ASUS Xonar DX 7.1 PCI-E Sound Card

Test Setup & Rightmark Results

Test Setup
I feel the Xonar DX is targeted towards entry level market but nevertheless I intend to complete a thorough testing process you have come to expect at OC3D. Apart from rightmark, testing a cards audio quality is very subjective depending on one’s personal preferences. I will however endeavour to be as objective and unbiased as possible throughout the testing process.
Test System

• Intel Q6600
• Gigabyte DS3 Motherboard
• 2GB Corsair XMS2 DMX PC-6400 (4-4-4-12)
• 2xSeagate barracuda 500GB 7200.11 Sata2 32mb cache HDD’s
• Gecube ATI 3870x2 Video card
• Asus Xonar DX 7.1 Audio card
• Gigabyte onboard sound (Realtek ALC883)
• Windows Vista Ultimate sp.1 (32bit)
• Creative Inspire T7900 7.1 speakers
• Sennheiser RS140 wireless headphones
I have decided to reference the Xonar against on board sound as this is what I would imagine most potential buyers will be upgrading from. I believe it would be unfair to compare them head to head but a reference is required to have a basis for comparison. While I would have preferred to also include a card such as the Creative X-FI music which is in a similar price bracket I don’t have one to hand and the testing process could also be flawed as I have owned an X-FI music card previously and the compatibility issues with Vista were such that I sold the music card on unfortunately. So before we get to the usual gaming/music/movie tests let’s have a look at the performance of the Xonar DX using Rightmark.
Rightmark results
Rightmark is an audio analyser designed for testing the quality of analogue (and digital) paths of audio devices. The results are obtained by playing and recording test signals passed through the tested audio path by means of frequency analysis algorithms. –

Asus Xonar DX - Rightmark Asus Xonar DX2 - Rightmark
Asus Xonar DX - Rightmark Asus Xonar DX - Rightmark

As you can see the Noise level I got(-113.4dB) was a little shy of that advertised by Asus (-116dB) but I used a longer than recommended line in/out cable which possibly affected the results slightly, nevertheless the results are well within the margin for error and are certainly much better than on-board devices.

CPU Utilization
Here we see how much of an impact using the Xonar's software based emulation has on the CPU:
(CPU Utilisation set at 16-bit/44.1KHz – 16 buffers)
16-bit / 44.1khz
(CPU Utilisation set at 24-bit/96KHz 16-buffers)
24-bit / 96khz
(CPU Utilisation set at 16-bit/44.1KHz-128 buffers)
16-Bit / 44.1khz
(CPU Utilisation set at 24-bit/96KHz-128buffers)
24-Bit / 96khz

As you can see the CPU rarely exceeds 5% utilisation even with 128 buffers set. Impressive, especially as EAX is emulated through this card thereby requiring CPU cycles.
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Most Recent Comments

06-05-2008, 07:03:23

Nice review webbo.

Good move by Asus tbh, but they need to be on top of the driver support!

Creative could slip further down the pan.Quote

06-05-2008, 07:23:26

Nice review, good to see some soundcard action.

Manufs need to make these cards with; front panel support; connection for internal HMDI support; low profile; solid drivers for XP/Vista 32/64bit - as almost a standard.

Asus are not particularly some1 I`m wanting to either look for support or driver upd8s. They`re are exactly Creative in that department, but they don`t personally fill me with enthusiasm either. That`s just me, I don`t buy their products when there`s a viable alternative for just that reason.

£60 is an ~ok~ price for me. I`d be happier if it settled around £40-£50, but that`ll take some time.

Like to have a comparison playoff with ASUS, Auzen, Creative - and let`s say an Abit IP35 Pro onboard, as a look into the qualities, drivers, performance and price.

For the +/- using Vista 64bit and these choices, I`m edging towards taking the soundcards out of the systems tbh.Quote

06-05-2008, 08:32:30

I was a little hesitant about the price too but when you consider you are virtually getting a D2X (minus the frills) for half the price then it works out at a half decent price point. What most should consider I guess is the need for high performing audio over 'adequate' onboard solutions. IF all you do is surf the net then I guess onboard is fine but if your PC is a multimedia gateway then a dedicated solution is much better imo.

I am also concerned about driver support but we can only hope Asus keep on the ball with this one, either way it surely can't be as bad as Creative.Quote

07-05-2008, 15:26:15

Excellent Review, much respect webbo: Wu-Tang Clan FTW!! I have a cheapo soundcard right now but if I'm looking to upgrade I'll definatley consider this, but tbh I don't know how much benefit I'd get running through the Aux on my 2.1 system, I wish 2.1 was listed as an option on my sound control panel but sadly I'm stuck with 2.0 or virtual 5.1 Quote

07-05-2008, 17:11:01

good review

looks like a niceish card actually

and as for the comment about all the connectors being gold, you make a good point, but on the alternative side, green, pink and blue looks rather tacky ...

gold looks profesional, even if you dont know where to plug your wire Quote

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