if you're handy with a soldering iron, you should be good enough
for the list of cards to avoid, the xtreme gamer is the model that is directly replacing the xtreme music; the xtreme music is no longer in production. it also has the x-fi audio processor (i did some more looking around to make sure of this). i can't really speak for the statement on lower quality components though. actually, from the head-fi point of view, where people want the digital out and such, the xtreme gamer would be one to avoid since i dont think it has it. the difference between the xtreme gamer and xtrememusic is the fewer outputs on the xtreme gamer and the lower profile of the xtreme gamer.