Creative X-Fi Xtreme Audio Notebook review

Get desktop-quality sound on your laptop

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Our Verdict

Time to ditch onboard notebook sound


  • Few rivals for notebook users

    Excellent with all forms of audio


  • Average included headphones

Creative has been in the PC sound business for so long we've come to expect great things from it. Yet with rivals offering similar products that are often cheaper, it's had to fight back hard. That's where the X-Fi brand comes in, which has become established as a leader in desktop audio.

Now it's the laptop's turn to undergo an audio makeover, and the X-Fi Xtreme Audio Notebook is essentially the entry-level Xtreme Audio PCI card in Express format.


The Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio Notebook is a two-part affair, with the express card and a speaker-docking module to give you more speaker options, such as connecting your laptop to a home cinema system.

We tested it on a Vista laptop and installed the full suite of Creative's X-Fi software. This can come across as overkill because you're unlikely to use the majority of its functions. However, if you're a serious audiophile or into editing home movies, you'll soon find a use for the host of applications bundled with this card.

Whatever you end up using the card for - and let's face it, gaming and watching movies is where you'll see the benefit - you'll be amazed at just how good your laptop can sound. Portable PCs from leading manufacturers such as Harman Kardon that claim to have serious audio built in never seem to match desktop quality due to their small size.

All that's changed, and now laptops are beginning to outsell desktops it's time we all started investing in some better audio to complement the increase in graphics power.

For certain types of compressed music, the Crystalizer in the Creative software can be very effective, especially with headphones, so there's no need to rely on the basic audio modes in Windows Media Player or iTunes.

Bundled extras include a carry pouch for the express card so that it won't suffer damage on your travels, but the included headphones are only of average quality.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSound Board
Product FamilyX-Fi
Number of Audio Line In1
Number of Audio Line Out1
Brand NameCreative
Form FactorExternal
Sound Channels7.1
Host InterfacePCI Express x1
Number of Headphone Ports1
Number of Microphone Ports1
Maximum Recording Sampling Rate3 Byte 96 kHz
Maximum Playback Sampling Rate3 Byte 96 kHz
Audio Processor ModelX-Fi
Audio Processor ManufacturerCreative
ManufacturerCreative Technology, Ltd
Product ModelXtreme Audio
Product NameSound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio Notebook Sound Card
DAC Data Width24 bit
Product LineX-Fi
System Requirements
  • Microsoft Windows Vista
  • Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (x64 or Media Center Edition)
  • Intel Pentium M, Intel Core, AMD Turion series or equivalent 1.66GHz mobile processor or faster
  • Intel, AMD or 100% compatible motherboard chipset
  • 256MB RAM (Windows XP), 512 MB RAM (Windows Vista)
  • 600MB of free hard disk space
  • ExpressCard/54 slot
  • CD/DVD-ROM drive
Manufacturer Part Number70SB071000004
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

Creative's Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio Notebook brings your MP3 music and movies to life! Compatible with the new ExpressCard format it is a great choice for the latest notebooks. It features award-winning X-Fi technologies including X-Fi Crystalizer, which restores the details and vibrance lost during compression to MP3 and DivX, breathing life back into any audio, and X-Fi CMSS-3D, which expands stereo music and movie sound tracks into amazing surround, even over headphones. Experience your notebook audio like never before when combined with PowerDVD for Dolby and DTS movies, or with EAX and OpenAL in games. This ExpressCard upgrade also features analogue and digital connectivity plus the option to upgrade to 5.1/7.1 surround via the optional docking module.

Package Contents
  • Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio Notebook Sound Card
  • Carrying Case
  • Earphones
  • QuickStart
  • Installation CD
Limited Warranty2 Year
Additional Information
  • X-Fi Crystalizer restores the details and vibrance lost during audio compression, enhancing MP3/WMA, streaming audio and video, TV and radio, DivX and DVD movies.
  • X-Fi CMSS-3D Headphone delivers incredible surround sound for movies and music over stereo headphones.
  • For unbeatable DVD movies, use with Cyberlink PowerDVD software for DTS and Dolby Digital-EX decoding. Enjoy immersive gaming over headphones with EAX 4.0 support.