It took some time, but Creative Labs has finally introduced decent sound cards for PCI Express interface. The company is offering two products and has come up with names that may grab your attention, but aren’t necessarily easy to remember: The PCI Express Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Professional Series and the PCI Express Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Champion series. Got it?
Both boards come in a more modest package than the long names may suggest. They include Creative’s X-Fi processor that has been modified to work with the PCI Express interconnect and X-Fi APU got a revision: The chip now supports Crystalizer, a brilliant piece of technology that brings all those crappy 128 Kb/s MP3 files to life. The X-Fi CMSS was also implemented in a patchwork piece called X-Fi Xtreme Audio. This "true X-Fi" parts also come with X-RAM memory - dedicated memory that promises to boost the card’s performance in games.
The X-Fi cards continue to support Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital EX, DTS-ES and, of course, THX. The software bundle includes a ton of creative applications as well as and PowerDVD with DD-EX and DTS-ES support. Creative includes UAA compliant drivers for Vista.
The X-Fi PCI Express card is available for pre-order for 150, while the Fatal1ty Champion Edition (board+dongle+add-ons) will retail/e-tail for $200.
It seems that we might see some competition between the Creative Labs Sound Blaster and the Asus Xonar cards after all.