I am more into creative products so some of my writing will be bit biased. As per my finding lot of people have issues with XiFi, it gives cracking and poping sound with nForce chipset mother boards. But i am not sure weather its only in Windows Vista 64 bit edition (In some review i found the issue will not apper if you move to a 32 bit OS of microsoft), I want to confrim this. Other than that this card is worth for its price. (EMU20K2 with 16 MB of internal RAM and EAX 5.0 support and the newest card on the block). Any one with more clarity please post.
About Bluegears i read lot of good reviews most of them really hated the creative products. One good thi i found with this cards is the Cheapest card with C-Media CMI8788 Oxygen HD with almost all features and comparable with Creative XiFi. The bad thing i found out was the Life few of them says it goes bust just after the warranty is over. Also i heard a rumour C-Media has stopped supporting CMI8788 Oxygen HD. This is also very good for its price for extra 10$ you get lots of industry standerd futures that Creative does not have plus a optical cable.
Now my issue i am confused to for which card. Issue with creative for me is that my motherboard chipset is Nforce 405. There is a slight hope that my OS is Win XP and Fedora 10 (Going to Fedora 11). If i can find out there wont be any problem i will surely go for this card else Bluegears (here the lifespan of the product is the problem ).
Please let me know if there is any Linux Driver issue as of now i heard it works fine.
I have a Creative X-Fi Fatal1ty FPS. I had a Asus P5N32-E SLI 680i board running Vista Home Premium 32bit and I had issues with the sound. I now have a Rampage Formula X48 board which I have run with both 32bit and 64bit versions of Home Premium and never had an issue. Nvidia chipsets are crap! I just had to get that off my chest. Just as I am biased against Nvidia chipsets, there are those that are biased against Creative. Many people will overlook deficiencies in products simply because they are not from Creative. I think Creative makes good products but their driver support is abysmal and I hate all the proprietary connectors on their products. My suggestion would be to look for something from AuzenTech. Many of their products use Creative audio processors but AuzenTech does a better job designing the card and writing the drivers. I've also read good things about Asus sound cards but they simulate EAX because they aren't allowed to process it, another proprietary Creative thing.
I would recommend the ASUS Xonar. I had nothing but problems with my X-Fi/nVidia Chipset. My X-fi sat on the shelf for 8 mo due to one driver problem after another causing long shutdowns. I installed Windows 7 and decided to give my Fatality another shot in my 2nd rig. Surprisingly it's been working okay for about 2 weeks now with no slow shutdown problems. I would still recommend the Xonar.
I've been running a bgears sound card for over a year now. For the most part, the card isn't bad but I have had some issues with the drivers and one problem with a connection on the card breaking due to overheating. The people at bgears were great about fixing the card, even after the warranty was over -- though it took some convincing, and it has run pretty good since then.
My main issue with the drivers is that they have not been updated in about a year. Parts of the GUI are just plain clunky and getting things set up so everything sounds good is more work than it should be. If the driver support was better, I would totally recommend this card. But being how it is, I have a hard time seeing how this is any better than onboard sound. I should point out, however, that I've only used this card on Win XP 32 and only with nForce chipset motherboards. Compatibility wise, I've never had a problem.
Also, don't waste your time on creative crap. I had an x-fi for a few months before I sold the thing and bought the bgears card. The drivers were crap, support from creative was non-existent and I just felt dirty using the thing. Yes, I'm a creative hater but this is after years and years of using their products and watching them evolve into the wreck of a company they are today.
Better listen to cloudKiller in regard to Creative, I've been through everything he said and they'll never get my money again. The only reason I didn't sell my X-Fi was because I didn't want to hear any complaints from whoever bought it.