Gaming Benchmarks and Conclusions
Gaming Benchmarks

One of the biggest reasons some PC users upgrade their computers sound hardware is to squeeze a few more frames out of their favorite PC games. Today, we will evaluate the Xonar D2, Xonar U1, and Creative X-Fi Premium against Crysis and Call of Duty 4 to determine if we see any increase in frame rates during game play while using these devices. These two titles are currently the most demanding games on the market and should give a good indication of the gaming advantages associated with using these products.

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Our gaming benchmarks conclude that using the Xonar D2 during gaming gives a few more frames per second than the other two sound devices. What’s the most surprising statistic is that the X-Fi card actually lost to the Xonar U1 during the Crysis benchmark. We ran this benchmark several times and each one confirmed that we got about 2 more frames per second than when we used the X-Fi Premium. One thing is for sure after using these products during testing – gamers can’t go wrong with either the ASUS Xonar D2 or U1 if they want to see a small bump in their frame rates during gaming.

General listening benchmark

During our final benchmark, we wanted to run a subjective test of these sound devices while listening to MP3s at different bit rates. The main bit rates we concentrated on were 192 kbs and 320kbs bit rates. We listened to several different genres, including classical, rock, rhythm and blues, pop, and even opera. We used Logitech’s X-530 5.1 speakers as well as Sennheiser HD555 headphones during testing to give us different perspectives to gauge our subjective evaluation on.

After several hours of testing, we enjoyed clear highs, punchy lows, and high-fidelity sound from our speakers and headphones on both the Xonar D2 and U1. The Virtual Speaker technology made the vocals from our headphones seem like they were coming from an area in front of us instead of from the ear, which opens the sound scape. I’ve seen this technology incorporated before, but I believe it is the first time the sound actually felt like I was listening to my home theater system in my living room.

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Our speaker system also seemed to have a tad more clarity in the treble sounds and the bass from our subwoofer sounded very deep and powerful. Overall, we don’t have any complaints to report from our subjective tests. Each genre tested these sound devices in different ways, but the Xonar D2 and U1 seemed to keep up beautifully with the changing tones and pitches and made our testing experience and very pleasurable one.

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

The Xonar D2 and U1 sound devices give ASUS a great 1-2 punch that should challenge Creative as the best third-party sound products on the market today. I think the main issue is getting consumers to actually look at these products and their specifications before they go on auto-pilot and purchase Creative’s respective products. Creative has had a hold on this market for years now, but I think they finally have some competition that should get some publicity.

The Xonar D2 really opened our eyes to the possibilities that there could be a better audio processor on the market besides the X-Fi. The D2’s ability to process high-definition audio at 192kHz/24-bit should really appeal to audiophiles and other sound professions. The real-time DDL and DTS Connect encoders should provide for excellent gaming and surround sounds over any home theater system.

The Xonar U1’s performance is just as impressive as its small size and innovative design. Its support for DirectSound, EAX, OpenAL definitely seemed to enhance our DirectX 10 gaming experience in Windows Vista 64-bit too. The array microphone also seemed to do a great job of filtering out the background noise when it was used during a few online gaming sessions.

With the prices for the D2 running about $189.99 and the U1 at $89.99, consumers might need a little convincing before they purchase these products. Even though the performance is definitely there, we are not sure if the marketing campaigns have been enough to reach mainstream users this holiday season.

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