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Creative Xfi Errors and Crashes

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July 24, 2007 1:39:06 PM

Hello all ,

This is my first post here although I have been following TH forever and have always respected the forums to have sound advice , excuse the pun :) 

So the very last component I added to my PC was a sound card. I had never used one before and so never really felt the need. Some months ago I decided to get one when purchasing a pair of Speedlink Medusa 5.1 headsets. I was blown away with both products. The sound is like having completely new games to play and the online games like BF2 and BF2142 made a huge difference.

After about 2 days of playing my nightmare began. I got just a few glitches in sound 1st and then looping, crackling, screeching and eventually a BSOD.

So I did some things in order to try and solve the problem.

Put all components back on stock timings.
Updated Bios and GPU
Updated Soundcard drivers
Reinstalled all drivers above and used Regseeker to get rid of all traces before installing new ones.
Changed PCI latency with Latency Tool
Disabled Onboard sound card

I even tried a complete new install of windows XP and Vista on another HD so there was nothing in there but the base drivers and graphics and sound cards ones.

No luck.

Creative were not really helpful in this situation and blamed all my components one by one except their card. Now when I searched the net I found that hundreds of others were having the same problems across all different systems with no solution barring ditching the card.

If anyone knows of any solution here or is having the same problem I would love to hear about it.

Also if any writers or editors from the site read this it would be great to have an editorial here about the card and its potential problems as you may find there is a solution out there.

My system specs are:

MSI K8N Neo Platinum NF4
Opty 165
Corsair Twin X 3200
XFX8800GTS
Thermaltake Purepower 680W
Creative XFI Exreme Gamer Fatality 64MB Xram
Thermaltake Tsunami Case
WD Raptor 32GB SATA
Maxtor Diamond 300GB SATA

Sorry for being so longwinded and thanks to all those who manage to reach the end :) 
July 24, 2007 2:13:24 PM

I know that this is not the response that you are looking for, but I too have had countless and endless problems with my XFi Fatal1ty gamer card. Sound anomalies, crashes that are random in programs that are normally stable. I took all the same steps as you did in your search and got nothing as well. I have not abandoned my card to go with on-board just yet, as I still have hope for driver updates to fix my issues.

I too would love for some of the more seasoned veterans to way in on these issues. I am leaning towards on-board sound for my next build unless I can get a recommendation for a stellar card.
July 24, 2007 2:52:49 PM

I have the xfi gamer also on an Nf4 board. I have read of problems with the nf4 and xfi... but nothing solid.

The screeching on mine does not lead to crashes/bsod but that could primarily be b/c I shut down anything that causes it and fix it before it crashes. Sometimes I get total audio drop-out right after teh screeching. Usually a mode-switch in the creative audio panel (from gaming to entertainment and then back) removes the screeching, but not always. Sometimes just running it in entertainment mode has been necessary. This of course points to EAX being the issue (eax is shut off in entertainment/creation modes)

The only game I have noticed it in is Company of Heroes. All my personal testing points to Ventrillo being the cause. CoH is the only game that I run vent in beyond the occasional Bf2 match w/ friends. It does not happen every time, and I run hamachi with it which I have not tested yet. (hard to confirm a hamachi-less lan match w/ friends in other states) But I can run CoH w/o hamachi or vent and never have an issue. Bf2 runs sans-problems all the time (2142 is same base code) so to reiterate: I am leaning towards vent, with a possible contribution from hamachi and one/both conflicting with EAX.

It is a problem, but I am thinking it is the fault of devs not coding for newer hardware/drivers (xfi) and instead relying on ac'97 or xfi drivers or whatever to "fix" it for them. I can't really back that up, but that is my "gut" feeling.

To be sure, creative has had issues in the past w/ Nv hardware... and Nv hardware has had issues in the past w/ almost everyone. (via, creative, ati to name a few) So nothing I have said really takes them off the hook, rather my screeching problems may be a software issue rather than hardware. Again, b/c it is intermittent I cannot easily test it to confirm if one thing fixes it or not. If I make a change and it stops that does not always mean it is fixed, as I can get it to stop a number of ways only to have it start again later on. It will take time but I think I am on the right track.

I love the sound of the card, so I will be hammering at it to fix it. Sucks that creative (and so many other companies) are forgetting customer service AFTER the purchase.
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July 24, 2007 3:03:48 PM

the_politician said:
I am leaning towards on-board sound for my next build unless I can get a recommendation for a stellar card.


the xfi still is a stellar card.

so was my aureal vortex back in the day.

the simple truth is that you can always find a conflict with some software/hardware in a PC. The sheer number of configurations that a PC can be assembled into is staggering when you figure that hardware/driver makers must take that into account and test for it in combination with the near limitless amount of software that can be installed on those configurations.

