Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi

Creative's new Sound Blaster X-Fi cards impress with their audio quality and feature sets, but they don't come cheap.

Rich Brown Former Senior Editorial Director - Home and Wellness
Rich was the editorial lead for CNET's Home and Wellness sections, based in Louisville, Kentucky. Before moving to Louisville in 2013, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years in New York City. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D printing to Z-Wave smart locks.
Expertise Smart home, Windows PCs, cooking (sometimes), woodworking tools (getting there...)
Rich Brown
Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Series

Creative's Sound Blaster Audigy 2 series was not exactly lacking in quality, but that hasn't stopped the venerable audio card manufacturer from unleashing a whole new line of Sound Blasters. Creative's new Sound Blaster X-Fi series features four different packages, all with the same audio card at its core.

The X-Fi card itself has a number of new features aimed at improving audio output. The most highly touted is the 24-bit Crystallizer, a digital-processing technique that improves the quality of digital music to near that of the original master recording. The various packages range from the spare to the extravagant. The most basic is the $130 Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Music, which includes just the card. The $200 Sound Blaster X-Fi Platinum includes the card, a drive bay plate with headphone and other inputs, and an IR remote control.

At the more expensive end of the X-Fi spectrum, you'll find the $280 Sound Blaster X-Fi Fatal1ty, named after the pro gamer Johnathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel, who's parlayed his competitive gaming success into a licensing deal. That version of the card comes with the same port plate and remote as the Platinum and also has 64MB of memory on the card for added performance. Finally, the Sound Blaster X-Fi Elite Pro costs $400. That card includes the 64MB of on-card RAM, the remote, and a gigantic external port hub with even more inputs and outputs than the drive-bay port plate.