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Windows 7: Sound Card Upgrades..


02 Aug 2010   #1

Windows 7 Professional x64
 
 
Sound Card Upgrades..

I've been wanting to upgrade my Chaintech AV-710 for a while now. It's a great audio, music, movie, DVD playback card (analog or digital), but it limited to EAX 2.0 in gaming.

I've done some research, and the Xtreme FaTly1 or summat is "best", but I just want something better than my AV-710 in gaming, sound good too for music, movies, dvds..and not have many problems with Windows 7.

Xtreme Gamer has a best rating/seller on Newegg, but comparing its specs to the Xtreme Audio, I don't see much difference. There's also the now discontinued Xtreme Music, which is like the Gamer but with better DACs or op-amps. Also, there's Auzen Tech's X-fi series...but they seem abit too pricey.


FYI - My mobo is a miro ATX, and only has 1 usable PCI slot, and I think (maybe) I can fit a PCIe x1 card in there too. The chipset heatsink is right behind it, and might interfere. I'll try and get a shot in there to post later.

I would like to keep the price under $100, EAX 4.0 or better, PCI pref. but I might fit a PCIe 1x in also.

edit: pic attached



Attached Thumbnails
Sound Card Upgrades..-dsc_2930.jpg  
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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02 Aug 2010   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64, XP Mode, W8.1 Preview VM - 7 Pro x64 second remote tower
 
 

I've been running the XtremeGamer here on a few different builds with more then one card bought obviously since the X-Fi series came out. The XtremeAudio and Gamer models compared are slightly different only as far as things like seen in real life as far as gaming and running multimedia on WMP and other players.

Presently the XtremeGamer is reduced by $25 at Newegg.com - Creative 70SB073A00000 7.1 Channels 24-bit 96KHz PCI Interface Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer That's a grab for that model seen there.

As far as EAX effects and OpenAL Creative has the handle on that from the start being their main Sound Blaster unique feature their line up of cards offer since this is the application side more then the hardware side. Even on the lowest end models they carry you still see the EAX as well as the web updater seeing the latest drivers go on when installing.

As typically seen with any Creative update they list the models supported with each download when clicking the details link next to each one on the support page.

Quote:
This download supports the following audio devices only:
  • Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer Fatal1ty® Professional Series
  • Sound Blaster X-Fi Platinum Fatal1ty Champion Series
  • Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic
  • Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer
  • Sound Blaster X-Fi Platinum
  • Sound Blaster X-Fi Fatal1ty
  • Sound Blaster X-Fi Elite Pro
  • Sound Blaster X-Fi
The support page will show the present new models available while many not seen are still seeing support like the Audigy 2 ZS Gamer model on an old XP case here. Creative Worldwide Support > Sound Blaster
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Aug 2010   #3

Windows 7 Professional x64
 
 

Thanks Night Hawk, looks like the Gamer would be a good choice .. although, from Amazon.com zShops I can get either the Gamer or the Music for about the same price. The Music would be better, but is discontinued .. but it uses same/similar drivers to the Gamer .. so that shouldn't matter...right?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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03 Aug 2010   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate x64, XP Mode, W8.1 Preview VM - 7 Pro x64 second remote tower
 
 

The updates for even the XtremeAudio model are even the same as well as the Gamer and Music models with the audio console launcher/volume panel application side. There are two files however to get to see both. The difference to note with the Audio model is simply the release date while different from July 2009.

Quote:
Release date : 2 Jul 09

This download is a driver providing Microsoft® Windows® 7 and Windows Vista® support for Creative Sound Blaster® X-Fi™ Xtreme Audio. It installs Creative Audio Console to control your audio device's settings. For more details, read the rest of this web release note.

File Name: XFXA_PCDRV_18_1_04_0090.exe
The Latest 64bit updates for the Gamer model for both drivers and the application side are:
Quote:
Release date : 16 Jun 10

This download is a driver providing Microsoft® Windows® 7 support for Creative Sound Blaster® X-Fi™ series of audio devices. For more details, read the rest of this web release note.

File Name : SBXF_PCDRV_LB_2_18_0015..exe
Beta version of audio console launcher:

Quote:
Release date : 23 Jun 10

File Name : CSL_PCAPPBETA_US_2_61_48.exe

This download contains the Creative Console Launcher beta application for use with the devices listed below in Microsoft® Windows® 7, Windows Vista® and Windows XP. For more details, read the rest of this web release note.
The information for each is identical on the global site as well as on the US site. Creative Worldwide Support

When looking them up the date of release may be different while the driver sets are compatible with each other in that line as well as the application. Your card will come with both 32bit and 64bit cds however as well as seeing the optional web updater. I simply download and keep the latest available tucked away in case of need for a clean install of 7 which is now less likely.

I still recommend choosing the model card you have from the main support page however when going through the support site. While the change of cards between the Audio first bought and later Gamer model both worked with the exact same there may be something addressed for one model not seen in the other especially since the Music model is now discontinued.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Aug 2010   #5
Microsoft MVP

Win 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Do not get the Xtreme Audio as it isn't a real X-Fi. For the most part it is nothing more than a re-named Audigy SE/LS/Value which in turn are basically a re-named SB Live 24 bit, to the point that all 3 lines can and will (need to add the DevID's since Creative separated them, but they all still use the P17X driver).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Aug 2010   #6

Windows 7 Ultimate x64, XP Mode, W8.1 Preview VM - 7 Pro x64 second remote tower
 
 

I had tried out the Audio model when first building the old case and had no problems until it looked like the card had quit one day simply seeing it replaced by the Gamer model at the time. A slight Vista update on XP page was the reason for that when their support site was goofed up for a period.

The new build now has a second Gamer card in it while the Audio seems to be doing quite well on a friend's build when I passed that along to him since he was still using the limited onboard. That was installed when he wanted a look at the 32bit RC some time back when not finding any driver updates for the onboard sound.

So far the Gamer now having been on two builds has done quite well. Yet I dug out two old Audigy 2 ZS Gamer model cards one no good for an old Socket A case and tossed a quick temp install of 7 on that with the latest and still had favorable results. The main thing now is certain differences seen with each model's specs over the other more then the updates except for the few extra features included in those for the higher end models.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Aug 2010   #7

Windows 7 Professional x64
 
 

Hmm...the ones with 64mb X-Ram are temping .. are there any tests/benchmarks on weather 2mb vs 64mb or 16mb makes that much difference? I'll have to do some Google-fu to find out.

ATM the Gamer would be a great choice, as it is still supported .. but now I know more about the X-Fi line, I want to learn more =)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Aug 2010   #8

Windows 7 Ultimate x64, XP Mode, W8.1 Preview VM - 7 Pro x64 second remote tower
 
 

It all comes down to what you are looking for in a card. For the typical user who games a bit and/or run multimedia the Gamer is generally a popular choice there plus seeing a $25 off summer clearance at newegg presently which means it will sell out fast.

For high end performance and considering a more professional application like music recording the Fatality line or even far more costly cards would then be looked at for the studio quality. You won't find that under $100 however. Some pro cards actually run upto or even over $300!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Sound Card Upgrades..




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