I still think that aureal's A3D was better than creative's EAX to my ears. Problem was that it was harder to code for, and to make it worse creative was funneling alot of money to devs to "help" them. They eventually bought what was left of aureal... but that is not what I am getting at.

My point is that what is "stellar" is not always the easiest to implement which translates into more issues that the more simplistic competition. (realtek) IMO, if you want quality sound stay away from onboard and anything using the ac'97 codecs or really anything from realtek. (their implementation of positional sound is not the greatest) If quality is not your first priority then you will be served just fine by any onboard solution.

it does not mean that onboard sound has no issues, it is just masked better as a "motherboard" problem once you go onboard. ;) 
July 24, 2007 3:15:13 PM

Wow! Thanks for the great post. I do also notice that a lot of my issues do happen when Ventrilo is running, so maybe I was quick to point the finger considering posts I had read. I am also running an NV chipset so that seems to be, as you suggested, a computability issue with a back-story to it!

Thanks for the info!
July 24, 2007 3:24:32 PM

np, if enough ppl are confirming vent (or even another comm app like teamspeak) in connection w/ this then a fix is more likely. rock on.
July 24, 2007 9:15:52 PM

Hey Sojrner,

Thanks for all the input. I have both teamspeak and Vent but hardly ever use them as I tend to use the in game VOIP. However just in case I uninstalled both and their codecs to no avail. Also as you may of read I tried a clean install of both XP and Vista with just the OS, the sound card software, my graphics driver and the game.

Unfortunately none of this fixed my issue. Although I agree with you that the Xfi is a great card when it works. I upped the latency with PCI latency tool to 256 I think and that puts the error off for longer but still does not fix it.
July 24, 2007 9:46:37 PM

have you tried restoring all mobo settings to default and made sure you are NOT overclocking? some mobos tweak bus speeds when oc'ing that freak out many pci cards. Actually, some mobos have default settings that are out of spec with bus speed standards and that can do it too.

Just thoughts off the top o my head man...
July 24, 2007 10:37:02 PM

Well I have nf4 and creative xfi xtrememusic as you can see in my profile and there is a fix.

First off, don't install the nvidia firewall that thing messes your system up badly. Also, there is a nasty little bug a while back with the chipset and creative drivers. It was a simple registry change. Something like changing a 0 to a 1 or something like that. It has been so long since I did it. I have the two completely stable so far with no problems. It shouldn't be freakin out in game and give you BSODs the only problem I though it was with was the bios updater tool. The game bsods I would just format it and give fresh install of the newest drivers. Should work, always fixes my problems.

July 28, 2007 6:27:47 PM

I also have had lots of problems with my X-FI card.
One of the first things I noticed was with a problem called DLLML.exe, its installed with the card, this program has caused several problems with my system. Right after I built my system I installed IE 7, and I noticed that if I had kept opening tabs eventualy my system would lock up and become almost unsuable, I kill DLLML.exe all problems stoped and never came back, with it running my system was unstable. I also notice that my computer would blue screen with DLLML running, after removing it it never did so.

I also noticed around April, the date I can not reliably track down around the 13-18th I noticed several game started to fail. Vanguard crashes on start up, Neverwinter 2 behaves erraticaly. I turn off the sound card and switch to on board (card had to be disabled), all problems were gone.

I have tried reinstalling the sound card completely but that did not have an effect. It could be that something else installed or updated around April, system roll backes did remove the problem but after I reverted back to my current setup I lost access to the April restore points (start of March).
July 28, 2007 6:38:30 PM

Dude, from what that sounds to me I would format your system and do a clean install. I will tell you something funny about any windows program, they all suck and over time they become unstable.

You would need to post all system specs and what not to see what conflict you may have.
July 28, 2007 6:56:46 PM

I am another Xfi / Nvidia person with sound issues. I shall not make the same mistake again by mixing the two companies.

My problem of crackling, popping and hisses only really started after the recent MS driver update and a BIOS update. It does go away when I reboot most of the time, which is strange. If it continues I will do a roll back and then take the BIOS back down to see if it fixes it.

