As stated this is the first part of the review, I'll leave the in-depth performance and quality testing to Brann but of course I quickly ran a few numbers for you.
Pretty much the only title that has an actual X-Fi setting in its configuration is Battlefield 2. Therefore I just had to try out if en/disabling the X-Fi setting actually was stable for the game and if it made the performance increase. Unfortionately the results where a bit so-so as there really is not a reliable way to benchmark this game. So basically what we did was create a timedemo and base a average framerate calculation on it in three settings. The first was software accelerated sound, the second hardware accelerated and the third being the X-Fi mode.
Mind you that we have setup 7.1 channels sound in ALL games and apps tested today. Let's have a look.
As you can see compared over the software accelerated mod there definitely is a shift in performance. Comparing both Hardware and X-Fi mode resulted in a NIHIL performance difference. Hey it's new technology, these things happen. Suffice to say, the game works 100% stable in the game with X-Fi mode enabled and my gosh what a 7.1 experience it is.
**Right after finishing this review it accorded to me that I made a essential inaccuracy here. All graphics settings here ran at maximum, the card used was only a Radeon x800 XT PE and therefore the card might actually have been a bottleneck. So the system could have gone faster yet the graphics card could could not. I owe you guys an updated set of BF2 benchmarks, which I'll update in here soon.
Chronicles of Riddick - Escape from Butcher Bay
Year 2004 finally delivered two of the most awaited and anticipated games: Half Life 2 and Doom 3. Before that Far Cry dropped the bombshell on the gaming industry, totally redefining graphics and gameplay standards. When we thought we had seen it all, Starbreeze and Vivendi delivered the unhyped and low profile game Chronicles Of The Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay. The game was first released on the Xbox without too much buzz, noise or publicity. The game was then ported to the PC with buffed up graphics. The game starts with Riddick taken to the prison. Riddick is supposed to be one of the most wanted criminals in the galaxy. Riddick is like an icon in the game. The most fearless, dashing and feared criminal in the whole galaxy. The storyline is not the same as that of the movie; in fact it's entirely different. It starts somewhere in the past in context to the two movies that we saw on the big screen.
Since Far Cry the standard of graphics has changed dramatically. Since then we have seen games like Doom 3 and Half Life 2, which set very high standards in graphics. This particular game closely resembles Doom 3. I personally thought that this game must be running on the Doom 3 engine when I first saw the screenshots in Guru3d forums a few months back. But this is not the Doom 3 engine. It's called Starbreeze Engine Technology © (2002 - 2004 Starbreeze AB.) And mind you it produces stunning graphics. The game is dark. But not scary pitch black as we saw in Doom 3. And darkness is the friend of Riddick in the game, instead of your enemy in Doom 3. Riddick gains the power to see in total darkness in the initial stages of the game.
The lighting effects in this game are very good and real looking. All models cast shadows properly. Gun modeling is also good. And the game uses some 3rd person views, especially when you are in conversation, climbing onto boxes, hanging on to something or when you are climbing ladders. During this you will notice how well the Riddick is modeled and how good and natural his body movements are. Sound wise again we have 7.1 surround sound enabled. I decided to disable all AA and AF function in order make performance differences more measurable and not too dependant on the graphics cards.
As you can see both the Audigy 4 and X-Fi product give a similar performance, actually a very good one compared to onboard sound, in this case a Via Envy 24 solution.3DMark 03 Professional
3DMark 05 Business Edition
The latest in the 3DMark benchmark series built by Futuremark Corporation (formerly known as MadOnion.com). More than 5 million benchmark results have been submitted to Futuremarks Online ResultBrowser database. It has become a point of great prestige to be the holder of the highest 3DMark score. A compelling, easy-to-use interface has made 3DMark very popular among game enthusiasts. Futuremarks latest benchmark, 3DMark03, continues this tradition by providing a Microsoft DirectX 9 benchmark.
The introduction of DirectX 9 and new hardware shader technologies puts a lot of power in the hands of game developers. Increasingly realistic 3D games will be available over the next year and a half. The use of 3D graphics will become more accessible to other applications areas and even operating systems. In this new environment, 3DMark03 will serve as a tool for benchmarking 3D graphics.
Pretty much one of the most reliable tools to measure performance for a soundcard is 3DMark03 as it has a dedicated sound test. The fun thing is that you can throw a number of sounds at the test. No sound, 24 voices of sound and 60, which is the number where the Audigy series maxes out. The X-Fi can actually handle over 120 simultanious sounds without being stressed too much. Unfortunately 3DMark can't even handle that number.
As you can see the X-Fi board will clear the floor here.
Anyway, as stated only as quick and small set of benchmark test, in the follow up review on X-Fi Brann will do some extensive game testing and some results including RMAA.