MacPro Gaming Soundcard

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Jopling, Jul 29, 2008.

  1. Jopling macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2004
    #1
    I've been using my Z-5500's in my mac for quite some time now and have loved them for music and movies. Unfortunately I can't fully utilize them in games, because optical can't do surround sound encoding on the fly (or something like that). So I am forced to use the Z-5500's analog miniport jacks if I want surround sound in games. This means I need a card that supports these jacks. I've searched all over and lots of people have been having this problem. I mainly game in Windows, but with more and more games coming out for Mac it would be ideal if the card worked in both OSs.

    I haven't found anything that meets all my requirements yet, but this is what I have found.

    The PCIe X-fi surround sound card by Creative.

    http://us.creative.com/products/product.asp?category=209&subcategory=669&product=16770

    Has anyone put this in their macpro? How does it work in XP with games and does it affect the OS X side?
     
  2. Kosh66 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2004
    #2
    on the MacOS X side it likely won't work, since there are no MacOS X drivers for Creative cards. They produced drivers for the Mac in the late MacOS 9 days, but never kept them up to date and gave up with MacOS X. Some USB devices, though, work on MacOS X, since they use the standard built-in USB drivers.
     
  3. Rankrotten macrumors 6502

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    Sep 12, 2006
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    UK
    #3
    It works fine in bootcamp XP / Vista delivering surround sound into the Z-5500's via analog 3.5mm outputs. Mac OS X simply ignores the card.
     
  4. Jopling thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jul 14, 2004
    #4
    Good that was what I was looking for. I didn't want OS X to freak out or anything. Has anyone heard specifically of any affordable surround sound cards that work in both?
     
  5. Spud1 macrumors member

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    Mar 16, 2008
    #5
    Don't waste your money just yet :)

    Totally aside from the fact that the X-Fi series is quite simply a pants offerings from creative - that card is from the budget end of the market, and is worse than your internal audio solution built into your mac pro.

    The other option you have is the Asus D2X card, which is much better than an X-Fi in most areas (google reviews/comaprisons on that..i cba to explain why:) ), however I had serious problems getting the optical out to work under Vista in my mac pro, and you do have to do some clever cable management to get it a floppy power supply cable (I routed a molex from the optical bay to the main casing for mine). In the end I took the card back and got a refund...but then when I got home I got a bit of a surprise, one you might like. The Asus card works perfectly under XP though, and is one of the best on the market..although its high price tag of around £100 might put you off.

    Realtek have released new drivers for our internal card, AND they have an application that supposedly gets your gaming effects back :D I've not tested it yet as I am not a gamer these days, but the new drivers are certainly a good thing, and reports from the net suggest the app works quite well with certain games..

    Latest audio driver (released 29th July 2008)

    ftp://66.104.77.130/pc/audio/Vista_R200.zip


    3D Sound Back(app to fix your vista gaming woes)

    ftp://202.65.194.212/pc/audio/3DSoundBack_Beta0.1.zip

    Using those 2 drivers you *should* be able to fix the stereo only optical out problem that vista has, but YMMV depending on your OS and your games.
     
  6. kahine macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2008
    #6

    Completely disagree with your opinion of the X-fi - you say you havent been a gamer nor used it either so not sure what you are basing your info on

    Past two years before going to the Mac Pro all my gaming rigs ran X-fi's and they are definitely better for gaming than what the Mac Pro has - in the past few months they finally got decent Vista64 drivers also - the high end X-fi with built in ram worked wonders in Age of Conan and Warhammer beta and was noticeably better for gaming than the builtin realtek
     
  7. Spud1 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2008
    #7
    Yes they may be better for gaming than the internal card - but not for anything else, and I was talking generally about the features and audio quality of the card then :) Additionally, the criticisms of X-Fi are largely around the optical/digital connection as it is unable to upmix properly, encode a standard signal with DTS/DD etc.
     
  8. kahine macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2008
    #8
    The OP wants it for gaming specifically though - currently for Vista64 in bootcamp or on a straight PC gaming rig , the X-fi fatality is the best out there for the most number of games , just was saying for what the OP wants it is much better than the internal and will serve what they want for the least amount of $$

    OP - as far as OS X just ignoring it while in it not really sure , I'd imagine so though
     
  9. Jopling thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jul 14, 2004
    #9
    Im running XP and it CAN'T be through optical. It has to be through the 3 analog jacks.
     
  10. Siron macrumors 6502

    Siron

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2008
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #10
    I have the XFi an it runs great in Vista 64 but there are no drivers for OSX. There are drivers for XP but not from the Creative web site (for some mystical reason) but they are on the install CD that comes with the card. I am well pleased with the card for gaming in Vista.
     
  11. hms84 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2007
    #11
    What I'm gonna do is this... This is my setup!!
    I have a Sony 1080p TV...
    I'll be getting that ATI 3870... under Windows you can get Digital Video/Audio out of the DVI port and I'll connect it to my SONY ...

    I'm not sure about the surround cuz I don't have one...
    BUT Must of all it's Digital and required one cable only!!
     
  12. kahine macrumors regular

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    Jul 10, 2008
    #12
    You notice any problems in OS X with it in ? Or does it just completely ignore and no issues


    If so then going to have to grab one myself as it will help a lot for the games while in Vista64 -
     
  13. Rankrotten macrumors 6502

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    Sep 12, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #13
    It's completely ignored. The only odd thing on my Mac Pro is that under PCI Cards in Apple System Profiler it is blank and states: There was an error while gathering PCI card information.

