Before this card, I used to have a Philips PSC724, which also had the Envy24, but the GT version. I had constant problems with it, that I won’t get into, but it seems that all the kinks have been worked out, because I’ve had no issues so far with this card.
I didn’t do any synthetic benchmarks with this card, but rather tested it and played it by ear. I wanted to do the available sound tests with 3D Mark ’03, but it told me the card was not supported, so I was unable to do so. Instead, I played through many, many rounds of Counter-Strike: Source, a few rounds of Unreal Tournament 2004 and then tested out a few DVD movies and music.
I first grabbed Gone in 60 Seconds and turned it straight to the Elenor scene, where Nicolas Cage is trying to get away with the 50th car. This scene in particular is a treat for the ears. Tires screeching, buses running into cars, people screaming. It’s great! Overall, the movie sounded fantastic. Previously, I was using the built-in 7.1 that comes with the Ultra-D motherboard. The sound difference was definitely noticeable, I was surprised.
As already mentioned, I played through many rounds of Counter-Strike: Source, and Unreal Tournament 2004. The sound was amazing here as well. Overall, the game was more immersive with the better sound, and I had a blast. In Counter-Strike, specifically, I found I was better able to pinpoint where the opponents were. With UT 2004, it was just overall, more clear and clean sounding, even at loud volumes.
Anybody who knows me, knows I’m a music freak. I listen to various genres, some that would make you laugh, I’m sure. For my punk fix, I threw on The Empire Strikes First, an album by Bad Religion. I was impressed by how well the card handled loud volume.. the music did not get distorted. I am sure, even with a better set of 5.1 speakers, I would be even more impressed.
Of course, punk music may not push the sound boundaries. So to do this, I threw on a song called “Policia” by a band called 666. This is a hardcore trance song that constantly pushes the bass. Once again.. wow. There is no way I expected the sound at high volume, from this song, to sound so clear. I am impressed at how much better this song sounds through this card, rather than the onboard. Another favorite, Rainbow In The Sky, by DJ Paul Elstak, proved the exact same results. Even at max volume, it sounded unbelievable.
Apparently this card excels in music and movies. I found it worked great for gaming as well, but it could have been better. It could also be my speakers holding me back, but with music and movies sounding so good, I don’t think so. This card is one I highly recommend though, unless you are looking to primarily game and want your card to focus on that. Sure, this card may not be the *best* one out there, but how many are this good for only $24.00?
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