you're comparing a $1500 lens to a $300 lens, of course the nikkor's going to be a bit better, lol.
No I'm comparing a zoom I paid $800 for to a prime I paid $300 for with almost two stops difference wide open. Maybe that's still an unfair comparison but it shouldn't be; primes are supposed to be better than zooms.
Yes it's stopped down a lot Your 17-55 may in fact be sharper but at f8 the difference will be minimal although a gratifying nod towards the 17-55. It does do wide open fairly well though.
Yeah my disappointment is more than just the Tokina wide open, I'm willing to accept that it's good at f8 and above. I was actually trying to replace the 17-55/2.8 with three primes; the Tokina 17/3.5, Nikkor 24/2.8, and Nikkor 50/1.8. The reason was the weight of the zoom, but these three lenses combined weigh about 150gm more than the zoom. The Tokina has excellent build quality, but is not light. Add to that the 24/2.8 is a really crap lens and it was a real failure project.