If you read our original review of the X-Fi way back in November 2005, you already know about this card. Back then, Creative packaged this exact same card with a drive bay and remote and charged an impossible to justify $280 for the X-Fi Fatal1ty FPS soundcard.
As we said with the Auzentech, we’re impressed when companies go above and beyond reference designs for products. Razer’s Barracuda AC-1 is such a product. Though it uses the same C-Media Oxygen HD chip as the X-Meridian, you wouldn’t think the two cards were related.
Soundcards, like videocards, tend to have cookie-cutter designs; products that use the same chipsets look virtually the same.
That wasn’t the approach Auzentech took when it put down the traces for its Auzen X-Meridian 7.1 card. Auzentech says it carefully crafted a custom PCB and added components to get the best possible audio from the card, which is based on C-Media’s top-shelf CMI8788 Oxygen HD “audio processor.” We believe it, too. The board’s traces, layout, and components are vastly different than those of the Razer AC-1 soundcard, which also uses the CMI 8788 Oxygen HD chip.
We’ll get the bad news out of the way first. Hitachi’s Deskstar T7K500 hard drive, with an easy-to-remember 500GB of storage, is unremarkable. More than that, it underperforms when compared to similarly featured, similarly priced (if not cheaper!) products.