I appreciate the advice on products, and will keep that in mind for later on for sure. I guess the big two are Asus and Creative right now.
However, does anyone know how the ALC1150 in the chipset stacks up against using an XtremeMusic? Logically I could see using a dedicated card regardless of age as being better, but I could also see onboard sound having been improved enough to rival or outdo such an old card's tech. I just don't know enough about what goes in to the technology for audio.