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Xi-Fi XtremeMusic PCI

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May 6, 2012 8:36:59 PM

I'm building a gaming system that will also serve as a poor man's home entertainment center PC. It's based on the Asus P8Z77-V, which has legacy PCI slots. I have a Xi-Fi XtremeMusic PCI card I could install instead of using the onboard sound. It's a 2 - 3 year old card, so I'm skeptical that it would really add much, but there are Windows 7 drivers available. I'll be using a basic 2.1 stereo speaker setup. Opinions?

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May 6, 2012 11:51:54 PM

Try it and see, although the quality difference really depends on what kind of speakers you have.
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May 7, 2012 2:30:48 AM

It will be a great improvement over on-board sound quality for an audiophile. But if you are a gamer and want to free up the CPU cycles that the on-board sound chip uses, I believe the card you mention does not have its own processor. That means it will still rob cycles from the CPU. But with SB or IB processors, that's not really a big deal.
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May 7, 2012 4:24:35 AM

Well, it will be an improvement, given how the XM was a higher tier X-fi when it came out. Whether you can hear a difference is dependent on your speaker setup.
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May 7, 2012 5:48:45 AM

clutchc said:
It will be a great improvement over on-board sound quality for an audiophile. But if you are a gamer and want to free up the CPU cycles that the on-board sound chip uses, I believe the card you mention does not have its own processor. That means it will still rob cycles from the CPU. But with SB or IB processors, that's not really a big deal.


CPU usage (onboard vs dedicated) is a non-issue now. There was a time it mattered but not now. I didn't even register 1% CPU usage before I added my sound card when playing CD's in 5.1 surround. CPU's are also rarely a bottleneck so unless your CPU hits 100% usage it's impossible to affect a games frame rate by adding a dedicated audio card.

Audio quality:
As mentioned motherboard audio is adequate for most. You probably need a minimum of $50 stereo, $80 2.1, or $120 5.1 speaker setups before a quality dedicated sound card would sound better.

I compared these two audio solutions with my great M-Audio AV40 stereo speakers:
Realtek 889 vs Auzentech Forte X-Fi (PCIe)

Low quality audio sounds identical to my ears. However, my MUSIC, MOVIES and GAMES often sound far better with the Forte dedicated card. In some of the music I could really hear the separation between instruments, bass was better and I heard noises that the onboard Realtek chip either didn't process or simply washed out.
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May 7, 2012 4:57:31 PM

Thanks to all for the helpful answers. Looks like there is still some life in the old dog. Besides, I paid for those legacy PCI slots, might as well use one of them. :lol:  It will be used with a Logitech Z623 2.1 speaker set. My rig will be overkill for almost anything I play anyway, which is mostly MMO's these days.
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