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Creative X-Fi Titanium Gaming Sound Card Review

Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium

Manufacturer: Creative
UK Price (as reviewed): £79.95 (inc VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $99.99 (ex tax)

Specifications
  • Processor Creative EMU20K2
  • Memory 16MB
  • Interface PCI-E x1
  • Maximum Channels 8
  • Bit-rate 24-bit
  • Maximum Sample Rate 192KHz
  • Inputs 3.5mm mini-jack mic/line in, S/PDIF in
  • Outputs 4 x 3.5mm mini-jack analogue surround out, optical S/PDIF out
  • Audio technologies Dolby Digital Live, Dolby Digital EX, DTS-ES, DirectSound3D GX 2.5, EAX 2.0&1.0, DirectSound HW, DirectSound SW, A3D 1.0, OpenAL generic modes, 128 3D sounds processing capability (EAX5 software emulation), SoundFont, ASIO 2.0 driver support
  • Extras none
Creative's X-Fi Titanium lacks the electromagnetic shield of the Fatal1ty Pro version, as well as its big brother's 64MB of X-RAM on-board memory. These aren't major losses - in practice, EM shields don't make a major difference to the already minimal interference from other system components.

X-RAM promises more: it's automatically used by OpenAL to improve frame rates in games by caching uncompressed audio to reduce the need for on-the-fly decompression. X-RAM can also be used store additional high-quality sound voices, assuming a game is designed to do so. However, few developers have taken advantage of X-RAM's advanced capabilities.

This makes the X-Fi Titanium an appealing alternative to more expensive models in Creative's range, as it has the same X-Fi CA20K2 processor, 8-channel Cirrus Logic CS4382 digital-to-analogue converter (DAC), 4-channel Wolfson WM8775SEDS analogue-to-digital converter (ADC) and SNR of 109dB. The X-Fi Titanium has more ports than either of the Asus cards in this test, with dedicated optical S/PDIF in and out ports in addition to the usual 7.1 analogue outputs. The S/PDIF in is an interesting feature, but largely useless unless you want to play or record digital audio from another source.

Sub-£100 Gaming Sound Card Reviews Creative X-Fi Titanium Gaming Sound Card Review
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Creative's software and driver support has regularly been a sore point for users of their sound cards, but we didn't have much trouble getting everything up and running, despite a minor issue with some conflicting patch updates under Windows 7. Creative provides software support for several Dolby and DTS surround sound standards, including the excellent Dolby Digital Live.

Perhaps because of its gaming focus, and because of its reliance on a single DAC, the X-Fi's analogue audio output isn't quite as clean as that from either of Asus's cheaper Xonar cards, although the difference is barely noticeable and largely one of personal preference. It's worth taking advantage of the driver's different modes to make the most out of both music and movies (Entertainment mode) and games (Game mode). There's also an Audio Creation mode, and the obligatory ASIO driver, but with just a single 3.5mm line input and limited MIDI capabilities, the X-Fi Titanium wouldn't be our first choice for audio production.

Conclusion

With the depreciation of the EAX standard, Creative's cards have lost a little of their edge as the gamer's first choice for audio, but the X-Fi Titanium is nonetheless an excellent card. Its support for both DTS and Dolby digital standards make the X-Fi Titanium a good option for film lovers who don't want to shell out on a dedicated home theatre audio card. However, at over £20 more than Asus's PCI-E Xonar DX, and little extra to offer the average gamer, the X-Fi Titanium isn't the best choice for an affordable gaming sound card.

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Score Guide

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