For XP and Vista, installing the soundcard drivers is pain-free and straightforward. Inserting the CD brings up the install-wizard prompt, which walks you through a basic install process. After the install, the soundcard is plug-and-play, and can be hot-swapped with no trouble; you just need to restart any audio programs that were open at the time of the switch. When the USB soundcard is attached, a SteelSeries logo appears in the taskbar, which provides access to the SteelSeries software as well as shortcuts to a variety of Windows utilities.
The USB soundcard comes with some of the more basic software capabilities of your typical expansion-slot soundcard, and is slightly more limited than the recent Realtek on-board chips that have been used on chipsets like 975x, 680i, and the more recent ones as well, like x38 and 780i.
In the main window, the virtual 7.1 surround speakers can be located and adjusted for volume. In the mixer section, there are basic volume and mute controls for the headphones and the microphone. The effects tab is a little more involved, giving special effects for environment and the environment size, as well as a nice equalizer. There are a few presets, as well as the option to save your own. Then, more for fun, there is a karaoke feature.
In all, the soundcard is very straightforward and gets the job done. Now that we've had a look at everything that the 5H v2 has to offer, let's wrap this review up with some words on usage and a conclusion.