We know for a fact many people still use integrated audio, and perhaps they see no big reason to switch. Audio is audio and it all sounds the same, right? Absolutely not!
Most people arent too concerned with audio unless they have been subjected to higher quality options, which is unfortunate. If you do listen to music or play games in your computer and are still using on-board audio, do yourself a huge favor and make the switch to an add-in soundcard and a quality set of speakers or headphones. Truthfully, it doesn't have to be a high-end choice like the X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty, but a more modest product should be enough to be an eye opener.
There are only a few things that would keep me from purchasing this card. The first is the PCI Express interface. While this would usually be high on our list of pros (and it is), there is the potential that this card could physically interfere with your graphics card, especially if you use a large aftermarket cooler or run multiple cards.
The other issue I have is with the card's hefty price tag. At ~$140, this is a very expensive soundcard and may be too much for the average user to justify, especially if you dont already have a good set of speakers or headphones to match it. However, if you do have decent speakers but still can't justify the price tag, Creative's own X-Fi XtremeGamer, which I had been using for the past year or so, will make for an excellent substitute, but be prepared to forfeit some key features, such as optical in/out.
The high-end aftermarket audio scene is nowhere near as large as other branches of hardware, and thus, there are a limited number of quality manufacturers and cards to choose from. Creative clearly leads the way, but others such as Asus and Razer have been making significant headway as of late. With the X-Fi Titanium, however, I believe Creative has a firm foundation for the long road ahead.
Update: Right after publishing this review, Creative informed us they have added a new card to the X-Fi line-up. The PCI Express Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium is selling for a discounted price of $99.99, with the main difference being that it removed the Fatal1ty branded cover. Not a bad deal if you were looking into buying a new Creative soundcard.
- Wide array of software included
- Native PCI Express support
- Exceptional audio quality
- Might interfere with large videocard coolers or multiple card setups
- No game bundle