The Tech Report compares the Asus Xonar D2X and Auzentech X-Fi Prelude audio cards in Windows Vista.
Despite its positional audio dominance, Creative has faced increased competition of late, largely from sound cards based on C-Media's Oxygen HD audio chip. Microsoft's decision to drop hardware acceleration for DirectSound 3D audio in Vista has also posed a challenge to the SoundBlaster monopoly by blunting some of EAX's appeal. All the while, motherboard makers have diligently worked to improve the quality of onboard audio solutions, creating a perfect storm that has spawned more PC audio choices than we've ever seen before.
Interestingly, two of the most recent additions to the sound card ecosystem use existing audio chips. Asus' new Xonar D2X, for example, is based on a tweaked version of C-Media's Oxygen HD. More interestingly, it comes with a PCI Express interface, finally providing fodder for the scores of empty PCIe x1 slots that dot the enthusiast landscape. On the other side of the fence we have Auzentech's X-Fi Prelude, which is the first third-party card to employ Creative's X-Fi silicon. The Prelude uses a custom board design and upgraded components in an attempt to wring better sound quality from the already impressive X-Fi audio chip.
The Xonar and Prelude both target the high end of the desktop sound card spectrum, so it's only fitting that we face them off against each other in Windows Vista. Read on to see how they fare in a range of gaming, signal quality, and subjective listening tests.
Check it out at The Tech Report. The site concludes both sound cards are recommended, if you use Windows XP the X-Fi Prelude is preferred and when you game in Windows Vista you ought to get the Xonar D2X because in Vista the X-Fi's EAX advantage is largely eliminated.