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XPS 8100 2.8GHz and SB X-Fi Xtreme PCI Express Issues. (Crackling, stuttering and popping)

I am aiming this as help to those who are as I have just done searched for a solution also an open letter to Dell and Creative for the lost time they have caused me by not giving good information. Oh! and yes, a blanking plate for my machine please!

I took delivery of my machine in March 2010. I dad a few issues with software configuration that I have solved with further investigation and fixing myself. As Dell technical support have never responded to any issue that I have had. I have been a hardware device driver Engineer for over eighteen years so for me technical support is a route to a knowledge base and a quick fix when they have one.

The problem with the Creative Technology SB X-Fi Xtreme HD Audio Controller PCI Express version became serious in December 2009.  I have read fifty to sixty online attempts to fix the problem by downloading new drivers, optimising Windows settings to changing the PCI bus latency intervals. I have tried most of them and in a minority of cases this has worked. So beware of false Gods online. As I have used regression testing on many of the fixes ( testing many fixes in combination and alone). It has now become clear to me as Creative still haven't fixed the problem that I inherited in March 2010 they are struggling big time with some type of hardware issues. Note the word issues because there are a few that I can see.

The card and driver has a problem with memory over 3Gb, hence the issue with 64 bit systems over 3Gb of RAM. The second big one seems to be PCI hardware based. They first tried to blame nVidia cards on the PCI Express bus. The fix seemed to be using nHancer , a peice of software that nVidia do not support, to change  graphic cards settings such as clock timings. Did nobody think to point out that other sound cards like Asus Xonar didn't need this? I have an ATI 5770 and I have the problem  so not just nVidia. More likely a driver or hardware PCI problem on the bus. To support that I am now using the on-board Realtek and ripping and tearing to my grahpics has be all but eliminated. So it is likely that the sound card is hammering the bus in some way. Some motherboards seem to be ok with this many more cause the sound problems. Just my look my Dell motherboard (OT568R) simply hates what is happening on the PCI bus.

Microsoft removed some Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) stuff in Vista/Window 7. This seems to have caused Creative Technology some big problems driver wise. Memory management can be a real pain in Windows device drivers. Lots to move and so little time to do it. This seems to be an issue with the SB X-Fi Xtreme drivers as people who have eliminated the problem are using 3Gb and less of RAM. I have 8Gb of RAM and that is staying where it is thank you very much.

Settings changes I have tried and tried and tried.... I use Gamebooster to remove anything that might know how to steal a single clock cycle from my processor. They all just delay the inevitable tin can noise warning that if you don't stop now the system  might crash.

I recently got an automatic driver update dated August 2009. If it fixed something don't ask me what it was. That is latest I have seen from Creative Technologies anywhere.

Lastly to Dell why did you not notice these problems. They had already become well known in December 2009. You built and shipped mine in March 2010. You should be giving Creative some flak over this surely. We are your customers and if a problem like this is AFFECTING!  your valued customers then get us some pay back. You should have been aware of this problem last December and stopped shipping these cards until a solution was found. Can you send me a spare blanking plate for the rear of my machine as there is no point in leaving that card in there using power.  The final insult to injury was the THX audio enhancer by Creative. I could never get it working with the SB X-Fi Xtreme by Creative. Guess what!  It works great with the onboard Realtek. What is going on?

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9 Replies
8 Krypton

Re: XPS 8100 2.8GHz and SB X-Fi Xtreme PCI Express Issues. (Crackling, stuttering and popping)

I didn't read your verbose post completely.  But the popping and crackling is a universal problem on many PC's from all vendors, not just a Dell problem.  There are many posts on the Windows 7 forum from users with the popping and crackling problems.  

I have a "professional" MAudio USB audio interface unit (for recording studio) and the MAudio site has a big write up on potential problems with popping and crackling.   On the Sonar (recording software) forum there are posts about various professional audio interfaces and popping and crackling.