If you have added any other components in between it can throw your interupts out. You could try moving the card to a different PCI slot.
July 28, 2007 7:05:21 PM

I read from many sources that the X-Fi doesn't work on Vista. Other than that, I don't know whats the problem.
February 13, 2008 5:19:17 PM

i have the same problem screeching then bsod sometimes it goes away sometimes bsod it started when i updated drives before that though in battlefield 2142 it would give me a message saying my hardware did not support eax xfi now that i updated drivers it works but with the problem of screeching it does it almost every time the game is loading the server when it gets about 1/4 loaded it starts to screech then it jumps up to half and stops screeching only have this problem in battlefield 2142 also mic does not work in bf2142 or in bf2 they named this card right when they named it fatality waste of 119.00 dallors i have a audiogy se that works fine just doesnt sound as good tried reinstall rolling back drivers only way to get it to work is to do reinstall of windows then use old drivers and then the screech is gone but wont do eax or x-fi
December 23, 2008 1:55:42 AM

I have been using an X-Fi Extreme Audio for several months. It has worked well with no issues - until recently. I recently did a fresh install of SP3 for XP. This didn't cause a problem. But, I later did the install of IE 7. Shortly thereafter I began getting crashes, blue screens etc.

I reloaded EVERYTHING about 4 times - I mean from a complete re-format forward. Each time I got closer to an answer. The sound card. Every time the drivers loaded up and the card became active I got an immediate blue screen.

So, I downloaded the latest X-Fi driver from the Creative website. That fixed it. But for only 3 days. After running for hours with no issues for 3 days I shut down. I had shut down several times and restarted over that 3 day period. No issues. On the 4th day, I booted and got a blue screen. Couldn't get rid of it. In safe mode I could see that the IRQ on the X-Fi had no conflicts. I re-installed the new driver twice. I re-set my CMOS tp default several times and checked all there is to check. Nothing.

Well, my time is valuable. This is nuts. I do believe that between Microsoft and Creative that someone knows what this issue is and they aren't telling anyone. I ditched the X-Fi and went back to on-board sound. I will be buying a hi-end sound card but ya think I am going to waste more time on a creative labs unit? Not likely.
December 24, 2008 1:20:44 AM

X-fi cards are too unstable, and some of the advanced X-fi features need to be done in software (Alchamey) for Vista, so X-fi doesn't even offer any advantages. Throw in always buggy drivers, and the incompatabilities with certain motherboards (especially NVIDIA ones) and I see no point to ever get one.

Save yourself a headache and get either the Razer Barracuda or ASUS Xonar D2/D2X.
December 24, 2008 5:51:58 AM

I first installed an original X-fi on my nForce 4 based board and had frequent issues with not having any sound on startup and freezing/looping after extended usage on the startups that were successful. I changed the card from the top PCI slot to a bottom one and all these issues went away.

The card also hasn't had issues on the three Intel chipset boards I've used since. OS's I've gotten it to work on: Windows 2000, Server 2003 (PAE off), Vista-32 RTM, Vista-32 RC1. I wouldn't call it unstable at all. Haven't had a crash attributable to it except when it was in that wrong PCI slot.
December 31, 2008 3:33:51 PM

Going to put in my two cents.
My current build: Q6600/Abit IX38 QuadGT/2x2900Pro/4x1GB/3xSata/DVD-RAM/X-Fi XtremeGamer Fatality.

With XP Pro in the build, the sound card was never an issue. I had hardware problems with or without the card due to a faulty motherboard. When I got the new one back, XP Pro went back in and so did my card - everything was fine.

Installed Windows Server 2003 and probably a few hours later I got static. This was on a fresh install. All drivers are up to date, system build remains the same and stock clocks.

Without the card in - no issues/resets/crashes of any kind.

With the card in - sometimes during the windows loading screen it will bleep the BSOD and restart. Sometimes upon entering windows the sound card initializes and gives static. In order to remove static I need to disable/enable a few times to get it to stop, but when it stops and the sound goes back to normal and useable, sometimes during gameplay (various) the game will lockup but the music and animations will continue to run - cannot bring up start menu, task manager, or alt-f4 out.

Only programs I have running: Symantec End Point Protection - ATI Catalyst Center - Misc Windows Services - Daemon Tools.
December 31, 2008 7:52:05 PM

Server 2003: Did you remember to disable NXbit (a.k.a. No-Execute Bit)? You'll lose that last GB of RAM, but the X-fi drivers do not support PAE, only 64-bit.
January 3, 2009 11:34:07 PM

I finally gave up on the X-Fi and bought an ASUS Xonar D2X.......No regrets.
January 4, 2009 5:00:00 AM

And another X-fi user switches over. Its a known issue across all NVIDIA boards (and a few select others), and there is no known fix. I missed the NV4 when I first read the thread.
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