ASUS Xonar DX 7.1 PCI-E Sound Card
Impressive, a single word that sums up the Asus Xonar DX very nicely. I was very happy with the look and presentation of the card and despite its small demeanour it has certainly proven that it can punch well above its weight. Asus in their wisdom have released a chipset that is most welcome in the audio sector of PC hardware and it is a breath of fresh air to a once stagnant market. Not only have they achieved (despite Creative’s rebukes) a card than can impersonate EAX to a level which sonically is indistinguishable to Creative’s own XFI, they have released a version that is affordable to even the budget conscious among us.
The subjective listening tests were, in my humble opinion, amazing. Movies were reproduced with exceptional surround sound – aided in part by the Dolby Pro Logic IIx configuration. The Gaming series of tests were also impressive however the lack of EAX support for Bioshock was a more than a little disconcerting despite being given the assurance that it will work with a driver update. EAX in BF2 at least was exhilarating. The depth of field and positional audio was exceptional. My favourite listening test however was the music test. Vocals, acoustics, wind and string, all had the clarity only onboard sound could dream of and I found myself exceeding the time constraints I set myself for this review just listening to some old tunes that were given a new lease of life with the Xonar.
Weighing in at around the £60 mark, which is around half what you would pay for the card of which it is based on, can best be described as a luxury entry level card. Audiophiles may wish to look elsewhere as the lack of DTS encoding and individual digital ports along with the missing EMI shield of its bigger brother could be enough to discourage the elitist in a very fickle market. The features that are lacking from the DX are not something the average Joe would miss however and if you are looking for a multimedia soundcard that performs admirably on every level without mortgaging the house to pay for it then I don’t think there is a better value for money PC sound card on the market today that can equal the Asus Xonar DX.
• Fantastic overall sound.
• Very good looking card.
• Solid capacitors for durability.
• Front panel connectivity.
• PCIe functionality.
• Shared digital output connection.
• Lack of clear descriptions on analogue ports.
• Length of the card may restrict some people to using a 2nd PCIe x16 slot which is not good if you are a gamer using SLI/Xfire.
• Lack of DTS encoding capabilities.
• Requirement of additional floppy power cable.
• Lack of prompt driver updates preventing some games (Bioshock) from working correctly.