The only change i did between this format and the previous is that i installed the onboard sound this time. Should that make a difference? The x-fi doesnt even show in the device manager. It is firmly seated in the slot because the led's on it are lighting up.
i removed it (the card), reinstalled windows fully and then reinstalled the sound card after i got windows up and running and was installing drivers. only then was it picked up... for some reason it didnt pick it up.
i have since reinstalled my system when i added a new hdd and then added raid and the card was picked up fine. both times... so it does sound like a hit and miss, plug and play problem.