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Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Elite Pro Review - Page 2 of 9

TEST SYSTEM

  • Athlon 64 3000+ (Venice) @2.25GHz (250x9)
  • Gigabyte GA-K8N Ultra SLI nForce4 Motherboard
  • 1GB (2x512MB) Corsair PC3200 DDR400 ValueRAM @416MHz
  • 2x EVGA GeForce 6800 GT Graphics Card in SLI
  • Maxtor DiamondMax 9 60GB 7200RPM ATA133 Hard Drive
  • Logitech Z-5300 THX Certified 280W RMS (560 peak) 5.1 Surround System
  • Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2
  • NVIDIA ForceWare 81.87 Drivers
  • NVIDIA nForce 6.70 Drivers

Games were tested with the GeForce 6800 GT running in non-SLI and SLI modes.

INSTALLATION

Installation was a snap as the sound card occupies the bottom-most PCI slot on the motherboard. Unfortunately, due to the layout of the motherboard and the GeForce 6800 GTs needing some breathing room, the X-Fi is the only PCI device I'm able to use, which isn't a problem for me. The sound card requires a floppy disk power connection. An adapter/splitter is provided if the connection is unavailable.

Installation
Installing the X-Fi
Click Image to Enlarge

Connecting the speakers was straightforward. Color-coded inputs on the sound card, which is shown below in the bottom slot, ease the sometimes messy and confusing plug-in process of PC speakers. Sadly, there is no Dolby Digital Live functionality. The process took about 10 seconds and my speakers were ready to be rocked.

Color-Coded Inputs
Color-coded I/O Ports
Click Image to Enlarge

This is were I ran into my first problem as my system failed to post and locked-up after the CPU check. I sighed and proceeded to shut the system down. I waited a few seconds before turning the system back and quickly realized that the BIOS settings had been reset to their factory defaults.

After setting the BIOS back to my preferred settings, and overcoming my mild annoyance and worry, the system posted and Windows loaded. But I couldn't shake the nagging feeling that something was going to go wrong, though, after hearing a few horror stories about the X-Fi and nForce 4.

Time to install the X-Fi drivers and related applications. Being the audiophile that I am and hearing some amazing things about the X-Fi, I was practically foaming at the mouth. I couldn't wait to hear the 24-bit Crystallizer in action. I loaded the driver CD, and began the driver install when the application immediately shuts down with a fatal error.

Okay, maybe it was a freak accident. Nothing to worry about. Yeah, right. Still excited, I try again and the same thing happens. Huh? Now I'm starting to get irritated. I looked at the error details and discover that the error is originating from the "quicktime.qts" file. I had QuickTime Alternative installed at the time, but after installing the official version of QuickTime I was able to successfully install the X-Fi drivers and applications.

X-Fi Elite Pro vs. 24-Bit Live!
Elite Pro Package
Click Image to Enlarge

DRIVERS AND APPLICATIONS

The entire suite of programs that comes with the Elite Pro is incredibly useful. The Entertainment Center is the main application and provides volume, bass and treble adjustments, an equalizer, SVM Technology, which maintains a uniform volume level across the speakers, 24-bit Crystallizer, CMSS3, and the ability to switch between Entertainment, Gaming and Audio Creation modes.

Mode Selection Dial
Mode Selection Dial

Switching modes is a simple matter of flipping the dial and launching the selected application.

Next Page: Gaming Mode

Last Updated on December 5, 2005


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