Well, at least the drivers on Creative Z series has been pretty good thus far. Much different from the X-fi days, where things just downright didn't work, that's the reason why PAX drivers existed in the first place. So, give Creative a chance here. They have stepped up their game on the support side. Also, the Soundblaster Z IS 5.1 capable. Confirmed personally by connecting it to a Logitech Z5500. Also the digital out does go to 5.1 as well, again confirmed (just for testing, not my normal setup) with connecting a PS3 to the card with an optical cable in, then optical out to the Z5500. *EDIT* And since we're on the talk of 5.1 here, virtual surround sound for headphones does exist as well eventhough it isn't made clear by Creative. You really just need to go around the settings on the SBX control panel. The stark difference is however the vss on the Z is only limited to 5.1 (nothing a few tweaks to the ini won't solve), where as back on the X-fi you could get 7.1 (or 5.1 if you so choose).