ATi & Nvidia Video Card Roundup #2
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a game that follows in the legacy established by the Wing Commander series
back in the
90’s. Freelancer has some gorgeous graphics
matched only by the
intense dogfights throughout the game. Fans are screaming for an expansion, but
are content with the huge amount of modifications and conversions.
|Maximum (HUD animations,
*Radeon 9700 is a soft-modded Radeon 9500 running at Radeon 9700 specs.
*Radeon 9700 is
a soft-modded Radeon 9500 running at Radeon 9700 specs.
- Radeon 9700
This card comes out on top in practically all the tests. It is only matched
by its Radeon 9500 sibling at 1024x768. The big shocker here is the fact
that the Radeon 9700 consistently beats the FX5900 Ultra by 3 - 10
FPS. This is really interesting as the FX5900 Ultra is double
the price of the Radeon 9700. At 1600x1200, the Radeon 9700 continues
to dominate the Freelancer test and bests the FX5900 Ultra by 3-10 FPS
again. Even at the highest setting of 6x8 AAxAF, the 9700 is still very
smooth and playable.
- Radeon 9500
The Radeon 9500 performs very well at 1024x768 resolution.
At no point was there a noticeable slow-down, even with the highest AA and
AF levels. However, at 1600x1200, we begin to see the card struggle. At 1600x1200
with anti-aliasing 4x or higher, we see the performance drop drastically.
I experienced really bad mouse lag which made it nearly
impossible to hit a moving ship, and difficult to launch a torpedo properly.
- GeForce FX5900
The FX5900 Ultra did well in Freelancer. For the most part, at any given
resolution and at any given AAxAF setting, the card did not appear to
struggle or give poor playability (the only exception is 8x0 and higher
at 1600x1200 where the FPS is below 25). Compared to the Radeon 9700,
we see that it doesn't perform as well but is still able to play the
- GeForce FX5600
Though the numbers for the FX5600 are not as good the Radeon 9500/9700,
the FX5600 performs very well up to and including 4x8 AAxAF at 1024x768.
Flight and combat is very smooth. Once past this point, however, we begin
to have serious performance issues. The mouse would lag and targeting was
harder. At 1600x1200, it was tough playing at 2xAA and higher. I found myself
bumping into objects and generally having a tough time targeting enemies.
- GeForce FX5200
The FX5200 is only playable up to and including 2x8 at 1024x768
screen resolution. Anything higher was not usable. 1600x1200 gaming is not
possible except at 0x0 AAxAF.
- GeForce 4 Ti4800SE
The Ti4800SE does extremely well with respect to its other NVIDIA-based
brethren: it is forth behind the FX5900 Ultra
and significantly better than both the FX600 and the FX5200. At 1024x768,
the card performed well and was playable up to its highest setting of 4x8
with some pretty decent frame rates. For 1600x1200, it was playable up to
The FX series video card
does not appear to perform very well in general in Freelancer. For the price
of the FX5900 Ultra, you would expect it to be substantially better than
the Ti4800SE which is almost 3x cheaper. The Radeon 9500 and 9700 perform
extremely well and both beat the FX5900 Ultra at 1024x768. This is something
I find really curious and disconcerting as the FX5900 Ultra should be a better
performer given the premium price consumers are currently paying for it.
Despite this quirk, the FX5900 Ultra still manages to play Freelancer well.