Soundblaster XtremeAudio PCI-Express
AppearanceThe card itself comes wrapped in an anti-static bag, and its much smaller compared to previous Audigy and X-Fi Cards. The first thing I noticed was the PCI-Express x1 adapter instead of a PCI adapter. It's so exciting to have a use for those PCI-Express slots inside my PC.
One thing that jumped out at me was the lack of a large chip on the PCB. The Audigy had a processing unit with the size of about a square inch. There is nothing close to that size on this board, and I'm hoping it's simply a "die shrink", where the X-Fi chip has become much smaller for the PCI-Express version.
On the PCI Bracket, there are five 3.5mm jacks for connecting a variety of devices. The cards supports up to eight channels (7.1) of audio output for the latest and greatest games and movies. If you're not going to use 7.1 channels of audio, some of the jacks are then reserved fro Microphone, Line-In, Line-Out, and the like.
In addition, there are also two optical ports for optical in and out as well. If you want a much crisper sound to your speakers or receiver, you'll want to use either the digital coax connection, or the optical connection.
On the rear end of the card, you can also see the Intel HD Audio Front Panel Jumpers for hooking up your case's front audio to. In the past, there was a proprietary 10-pin connector for such things. Props to Creative for finally standardizing this on their cards.
It's a very lightweight card, and it's definitely a good form factor. I'm just itching to get it inside a PC to test it, so let's move along to that.
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