Creative Labs SoundBlaster X-Fi Elite Pro
- Excellent signal-to-noise ratio, Plenty of inputs, Excellent results for music and movies
- No FireWire port, Games need to be specially programmed to make full use of the card
The X-Fi Elite Pro is an extremely impressive sound card. The audio performance rivals that of many professional cards, and the break-out box offers more connections than a BT exchange. However, it's also seriously pricey, and unless you're a dedicated audiophile we don't think it's quite worth so much.
Price$ 929.00 (AUD)
Last year's Creative Audigy 4.0 Pro was a tad disappointing because it used much the same technology as its predecessor. But now, after having spent around $100m on developing the new X-Fi chip, Creative is back with a true next-generation audio card.
The X-Fi Elite Pro sits at the very top of Creative's new range and as such includes a number of extras. It has 64MB of onboard RAM for storing game sounds and, whereas the entry-level X-Fi cards have a signal-to-noise ratio of 109dB (decibels), this one boasts an astonishing 116dB. The biggest visible difference, however, is the break-out box, which is twice the size of the old Audigy desktop unit.
Unlike previous models, the Pro includes a pre-amp for hooking up a turntable to it, which is handy if you want to convert your old vinyl into MP3s. Unfortunately the FireWire port has been given the old heave-ho.
As with all top-of-the-range cards from Creative, musicians are well catered for with this offering. There are both coax and optical digital connectors on the break-out box, as well as a pair of full-sized midi ports. It's easy to hook guitars or microphones up to the card via the jack sockets, while the low-latency Asio drivers for use in applications such as Cubase make recording as painless as possible.
But even when used for day-to-day music listening and movie-watching, the X-Fi puts in a cracking performance. The new '24bit Crystalizer' mode is especially impressive for listening to MP3s. Through a process of up-sampling it restores some of the punch lost during the compression process - the results are startling. Music is meatier and crisper when the effect is turned on and, unlike competing systems, it makes it sound natural rather than processed, so your ears don't tire of the effect.
Creative's cards have always been a benchmark for gaming performance because they offload processing onto the card rather than using the PC's main CPU. This means faster frame rates in games. The X-Fi is no different in this respect. Our test using the Right Mark 3DSound benchmarking software showed a CPU utilisation of just 4.3 per cent on a 2GHz Pentium 4. However, that was only a marginal improvement on previous results from an Audigy 4.0 Pro. Also, in the patched X-Fi version of Doom III we used there wasn't really a noticeable improvement over the Audigy 4.0.
Games will need to be specially programmed to make the most of the X-Fi's abilities, and we expect greater things to come in the future.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Acer Swift 7
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Lexar® Portable SSD
Google Daydream VR headset
Huawei Mate 9
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Surface Pro 4
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 2 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
- 3 Panasonic Blu-ray recorder PVR set-top box review
- 4 Garmin Fenix Chronos fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 5 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
Latest News Articles
- AMD busts Ryzen performance myths, clearing Windows 10 from blame
- Nvidia supercharges GeForce DirectX 12 performance with new Game Ready driver
- Ryzen works with XMP memory profiles
- Beyond smartphones, Samsung wants its Exynos 9 chip in VR headsets
- Nvidia slashes GeForce GTX 1080 prices, reveals new overclocked memory options
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- LG G6: unboxing, hands on review and detail shots
- Samsung Galaxy A5 2017: unboxing, hands on review and detail shots
- Behind the scenes with Team Walkinshaw at V8 Supercars Melbourne 2017
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- CCApplication Developer - FileNetQLD
- TPInfrastructure EngineerNSW
- FTProject Manager, FinanceNSW
- CCAgile Project ManagerNSW
- CCTechnical Business AnalystVIC
- FTUX DesignerNSW
- FTSenior Desktop Engineer - SCCM / AD / 2012 ServerNSW
- FTSOE Team LeaderACT
- FTGraduate Application Support Analyst -SMSF SoftwareNSW
- TPTeam Leader Project And Quality AssuranceVIC
- TPBusiness AnalystQLD
- FTAssociate Consultant - IT Project ServicesVIC
- CCDigital Business ArchitectACT
- FTSecurity Lead / ConsultantNSW
- FTBusiness Solutions AnalystNSW
- FTCitrix EngineerNSW
- TP.Net Software DeveloperQLD
- CCSenior Full Stack Web Developer - Port MacquarieNSW
- FTSoftware EngineerSA
- FTICT Security AnalystQLD
- FTTechnical Consultant - SQL Server programming skillsACT
- TPProject Manager - General InsuranceNSW
- CCChange AnalystQLD
- TPDigital Business AnalystNSW