iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail

Platform

Video

Multimedia

Mobile

Other

Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Sound Cards

A hardware DSP and the PCI Express bus.

June 18, 2009



<< Previous page

     Next page >>

Also check out our Interview With Darragh O'Toole, Creative about the new PCI Express X-Fi sound cards.

The birth of PCI Express cards

The "relationships" between the PCI Express bus and Creative were not shaping well. At first, the company tried to couple the new bus with the existing X-Fi (20K1) DSP. Then they decided to design a completely new controller. The company officially reported about design difficulties, latency problems and delays. Perhaps, Creative was sitting on the fence and waiting what would come out of the PCIe 1x slot for peripheral devices, considering the total absence of such peripheral devices. Their estimation was right: no sane motherboard maker would have abandoned PCI slots. Usually one or two PCIe 1x slots were placed in the most inconvenient places -- close to the graphics slot, for example. Under these conditions, it made little sense to redesign the entire board without getting real advantages. Besides, PCI cards were selling well anyway. In order to keep up with competitors, the company rolled out a pared-down X-Fi Xtreme Audio sound card in 2007 as in intermediate PCIe solution. It had no hardware DSP, and all its features were implemented on the software level. But it didn't yield to other X-Fi products and was quite inexpensive, starting at $50 in the U.S. That was twice as cheaper comparing to X-Fi cards with hardware DSPs.



Creative X-Fi Xtreme Audio

However, users wanted sound cards with hardware X-Fi (20kx) DSPs. And the fully-fledged PCI Express sound cards were finally announced in mid 2008, hitting the stores in sufficient quantities.

X-Fi Titanium

PCI Express sound cards with hardware DSPs belong to the the Titanium series and have complex suffixes of 2 or 3 words following the "Titanium" title. People have already labeled such long names as "gigantomania", and retailers complain that titles like "Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Professional Series" won't fit into price lists.

When I was writing this review, there were three cards available:

  • X-Fi Titanium
  • X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Professional Series
  • X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Champion Series

The differences are easy to figure out. The "Fatal1ty" suffix traditionally stands for 64MB of X-RAM. Besides, both Fatal1ty cards have metal covers. The most expensive "Champion" card differs from the medium-priced modification by the control unit to be installed into a 3" or 5" bay.

Prices for popular X-Fi cards remain reasonable: these three Titaniums cost about $100/150/200, correspondingly. (Though the local Russian prices are traditionally 30-40% higher.)



X-Fi Titanium, the cheapest PCI Express card with a fully-fledged DSP, but no X-RAM.


X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Professional Series with a a fashionable metal cover.


X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Champion Series =
X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Professional Series + 3" or 5" control unit.

The internal unit has a more convenient layout of connectors and controls. Interestingly, it adds to the price tag just as much as X-RAM and the Fatal1ty title do. Unfortunately, there are no other options than installing it into a 3" or 5" bay. The possibility to place it on the desk, like that of X-Fi Elite Pro, would be nice as not everyone has the PC enclosure at hand.


Write a comment below. No registration needed!


Next page >>



blog comments powered by Disqus

  Most Popular Reviews More    RSS  

AMD Phenom II X4 955, Phenom II X4 960T, Phenom II X6 1075T, and Intel Pentium G2120, Core i3-3220, Core i5-3330 Processors

Comparing old, cheap solutions from AMD with new, budget offerings from Intel.
February 1, 2013 · Processor Roundups

Inno3D GeForce GTX 670 iChill, Inno3D GeForce GTX 660 Ti Graphics Cards

A couple of mid-range adapters with original cooling systems.
January 30, 2013 · Video cards: NVIDIA GPUs

Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1

An external X-Fi solution in tests.
September 9, 2008 · Sound Cards

AMD FX-8350 Processor

The first worthwhile Piledriver CPU.
September 11, 2012 · Processors: AMD

Consumed Power, Energy Consumption: Ivy Bridge vs. Sandy Bridge

Trying out the new method.
September 18, 2012 · Processors: Intel
  Latest Reviews More    RSS  

i3DSpeed, September 2013

Retested all graphics cards with the new drivers.
Oct 18, 2013 · 3Digests

i3DSpeed, August 2013

Added new benchmarks: BioShock Infinite and Metro: Last Light.
Sep 06, 2013 · 3Digests

i3DSpeed, July 2013

Added the test results of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 and AMD Radeon HD 7730.
Aug 05, 2013 · 3Digests

Gainward GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST 2GB Golden Sample Graphics Card

An excellent hybrid of GeForce GTX 650 Ti and GeForce GTX 660.
Jun 24, 2013 · Video cards: NVIDIA GPUs

i3DSpeed, May 2013

Added the test results of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770/780.
Jun 03, 2013 · 3Digests
  Latest News More    RSS  

Platform  ·  Video  ·  Multimedia  ·  Mobile  ·  Other  ||  About us & Privacy policy  ·  Twitter  ·  Facebook


Copyright © Byrds Research & Publishing, Ltd., 1997–2011. All rights reserved.