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Physically, the card comes clad in an unusual plastic housing that covers up all the components on board.
Whether or not this is designed for looks, or as some sort of RF shield for fidelity purposes is unclear, but it's a far cry from the sometimes gaudy LEDs of the Fatal1ty cards and more becoming of the kind of PC which might find itself hooked up to a pair of Bang & Olufsen's finest.
It connects via a single lane PCI-E port, and the EMU20K2 audio processor and 16MB of on board RAM is the same core specification that's been on Creative cards for a couple of years.
The card also supports DTS Connect and Dolby Digital Live. Old favourites like the upmixing of surround effects through Creative's own CMSS-3D remain, though.
Similarly all the previous features like the Crystalizer, which increases the dynamic range of compressed audio, remain untouched.
These now fall under the auspices of the THX-cobranded TruStudio PC, which has also appeared on Creative's USB headphones in the past and brings a load of tuning options for mid-range clarity or smart volume control.
The driver suite is identical to previous versions of the X-Fi control panel, with three modes for switching between entertainment, gaming and audio creation.
So far, then, so little to really differentiate itself from earlier X-Fi cards. The important differences are in the components used on the PCB. The key features here are higher quality capacitors and a 122dB SNR digital-analogue converter.
Along with replaceable op amps there should be enough here to pique the interests of those in the know.
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Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site T3.com. Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.
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