Category Archives: Drivers

Driver releases

Creative Labs turning a new page in history?

I’m pretty sure we’ve all had Creative soundcards in our systems at one point. I’ve started with Sound Blaster 128 back in 1998. And continued this with Sound Blaster Live! 5.1, Audigy 4 Value, X-Fi Xtreme Music and Auzentech X-Fi Forte which was based on X-Fi chip, but with higher quality DAC’s, OP-Amps and audio capacitors. I’ve also had Diamond Monster II with Aureal Vortex and ASUS Xonar Essence STX in between, but that’s for some other time.

Things really changed when I’ve gone back to Sound Blaster with the newly released Sound Blaster Z series at that time. These were the first Creative Labs soundcard series which had zero problems on my system with any kind of audio, be it games or general multimedia. I literally never experienced anything serious with it. That was a good start. Then Sound BlasterX AE-5 happened. Probably the most advanced soundcard made by Creative after X-Fi, capable of outputting 32bit audio at 384kHz and having DSP unit capable of processing 32bit 96kHz audio. They crammed really high end components on it, the sorts you find in Class-D amplifiers. It even makes clicking sound as you’re switching audio/speaker modes and it’s switching circuitry, just like on high end amplifiers. But that’s no surprise, Creative has made high end soundcards before…

What’s really different this time seems to be the part which Creative has been lacking for years and decades. Software and tech support. If you got 2 updates a year and actually got a full driver for new version of Windows, it was basically a miracle. Creative just didn’t even bother. Software was often really buggy, problematic to install and use. Tech support? LOL, what is (was) that?

I’ve had Sound BlasterX AE-5 since October 2017 and what I can clearly confirm is the rate at which Creative is releasing updates for it. To this date, I’ve received 5 driver updates since its launch in August 2017. Last one just released on 9th February 2018. That’s more drivers than 2 old series of soundcards from the past combined! In just half a year time. I’ve also contacted their tech support during this time because AE-5 had a bit buggy software since it’s rocking whole new interface. And they always responded within a day and in case of microphone problems even supplied me a solution and in next update fixed the actual issue. They also dramatically improved installer which is ultra fast now and feels way less problematic than before. And for the new Creative Connect 2 control panel, they listened to our wishes and added few things that were necessary but missing at first (like more user defined EQ presets and not just a single “Custom”). And goodies like Filter mode for the DAC’s which just appeared out of nowhere in the Connect 2.

I have no clue how a long term software support for AE-5 will be, but if they continue this trend and actually provide this kind of level of software and support in the future, things are looking pretty bright for Creative. People won’t have to be scared of buying an expensive soundcard and finding out it’s just a nice paperweight after 2 years or when new major Windows version is released. I guess motherboard makers integrating more and more capable soundcards pressured them into being more active with software support if they want to sell more stand alone soundcards.

If you want an excellent soundcard that actually has superb driver support this moment, get Sound BlasterX AE-5 for sure. Time will tell, but this certainly surprised me. It was about time, damn it. 🙂

New Sound Blaster Z drivers released!

Been quite a while since last driver release of drivers for Sound Blaster Z. And Creative just released a new update. The changelog is as cryptic as the one ASUS releases for their devices…

Changes for version

  • Bug fixes and general improvements for Windows® 10


SnailDriver, super fast driver updater

Yeah yeah, I know that is a general belief that these driver updaters are garbage and that they always break stuff. Well, sometimes you have an unrecognized device listed and you can’t figure out which one it is. For such situations, these tools are excellent. Or you’re just one of those freaks like me who just wants all drivers fully updated.

I’ve posted Iobit Driver Booster in the past, but I think this one is even better, easier to use and with less clutter in the interface. Found it today by pure coincidence while I was browsing for some other tools.

It’s called SnailDriver and it’s a small, but very fast and minimalistic driver updater.


I’ve tested it on 3 systems, 1x AMD based and 2x Intel based and it worked pretty damn well. Updated all drivers super fast and with ease and while there were minor issues with the app, they weren’t show stopping problems. It’s a new app, it’ll get fixed soon for sure.

Few minor issues:

  • Intel SST Audio Device driver causes audio device on Windows tablets (HP X2, ACER Iconia W4) inoperable. Had to rollback the driver manually (not an issue with SnailDriver as I’ve experienced it before).
  • System Restore points don’t get created reliably despite this setting being enabled in SnailDriver. I recommend making it manually just to be sure.
  • Sometimes you have to repeat scans to find new drivers that require updating. Not a huge issue, but should be checked.

Give it a try, it’s pretty good and can come in handy quite often 🙂

Official webpage:

New Sound Blaster Z drivers released!

