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Sound Card: Creative Labs X-Fi Titanium HD

Tom's Hardware's 2010 Gift Guide: Part 1, For System Builders
By

www.creative.com
$170
By: Devin Connors

Make no mistake: the X-Fi Titanium HD is the cream of the Creative Labs crop. From the THX TruSound PC certification to the audiophile-grade components, this card is meant for the true audio freak as much as it is for John Q. Gamer.

The Titanium HD starts with tech already known to Creative fans. The chipset is the CA20K2, a PCI Express-friendly setup (PCIe x1, to be specific) that is also found on the non-HD, more gaming-oriented standard Titanium. The chipset is followed up with 16 MB of onboard memory which should keep system resource hogging to a minimum. But perhaps the most intriguing addition to the Titanium HD are it gold-plated RCA connectors, which by themselves sound standard, until you realize that the connectors can act as analog or digital inputs or outputs (or both at the same time). This kind of combination should get along with whatever recording or sound system you have set up in the gaming nook, office, or recording studio.

For the music lover, Creative's Titanium HD promises to play nice with your headphones. You’ll enjoy pristine audio, since the 3.5 mm headphone output features an amazing 115 dB, 24-bit/96kHz support in HD-quality sound for original playback true to your music. Matched to the right cans (and quality source material), this card delivers very compelling sound quality. Be sure to stop by next week for Part 2 of the gift guide--we have some B&W headphones in that piece that'd make an excellent complement.

So music lovers are covered, but don’t worry movie buffs, there is something for you, too. The onboard Dolby Digital and DTS encoding makes connecting the card to your home theater setup a snap. You’re one optical cable away from streaming HD audio to the receiver and home theater setup of your choice, which makes the Titanium HD a great addition to any HTPC.

Because of all the new tech and software behind the Titanium HD, Windows XP users need not apply (this card is for Windows 7 and Vista only). It’s also worth noting that Windows 7 isn’t hardware acceleration-friendly, so this card is really meant more for the serious audiophile than it is the hardcore gamer. As far as gaming goes, audio has such a negligible impact on system performance these days that it's truly not worth buying an aftermarket sound card in an effort to get higher frame rates, like it used to be.

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Top Comments
  • 16 Hide
    alexttlyrocks , December 8, 2010 4:09 AM
    I'm only reading this article to look at the chicks
  • 10 Hide
    LuckyDucky7 , December 8, 2010 4:56 AM
    Alternative title:
    Gift Guide Part 1, for Deep Pockets :) 
Other Comments
  • 16 Hide
    alexttlyrocks , December 8, 2010 4:09 AM
    I'm only reading this article to look at the chicks
  • 8 Hide
    rohitbaran , December 8, 2010 4:15 AM
    ^ Keep reading!
  • 4 Hide
    dogman_1234 , December 8, 2010 4:47 AM
    Wait until SB and BD.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , December 8, 2010 4:47 AM
    Radeon 6870 girl ... someone forgot to photoshop her ^^
  • 10 Hide
    LuckyDucky7 , December 8, 2010 4:56 AM
    Alternative title:
    Gift Guide Part 1, for Deep Pockets :) 
  • 5 Hide
    squanto , December 8, 2010 4:59 AM
    scroll...picture....next...scroll..picture...
  • 2 Hide
    cangelini , December 8, 2010 5:28 AM
    LuckyDucky7Alternative title:Gift Guide Part 1, for Deep Pockets


    Phenom II for under $100? You must have those pockets that are sewn shut at the top, for decoration! =)
  • 5 Hide
    Bluescreendeath , December 8, 2010 6:01 AM
    girls > computer parts that we already know about
  • 1 Hide
    Silmarunya , December 8, 2010 7:53 AM
    Nice review, but I'd have liked to see advice for different budgets. For example, you could recommend a budget, mid range and high end product. For example, I'm currently in the market for a discrete sound card, but don't such an expensive one. On the other hand, I wouldn't be satisfied with a Phenom II X2. It's still a great article, mind you, but it'd have been nice to see some love for every end of the market.
  • 1 Hide
    Onus , December 8, 2010 11:40 AM
    ntrRadeon 6870 girl ... someone forgot to photoshop her ^^

    No, it's the taint that a Diamond product radiates. They're #2 on my personal "Do not buy" list, right after Belkin.
  • 0 Hide
    garyshome , December 8, 2010 11:47 AM
    The ps costs as much as the cpu and mb? So much for the budget.
  • 1 Hide
    sandmanwn , December 8, 2010 11:59 AM
    Quote:
    Ed: You'll have to pardon this little gem missing out on the gift guide photo shoot.

    Off with his head!!!
  • 1 Hide
    nevertell , December 8, 2010 12:26 PM
    The phenom II x2 555 is some of the BEST bang for the buck. I dropped it in my build, got a quad core running at 3,6 ghz for about 25 $ per core, and I didn't even have to disable any of the powersaving features or anything actually to get it working like this.
  • 0 Hide
    mi1ez , December 8, 2010 12:29 PM
    Why the hell does the US site work fine and the UK site have it'ss CSS in a twist?
  • 1 Hide
    tony singh , December 8, 2010 12:41 PM
    Some one gift me please....:) 
  • 1 Hide
    cknobman , December 8, 2010 1:10 PM
    I have no clue what products Toms is actually recommending here, too busy looking and the beautiful product modelers and not the actual products!!!
  • -1 Hide
    fausto , December 8, 2010 1:20 PM
    Toms needs to spend more money on the holiday Models department. seen much better chicks at Quakecon 2008. No offense to the ladies but some of you are not booth babe material
  • 0 Hide
    ta152h , December 8, 2010 1:24 PM
    Bluescreendeathgirls > computer parts that we already know about


    If you're that desperate to see pictures of girls, you're probably right; you must know computer parts better than girls.

    It's pretty sad when pictures of girls gets so much of a reaction. I swear if you get out of the house, you'll actually see them in real life. I'm not lying. You can even say "Hi" to them, and they'll probably even give you a response. I know it sounds far fetched, but I'm really confident about this, so just trust me.
  • -4 Hide
    ta152h , December 8, 2010 1:27 PM
    faustoToms needs to spend more money on the holiday Models department. seen much better chicks at Quakecon 2008. No offense to the ladies but some of you are not booth babe material


    The pathetic part is, how it's still getting these desperate guys worked up.

    Some of the pictures are just bad too, like the one with the Radeon.
  • 4 Hide
    accolite , December 8, 2010 1:50 PM
    TA152H, I'm not desperate... I'm married, but I enjoy a good looking woman more than looking at some hardware components after all we are guys! If you don't your probably a woman yourself or a homo!
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