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Windows 7: Considering Creative Labs SB0950 ExpressCard Sound Blaster X-Fi

24 Jul 2010   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 
Considering Creative Labs SB0950 ExpressCard Sound Blaster X-Fi

Computer: Toshiba Satellite P505-S8945, Windows 7 Home Premium x64, Intel Centrino Core2 Duo 2.0 GHz CPU, 6 GB SDRAM, Conexant Pebble HD Smart Audio

The Conexant Pebble HD Smart Audio onboard sound sucks, to put it politely, for anything other than basic music and videos. When I play UT2004, I run into intermittent stutters and popping. I understand that with onboard sound, the CPU is taxed when sound is generated, thus degrading gaming performance.

I have been looking at Creative's X-Fi sound card for laptops. My questions are: Is the X-Fi compatible with Windows 7 x64? Does it truly replace the onboard sound altogether? Would I need to disable onboard sound in my CMOS to use it? Would my laptop's built in speakers work with it, or would I need to purchase external speakers? And most importantly: would it offload the sound creation from my CPU to the card, thus giving better gaming performance than the onboard sound?

Thank you!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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24 Jul 2010   #2

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

On the 64bit 7 desktop here I wouldn't even consider running the onboard while the Creative X-Fi XtremeGamer model card is present. For EAX effects and other things the Creatinve Sound Blaster line is generally the more popular expansion card selected and has been that way for over a decade at this point.

When going to install any addon card or device while the onboard is available and active you make the trip into the bios setup in order to disable the onboard option. This will then allow for the fresh detection of the new hardware itself. Creative also sees an automatic web updater as well as having two cds for both flavors of Windows(32, 64bit) for 7 as well as for Vista and XP.

As far as the builtin speakers that will depend on a separate audio plug already being present and plugged into a jack on the laptop itself there. Addon cards will have their own 1/8" mini jacks. If the plug is present and long enough to reach over to the opening for the sound card added on you won't need to go out and buy a separate set except for the far better sound quality required for multimedia playback.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Jul 2010   #3

Windows 7 Pro X64 SP1
 
 

The most recent drivers for that card are from November 2009 and are listed as beta:

Creative Worldwide Support > Sound Blaster X-Fi Notebook

They may work fine, but that level of support isn't encouraging.

I wonder whether the USB unit (SB1090) would serve you better?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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25 Jul 2010   #4

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

The Vista drivers also work just as well on 7 as the Windows 7 beta drivers do. Creative was better prepared for 7 then seen when Vista was first out and you would tend to see Vista drivers download and install on XP even through the MS update site. That was the one time when their support wasn't support in all the years I've run SB cards on desktops.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Considering Creative Labs SB0950 ExpressCard Sound Blaster X-Fi




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