It has been almost a year since last Sound Blaster Z driver release and despite being totally problem free, new drivers are always welcome. I love hoarding fresh drivers 😀

Anyway, Creative hasn’t released anything specific, just “bug fixes and general improvements” for this new drivers release version Which basically means these drivers give you 300% more framerate 😀 Just kidding. 🙂



ADI SoundMax BlackHawk Audio Driver

This is one of the rarest, hard to find drivers for Analog Devices SoundMax Audio chips with included BlackHawk control panel which features SonicFocus audio enhancements for deeper bass and richer sound.

I’m using a rather ancient ASUS Rampage II Gene motherboard with ADI AD2000b audio chip and these drivers are the latest I could ever find with BlackHawk panel (others are the same version without BlackHawk). They are specified as Windows 7 drivers, however I’m just using them on Windows 8.1 64bit and everything works perfectly. ASUS switched to Realtek after this so everyone still on SoundMax are stuck with this one…

I’ve been hosting it on my OneDrive for ages but forgot to make a blog post about it. Hope this will help people get it working again.

BlackHawk Control Panel


Details for Analog Devices (ADI) SoundMax BlackHawk Audio Driver

Provider: Analog Devices (ADI)

Driver version:

Driver date: 2009/05/21

BlackHawk Control Panel (SonicFocus): YES

Supported OS: Windows Vista/7/8/8.1/10 (32bit and 64bit)

Supported audio chip: ADI AD2000b (may work on others)

Update (2015-07-17):

I have just tested this driver pack on Windows 10 64bit and it’s working flawlessly. Installation went without any problems, device is detected as SoundMax HD and SonicFocus audio enhancements function as well. This is good news for all the SoundMax users!

To enhance compatibility of playing music in media player while playing games on Win10 with SoundMax, do the following:

Right click volume icon next ot the clock and select “Playback devices”. Select active SoundMax HD device and click Properties button and then go to Advanced tab. Change the sampling to 24 bit and 96000 Hz and click OK.

This resolved music playback corruption in MusicBee while playing Infinifactory. It might apply to other games as well.


Driver Download Link

AMD Catalyst 15.15 Fury and 390X modded driver

AMD released new Catalyst driver version 15.15 which is designed for AMD Radeon Fury and R9-390X cards. But clever people have modified the INF file to support all AMD graphic cards (tested and working on my HD7950). I’ve also replaced certain files to ensure DXVA hardware video acceleration.


New Sound Blaster Z drivers 1.00.28 released!

I’ve just noticed Creative released new drivers for Sound Blaster Z soundcards today. It’s now version 1.00.28 and they are WHQL certified.

Creative is being very secretive regarding included enhancements and fixes, but hey, they are new drivers and new is always better than old.


Just pick your Sound Blaster Z model through their menus and download the latest version.

AMD Catalyst Omega 14.12 WHQL released!

So, the highly anticipated AMD Catalyst Omega drivers have finally landed. And yes, they actually have Omega in the name and no, they are not in any way related to the old community modded Omega drivers. They feature several interesting features like…

VSR (Virtual Super Resolution)

AMD_VSR_SLIDE1Basically this is the same as NVIDIA’s DSR. It renders the image at 4K and downscales it to 1080p on the output. It convinces games that your display can render higher resolution than it actually supports, so the game has to offer you option for 4K. All fine and well, except it only works with R9 290 cards. Srsly? Where is that “all GCN cards will get the same treatment” from the past?. HD7900 series are GCN powered. And yet we got screwed. It’s good that in the future I’ll get this feature if I decide to buy another Radeon, but why screw the existing HD7900 users? Which also includes R9-280 users because it is based upon HD7900 series. I’ve been with AMD for the last several generations of GPU’s. Do you think I’d not buy another Radeon if I get VSR now on my HD7950? If that was the case, I’d already have GTX 970 in my box. But I don’t, because I’ve decided to wait for AMD’s response with R9-300 series when it gets out. Maybe HD7900 doesn’t have the 4K grunt for modern games, but there are older games that we play and that would greatly benefit from VSR. Anyway…

Improved Frame Pacing

AMD_FP_SLIDE2Supposedly only for multi card configurations, improving many games smoothness. They list Tomb Raider, Metro series, Batman Arkham Origins, Sniper Elite 3 and more. We’ll see if it makes any difference on single GPU…

AMD Fluid Motion Video

AMD_FLUIDMV_SLIDE3This feature is basically what high end LCD TV’s do, interpolate missing frames and make videos super smooth and sharp during motion. Something like Philips Perfect Natural Motion or LG’s TruMotion. Only downside is that it only works in Cyberlink PowerDVD 14. Which makes it kinda useless considering I never used that thing and never will. Media Player Classic Home Theater (MPC HC) or VLC support would make tons more sense…

Video filtering and 1080p Detail Enhancement

AMD_CR_SLIDE4AMD_1080PENH_SLIDE5These features enhance video quality and are available for regular common media players that use DXVA and also work on HD7900 series. Which is nice.

