Gaming in Vista
Where possible, we set the audio to the highest settings available. We tried some Crysis
and Company of Heroes
and found both sounded fantastic; there was no noticeable delay or sound distortion of any sort – both were incredibly immersive with headphones on.
Next we tried some pre-Vista games, like Half-Life 2
, Call of Duty 2
and Serious Sam: The Second Encounter
and all of them worked perfectly with very precise audio definition in either DirectSound or EAX (where the option was offered).
Even though we’ve had the Xonar D2X sitting on our shelf for over a month, you still
can’t buy one in the UK. The PCI-based Xonar D2 is available for £112.67 (inc. VAT)
and all things being (almost) equal, we expect the Xonar D2X to be available for around the same price. Expectation can be a cruel mistress though.
For the same cost you can buy the Creative Soundblaster X-Fi Platinum Fatal1ty Champion (say that five times in one breath!) or Auzentech X-Fi Prelude 7.1 Ch soundcard
, or a VIA Envy-powered Razor Barracuda
. However, the problem is that none of these are PCI-Express based. Still, I’d personally certainly be tempted by the Auzentech HDA X-Plosion 7.1 DTS Connect Sound Card
, which is about half the price and has some great potential though it doesn’t offer quite the same breadth of features.
The only other PCI-Express sound card available is the budget Creative X-Fi Xtreme Audio
for around £25, so in that respect if you absolutely must use PCI-Express x1 - Asus is the only serious option available (providing it finally reaches retail).
In some regards the D2X represents the rather pathetic state of the soundcard industry as a whole – we’ve had PCI-Express for nearly four years now and the only performance card worth buying on the interface has to use a bridge chip. At least Asus has got off its backside and done something about it.
As for the Xonar D2X itself, I still prefer not to use any of the extra Dolby or DTS features and leave the core audio sounding as good as it should – and it certainly sounds excellent. But because I prefer to have the audio sounding as it was intended without the use of any Dolby or DTS ‘features’, a lot of this extra value is lost on me. I really wish Asus would launch a no-frills card that sounded just as good – without having to pay for the DTS and Dolby licences or extra OEM software included in the bundle – it would work out far cheaper.
The additional power the Xonar D2X requires caused me no end of fuss too. First, my PSU at home didn’t have a floppy connector, so I had to dig around for an adapter, and then I had to re-route all my tidied cables – it’s just sloppy and messy. Even a normal Molex, which every PSU has, would have been a better option. At the very least a Molex-to-floppy power adapter should be thrown in the box gratis.
The software package is vast and beats anything from else we’ve seen, although the PMP software and ALT features are still pretty much as good as useless. Thankfully the drivers have improved and it worked flawlessly straight out the box with everything we threw at it; new games, old games, DVDs, music – the lot.
Is the Asus Xonar D2X worth the money? Absolutely, if you require a PCI-Express soundcard and want the best currently available, but as an alternative to the many PCI soundcards I’m still not so sure. If you’re a fan of older games and you’re running Vista then this could certainly be very tempting, but it’s probably an expense not worth bearing unless you want to play and use at least some of the many
What do these scores mean?