PCIe sound cards are still only trickling out, so it's good to see another one; and this new card from Auzentech has some interesting features. The X-Fi Forte 7.1 has, as the name suggests, an X-Fi chip from Creative and in this case it's one of the new 20K2 processors with native PCIe support.
Auzentech has also added 64MB of X-RAM to the Forte 7.1, a feature we'd like to see on more Creative based sound cards, although there's still not enough support in computer games to really make it a great feature, but it has a lot of potential.
As this is a low-profile card, it only has three connectors on the back, a combined coaxial/optical S/PDIF, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a custom D-sub connector to which a break-out cable can be connected. The break-out cable adds 7.1-channel analog outputs as well as a mic and a line input. To use the optical S/PDIF out, Auzentech supplies a 3.5mm to TOSLINK adaptor and you also get a TOSLINK cable with the card.
For those interested in using this card in a standard slot, an alternative bracket is also supplied with the card that allows for this. The MSRP for the Forte 7.1 is US$149.99 (€119) which is similar to Creative's new-ish X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty card. The X-Fi Forte 7.1 is expected to start shipping this month.
You can find the product page here