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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [07.15.04]
Manufactured by: Philips

MSRP: $69.99

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What I think of the Ultimate Edge depends on what application it's being used for. It doesn't seem to be marketing to any niche in particular, so you have to look at what YOU will be using it for to determine if it's worth your time.

Watching movies on the PC - it is limited to 5.1 channel surround, as opposed to 7.1 by its competitors. However, DTS-ES and Dolby Digital EX movies aren't exactly commonplace just yet.

Watching movies on TV - The Ultimate Edge is actually a great choice for building a HTPC. While you do have the same 5.1 channel limitation, chances are that you will be using the digital output (which is a coax connector, a good thing). On top of that, you can apply various effects to it - when watching regular old TV, those QRumble and QSizzle effects are actually pretty cool!

Listening to music - If you are into the 'warm' sound characteristic (which seems to be common with British audio components, doesn't it?), then the Ultimate Edge is for you. It wasn't quite as accurate as the Revo 7.1, but then I wouldn't expect many other cards to be.

Playing games - Not that the Ultimate Edge performs poorly in gaming - it just isn't an Audigy 2 ZS. Then agian, nothing is. If you are going to buy a soundcard primarily for gaming, there is only really one choice.

Overall, with a $70 MSRP that puts it at a nice price point ($10 cheaper than an Audigy 2 ZS OEM, and $20 cheaper than a Revo 7.1 - and that's not even street price), the Ultimate Edge makes a fine alternative as a middle range product introducing HD audio. After seeing our results with the Intel HD controller most motherboards will be using, it's clear that while integrated audio is getting better, it still needs to be replaced if you care at all about sound quality and performance.

  • Very good sound quality performance
  • Low cost compared to other HD products

  • Not much to set it apart from other HD products
  • 6 channel output only

Final Score: 85%