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|21st August 2005, 16:40||#1|
Join Date: May 2002
Creative Labs X-Fi: The Last PCI Sound Card? Should you buy one?
If you have a current Audigy 2 solution and you are only a casual music listener or gamer, the answer is likely no. That user would likely opt for the $129 basic version, which is too much for the gain they would see. If you're a serious audio buff, though, you should give some thought to it, particularly if you're building a new system. The 127-voice capability is pretty amazing, and you'll have great fun fooling around with all the audio effects. Think about moving up to the Platinum, though, as the 1/4-inch jacks allow more robust connection to high end headphones and also brings that spiffy remote to the table.
Gamers building new systems should at least think about either the Elite Pro or the Fatal1ty FPS. The overall price, though, leaves us with a bad taste in our mouths. The lower cost unit still weighs in at $279, which is a lot of spare change for simply adding 64MB of RAM and a fancy logo. As more games support X-RAM, however, this could become a more compelling solution. High fidelity enthusiasts and people who want to do a little content creation should give the Elite Pro some thought. The high end DACs, guitar input, and music creation apps make the Elite Pro seem like a fairly decent deal. In some ways, the Elite Pro is more powerful than the entry level E-MU pro solutions, though perhaps not as well tuned to the needs of professional gamers.
What's really lacking is an entry level gamer's card. We'd love to see a $149 retail card without the front panel bay (and minus the logo), but with the 64MB of onboard X-RAM. If Creative is serious about promoting OpenAL as a solution for the gaming industry, they need to make the X-Fi's much more pervasive. While developers may like the idea, they'll want to see ROI based on a substantial installed base. Only a scant few gamers will actually run out and get a Fatal1ty FPS unit at $279.
We suspect the price will come down over time. Creative does need to amortize their investment, and it's clearly been a substantial one. When you strip out the concerns about pricing, the X-Fi is a stunning achievement in PC audio. Whether it will turn around declining market share of add-in audio solutions, however, is unlikely until that pesky pricing issue is addressed.
|21st August 2005, 17:00||#2|
Join Date: Mar 2004
Opteron 165 (2) @2.85 1.42 vcore AMD Stock HSF + Chill Vent II
|21st August 2005, 17:07||#3|
Join Date: May 2002
I would much rather they spend time and effort in fixing current issues with their Audigy2 cards;
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