Auzentech X-Fi Forte Low Profile 7.1 PCI-E Sound Card


On first glance you'd be mistaken for thinking this was 'just another X-Fi card'. The card lacks the visual impact of the Asus STX with no EMI shielding and a low profile look to it.
But fear not dear reader, this little card from Auzentech is more than meets the eye. Enough chat from me, let's see what's under the bonnet, so to say.
X-Fi Forte  X-Fi Forte rear
As I said, the card is pretty plain, but the devil is in the details. The newer revision X-Fi chip from Creative sits pretty in the middle of the crowded PCB, next to the X-RAM which is also a feature of cards with a creative logo on them.
Auzen logo  creative chip
Auzentech have made an effort to make the card special with the named I/O back-plate. The internal ports are what you'd expect of a card with this kind of spec sheet.
On the left (right hand side), you'll notice the Point Grounding system Auzentech have chosen to use on the Forte, as well as the high quality Nichon (left hand side) capacitors. These should provide clean power to the audio systems that Auzentech have added to the Forte with as little distortion as possible.
Audio Components
Auzentech have added some very nice components to the X-Fi Forte which all contribute to the rather excellent spec we saw on the first page.
Creative CA20K2
x-fi chip
Auzentech have used the CA20K2 version of the much-vaunted X-Fi sound processor. This chip has been much reviewed and we all should be aware of it's capabilities. Packing a huge 51 million+ transistors and the power to process EAX 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 as well as OpenAL in-game effects, this Digital Signal processor from Creative was a bit of a revolution when it came out and is still the gaming chip to beat.
hynix ram
The X-Fi architecture allows for a certain amount of on-board RAM to be used by the processor. The X-RAM, as Creative call it, is a great tool for developers to decompress and buffer audio or add in high quality sound that can be loaded directly into the X-RAM. This particular memory chip is a 64Mb module from Hynix  - HY5DU121622DTP-J. Unfortunately I cannot get much info from this, but it seems to do the trick,
Auzentech have gone with a high quality Op-AMP on the card to handle front-left and right channels. The LME4972 is considered a superb Op-AMP by many enthusiasts, but note that this part is actually replaceable, with an industry standard pin-out. This means that those who are really into their audio can grab their favourite Op-AMP and slot it right in. That said, the LME4972 offers an ultra low THD+N of 0.00003%and an impressive 97 dB SNR.
AKM 4396VF
The AKM 4396VF is a high quality DAC and gives a 192 kHz 24 bit sampling mode. This digital to analogue audio converter handles the audio for the front left and right channels and offers a THD+N of -100 dB and a sampling rate of 30 - 216 kHz.
Cirrus CS4382
cirrus cs4382
The Cirrus D/A converter is a 24 bit, 128 kHz, 8 channel digital to analogue converter. Auzentech have used this for the remaining 6 channels of the X-Fi Forte's surround sound: Side left/right, Centre, Sub-woofer and Rear left/right. Featuring 114 dB dynamic range and -100 dB THD+N, the chip is certainly no slouch and it's great to see that Auzentech haven't skimped even on the channels most likely not used when listening to high quality stereo.
wm8775seds  wm8782s
A variety of Wolfson ADC's are used for the line-ins on the X-Fi Forte. Notably the front mic line-in uses the WM8782 with 100 dB SNR, 24 bit stereo and a wide frequency band of 8 – 192kHz. Also present are the WM8775SEDS that handles the rear mic/line level and possible extension bay inputs on the X-Fi Forte.
What does this all mean?
Well when we put all these good quality components together, we get an excellent quality digital-analogue conversion, especially from a PC sound card. Add to that a superb Op-AMP with a well respected sound quality and high quality power handling and filtering and you've got what should be a winning combination.
Now let's see if this is the case....
«Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Next»

Most Recent Comments

06-07-2009, 04:52:47

"Claiming to be the worlds first soundcard for music, HTPC and gaming, the Forte makes big claims from a tiny card. Can it live up to our high standards? Read on..." - by Kempez

Auzentech X-Fi Forte Low Profile 7.1 PCI-E Sound CardQuote

06-07-2009, 06:52:10


At a 75% discount

What about putting PCI-e x1 as good in the conclusion? Most people have too many of those slots anyway and it has more future than the PCI standard.Quote

06-07-2009, 14:19:37

This sounds like a great card coming from the great review.

I'd have to limit my own conclusion to that of the Auzen Prelude. The card is great, but the Creative software on it is a real pita imo.

If u keep in touch with the Auzen site, they're upd8ing RCx of the drivers time after time. The initial ones ~werent too bad~, the following RC(s) seem to gain in some respects whilst taking away in others - and still u have the freaking Creative control console lurking over everything.

Seeing nothing to suggest otherwize, I'd view this card in the same way, if ur going to set it up to a single or perhaps one additional input, ur likely to do well with it.

Fancy being a bit "creative" - forget it. And I don't think Vista helps. Alchemy also being a bit hit and miss.

For whatever reason they decided to screw up the sound options that the pc had when going from xp->vista, even tho the theory in the vista control is a good idea imo, I would love them to try and get it mostly correct in Windows 7.

Let's pretty much hope that Creative born examples continue to work fine and without hackage in Windows 7 - they "should".

Great review. I do have reservations tho, especially when paying £122!Quote

Register for the OC3D Newsletter

Subscribing to the OC3D newsletter will keep you up-to-date on the latest technology reviews, competitions and goings-on at Overclock3D. We won't share your email address with ANYONE, and we will only email you with updates on site news, reviews, and competitions and you can unsubscribe easily at any time.

Simply enter your name and email address into the box below and be sure to click on the links in the confirmation emails that will arrive in your e-mail shortly after to complete the registration.

If you run into any problems, just drop us a message on the forums.