4K Ultra HD Upscaling

AMD_UHD_SLIDE6It gives ability to upscale 1080p video into 4K, enhance it and display it on your 4K monitor or 4K TV. I have a 4K Philips LCD, but since I’m on HD7900, I’m out of luck yet again…

Performance Enhancements

AMD claims 19% average framerate improvements which sounds like a lot, but TechPowerUp tests proved a bit differently. You can check it out here: Synthetic tests Game tests

While the differences aren’t all that big I’m still going to use it since I use latest drivers all the time. It has worked well so far so why not. I just wish they’d focus less on R9 only. I get it, it’s their current high end, but by supporting your older userbase, you’re showing them your long term commitment. Showing that you care. And it means a lot to me and is a great factor when I’m considering my next upgrade. If I’m being treated well as a customer even when I don’t have the latest and most expensive graphic card, I sure will buy a new high end card from the same company when I’ll consider my next upgrade. So far AMD showed decent support, but I’d wish  for a bit more…


AMD Catalyst 14.6 BETA released!

AMD has released a new Catalyst driver package version 14.6 BETA. Most significant changes are removal of the Windows 8 support, so make sure you update your Windows to Windows 8.1 Update 1 which is currently the latest version. It’s just so much better, so I’m wondering why you haven’t done so already 😛 Other important changes are quite big performance improvements, mostly for R9-290 series, but maybe even older HD7xxx users will benefit from it. Who knows, I will update anyway as I always do. Oh and AMD also added support for GPU accelerated JPEG images decoding, resulting in twice as fast JPEG images rendering. Too bad only a limited set of APU’s and GPU’s is supported, so I don’t think my older AMD E-450 will be getting any love from it.

Feature Highlights of The AMD Catalyst 14.6 Beta Driver for Windows

  • Performance improvements
    • Watch Dogs performance improvements
      • AMD Radeon R9 290X – 1920×1080 4x MSAA – improves up to 25%
      • AMD Radeon R9290X – 2560×1600 4x MSAA – improves up to  28%
      • AMD Radeon R9290X CrossFire configuration (3840×2160 Ultra settings, MSAA = 4X)  – 92% scaling
    • Murdered Soul Suspect performance improvements
      • AMD Radeon R9 290X – 2560×1600 4x MSAA – improves up to 16%
      • AMD Radeon R9290X CrossFire configuration (3840×2160 Ultra settings, MSAA = 4X)  – 93% scaling
  • AMD Eyefinity enhancements:
    • Mixed Resolution Support
      • A new architecture providing brand new capabilities
      • Display groups can be created with monitors of different resolution  (including difference sizes and shapes)
      • Users have a choice of how surface is created over the display group
        1. Fill – legacy mode, best for identical monitors
        2. Fit – create the Eyefinity surface using best available rectangular area with attached displays.
        3. Expand – create a virtual Eyefinity surface using desktops as viewports onto the surface.
    • Eyefinity Display Alignment
      • Enables control over alignment between adjacent monitors
    • One-Click Setup
      • Driver detects layout of extended desktops
        1. Can create Eyefinity display group using this layout in one click!
  • New user controls for video color and display settings
    • Greater control over Video Color Management:
      • Controls have been expanded from a single slider for controlling Boost and Hue to per color axis
    • Color depth control for Digital Flat Panels (available on supported HDMI and DP displays)
      • Allows users to select different color depths per resolution and display
  • AMD Mantle enhancements
    • Mantle now supports AMD Mobile products with Enduro technology
      • Battlefield 4:  AMD Radeon HD 8970M (1366×768; high settings) – 21% gain
      • Thief: AMD Radeon HD 8970M (1920×1080; high settings) – 14% gain
      • Star Swarm:  AMD Radeon HD 8970M (1920×1080; medium settings) – 274% gain
    • Enables support for Multi-GPU configurations with Thief (requires the latest Thief update)
  • AMD AM1 JPEG decoding acceleration
    • JPEG decoding acceleration was first enabled on the A10 APU Series in AMD Catalyst 14.1 beta, and has now been extended to the AMD AM1 Platform
    • Provides fast JPEG decompression
    • Provides Power Efficiency for JPEG decompression

Known Issues  

  • Running Watch Dogs with a R9 280X CrossFire configuration may result in the application running in CrossFire software compositing mode
  • Enabling Temporal SMAA in the AMD Catalyst Control center under a CrossFire configuration when playing Watch Dogs will result in Flickering
  • AMD CrossFire configurations with Eyefinity enabled will see application stability with BattleField 4 or Thief when running Mantle
  • Catalyst Install Manager text is covered by Express/Custom radio button text
  • Express Uninstall does not remove C:\Program Files\(AMD or ATI) folder


AMD driver webpage is experiencing some weird problems, which makes only a 64bit version available for download. I hope they will soon fix the webpage problems…