Designed to meet the performance demands of the world's best-known professional gamer, Johnathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel, the Sound Blaster X-Fi Fatal1ty FPS sound card provides stunning 109dB SNR audio quality, accelerates gaming performance and includes 64MB of on-board X-RAM for high performance gaming.
Supported Channels: 7.1
Slot Type: PCI
S/N Ratio: 109 dB - (20kHz Low-pass filter, A-Weighted)
Product Title: Creative Labs Sound Blaster X-Fi Fatal1ty Sound Card
Manufacturer: Creative Labs
Power Score: 4.4 | 24 Reviews
Supported Audio Channels: 7.1
Type of Sound Card: Internal Sound Board
Slot Type: PCI
Interface Connection: 1 x FlexiJack Audio Line In/Out - (Line In / Microphone / Digital Out), 1 x 3.5mm Mini Jack Audio Line Out - (Front / Rear / Side / Center / Subwoofer), 1 x RCA Jack Audio Line In - SPDIF (coaxial), 1 x RCA Jack Audio Line Out - SPDIF (coaxial), 2 x RCA Jack Audio Line In - Auxiliary, 1 x Audio Line In - S/PDIF(Optical), 1 x Audio Line In - S/PDIF (Optical), 1 x Audio Line In, 1 x Audio Line Out, 1 x 6.5mm Stereo Jack Audio Line Out - (Headphone), 1 x 6.5mm Stereo Jack Audio Line In - (Analog Line/Microphone)
Audio Technologies: Creative Labs EAX Advanced HD
Digital Audio Depth: 24 bit
Signal To Noise Ratio: 109 dB - (20kHz Low-pass filter, A-Weighted)
System Type: PC
Warranty Information: 12 Month Limited
URL: Manufacturer Link
Frequency Band: 1 x AD_Link (26 pin) connector for linking to the X-Fi I/O Console
Software Included: Entertainment Center Creative MediaSource 3
Sampling Rate: 24 bit 192 kHz Stereo DAC
Product Series: Fatal1ty
Product Reviews (11)
Sounds great but support for 64 bit Vista is needed and where are the Linux drivers?
Strengths: Crisp sound quality, easy to install, better software package than the Audigy 2ZS, great IO box and easy to use remote, improved headphone sound, driver updates now available
Weakness: No 64 bit Vista or Linux drivers, 64 MB X-RAM is gimmicky, no PCI-express version, still using flat cable to connect IO box, too few jacks on back of soundcard itself
(Jan 6th, 2008) This review is a bit easier since I am fortunate to have one box running the older Audigy 2 ZS soundcard, my fiancee's running an Auzentech X-Meridian, my lab mid-tower running the new Auzentech X-Fi Prelude and my full tower with the X-Fi Fatal1ty version (which is identical to the newly named Platinum Fatal1ty Champion setup). So, a side by side comparison is easy. The Platinum...
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(Jan 6th, 2008) This review is a bit easier since I am fortunate to have one box running the older Audigy 2 ZS soundcard, my fiancee's running an Auzentech X-Meridian, my lab mid-tower running the new Auzentech X-Fi Prelude and my full tower with the X-Fi Fatal1ty version (which is identical to the newly named Platinum Fatal1ty Champion setup). So, a side by side comparison is easy.
The Platinum Fatal1ty version of the card includes the basic soundcard but with the addition of 64 MB of onboard RAM, a glossy black Input/Output(IO) box that slides into any 5 1/4 inch drive bay and a nicely labeled remote. In comparison to the other price points, it has the 64 MB of memory (X-RAM) that the Xtreme Music and Platinum do not, but lacks the break out box and higher quality Digital to analog converters (DACs) of the $260 Elite Pro or $198 Auzentech X-Fi Prelude (which has no IO bay).
So how does the Platinum Fatal1ty version of X-Fi stack up ? Well, the price is about $160 to $170 on etail but has been mitigated though by the release of three other X-Fi models ($70 to $150) including the Fata1ty card reviewed here but without the breakout box, so Creative appears to be getting the message about the high price points.
The Fatal1ty version is easy to setup and should only take about 5-10 minutes, provided you have room in your case for the IO box. Creative is still using a flat ribbon cable to connect the card to the IO box and this will look ugly in a nice case and possibly reduce airflow. On a postive note, Creative has finally decided to make the bloat in their software and driver packages optional. The included CD-ROM allows you to install as much or as little of the numerous programs as you would like (all you really need are the drivers). The software applications are also much easier to access and use, like the Console Launcher, which allows you to fiddle with settings to your heart's content. The semi-gimmicky 64 MB of X-RAM will only allow a 0-4% framerate improvement until more optimized titles start to show up (currently, only Battlefield 2, Quake 4 and Prey support the X-RAM).
