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Dedicated sound card vs onboard?

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  • Components
  • Sound Cards
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January 10, 2014 8:06:59 PM

Hi there,

Currently i have the Asus Z87-PRO Intel Z87 ATX Haswell Socket 1150 Motherboard and am wondering how the onboard audio stacks up or whether I would be better placed purchasing a sound card.

Have heard alot of good things about the creative x-fi ones

Regards

More about : dedicated sound card onboard

January 10, 2014 8:16:23 PM

Buy a sound card if:
- you have excellent ears, expensive headphones or speakers, a quiet room (no car sounds from outside), a near-silent PC
- you listen to music a lot and it's in WAV format, not lossy formats like MP3

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January 10, 2014 8:19:36 PM

Sound cards aren't as relevant as they used to be, thanks to the improvement in onboard audio chips over the years. If you have a fantastic set of headphones or speakers you may notice some difference, though I'm selling my sound card since I didn't notice the difference when I removed it. Maybe my ears aren't up to it; as with anything YMMV. But if the current sound is good to your ears, it shouldn't be a pressing need to upgrade.
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January 10, 2014 8:32:19 PM

I noticed a HUGE DIFFERENCE between my onboard sound (Z77 Sabertooth) and my Auzentech X-Fi Forte. I had the Forte for over two years, then tested the onboard for the Z77 during an upgrade and it sounded HORRIBLE to me. Anything with much BASS was muffled and both movies and games sounded much worse.

The latest Realtek solutions are a bit better but still not up to the level of a good sound card. SupremeFX is based on the latest Realtek I just found out as I'd assumed it was based on Asus' own solutions.

I do have great monitors (speakers) though: M-AUDIO AV40 stereo.
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January 10, 2014 8:34:46 PM

photonboy said:
I noticed a HUGE DIFFERENCE between my onboard sound (Z77 Sabertooth) and my Auzentech X-Fi Forte. I had the Forte for over two years, then tested the onboard for the Z77 during an upgrade and it sounded HORRIBLE to me. Anything with much BASS was muffled and both movies and games sounded much worse.

The latest Realtek solutions are a bit better but still not up to the level of a good sound card. SupremeFX is based on the latest Realtek I just found out as I'd assumed it was based on Asus' own solutions.

I do have great monitors (speakers) though: M-AUDIO AV40 stereo.


I have a good pair of headphones too. Perhaps it's as I said, my ears just aren't up to it, lol.

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Best solution

January 10, 2014 8:38:02 PM

THIS agrees with my experience so I'd get anything in the top 4 (on the expensive side):
http://sound-cards-review.toptenreviews.com/

one of the best CHEAPER cards is this which I think is still better than onboard but I'd have to research that ($30):
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Review of above card (compared to Realtek ALC898):
http://techreport.com/review/23358/asus-budget-xonar-dg...

"The cost of upgrading to a discrete sound card is really quite minimal, especially considering the fact that both Xonars sounded better than our motherboard audio overall. Still, it's worth noting that integrated options continue to improve. The Realtek solution we tested is the best one we've heard in recent memory, and the gap between integrated audio and budget sound cards is definitely shrinking. We'd still recommend a discrete card for folks with decent speakers or headphones, though."

*So if you have an ALC898 a $30 sound card is noticeably better (with half decent speakers). Unfortunately I have no information on the latest Realtek (the ALC1150?) in sound comparison though I suspect the sound card would still win.
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January 11, 2014 10:10:19 PM

Thanks everyone for your comments.

I think I will just wait and listen through the onboard audio and see If i notice anything 'off'

(Once I get it all up and running)

My current setup which is a thrown together mismatch of pieces, just enough to get me a working computer, has an low buzzing through my headphones (Turtle Beach PX21's). However it is non audible when sound is playing. Not sure if this due to the lower quality pieces or If it is a turtle beach design which I have heard about before.

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January 13, 2014 11:23:02 PM

Buzzing in headphones is usually NOT the headphones but the source. It's also a reason why more expensive solutions have shielding to prevent electrical contamination of the analog signal.
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