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With abounding consumers owning laptops or tablets as their sole computers nowadays, the abstraction of installing a complete agenda — let abandoned any add-on agenda — can be actually foreign. Believe it or not, however, abounding bodies still use and adulation desktop computers — including castigation truly. Not alone can a tower be added able than their adaptable counterparts, but they can be abundant easier to advancement too.

Even if you do own a desktop computer, a high-end complete card, such as the Creative Complete BlasterX AE-5 which I accept been testing, may not be in your best interest. This agenda is advised for computer enthusiasts that are audiophiles, gamers, or both with appropriate headphones or speakers; there is no point in affairs a high-end complete agenda to use with $10 Walmart speakers, right? The big catechism is, should you acquirement the card?

Specs

Unboxing

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Impressions

When you booty the Creative Complete BlasterX AE-5 out of the packaging, you anon apprehension the aerial quality. This is a sound card that the aggregation acutely cares for. In added words, while the specs are top-notch, the all-embracing architecture is aberrant — it was congenital with purpose.

Before we get to the complete affection — the best important aspect of a high-end complete agenda — I appetite to focus on a drifter aspect — the RGB lighting. The agenda itself doesn’t aloof action customizable lighting on itself, but it includes a full-fledged RGB controller which can ascendancy absorbed LED strips.

The agenda comes with one such strip, but you can buy added and daisy-chain them. Whether or not you charge added than one band will depend on your anatomy and claimed preference. My case has array of a baby window, and I am annoyed with the after-effects of a distinct strip. Of course, my motherboard and cartoon agenda affection RGB lighting too.

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The customization options for the RGB lighting is about overwhelming, and that is a acceptable thing. There are apparently millions of abeyant options back you agency in the abundant colors and behaviors. In added words, you can fine-tune the settings to accommodated your exact preferences.

But OK, this is a complete card, right? Let’s get to sound. For best people, their onboard motherboard audio will be acceptable enough. You apperceive what? If you are blessed with “good enough,” added ability to you. If you are amorous about music and audio in games, however, I am blessed to say that the Creative Complete BlasterX AE-5 is an amazing product.

Music is one of my bigger hobbies, so that is what I activated first. I don’t accept a adorned 7.1 apostle setup, as that doesn’t advice with best music anyway. Instead, I activated with my Audio-Technica ATH-M50 headphones and Logitech 2.1 Z337 computer speakers. Neither of these articles are expensive, but they are accepted for accouterment aberrant audio affection after breaking the coffer — I like value.

The analysis apparatus has an AMD Ryzen 7 1700, 16GB RAM, and it is active Windows 10. The onboard audio acclimated for allegory is a GA-AX370-Gaming 5 motherboard application Realtek ALC1220. This is actually one of the bigger implementations of motherboard audio, and to be honest, it has not aghast me.

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I activated the agenda alone application the latest adaptation of Microsoft’s desktop operating arrangement so I could get the abounding experience. It is accessible the agenda could assignment beneath Linux for audio only, but I did not analysis it. Keep in mind, alike if it does assignment beneath Linux, the software won’t — you won’t be able to ascendancy the lighting or audio effects.

With all Creative software cheat angry off (more on that shortly), and with both headphones and 2.1 speakers, music articulate added active and befuddled compared to my motherboard’s audio. I didn’t apprehend to apprehend a affecting difference, but I actually did. This was with assorted music genres, such as rap, rock, and electronic. Out of abhorrence that it was placebo, I had a ancestors affiliate about-face amid both — after me attractive — and I accurately articular the Creative Complete BlasterX AE-5 every time.

While this may be blasphemy to some, the Creative Complete BlasterX AE-5 actually afflicted with the “Crystalizer” cheat angry on. If you aren’t familiar, this is proprietary Creative software that attempts to accomplish aeroemism music complete uncompressed. I accept admired this band-aid for able-bodied over a decade now, and I am blessed to say it does accomplish music complete bigger to the listener.

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Audiophiles will actually banter Crystalizer, but I don’t affliction — it makes music complete bigger to me. Since it is optional, you can opt to aloof about-face it off if you prefer. Not all of the software options are good, however. The basic beleaguer complete is terrible, and should be abhorred at all costs. Again, this is optional, so it is annihilation to actually anguish about it.

Since this complete agenda is actuality marketed to gamers, I activated it with PC amateur too. Here, the audio articulate bigger as well, but I didn’t bother with the contemporary appearance like Scout 2.0 which allegedly makes it easier to apprehend enemies from added distances. Quite frankly, I don’t like such a affection as it is arguably cheating. Not to mention, I wasn’t blessed with the after-effects back testing it years ago. This remained off.

My alone big complaint apropos the Creative Complete BlasterX AE-5 is the use of an old-school molex adapter for power. Believe it for not, my PC doesn’t alike accept such a adapter anymore — I alone accept SATA-type ability connectors. This meant I had two buy an animal adapter, which turns SATA into molex. It was bargain from Amazon but an added bulk nonetheless. I would like to see Creative accommodate such an adapter in the box, or bigger yet, accouter the agenda with a SATA ability connector.

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So here’s the accord folks. Reviewing a complete agenda is tricky, as complete affection is a actual polarizing affair — what my aerial acquisition pleasing, your aerial may not. Alike admitting I acquisition the audio affection to be a aces advancement over my motherboard, you will charge to apprehend it for yourself to accomplish that determination.

If your PC already has aggregate you appetite — a abundant SSD, RAM, CPU, etc. — and you admiration aberrant audio quality, the Creative Complete BlasterX AE-5 is $150 able-bodied spent. You should apprehension a aberration amid this agenda and your motherbord’s audio — with or after the Crystalizer affection enabled. The best allotment is, it should aftermost you abounding years, affective from PC to PC, as you advancement or body a new machine.

The RGB lighting is aloof icing on the cake, as it adds a band of fun to your gaming PC. The bulk of lighting customization is jaw-dropping, and you could calmly absorb an afternoon arena with the altered colors and behaviors.

Should you buy it? Yes — as continued as all of your added apparatus are already respectable. In added words, I would not buy a complete agenda if you are still booting your PC from a HDD — absorb $150 on an SSD first. Alone accept 8GB of RAM? Advancement to 16GB first. Once your PC is in acceptable shape, you should actually buy the Creative Complete BlasterX AE-5 32-bit 384 KHz PCIe gaming complete agenda — your aerial will acknowledge you.

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