The 3GB RAM limit was fixed by driver updates from Creative (SoundBlaster) and it too is not a "Dell only" issue.  If the last update you have is 2009, you are out of date.

The THX audio enhancement is a software enhancement to the on board audio.  If you have a SoundBlaster Xfi you do not need the enhancement as most of what it does is already incorporated in the Xfi.   I have an Xfi sound card and there are seveal audio enhancement options available.



I am not a Dell Employee

Dell forum member since 2002

Dell Inspiron 15 - 5577 Laptop

Home Built Desktop PC with ASUS ROG Z170, i7 6700K CPU

Windows 10 64 bit Pro and Windows 10 Insider Program Beta Versions. SSD drives. Cakewalk by BandLab and Studio One 4.1 Recordng Studio Software.

Dell S2719dgf Monitor

Member of Nashville based R.O.P.E.

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Not applicable

Re: XPS 8100 2.8GHz and SB X-Fi Xtreme PCI Express Issues. (Crackling, stuttering and popping)

You need to read things before you jump. This only concerns X-Fi PCI Express cards as clearly stated. Secondly I do say that this is an issue with many motherboards not just Dell. Some are very expensive top end and they suffer the same effects. Lastly, where did you see that the memory issue was fixed. As the last driver did not fix it? Can you post a link.

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8 Krypton

Re: XPS 8100 2.8GHz and SB X-Fi Xtreme PCI Express Issues. (Crackling, stuttering and popping)

It was fixed originally, in a "Beta" release, according to users posts on here late last year.   The Beta is no longer available but there is a later driver version available.   I don't see any more posts on the Windows 7 forum with complaints about the memory limitation issue. 

Your post is so long that it's hard to read and if you just have the one issue, why didin't you just post that?   We are users helping users on here, not Dell employees and a Rant about other things has nothing to do with us trying to resolve or help resolve problems.



I am not a Dell Employee

Dell forum member since 2002

Dell Inspiron 15 - 5577 Laptop

Home Built Desktop PC with ASUS ROG Z170, i7 6700K CPU

Windows 10 64 bit Pro and Windows 10 Insider Program Beta Versions. SSD drives. Cakewalk by BandLab and Studio One 4.1 Recordng Studio Software.

Dell S2719dgf Monitor

Member of Nashville based R.O.P.E.

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Not applicable

Re: XPS 8100 2.8GHz and SB X-Fi Xtreme PCI Express Issues. (Crackling, stuttering and popping)

This is not just a rant at Dell. Although as I pointed out this has been an issue since the middle of last year. Just type Google search 'sb X-Fi xtreme crackling'. There are pages of stuff asking for help. I have over the last few months  taken some time to look at the main hardware based sites. As they generally understand hardware issues better. A lot of people with Dell systems are on there. I looked on hear and saw that the issues were not as up to date as the other sites. So I passed on what I had found on here.

As you say the beta was removed. I guess that didn't work then! I have the latest drive for PCI Express installed. As you say crackling and popping can happen on any sound card if the system is badly configured. However, the problem I am addressing here is specific to this type of card. Many people have been grappling with this for months. The solution is that Creative fix the problem in their driver.  If they can, if not this needs to be addressed as a call back by Creative. The most infuriating thing is that they have said nothing for over a year now.

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Re: XPS 8100 2.8GHz and SB X-Fi Xtreme PCI Express Issues. (Crackling, stuttering and popping)

Ok these are some of the relevant links for finding information.

This is latest driver available on the web:-

http://support.creative.com/downloads/?h=7

If you are lucky you will get an automatic update to August 2009 as I did. However it did not fix my system.

This is the explanation from Creative about PCI latency on NVidia 4 :-

http://support.creative.com/kb/ShowArticle.aspx?url=http://ask.creative.com:80/SRVS/CGI-BIN/WEBCGI.exe/,/?St=94,E=0000000000401019299,K=1898,Sxi=6,Answer81897=obj(81897):obj(81901)

However, as I have already pointed out my Dell motherboard does the same. Maybe they are based on the same technology. I can't find any information about it on the Dell site.

