A Hands-on Look
So what do we get in the package?
The X-Fi card itself, naturally, a drive bay I/O, (input/output) module and a rather large remote control, complete with batteries. As well as the driver and software disks, an assortment of hardware is included: a pair of standard MIDI to mini MIDI adapters, a ribbon cable to connect the soundcard to the I/O module, a power cable, screws and a 3.5mm to 6mm jack adapter for headphones.
The card itself is black with a gold PCI plate. Only the basic connections are on the PCI plate, the rest being provided by the I/O module. The actual connections on the card are:
- Flexijack - Digital In / Line In / Microphone
- Line level out (Front / Rear / Center / Subwoofer) via 3 X 3.5mm mini jacks
- 26 pin AD_Link connector for linking to the X-Fi I/O Console (upgrade option)
The card sports a Fatal1ty “F” logo which lights up red. Of course, this is only visible if you can see the card in your system case through a side window, but it's just a bit of added bling. Next to the lighty-up logo is the floppy-sized external power connector. This takes 12V from the system PSU and feeds it to the drive bay I/O module via the ribbon cable.
The I/O module or “drive” offers a plethora of connection options:
- Two RCA jacks for coaxial SPDIF input and output
- Two RCA jacks for Auxiliary input
- Two optical connectors for optical SPDIF input and output
- Two mini MIDI female connectors for MIDI input and output
- Headphone output and volume control via 6.35 mm (1/4-inch) stereo jack
- Shared line-level analogue Line/Microphone input via 6.35 mm (1/4-inch) stereo jack
The remote control not only operates the X-Fi’s functions but can also control other applications such as a CD player. The handset sports four rotary controls, one each, for the following functions:
- 24 Bit Crystalizer
- 3D MIDI
The control wheels act like a mouse wheel: scrolling changes the value whilst pressing it toggles the effect on or off. Pressing and turning the EAX selects the preset effect whilst just turning the wheel adjusts the strength of the effect.
Twiddling a knob causes its value to be displayed on screen. This make changing the settings very easy and saves having to wade through screens. It also means that these effects can be altered and turned on/off during gaming without having to ALT/TAB out of the game and launching the control panel. Definitely a big plus!
The remote has a complete set of transport controls like Play, Stop, Fast Forward etc as well as standard buttons for Mute and Volume. There is also an alpha-numeric keyboard.