Back to 12/96 HW: HP Deskjet 400
Up to Table of Contents
Ahead to 12/96 HW: Micro Solutions backpack 8X CD-ROM

December 1996 Reviews This Month

12/96 Reviews HW: Creative Labs Performance 8X

8X Booster Shot Offers Sound Without Fury

By Marc Spiwak

An upgrade kit is the fastest way to add multimedia capabilities to your computer. And Creative Labs Performance 8X is one of the best upgrade kits around. It's hard to beat the simple installation and top-level performance of this $349.99 package. The kit includes an 8X IDE CD-ROM drive, a Sound Blaster 32 Plug-and-Play wavetable sound card, a pair of two-way amplified speakers and an ample software bundle.

Plug-and-Play technology is still not an option for many computer upgrades. So I was delighted when, after removing my system's old sound card and CD-ROM drive and connecting Creative Labs' hardware, Windows 95 instantly recognized everything. All I had to do was insert one of the accompanying diskettes. After I installed the needed drivers, my multimedia hardware was up and running.

Performance numbers were just as impressive. At 31 percent CPU usage, Quarterdeck's CD Certify Pro clocked the transfer rate at 9X. The drive was transferring at 1.33 MB per second-well over the 8X specification. A 218-millisecond average access time was acceptable, though less impressive than the transfer rate. As expected, video clips and multimedia titles ran beautifully from the drive.

The Sound Blaster 32 is one of the best sound cards available, especially when it comes to Plug-and-Play operation and software compatibility. Sound quality from this wavetable card is excellent. The included SBS380 speakers are good, but not great. They'll put out more sound than your boss and co-workers will tolerate in the office, but the speakers tend to distort and lose gusto at higher volume, especially when playing audio CDs.

Controls on the right speaker include Off/On, Volume, Balance, Bass/Treble and 3D Stereo Enhance. The 3-D effect gives the impression of increased depth, but the sound effect will not be to everyone's liking.

In addition to a full audio-utility suite, the kit contains an assortment of multimedia titles, including Rebel Assault II, The Dig, Virtual Pool and Pinball Dreams Deluxe. The only things missing from this otherwise complete set are a microphone and joystick.

-- Info File --
Creative Labs Performance 8X
Pros: Very easy installation
Cons: No microphone or joystick included
Platforms: 3X, 95
Creative Labs
800-998-5227, 408-428-6600
WinMag Box Score: 4

Back to 12/96 HW: HP Deskjet 400
Up to Table of Contents
Ahead to 12/96 HW: Micro Solutions backpack 8X CD-ROM