How does it sound? Well, sound impressions are so subjective and relate very much to what equipment you have already gotten used to in your own home. Without going into a great deal of engineering babble or Rightmark 3D sound tests, I will say that if you own or owned an Audigy 2ZS card, then you WILL NOT note much difference except when using headphones. I used the Audigy 2ZS card for two years with first a Logitech Z-5300 5.1 speaker setup and later with the Creative Gigaworks 7.1 set and the largest difference with the X-Fi Fatal1ty comes from utilizing the CMSS-3D setting to make surround sounds more "envelope" you. This effect is primarily for headphones but is also noticeable on 5.1 or 7.1 speaker systems when used for gaming, and really does make it feel like enemies are sneaking up behind you (provided you have placed your satellite speakers correctly). Likewise, I cannot tell any difference when comparing the Fatal1ty to the Auzentech X-Fi Prelude despite the latter's better components. If you are using a 2.1 speaker setup, then you will likely notice little change. Also, I can confirm that 3D headphone sound (used Sennheier and Turtle models) is slightly improved but the effect is subtle when compared to the Audigy 2 ZS. Bottom line; It is better sound, but not by leaps and bounds.
On another note, due to its near monopoly in the soundcard business, Creative was getting lazy and failing to release driver updates and patches for known problems. Thanks to market competition, persistant techies, bloggers and review sites, Creative is now releasing better drivers, especially with regards to Vista (although, where are the Linux drivers ?!). Windows XP is fully supported and most features work in Vista 32 bit (you will need to grab the Alchemy package for EAX games in Vista though) as well, but Vista 64 bit is not supported. Bottom line is that Creative is trying to iron out some of the problems and hopefully we can all get our X-FI cards to work with Ubuntu or Fedora by 2008.
So, should you buy the Fatal1ty version (or one of the cheaper models)? My answer is now likely, "Yes". The Fatal1ty is about neck and neck with the X-Fi Prelude with the former having the IO box and the latter having better DACs, so it is a close call. Folks can also now by the $120 Fata1ty card that includes the 64 MB of RAM, but without the IO box. I give the Fata1ty four stars plus (but not quite five) for its good sound, more available models, improved driver releases but gimmicky X-RAM and flat ribbon cable.
By jayhall0315 - Dec 9, 2005
DO NOT BUY THIS CARD if you're looking for digital surround sound
Strengths: you can hang it around your neck like an Albatross
Weakness: DOES NOT SUPPORT SURROUND SOUND FROM DIGITAL OUTS - the optical and coaxial outs on the front panel only provide 2.1 - I've also had problems with the analogue 5.1, see comments
After I gave up on trying to find a way to get the digital outputs to work, I got 3 mini jack Y cables to hook it to my 6 channel input on my receiver - which worked for about an hour, then the card stopped sending a signal to the subwoofer - then it stopped sending a signal to the rear left speaker - then it started sending the subwoofer signal to the rear left speaker. Creative wanted to charge...
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After I gave up on trying to find a way to get the digital outputs to work, I got 3 mini jack Y cables to hook it to my 6 channel input on my receiver - which worked for about an hour, then the card stopped sending a signal to the subwoofer - then it stopped sending a signal to the rear left speaker - then it started sending the subwoofer signal to the rear left speaker. Creative wanted to charge me another $29 to talk to a support person. I'm currently trying to return this turkey and pay the $30 restocking fee just be rid of this terrible source of frustration.
to add insult to injury, I found a $29 dollar turtle beach card that will send a 5.1 digital signal to a receiver. The xfi has nearly 1 gig of drivers as software, but they did not think to include digital 5.1 as one of their functions.
By willruben - Aug 16, 2006
One of the Best I've Ever Bought
Strengths: many many features, the sound is greeeeat for everything
Weakness: expensive at the moment
This sound card is so great that I don't know what words to use to describe it. It comes with remote control and everything. It's just awesome! You can use it for games, movies, recording, etc. This is THE card to get. It's expensive at the moment but it's well worth the money in my opinion.
By babycute214 - Aug 16, 2006
I upgraded from a creative audigy 2 zS and felt it was a tremendous improvement, very happy with it. The "crystallizer" feature (included in the whole x-fi line) creates an amazing surround effect for gaming and music, however, it's pricey.
By jwang68 - Aug 10, 2006
Strengths: many options for connections, does exactly what it says. Entertainment, Gaming, and Audio!
Weakness: The price can be out of many's budget for a sound card Need a open 5" slot for the options connector, not a good idea if you have a shuttle xpc!
Great! Sound has just been fabulous when watchin a movie! Really easy to connect. Remote control is a huge bonus! I'm sure there are other options out there for this price, but overall i'm satisfied with it.
By nimaitoys - Jul 25, 2006