Originally Posted by denyart
Yes. The 7.1 is a pre-amp card (no amplifiers to drive speakers). The 5.1 is an actual amp card. It sounds crazy, but that is supposed to be able to run 5 non-amplified speakers right from the computer amp card. The 7.1 needs to be hooked to an amp. It is line-level only.
Yep, Denyart has it, 7.1 is pre amp, 5.1 is amplified. And, yes it does drive passive speakers directly from the card without any issues.
I have several in testing right now and 1 at home.
On my home system, I am running the Infinity Primus 160 (R&L), C250 (center) and Difinitive Cinama Pro 80 (Surround) and it sounds great. Sub is 10" Polk (sub is active). Card has more than enough power to drive the speakers for my 15 x 15 room. Even in a larger area, the Amp should work nicely.
In my test beds at work, I am running various sets of speakers from JBL, Polk, Cambridge Soundworks, etc. and they all sound great.