Creative X-Fi Xtreme Audio
- Excellent sound quality, intuitive mixer interface and equaliser settings
- Some games may not run properly under Windows Vista, so it's best to check Creative's Web site for the games compatibility list
Do yourself a favour and upgrade from the integrated sound on your motherboard to this X-Fi card. Its sound quality was excellent, as was its ability to record from line sources.
Price$ 139.00 (AUD)
Buying a sound card for a new PC isn't something many of us have thought about doing for many years. After all, motherboards have built-in audio that does the job just fine, right? Well, that's true to a point. A dedicated sound card can give you cleaner, richer sound if you have discerning ears and top quality speakers, and it can also supply a bank of built-in sounds, which can be tapped into when using a MIDI-based controller or audio creation software.
Creative's X-Fi Xtreme Audio sound card is one that should be added to the cutting list of your new PC build or upgrade project. It's one of the latest devices on the market to harness the PCI Express (PCIe) bus; a PCIe x1 interface, which is short in length, can be used in any sized PCIe slots on your motherboard. It's easy to install if you follow the supplied instructions, although the software installation can take more than 12min to complete, which is frustrating. Remember to also disable the sound chip on your motherboard and to uninstall the previous audio drivers if you can.
Compared to the integrated sound of a Realtek ALC888 chip that's found on many recent motherboards, the Creative X-Fi will do a better job, and it won't take up as many CPU cycles. It also has a much better software interface. The card can output sound to as many as eight speakers (7.1-channel) either via its analogue or optical digital outputs.
Its sound was superb during our tests under Windows XP and Vista, even at maximum volume. Background noise was inaudible; with some sound cards, you can hear a hissing in the background when the card is idle, but with the X-Fi, there wasn't any hissing at all. Indeed, it boasts a signal-to-noise ratio of 104dB, which is a high figure.
Using analogue connections, low and high-range frequencies sounded punchy, yet warm during our tests, and mid-range frequencies weren't drowned out at all (we used a set of Creative Inspire speakers for our tests). Various preset equaliser levels can be applied to the sound, and a graphic equaliser allows you to adjust each frequency manually, and easily. As for the card's control panel, it's much more intuitive than Realtek's solution, and (in Windows XP) it has an easy option for recording sound called 'Record what you hear'. Basically, this does as its name suggests, so any sound that your PC makes, you'll be able to record.
We found its ability to record from a line-in source exemplary, as it allowed us to easily adjust the sound level for clear and accurate recordings (this is something that some Realtek chips can't do properly). So if recording the input from an external sound source is something you'll be doing frequently, then this card will help you do it without any fuss.
If you want to get fancy, you can use the card's virtual speakers setting to obtain a surround sound-like effect when listening through headphones, and this works surprisingly well, even on Sennheiser MX90 VC headphones.
Of course, the sound card also supports surround sound and 3D sound for gaming, but it also requires the use of a program called ALchemy in order to run many games with surround sound under Windows Vista. ALchemy detected our installed games and we were able to run them with EAX effect enabled. FEAR had no problems running with ALchemy and directional sounds were clearly distinct.
Join the newsletter!
WD MY PASSPORT™ X Gaming Storage
Dyson Supersonic™ Hair Dryer Fuchsia/Iron
WD MY PASSPORT™ Gaming Storage
SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™
Panasonic OLED 4K Ultra HD TV - TH-77EZ1000U
Panasonic OLED 4K Ultra HD TV - TH-55EZ950U
Bang and Olufsen BeoVision 14
Apple iPhone X
Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44
cloudandco Smart Cane
Toys for Boys
Google Daydream View VR Headset
Lego Mindstorms EV3
Ubiquiti Network’s Front Row Camera
UBTech First Order Stormtrooper Robot
LaCie Rugged USB-C Portable Hard Drive
Onyx Smart Walkie Talkie
Bose SoundLink Micro
Propel Star Wars T-65 X-Wing Drone
Leica M10 Digital Rangefinder Camera
Nest Protect Smart Smoke Alarm
Xbox One X
PETKIG Go Smart Dog Leash
Amazon Echo Bluetooth Speaker
Belkin Pocket Power 10,000mAh
Panasonic Hi-Fi - SC-UA7GS-K
iRobot Roomba 980 Vaccum Cleaning Robot
Toffee Bags Commuter Satchel
Dearear Endear In-ear Wireless Earphones
Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K
WD MY CLOUD™ HOME Personal Cloud Storage
Urbanworx Full HD Action Camera
Kogan Bluetooth Soundbar
Fallout Geeki Tikis
3SIXT 3-in-1 Smartphone Lens Kit
Ikea NORDMÄRKE Wireless Charging Pad
Logitech Doodle Collection Wireless Mouse
Raspberry Pi Starter Kit
Lexon Flip Alarm Clock
Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse
Panasonic Portable Splashproof Fun - RF-D20U
Tile Pro Bluetooth Tracker
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Hisense takes the fight to home entertainment heavyweights with flagship Series 8 and 9 ULED TVs
- 2 Sony's latest Ultra HD OLED debuts in Australia
- 3 Panasonic Ultra HD OLED TV Review
- 4 D-Link Omna 180 Cam HD DSH-C310 review
- 5 Oppo A77 smartphone: Full in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- BenQ unveils a pair of new ergonomic eSports mice
- Crucial Launches Highest Density 128GB DDR4 LRDIMM Server Memory
- The Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Will Now Resist the Elements
- Logitech Unveils MX ERGO, their first trackball in nearly a decade
- Nvidia unveils Pegasus, an AI computer that can power fully autonomous vehicles
PCW Evaluation Team
I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.
It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.
Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.
The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.
The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.
The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic
- LG V30+ review: The videographer's smartphone arrives
- Fitbit Ionic review: Impressive but not quite iconic
- Xbox One X review: Brave new world
- 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
- FTEnterprise Sales ManagerOther
- FTDesktop TechnicianSA
- CCJunior to Mid Level - Java Developer - BrisbaneNSW
- CCTransition Manger - Infrastructure ServicesVIC
- CCWintel Team LeadWA
- FTTest ManagerACT
- FTSenior .NET Engineer - Back-EndNSW
- FTSenior Change AnalystOther
- FTWireless Network Engineer - CCNA/CCNPOther
- CCSenior AngularJS DeveloperNSW
- CCProject ManagerVIC
- FTSitecore DeveloperOther
- FTFull Stack .Net DeveloperQLD
- FTPortfolio & Governance Senior AnalystVIC
- CCJunior to Mid Level Tester - BrisbaneACT
- FTApplication Support Analyst (Healthcare)Other
- TPProject ManagerNSW
- CCNew Relic Integration ConsultantNSW
- CCBusiness AnalystACT
- CCTest Engineer - Insurance BackgroundQLD
- TPSenior Project OfficerNSW
- CCProject Delivery Lead - Oracle Banking Platform - Contract - SydneyNSW
- CCLead Pega Systems ArchitectVIC
- CCAutomation Test AnalystNSW
- TPCommunications & Change AnalystQLD