After months of rumors and speculation, Creative's Sound Blaster X-Fi has finally acquired a PCI Express connector. However, instead of adding support for the new interface to a high-end card, Creative has picked a low-end part for the job and released it into the U.S. market without much noise (pardon the pun). The arrival of a press release in Creative's home country of Singapore has drawn our attention to the card, which is already being sold at Newegg.
It's not hard to see why Creative isn't hyping up the product. TOSLINK optical input and output ports are the PCIe model's only apparent advantage over its PCI counterpart, and they seem to have been added to the PCIe part at the expense of lower analog sound quality. Compared to the PCI X-Fi Xtreme Audio, the PCIe X-Fi Xtreme Audio otherwise has the same 24-bit/96KHz sample rate for playback and recording but a lower signal to noise ratio (104dB instead of over 108dB), greater harmonic distortion (0.007% instead of 0.006%), and a higher official price tag ($69.99 instead of $59.99).