Originally Posted by Mr Bigman
True, but is the quality of the audio from the HDMI good enough to that of xfi?
You have properties on the XFI you can adjust unlike on the hdmi passthrough.
I use the blue 50 dollar version of the xfi pci-ex with optical, but if i spend the
extra hundred bucks and get the fatality version with the black casing, will the
optical sound better?
Ahh... Now I understand what you are asking. The fatality version of XFi adds on-board memory, 64 MB as I recall. The idea was to have a buffer to load sounds into on the board so everything could be processed faster along with providing some other features. Basically,the idea was to do for sound what on-board memory does for video cards.
Problem is, this requires EAX. I don't know of any game that uses EAX anymore. Basically, spending the extra money is a waste as you won't tell a difference when it comes to the $50. Everything is done in software nowadays; optical out will sound fine either way.
Honestly, if you are going by just sound quality then HDMI and Optical are going to be the same. If you are using HDMI out now (such as comming from your video card) and you are happy with it, I wouldn't bother with the sound card. If you are concerned about other items, such as offloading processing onto a sound card to free up resources, then getting the sound card makes sense. In particular, the Creative will mix 5.1 sound fantastically well.
Offloading some items onto the sound card, such as mixing 5.1 sound is one reason why to get a sound card. Another reason is analog sound; the circuitry on the Creative cards is good enough to produce fantastic sound over analog.
If you are using some digital now and happy with it, then I wouldn't bother with teh sound card. If you are not using digital, then grab a sound card but don't spend the extra $50 on the fatility expecting better digital sound. You won't notice a thing.