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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [10.24.05]
Manufactured by: DFI


Audio Quality

As I mention in all my motherboard reviews, generic AC'97 audio used on most motherboards is crap. I can't put it any other way, sorry. In this review, I will include the results from a review I am working on of the Creative X-Fi Fatal1ty. Although this is a $300 soundcard, you will get identical results from the "Extreme Music" version which is just around $100. Performance is about the same, too. After looking at these results, you can decide if $100 is a worthwhile upgrade from onboard audio.

We used the X-Fi as the input card in the RMAA tests, looping back when that particular card was tested. RMAA uses a word-based scale to describe performance. We translated these words to a scale of 1-6; 1 being "Very Poor" and 6 being "Excellent".

And there you have it. Today's onboard solutions really are bad, so if you care at all about quality, you will want to look into upgrading. What about performance?

Audio Performance

You can benefit even more in terms of performance when upgrading from onboard audio used on boards such as the NF4 Infinity. We are going to save the RightMark CPU Test results for the forthcoming review of the Creative X-Fi Fatal1ty Edition however.

Real World Audio Performance

To see how each sound controller affects real world gaming performance, we ran several tests using UT2K4's various audio settings. First a control was run with no sound, then each test was run, using 640x480 and the lowest detail settings. Consider any performance loss to be 'worst case scenario' because nobody would ever play with these settings. Take a look at the X-Fi results for another sneak-peak.

Although this is a 'worst case scenario' to be sure, 10 fps loss is considerable, and you will see a drop in performance in more usual settings. Again, keep an eye out for our upcoming review for more details.

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