The X-Fi Family
There are four different models of the X-Fi sound card you can buy today on the shelves ranging from the most basic X-Fi functionality to professional grade features. Let’s see how it all breaks down:
- X-Fi XtremeMusic – A bit of an unfortunate name since it is very capable of playing all games published today. It has all the same hardware features as all the other consumer cards (not including the Elite Pro model) with the exception of some software, X-RAM, and the break-out controller.
- X-Fi Platinum – How can you make the XtremeMusic bundle a bit better? How about by including a front-panel I/O panel and a remote control? The remote control makes the X-Fi platinum a logical choice for users who play a lot of media on their PCs or just like having nice toys for their rig.
- X-Fi Fatal1ty – The X-Fi Fatal1ty comes loaded with 64MB of onboard RAM (aka. “X-RAM”) for games that take advantage of this new technology. X-Ram is the only difference between the X-Fi Fatal1ty and the X-Fi Platrinum, otherwise everything else is the same (control panel, remote control, software).
- X-Fi Elite Pro – The X-Fi Elite Pro is aimed at professional users who want the best in media generation. The Elite Pro features better a signal-to-noise ratio (116dB compared to 109dB on the other models) so that recordings sound the best, and a special I/O console that sits outside of your computer for easier access. The Elite Pro also has X-RAM, a remote control, and LE ( i.e. feature limited) versions of Cubase, Amplitude and Wavelab.
Parts & Accessories
In the X-Fi Platinum and Fatal1ty packages you get the I/O Drive control panel that can be mounted in a drive bay. The I/O drive has easy access controls for headphone volume, and ports for SPDIF input and output, RCA, microphone, line-in and midi input. The I/O drive really makes it convenient for you to connect other devices and make use of X-Fi’s great recording and playback functionality. The I/O drive is installed using the Creative Labs AD Link cable which is included in all packages except the XtremeMusic box.
Instead of the I/O Drive, the Elite Pro model comes with a break-out box instead. The external box has connections fo midi, convenient controls for I/O, and 6.25mm stereo jacks.
In all packages except the basic XtremeMusic edition, the remote is used to access your media without having to touch your keyboard but requires the installation of the Entertainment Center software bundled with the X-Fi sound card. For HTPC usage, you’re going to want to install this feature.