Creative cards are really good, When they work that is.
I'm in the middle of an email exchance with creative about why my X-fi extreme music stopped working fine, and started only working occasionally. And why it doesn't work at all in my new computer, atm they're telling me it's my hardware, whatever...
I currently use intel's onboard HD audio connected via optical cable to a Pioneer DCS 303 amp+speaker system. The sound is pretty damn good, but nowhere near as good as the X-fi in terms of EAX and in game sound. additionally the audio control program is bunk compared to the X-fi control panel.
Even though I've had problems with mine, I still recommend X-fi cards.
oh and lost, sorry to hear of your troubles. my soundcard has never given me any trouble, IMO, you should check out the creative forums rather than the creative support.
I already did. The reason I'm convinced its an issue with the card and why I ultimately want an RMA is because it wasn't recognised by creative's driver installation prog, it showed up as a "Creative X-fi [B000]" as opposed to "Creative X-fi [D800]" and i only got to that stage by manually selecting the driver to install, all other instances of driver install result in a code 10 ( device could not start ). I've tried manual IRQ assignment, clearing CMOS, putting the card in different slots, diabling Azalia audio chip, different driver versions, different BIOS versions and installing with other PCI devices removed and frankly I've had enough. Creative's advice thus far has been more than patronising. Bunch o' Jokers.
I am having a wonderful time recycling older hardware into an X-fi system. As stated - When it works!
2010 and it is still a viable PC solution for sound. But on the cheap and KICKASS? Absolutel
3 Amps 6 speakers.
I started with my old Altec Lansing ADA880. Which by a fluke of design will produce center channel and sub only when plugged into the X-fi output for 5.1 respectively. So there was my first Amp.
Added to this, I've used 2 - Optimus SA-155 Integrated Stereo Amplifiers. one for front left and right, the other for left and right rear channels.
The results have been superb. I've matched every speaker as well using 4 Optimus pro LX5's and their Center Channel counterpart.
I've recently purchased some of the units in this config. However, the Altec Lansing is over 10 years old. and My speakers are close to 20 years old in perfect condition.
One could also achieve a really nice sound using Minimus 7's in the same fashion. Even use 2 speakers wired in series as a center channel DiApolito array!
Take it a step further and this easily purchased hardware (speakers) can be upgraded to be phenomenal components for an X-FI Look up litekeys on eBay for crossover and aluminum cone driver replacement kits!
My sound is scary good - on the cheap, using gear I've had for half my life! WhodathunkIT!
I would suggest the X-fi titanium if you plan on using the setup for gaming. For music and movies the ASUS D2 or D2X if you prefer PCIE but both the D2X and the D2 are the same card just different interface.
So my choice for overall sound quality would be the ASUS cards. But remember if you will be using optical or SPDIF output those are strictly digital outputs and the sound card has little to no affect on sound quality. The Soundcard only really shines when you are using analog outputs.
SPDIF or Optical connections just send a digital signal and will then be processed by the receivers DAC (Digital Audio Converter).