Over the years there has been a major decline in discrete sound card solutions. Many of the big names are still available but given the prevalence of some really great onboard audio solutions we often forget that specialized sound cards are still a good investment both in audio quality and gaming performance. The Creative Sound Blaster AE-7 an excellent example of a specialized sound solution that many PC Builders would overlook because they don’t understand the benefits.
Much like buying a faster video card or one supporting the latest technology having a high-end audio solution can make your games better. The Sound Blaster AE-7 has a number of built in gaming profiles to enhance your gaming experience and the ability to tweak any of settings to match your personal tastes. On top of that if you already have Sound Blaster headphones and/or speakers the software can dial in the configuration even more to ensure the best sound quality possible.
In addition to the software having the right audio hardware you can unlock higher bitrates and even offload audio processing from the CPU to increase framerates and lower system load.
Overall I am rather impressed with the Sound Blaster AE-7, we finally have a proper discrete sound card for the desktop with built in Dolby and DTS encoders along with and upgraded ESS SABRE DAC and discrete Bi-AMP headphone amplifier. The external Audio Control Module is a nice addition that not only gives you a physical volume knob for your headphones but also includes a microphone for those of us who prefer high-end headphones over a gaming headset.
SBX Sound Profile
Support For High-End Headphones
5.1 Surround Sound
Supported by a Great Software Package
External Audio Control Module
Dolby and DTS Encoder Support
Did not test well in Rightmark