ANALOG DEVICES RECENTLY published a document challenging reviewers not only to benchmark the CPU utilization of integrated audio solutions, but also to explore how well those implementations handle EAX positional 3D audio. According to the document, most motherboards don't handle EAX properly, despite the fact that they claim to support the standard. Analog Devices diplomatically avoids naming names, but with the vast majority of integrated audio solutions powered by Realtek codecs, the writing's on the wall.
The question, of course, is whether it's true. Analog Devices' whitepaper cites tests conducted in Creative's, er, labs, but we're not happy until we can explore an issue with our own systems in an environment we can control. So, we've rounded up a couple of nearly identical motherboards with Analog Devices and Realtek codecs to see how they handle EAX positional 3D audio, with conclusive results.