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Creative Sound Blaster X-FI Xtreme Gamer Fatal1ty Pro series Review

Desja    -   October 10, 2007
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Testing:

As I stated at the beginning of the review, I am putting this card up against my on-board sound card. My motherboard is the Asus P5B. I will be testing each card's ability to perform under movie, game and MP3 challenges. Each test will have two categories: Fatal1ty and P5B. There will also be two sub-categories: speakers and headphones.

Testing System

  • Intel Core Duo E6600 Processor
  • 2 GB Kingston PC2 5300
  • Asus P5B Motherboard
  • Nvidia 8600GTS Video Card
  • 450watt PSU
  • 320GB Seagate SATA 2 HD
  • LG DVD and DVD burner
  • Creative Fatal1ty and on-board comparison sound card
  • Windows XP SP2

Apps:

  • Media Player(Music)
  • Bioshock & GRAW 2 (Gaming)
  • Superman Returns (DVD Movie)

 

 

Media Player MP3 Test:

Fatal1ty sound card using Creative 5.1 speakers:

The sound was incredible with very distinct notes and clarity. I tried rap all the way to classical. I must say, the most notable was when I played Yoyo Ma (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon). Every instrument could be picked out and the use of each channel individually was amazing. The dB from the speakers was very high and there was a noticeable difference between the on-board sound, being much louder and clearer from the Fatal1ty. I did not experience any crackling, unless the MP3 used was of poor quality.

 

P5B On-board using Creative 5.1 speakers:

Although much better then my previous motherboard's sound card, this on-board soundcard didn't match that of the Fatal1ty in this test. The quality of the sound was nowhere near the quality of the Fatal1ty and the dB level was much lower. The problem I found in testing was that there seemed to be little to no distinction for each channel. It sounded as if all sound frequencies went to each channel. Instead of an immersive melodic experience, it felt more like going into a room and everyone shouting at me from all sides saying the same thing. One notable thing was the sub woofer did sound fairly clear, but only comparable to, if not less than that of the Fatal1ty.

 

Fatal1ty card using Senheiser HD 437 headphones:

Unlike every other time I have thrown on my headphones, this time I noticed a big change. The Fatal1ty card was not only louder, but way clearer then the on-board. Creative touts the use of 3D 9 directional surround sound capabilities for use with headphones. The sound that was generated was right on the money. While I do prefer the true surround sound experience, the headphones did sound pretty amazing.

 

P5B On-board using Senheiser HD 437 headphones:

About as much range as an iPod, the sound quality was poor. I had crackling and as far as 3D sound was concerned, it was mediocre at best. The funny thing about it was the fact the headphone volume couldn't get as high as the Fatal1ty, but they still crackled before I turned the sound all the way up. When there was no music playing, I noticed audible feedback, which wasn't present with the Fatal1ty.

 

Gaming Test:

Fatal1ty sound card using Creative 5.1 speakers:

I went to the Fatal1ty website and noticed its advert for Bioshock, which intrigued me. So for this test, I used Bioshock and GRAW 2. Bioshock is a creepy game to begin with, so adding this sound card didn't turn this into a fluffy-bunny game for me at all. When entering a room, you hear the various voices of the little sisters all around you. If the movie Children of the Corn has taught you anything, then you know demonic kids are creepy as hell. The Fatal1ty card plunges you right into the game. Each fire crackle and scraping step can be heard as clear as if it was in the room with you. When I switched over to GRAW 2, I noticed the 3D sound much more. Each step and every shot echoed perfectly. Everything was as crisp and as clear as if I was actually standing there being shot at. I could tell where every shot was coming from, having the competitive edge is what these gamer cards were designed for. I was surprised much less often then I was with the on-board sound.

 

P5B On board using Creative 5.1 speakers:

Good sound on both games, with a little more distinction than with MP3, but still doesn't pack quite the punch the fatality did. I could almost tell where sounds were coming from, but mainly from a left to right fashion more than a full 3D effect.

 

Fatal1ty card using Senheiser HD 437 headphones:

Once again, the 3D headphone claim rings true. It was very disconcerting knowing I had headphones on and was still able to pick out exactly where and when everything was coming for me. Great sound quality as well.

P5B on board using Senheiser HD 437 headphones:

Although the headphones did make for a much creepier Bioshock, they did not have the fully 3D immersive effect that the 9 directional option the Fatal1ty card has. The sound was clear but not crisp.

 

Superman Returns (DVD) Test:

Fatal1ty sound card using Creative 5.1 speakers:

Rich crisp and clear sound with very distinctive use of each of the channels. The scene when Superman stops the aircraft from crashing into the stadium was fantastic and Jarrel's voice throughout the movie is very clear and really uses the subwoofer.

 

P5B On board using Creative 5.1 speakers:

This is where the on-board sound really shined. Even so, it was still not enough to compete with the Fatal1ty. The use of the subwoofer was very nice, as the sound wasn't cumbersome or crackling at any part during the test. I could see the on-board sound's use for movies and it did seem to take advantage of the 5.1 surround pretty well. I did notice different frequencies per channel, which had been lacking in the other tests. Overall, I would not be too hard pressed to watch a movie with on-board sound. In my opinion wasn't too bad. The little details do make the Sound Blaster card inch ahead in the end.

 

Fatal1ty card using Senheiser HD 437 headphones:

Even though it was much less impressive than full surround sound, the headphones clarity was undeniable. Although I don't see myself sitting through an entire movie wearing headphones again in the near future, I must say that the Fatal1ty card did not make watching a movie with headphones as much of a chore as I though it might be.

 

P5B On board using Senheiser HD 437 headphones:

Here is where we see the integrated sound card fall behind and show its true colors once again. The range and quality was seriously lacking again. Needless to say, I would never watch anything with headphones with an integrated sound card.

 

Judging by what we just witnessed, I think we can conclude that although integrated sound cards are a cut above what they once were, even with the addition of 5.1 or better capabilities, they still don't quite stack up to a dedicated sound solution.




  1. Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Installation & Configuration
  3. Configuration (Continued)
  4. Configuration (Continued)
  5. Specifications
  6. Testing
  7. Conclusion
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