Hey, i'm running 6 channel AC97 which is on the mobo, obviousely. Performance wise when it comes to gaming, will a X-fi music card or a X-fi platimum bring benefits? any quick replys will be appreciated.
If you read the THG X-Fi reviews they mention that framerate increases when using PCI soundcards compared to onboard because it sucks up less CPU cycles (USB would also have the same effect as onboard).
Proper sound cards (creative etc) use less cpu power (which then can be translated into higher frame rates) ASWELL as putting out clearer sound and higher quality - there is a diffrence in quality, i came from a range of onboard sound cards to an audigy and the diffrence is huge.
One example is the UT2004 logo intro - onboard sound will distort with the nvidia logo sound rumble where as even my old soundblaster128 will push out more bass and trebble and clearer, no distortion.
Even an old SB Live! will likely give you perceptibly better sound than that offered by onboard chipsets...and as PCI cards take less of a hit on the CPU than onboard...if anything your performance will increase.
Seeing as how you can get an Audigy 4 SE for $35 US.... I'd divorce onboard sound and turn it off on m'mbo.
Aside from getting better gaming performance. Using a PCI soundcard also depends on the speakers your are using. With a low end pc speakers you won't be able to fully get the hi-def sounds. So it is better to get some good set of speakers to go along with the soundcard as it gives you better gaming and better sounds. Im currently using an X-Fi Extreme Music and Klipsch Pro Media 2.1 speakers and I love it. The sound quality is very nice in both gaming and entertainment.
I've just learned that the Sony MDR V6 Studio Monitors headphones are still available after more than 10 years of thinking they were not! I guarantee that if you mate a set of these to the X-Fi you will be ...I'll just say, you'll be more than satisfied, their bass is deep and their highs are clean, way past human hearing. I'm about to order these practically free ($70 for that quality, equates to being practically free IMHO) just so I can experience the bliss I envision this combo will create.
I just cannot beleve they're still making the Sony MDR V6. Audiophiles-on-a-budget rejoice!