Top critical review
6 people found this helpful
Nice sound, horrible drivers and nonexistent support.
on 18 June 2014
After having some issues with a Creative ZXR (The infamous channel swapping bug with PCIe PLX chips), i decided to try this. Most people raving about how much better the drivers are.
The card come in a flashy package (typical of Asus), the Creative ZXR is more solidly built, but the STX uses the exact same DAC, i was not expecting much difference. But in terms of drivers, the first message i got is "Choose not to restart the computer, some functions may cause no effect, please restart the computer later". They obviously speak a different English than i am used to, but heck, this is just a warning message. So just rebooted. After i tried to play some music, its not bad, but its definitely flatter than the ZXR. Much flatter (and disabled all effects on the ZXR). Well see how can i tweak these, but lets move on the next item. There is no 5.1 surround over analog speakers. Nada. None. There is only one configuration for 5.1 is with side speakers, there is no way to get 5.1 with the classic 2 front, 2 back, 1 center, 1 subwoofer. This card only does 5.1 with two side speakers, only 7.1 allows me to use rear speakers.
The drivers are a joke compared to Creative's. This is what most reviews praised, but after the ZXR its like going back to the stone age. It looks like a Windows 3.1 application, miniature icons, no settings, apart from the stock CMedia options (this card is powered by an archaic cmedia chip)
- Its not recommened for gaming (i am sure they could improve it with drivers, but if the Xonar Phoebus is any indication, it probably wont)
- 5.1 speaker support is flaky (i could get it to work in 7.1, but then i lose the output from side speakers)
- I dont like the sound of the card - something is not right the way it reproduces low frequency sounds)
- Games.... Well, my experience with this card so far only proved that it was not designed for such purpose.And since the card sounds weird in low frequency, explosions sound weird.
- Movies : this is where the card is actually shows some promise.
- Music : flat sound, and it wont pick up the number of channels from the media stream, must be manually selected for the entire system. Missing the Creative feature where it can upmix per application. This is just a sign of primitive drivers.
In essence, if you would use this card is to listen to music, and don't play games, get this one (headphone output is nice). Its a bit pricey for that. If you think that Creative drivers are the worst, get this card, and you will appreciate them much more. After 2 days with card, I am not convinced that it worth's its price. The drivers let it down. Its performs well on basic scenarios. Anything more complex (listen to a mp3 while playing a game) , and you will run into its limitations.
* Some games crashes on new games/game restarts, and if this happens the card outputs static noise, and reboot required to clean it up.
* No driver updates since release. 6 months by now.
* Reduced to two stars - support is abysmal. (3 stars = average product).
* Downrated to one star for not having a single driver update since it was released, and the extremely high audio latency.