Finally this is one of the most interesting forums on the issues I have found. Some good things to try that get more desperate as they go on. The memory under 4Gb works but that sort of defeats what I am trying to do. As I can go with my Realtek before downgrading memory. Even if it's only for that boot and run.

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Not applicable

Re: XPS 8100 2.8GHz and SB X-Fi Xtreme PCI Express Issues. (Crackling, stuttering and popping)

Ok these are some of the relevant links for finding information.

This is latest driver available on the web:-

http://support.creative.com/downloads/?h=7

If you are lucky you will get an automatic update to August 2009 as I did. However it did not fix my system.

This is the explanation from Creative about PCI latency on NVidia 4 :-

http://support.creative.com/kb/ShowArticle.aspx?url=http://ask.creative.com:80/SRVS/CGI-BIN/WEBCGI.exe/,/?St=94,E=0000000000401019299,K=1898,Sxi=6,Answer81897=obj(81897):obj(81901)

However, as I have already pointed out my Dell motherboard does the same. Maybe they are based on the same technology. I can't find any information about it on the Dell site.

Finally this is one of the most interesting forums on the issues I have found. Some good things to try that get more desperate as they go on. The memory under 4Gb works but that sort of defeats what I am trying to do. As I can go with my Realtek before downgrading memory. Even if it's only for that boot and run.

 http://social.answers.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/w7hardware/thread/e09dc96d-93d7-4238-ac93-70da57441497

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Starchecker
1 Nickel

Re: XPS 8100 2.8GHz and SB X-Fi Xtreme PCI Express Issues. (Crackling, stuttering and popping)

Sorry to hear about your problem, but it is very interesting in light of what I am looking to do.

I notice on the Dell XPS 9100 systems, they won't let you put a sound blaster with the ATI 5770 but they will with the 5670 or 5870.  It took awhile, at first tech support was telling me the 5770 memory speed is incompatible with the XFI, but then it seemed to be a physical limitation, that the 5770 must interfere with the PCIe slot, but the 5770 looks to be about the same size as the 5870 so doesn't make much sense.

I also notice you can't add a SB card to the XPS8100.

I want to get a new computer, but I also want to make sure I can upgrade to a SB XFI.

Did you ever get it all resolved?

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Not applicable

Re: XPS 8100 2.8GHz and SB X-Fi Xtreme PCI Express Issues. (Crackling, stuttering and popping)

Hi,

No, this is now a well known problem with the SB XFi PCIe sound card . It also happens with nVidia graphics cards so the type of ATI card is unlikely to make a difference. In fact the 5870 might increase the load on the PCIe bus during game play. It only occurs when the system is stressed as in games or editing large sound samples such as recording studio type stuff.

I am using the onboard Realtek for stressed situations and The SB when sound quality is required. This means I have to reconfigure the cards and do a reset.

It seems unlikely that creative will be able to fix this problem as they have I assume been trying to so for over a year. A very bad sign in device driver development terms.

Regards,     

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bobadamson
1 Copper

Re: XPS 8100 2.8GHz and SB X-Fi Xtreme PCI Express Issues. (Crackling, stuttering and popping)

The problem with the Soundblaster PCIe XFi is so bad that I have taken mine out and sold it on Ebay. The clicks and bangs are just too loud to put up with and they happen at anytime, not just when game playing but even when doing simple things such as closing an Explorer window.

The problem is a combination of the sound card itself, the motherboard and the bios, and comes down to the bus not being able to feed the card with sound data quickly enough under some loading conditions. Quite simply the card and the Dell 8100 are incompatible and after over a year of trying you can be sure that Creative are not going to be able to fix it.

Sad but there it is - in this case it is obvious that Dell have not tested the Soundblaster for compatibility. Anyone reading this make sure that you don't buy an XPS8100 with the X-Fi preinstalled as you will not like it.

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