Since publishing our review of the X-Fi sound card, i’ve heard about incompatibilities with the X-Fi and certain nForce 4 motherboards. There are various symptoms including a non-booting system or unidentified PCI devices.
If you’re one of the few customers suffering from this problem you can either wait for a BIOS update from your motherboard manufacturer or ship your X-Fi back to Creative Labs to have the EEPROM replaced (which is something the user can not do themselves).
It’s important to note that Creative Labs has been shipping X-Fi packages with updated EEPROMs that has this problem fixed. There is good chance that the X-Fi card you buy today will work fine with your nForce 4 system, but keep this issue in mind when turning your X-Fi on for the first time.
I’ve asked Creative Labs about the issue and they came back with the following response which they have allowed us to reproduce here.
We understand that, in rare instances, some users have experienced PC system incompatibility issues when installing Sound Blaster X-Fi sound cards with 2MB of cache (Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic and Sound Blaster X-Fi Platinum) on nForce4 chipset motherboards. We’ve determined that the cause of this incompatibility is an issue in the motherboard’s BIOS, relating to its PCI enumeration of devices with 2MB or less of cache memory.
In the vast majority of cases, this incompatibility can be resolved by performing a system BIOS update, which can be obtained via the motherboard manufacturer’s website. In the rare cases when a BIOS update fails to address the issue, users can contact Creative’s technical support to exchange their X-Fi sound card for one with updated EEPROM settings. An exchange is necessary as the EEPROM settings are not user upgradable.