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Asus Xonar DX PCI-Express sound card
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Old 27th May 2008, 08:52   #1
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Default Asus Xonar DX PCI-Express sound card

The Asus Xonar DX isn't the perfect product a spec sheet would lead you to think – its software interface might be appalling and we've had to wait for a proper EAX driver to fix popular games like BioShock and Half-Life 2: Episode Two, but at least it installed without issue on various systems including boards based on Intel’s P965, X48 and P45 chipsets, along with Nvidia nForce 780i SLI and AMD 690G-based motherboards – we even used an x8 slot instead of just an x1 and as expected, it made no difference. The only problem we've heard is that there are issues with it and the 790i Ultra SLI because of the PCI to PCI-Express bridge chip.

The Xonar DX has a fantastic core feature set – its sound quality is largely indistinguishable compared to the Xonar D2X and it's significantly better than on-board audio. What’s more, the price to feature ratio is what makes it very accessible to buy.

In games (where EAX is progressively becoming less of a key feature), the quality was absolutely excellent, and now finally there are games like BioShock that benefit from the working GS3D 2.0 engine, but that's not to say that future EAX games will though. However, Asus did come through eventually and in only a few weeks, which is more than can be said for Creative's driver tradition.

While we may harp on about Creative's record of support and bug fixing, what would happen if someone reverse engineered Asus’s software to enable DTS effects on the DX? Or opened up the ALT for other use? Asus has also yet to prove itself on how it supports its soundcard products in the long term – it’s unclear whether in three years time, the D2X, D2 and DX will have "Windows 7" support for example. Typically most of Asus’s products have a shorter shelf-life so, yes, there's probable cause for concern, but an unproven track record is better than an established one.

Essentially Asus may have cut the Xonar in half but it hasn't cut out its soul – if anything this lean, mean machine is a better product than its full fat cousins. It's not a fully fledged alternative to Creative still, but it does help solidify Asus’s name in the soundcard market and you won't be disappointed if you buy one for just a shade over 50 quid.
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