz More than 10% higher memory clock speed
Wider memory bus 256 bit vs 192 bit Around 35% wider memory bus

Benchmarks Real world tests of GeForce GTX 550 Ti vs GTS 250

Passmark Industry standard benchmark for overall graphics card performance

Features Key features of the GeForce GTX 550 Ti  vs GTS 250 

memory bandwidth Rate at which data can be read from or stored in onboard memory

GeForce GTX 550 Ti
98.5 GB/s
GeForce GTS 250
73.6 GB/s
Clock speeds are improved as well out of the box but are not the highest we have seen today.
GeForce GTX 550 Ti | by techPowerUp! (Mar, 2011)

pixel rate Number of pixels a graphics card can render to the screen every second

GeForce GTX 550 Ti
7.2 GPixel/s
GeForce GTS 250
12 GPixel/s
Mixed density memory chips help increase performance.
GeForce GTX 550 Ti | by techPowerUp! (Mar, 2011)

texture rate Speed at which a graphics card can perform texture mapping

GeForce GTX 550 Ti
28.8 GTexel/s
GeForce GTS 250
48 GTexel/s
Then when they decide to go big with 1920x1200 or 1920x1080, adding a second GTX 550 Ti in SLI should give them high-end performance that lets them play anything at HD resolutions.
GeForce GTX 550 Ti | by techPowerUp! (Mar, 2011)

floating point performance How fast the gpu can crunch numbers

GeForce GTX 550 Ti
691.2 GFLOPS
GeForce GTS 250
483.8 GFLOPS

shading units Subcomponents of the gpu, these run in parallel to enable fast pixel shading

To accomplish this task, the GTX 550 Ti is based on new 40 nm GF116 silicon, which packs 192 shader cores, and a 192-bit GDDR5 interface.
GeForce GTX 550 Ti | by techPowerUp! (Mar, 2011)

texture mapping units Built into each gpu, these resize and rotate bitmaps for texturing scenes

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