Warning about Dell's Audigy 2 ZS

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Darryl, May 12, 2005.

  1. Darryl

    Darryl Stunt Coordinator

    Jun 17, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Dell isn't telling their customers the facts about their version of the Audigy 2 ZS, so I thought I'd warn any potential Dell customers about what they are really getting with this sound card.

    Unlike retail versions of the Audigy 2 ZS, Dell's version of the card does not have any hardware decoders for Dolby Digital, DTS, or WMA. Instead, they include a version of PowerDVD with a software DD decoder. This means that a) your CPU takes on the burden of decoding, b) you can't play anything DTS without the additional purchase of a software DTS decoder, c) you probably won't be able to play DTS CDs even if you do purchase a software DTS decoder, and d) some features of the included Creative software are either missing or don't work when you try to use them.

    Furthermore, only the Dell-supplied drivers work with Dell's card. If you try to download one from the Creative site it won't work. That means you miss out on any enhancements when Creative improves their drivers (and they've release a lot of updates to the Audigy 2 ZS, including one just last month).

    Considering Dell charges $70 to upgrade to this card, and you can get a non-crippled retail card for less than $100, I strongly recommend avoiding this upgrade.

    It's things like this that make people say that building your own machine is the only way to go. I still don't think that is universally true. I got a lot more machine for my money than I would have gotten from buying parts from newegg. But the difference between the retail version of this card and Dell's OEM version are so significant that it borders on illegal to give them the same name. I have looked all over the Dell site and haven't found a single place other than their user forums that indicate that the hardware decoders are missing. They never explicitly say they are there, but they do imply it in a couple of places, and they never say they are missing. They DO mention other differences from retail, like a missing MIDI dongle no one cares about, but they don't talk about the most significant missing features.

    You've been warned...
  2. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator

    Mar 4, 2001
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    One Loudoun, Ashburn, VA
    Real Name:
    David Fischer
    While not completely true, this is a good rule of thumb with all of Dell's hardware, including video cards and sound cards. I like Dell computers, but you have to take care when using the original manufacturer's drivers with Dell's version of the hardware. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. And Dell upgrades drivers more slowly than the original manufacturer.
  3. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    Would you see this as a common practice
    amongst computer companies?

    I just ordered a computer through Velocity Micro
    and added the Audigy 2 Z Platinum. Reading
    your post I am concerned that I may not get
    the original drivers intended for this card.

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