    No biggie otherwise.
     
  14. Supaklaw macrumors regular

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    Feb 8, 2008
    Location:
    NYC
    #14
    So I guess this begs the question... what are you doing for audio on the Mac side.... running an optical cable from the realtek to a sterero? Use built-in speakers only?

    I'm using a Yamaha YSP-900 Digital Sound Projector with optical connectors from my Sharp HDTV, from my xbox 360, and my mac pro... and it only has 3 optical inputs. When I'm gaming in XP 64-bit I'm getting 5.1 dolby surround, but I guess that's emulated according to the OP. I know I can't get EAX but the emulated sound is pretty decent. But am curious because if the EAX is that much more dramatic I'd consider trying out one of these options, maybe older model Asus card.
     
  15. Siron macrumors 6502

    Siron

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    North Carolina
    #15
    To my knowledge the optical out on the Mac in OSX does not support Dolby 5.1. I tried hooking it up to my Logitech 5500 but according to the System Preferences it's only two channel. In XP and Vista the Realtek panel only shows two speakers. I use the X-Fi PCIe card and it's great in Vista. I haven'' loaded the XP drivers yet as I only use Vista 64 for gaming.
     
  16. Supaklaw macrumors regular

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    Feb 8, 2008
    Location:
    NYC
    #16
    Yes, there are no drivers for OS X, I understand that... what I am asking is... how are you listening to audio in OS X. Clearly you have your audio running through an unrecognized card in Vista, but on the Mac side, you run simply use the onboard speakers?
     
  17. xgman macrumors 601

    xgman

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    Aug 6, 2007
    #17
    Creative has a new card coming out Pcie and hopefully some mac drivers for it.
     
  18. MacsRgr8 macrumors 604

    MacsRgr8

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    Sep 8, 2002
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    #18
    Just wanted to add the fact that I have the Soundblaster X-Fi PCI-e card in my Mac Pro, just for running games in XP and Vista.
    And it works brilliantly. :)

    I can't imagine Half Life 2 or Race Driver GRID without Dolby 5.1!! :eek:
     
  19. OracleRedux macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2008
    Location:
    Guildford, UK
    #19
    In my experience I have managed to get 5.1 Sound to output under Mac OS X through the digital out on an Early 2008 Mac Pro. I also use Logitech Z-5500 speakers and if I use VLC for example, and set the audio device to "Built-in digital (encoded output)", then, so long as the file contains surround information (try looking around for some mkv files, which are often used as a container for surround sound), the Z-5500 display shows either Digital or, in rare cases DTS (which is always a pleasant surprise).
    In addition, I also use the X-Fi card (the budget PCI-Express one) from Creative, in order to get analogue surround sound under Windows. As other posters have indicated, the card is not recognised by Mac OS X and the system profiler returns an error when queried about PCI cards.
    Hope that helps!
     
  20. scottlinux macrumors 6502a

    scottlinux

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2005
    #20
    All Creative cards are fixed at 48kHz, and use software to resample to the other rates they claim. There are some fancy effects chips on there to 'enhance' the sound in those x-fi cards, which does nothing but take away from an actual clear, good, audio signal.

    But for the most part, Creative is consumer level crap.

    If you want good audio, get a sound card from a company that makes pro audio products:

    RME
    m-audio
    alesis
    presonus
    motu
    edirol
    .... etc

    :)
     
  21. lowfat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2007
    Location:
    Grande Prairie, AB, CAN
    #21
    The thread title says Gaming Soundcard not Pro Audio. His only real choices are the Asus Xonar line or an X-Fi Titanium. The DAC on the Titanium isn't bad, the CS4382 has an SNR or 109dB vs the 120dB of the Xonar DX. However with the Xonar you are stuck with the software emulated EAX.
     
  22. grue macrumors 65816

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    Somewhere.
    #22
    zomg, it eis teh lowfat :run:
     
  23. sdonegan macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2008
    #23
    Actually, he does have one other option, which is what I am planning on buying! That is the Auzentech X-Fi Home Theater HD PCIe card, which is scheduled for release at the end of January (once you read all the features I'm sure you will agree its worth waiting for...I've been waiting several months for it as its release date has been pushed back from September to October to November to January due to Auzentechs QA.) This is another PC soundcard with no Mac drivers...and as the other posters have said the Mac will just ignore it. Auzentech is my favorite company (even before Apple :p) and I am a huge fanboy! I have found them to have the highest quality products with the best quality control and customer service. I'm encouraging you to read about it on there website as I could not post all of the features this card offers. Although if you do have any questions after reading up on it please post them here as I will do my best to find you the answers!
    Link:
    http://www.auzentech.com/site/products/x-fi_hometheater_hd.php
     
  24. lowfat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2007
    Location:
    Grande Prairie, AB, CAN
    #24
    It will likely be carrying a $250 price tag along with it. Which puts it at double of most other PCIe cards. Sounds like a great card but if using analog outputs I don't believe it all that much different from the original Prelude in terms of quality.

    I wish Auzen would just release an regular Prelude for PCIe without the addition of the HDMI.
     
  25. sdonegan macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2008
    #25
    Unfortunately I think your going to be correct about the price tag, although it will come down over time. It isn't much different than the original Prelude in terms of features, if you are just using it as a Gaming card instead of a Multifunction card. In the future we will definitely see a Prelude like PCIe card, but I'm not too optimistic about Mac OSX support...
     

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