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Hardware  » Soundcards - Should we want them?

10 posts found
  Castillle

Forum Bunny

Joined: 10/24/10
Posts: 2678

 
OP  4/27/12 2:38:34 PM#1

So while I was disassembling one of my cousins old pcs, I saw something I havent seen in a LONG time.  A sound card.  And I remember in the old days, these soundcards made things sound really good compared to the built in audio.  Is that still the case today? 

Should I bother with a USB soundcard considering I wont have a pci slot for it?  Or should that be left for the audiophile community or people who actually need studio quality sound?

Do you guys use discrete sound cards?  And are USB ones better than PCI?  I would expect them to have the same quality since majority of the ones I find use PCIx4 or the super tiny version...

 

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  RollieJoe

Advanced Member

Joined: 3/31/05
Posts: 398

4/27/12 2:42:21 PM#2

It will depend in large part on your speaker setup.  If you are using regular headphones, computer speakers, or built in monitor speakers, then any decent motherboard made in the last 5 years will have on-board sound that will be just fine.

 

If you have a really nice surround sound setup for your gaming PC, or one of those fancy $200 headsets, and sound quality in gaming is a big deal to you (or if you watch bluray on your PC, etc.) then springing for a nice sound card probably still makes sense.

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13113

4/27/12 2:49:14 PM#3
My recommendation is to try the onboard sound first, and don't get a discrete sound card unless you decide that the onboard sound isn't good enough.
  Nevulus

Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/23/06
Posts: 1202

4/27/12 2:52:20 PM#4

yeah the built-in soundcards today are miles ahead of what we had back in the days. Albeit a dedicated soundcard may net you 3-5 fps in certain games. In theory, the burden on the cpu is lessened with a dedicated soundcard. I would assume that now-a-days cpus are powerful enough to be able to handle double duty with no hesitation. 

Full disclosure, I have an external Focusrite audio interface and saw a miniscule fps increase when compared to my internal soundcard.

  Trionicus

Novice Member

Joined: 1/31/12
Posts: 488

4/27/12 3:50:39 PM#5
Originally posted by Nevulus

yeah the built-in soundcards today are miles ahead of what we had back in the days. Albeit a dedicated soundcard may net you 3-5 fps in certain games. In theory, the burden on the cpu is lessened with a dedicated soundcard. I would assume that now-a-days cpus are powerful enough to be able to handle double duty with no hesitation. 

Full disclosure, I have an external Focusrite audio interface and saw a miniscule fps increase when compared to my internal soundcard.

How was the actual quality of sound in comparison?

  Castillle

Forum Bunny

Joined: 10/24/10
Posts: 2678

 
OP  4/27/12 9:04:26 PM#6
Ill definitely try the onboard sound first but I am really curious to the difference between on board and the discrete sound @_@

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  Ridelynn

Elite Member

Joined: 12/19/10
Posts: 3303

4/29/12 12:03:31 AM#7

Mostly the difference is in the amplifiers (which provide the power to drive headphones and line out signals) and DAC's (which convert digital computer signals into sound waves).

Onboard sound uses all of these, and generally are the same as lower end dedicated sound devices (both PCI and USB). You have to get into the higher end stuff (the high end SB's, M-Audio, high end Turtle Beach stuff) to get better amplifiers and DACs - the stuff that's getting near studio recording quality.

What I tell most people - if they can tell the difference between a CD and MP3, and that difference bothers them, then invest in the dedicated sound with good speakers and a dedicated amp. If MP3's are fine, or your just using your run-of-the-mill Logitech speakers, then use on-board.

  simonwest80

Novice Member

Joined: 4/07/11
Posts: 173

4/30/12 2:52:13 AM#8

I havent had a sound card since the days of that onboard sound was getting pretty good (about the last 10years).  A strange driver issue on my new system forced me to get a sound card.  I was generally shocked with the improvement and this was on a pair of cheap ass creative head phones.  No it wont make much difference playing your mp3s but for playing games it introduced a much more immersive feel to the sound.  Again most genres of games wont see much difference but for FPS's a semi decent sound card for £35 is better than onboard sound.  In the last few months i have spent £50 and my sound experience has increased by 100%.

I got this sound card:

http://www.scan.co.uk/products/creative-labs-sb-x-fi-xtreme-audio-pci-express-x1-new-version

And these head phones

http://www.scan.co.uk/products/creative-fatal1ty-hs-800-v2-gaming-headset-with-mic

So not bank breaking but for someone who doesnt usually give a !#$% about sound a massive improvement.

  gameguy369

Advanced Member

Joined: 8/19/09
Posts: 444

5/01/12 1:43:03 AM#9

Onboard sound is good enough for 99% of people. Personally, I like having the absolute best, so I have a Claro Halo sound card driving my Sennheiser HD595's. Keep in mind, my headphones benefit GREATLY from an amp, so a sound card with a good builtin amp makes a pretty solid difference for me.

 

Is it worth the money I put into it for the difference in sound? Maybe not - but I enjoy it.

  wrightstuf

Novice Member

Joined: 8/12/09
Posts: 708

5/01/12 1:46:55 AM#10
Most new motherboards these days have very good onboard sound. Unless you're a true audiophile, there really isnt a need for a card