HH Test Setup & RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.0.6
AMD Athlon X2 5200+ ASUS Xonar D2 Ultra Fidelity 7.1 Sound Card WD1500 "Raptor" HD
HotHardware's Test Systems AMD & GIGABYTE
(NVIDIA nForce 590 SLI)
Ultra ChillTec Thermo-Electric Cooler
2x2GB OCZ PC-6400
ATI HD 2600XT
Realtek HD Audio On-board
(10,000 RPM SATA)
Windows XP Pro SP-2
In testing the performance of the Xonar D2 Ultra Fidelity 7.1 Sound Card, we've taken several approaches. First, we ran RightMark's Audio Analyzer 6.0.6 to gauge the card's vital statistics, configuring the card as outlined in the instructions provided on RightMark's website specifically for the Xonar D2. Next, we ran RightMark 3D Sound 2.3 for synthetic gaming performance, from 8 buffers up to 60. For real world gaming performance, we ran F.E.A.R. with minimum video settings and toggling EAX 2.0 on and off. In all tests, performance was compared to our test bed's Realtek HD Audio integrated controller as well as an older AudioTrak Prodigy 7.1 Sound Card. All tests were run at 24-Bit.
Subjective audio testing was done with 70 Watt Logitech X-530 Series Speakers.
AMD Athlon X2 5200+
ASUS Xonar D2 Ultra Fidelity 7.1 Sound Card
WD1500 "Raptor" HD
AudioTrak Prodigy 7.1
The Frequency response was tighter with the Xonar D2 when compared to the Realtek integrated sound controller, staying within +.05/-.03 at 44.1 and 48KHz while widening somewhat to +.06/-.04 where as the Realtek HD Audio had wider deviations, most notably at 44.1KHz. The elder Prodigy 7.1 demonstrated the widest swings in frequency response, while Noise Level and Dyamic Range fell between the Realtek HD Audio and the Xonar 2. Looking at Noise Levels closer, the Xonar D2 ran at a difference of -18dB compared to the Realtek HD Audio and -13dB compared to the Prodigy 7.1. Dynamic Range was the mirror image of Noise level, with the Xonar D2 averaging +18dB over the Realtek HD Audio controller and +13dB over the AudioTrak Prodigy. Total Harmonic Distortion, IMD + Noise and Stereo Crosstalk all favored the Xonar D2 as well.
Another reference point that you may want to consider are statistics we collected when we reviewed a Soundblaster X-Fi ExtremeMusic sound card. In that piece we found the X-Fi ExtremeMusic to offer better results with Dynamic Range and Noise levels, however the Xonar D2 had a much tighter Frequency response overall.