My experience, if it helps.
- The clicking DMA noise is not as bad, compared with the overall quality of the digital audio of the time, I'd say it's several orders of magnitude less annoying than other issues like the hanging note bug or the fake FM sound.
- "Stuttering with high-rate samples", I could never reproduce this issue, tested with AWE32 3900 (CT1747 chip) and both XG50DB and CM-500, and the games Duke Nukem 3D and Ultimate Doom, which (I think) have above 11KHz samples. Let me know if there is any solid way to reproduce these issues. I remember reading another user with a 3900 reporting the same.
- There is an additional issue, not exclusive to Creative but maybe important to consider in this topic: OPL3 compatibility with fast computers
In fast machines the OPL3 music will generate horrible noise. Some cards are worse than others, my 2760 starts behaving at 133MHz on some games, my 3900 is rock solid on 550Mhz with 100Mhz bus. Some motherboards, Asus especially, have an option on BIOS to set "8-bit I/O recovery time", and this can mitigate the issue, but the option is usually missing from other manufacturers.
I suspect one of the reasons for many sound card manufacturers to go for fake FM sound is to mitigate this issue. The CQM present in late AWE32 and AWE64 cards allows those to work flawlessly on faster machines of the time.
One last thing, I think this topic should be pinned in the audio section, the work done by James-F documenting the Sound Blaster issues is top quality and I wish I knew this info many years (and cards) ago.