Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Elite Pro Review - Page 3 of 9
Review by Kyle Kerley - December 5, 2005
Sound was absolutely amazing with the Crystallizer set to maximum and the equalizer configured to Rock. With EAX HD enabled, sound effects in F.E.A.R. were so convincing that it sounded as though somebody was actually creeping up behind me.
Gaming Mode Driver Console
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Although X-RAM is not widely used by games at this time, the X-Fi easily outperformed the onboard ALC850 as shown by the benchmark results below. The games that were tested included Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, FarCry, Half-Life 2: Lost Coast and F.E.A.R.. The following settings were used for both non-SLI and SLI graphics card modes:
SC:CT - 1280x1024, 16xAF, Shader Model 3.0, vsync on
FarCry - 1280x1024, 4xAA, 16xAF, very high settings, EAX 2.0 (when possible), HW mixing, vsync on
Half-Life 2: Lost Coast - 1280x1024, 16xAF, HDR, max settings, vsync on
F.E.A.R. - 1280x960, 4xAA, 16xAF, high settings, soft shadows off, medium shadows, EAX 2.0, HD (when possible)
Non-SLI Benchmark Results
With the exception of FarCry and F.E.A.R, there wasn't much difference in game performance between the 24-bit Live! and the X-Fi. However, EAX HD audio was enabled in F.E.A.R. with the X-Fi.
As expected, both Creative sound cards trounced the onboard sound in performance and quality. With the ALC850 in SC:CT and F.E.A.R all I could hear was the game's background music. I tinkered with nVMixer, but could not get any of the sound effects in those two games to work.
The SLI results were surprising.
SLI Benchmark Results
I played the same section in each game in an attempt to keep the comparisons meaningful. I also tried to get as many enemies as possible to appear in order to generate multiple sound effect sources. I was confused by the SLI results being only slightly better than non-SLI in Lost Coast and that the X-Fi, apart from F.E.A.R., performed worse than the 24-bit Live!. I repeated the test twice and ended up with similar results. Note that I used a custom F.E.A.R. SLI profile that forum member SH64 created.
I used headphones breifly with F.E.A.R. and the sound quality was amazing. I use a pair of urban-styled headphones from Sony with a band that goes around the back of the head, rather than over the top. Those $30 headphones ended up sounding like 5.1 surround speakers with crystal clear sound. The X-Fi is amazing for positional audio.