ASUS Xonar U7 7.1 USB Sound Card Review
Listening Tests: Games
Aliens vs Predator
BattleField: Bad Company 2
Borderlands 1 & 2
Just Cause 2
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Call of Duty: Ghosts
Metro: Last Light
Assassins Creed: Black Flag
It may not be a ‘Republic of Gamers’ branded device, but as with most of the Xonar line, the U7 is first and foremost a PC gaming orientated soundcard which simply has music enhancements added on to broaden its appeal. In this regard it is a resounding success. ASUS have spent a lot of time and effort on improving the software capabilities of their Xonar line and the U7 is no exception. When compared to the typical onboard sound solution that ships with most mid-range motherboards, the Xonar U7 is noticeably better. The difference is even more noticeable when it’s lined up against a typical laptop or other portable system.
The only user who won’t be completely impressed is someone who owns an extremely high end motherboard, a gaming notebook with built-in audio enhancements or a dedicated sound card. For example our mITX ASUS Maximus VI Impact has a broader soundstage than the Xonar U7, as do dedicated gaming motherboards like the Gigabyte Z87 G1.Sniper.
Bullets whizzing by overhead, the sound of footsteps creeping up behind the player, and all the other telltales that make a game immersive were present in spades with the U7. Honestly, if we didn’t know a USB based device was being used we would have assumed the sound came from an older generation PCIe add-in card. By the same token, modern day stand alone cards are better than the U7. With that in mind, ASUS’ new external solution has drastically changed out opinion of gaming-oriented USB soundcards
More importantly, this device simply works. In every game we threw at it, the Xonar U7 was recognized and we were instantly able to make use of its unique abilities, sans driver tweaking, registry modding, or anything else that sometimes happens when dealing with USB based audio solutions. Overall this combination of ease of use, and increased performance left us impressed.