Benchmark Performance Continued
Efficiency is the name of this game
Comanche 4 Demo:
Novalogic's Comanche 4 Benchmark is heavily dependent
on CPU and Memory bandwidth which is why it is the
perfect tool for audio testing. For this test we
first ran the benchmark with the "No Audio" option
selected followed by a run with no audio processing
and then with Sensaura enabled in the drivers.
3DMark03 test, the results were quite similar,
although the drop off in frames were less dramatic
with each pass. With "No Audio" both cards
hovered in the 48FPS range whereas with Sensaura
enabled the two dropped to the 44FPS range.
All-in-all, these two cards were virtually identical
in performance with the two tests so far.
Lastly, we saved Audio Winbench 99 to do a detailed
assessment of performance that can be broken down into
several different areas.
Audio WinBench 99:
WinBench 99 is a tool that measures the performance of
a PC's audio subsystem. The benchmark tests all
aspects of audio output including the driver, the
audio processor, DirectSound and DirectSound 3D, and
the speakers. We focused on the results
pertaining to DirectSound and DirectSound3D
helps make it a little more clearer why the Aureon 7.1
Space was slightly faster in most of the prior tests.
Terratec did an exceptional job programming their
drivers to let the Aureon 7.1 run as efficiently as
possible. Whether testing DirectSound or
DirectSound3D, the Aureon was very efficient, most
particularly as the voices increased. That isn't
to say the Prodigy was all that bad either, running
less than 5% at the worst is a good task and with all
of the advanced programming that went into the
Prodigy's driver set, we think the results are very
good as well. The bottom line is when you look
at the gaming tests and see the differences between
the two cards, a few percentage points don't add up to
a whole lot of difference.
Terratec Aureon 7.1 Space:
thing is certain, it's that Creative has serious
competition on its hands with several affordable
alternatives from Terratec and AudioTrak. Each
card brings its own flavor of features and
functionality to the table, while both offer a solid
bang for the money. The Aureon 7.1 Space
provides solid features and excellent complimentary
software as well as optical inputs and outputs.
The Prodigy 7.1 on the other hand provides its own
feature set geared around exploring the features of
the Native Sound Processor functionality as well as
great complimentary software. Clearly each has
its strengths and weaknesses, but both are a good buy
depending on your needs.
comes down to which card is better than the other,
it's not a cut and dry answer. Each card
performed almost identically, with minor fluctuations
from test to test. To say there is a clear
winner from a performance standpoint is simply not
possible. From a features perspective, however,
there are a few things to consider. We like the
drivers screens of the Aureon 7.1 Space, finding the
screens clean and intuitive. We were impressed
with the overall layout, but there were some problems.
We were not thrilled that enabling Sensaura required a
reboot and 7.1 surround was only available with
Windows XP. We also noted some minor bugs with
the headphone controls that could possibly cause
damage to components. The changing of sampling
rates between applications could be audibly heard as
we noted when loading MusicMatch 8, which was another
bug in the driver set. While the Aureon 7.1
Space performed well overall, it was not without its
issues. In the end, however, the Aureon's
drivers helped make this card the most efficient
performer we've seen to date.
Taking these factors into
consideration, we give the Terratec Aureon 7.1 Space a
Hot Hardware Heat Meter Rating of an 8.
take a look at the Prodigy 7.1, the experience was
completely different. We did not encounter any
problems with audio playback in any way and the driver
menus were layed out out in a more concise manner.
It seemed that the drivers worked as they should and
the Native Sound Processing functions were far more
robust than the Aureon 7.1. The main difference
will be whether you demand the optical input/outputs
of the Aureon 7.1 Space or you can get by with the
coaxial connections of the Prodigy 7.1. We
suspect that most casual users will not get hung up on
these two differences.
Prodigy and Aureon are basically the same in
construction, we have to give credit to AudioTrak for
putting together drivers that explore all of the
hardware's capabilities. We were pleased to see
that Sensaura could be enabled without a reboot and
there did not appear to be any Operating System
limitations associated with using surround 7.1.
While there was no graphic equalizer integrated into
the drivers, we were pleased that we could have
standard audio output forced to 4 channels rather than
the default 2 for expanded listening. In the
end, the Prodigy 7.1 from AudioTrak seemed to have a
better all around package with solid drivers, a good
collection of complimentary software, and excellent
advanced features for the user interested in audio
editing. While its CPU utilization was not as
efficient as the Aureon's, the Prodigy still used few
CPU cycles and it competed on the same level as the
Aureon in the other benchmarks. For this
reviewer, the Prodigy 7.1 was the clear choice for
replacing an out-dated Hercules Game Theater XP.
offering an excellent all around product that should
satisfy a broad spectrum of users for a reasonable
price, we give the AudioTrak Prodigy 7.1 a Hot
Hardware Heat Meter Rating of a 9.
on this review, in the PCHardware Forum!