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On-Board Sound vs. PCI Sound Card

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  • PCI
  • Sound Cards
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Last response: in Systems
March 21, 2006 9:40:30 PM

Hey guys you can see my specs in my Sig.

Well I am currently running sound from my ONBOARD sound off my motherboard.

If I go with a PCI card for sound, will I notice a gain in perforamance for my games.... and will it generally speed up my system...

Do you have any recommendations for Sound Cards.

I dont have speakers all I use are headphones so I dont need a $100 sound card. Just something that will take the load off my CPU.

I want to be able to spend between $15 and $50 bucks.

What you got for me guys?

More about : board sound pci sound card

a b B Homebuilt system
March 21, 2006 9:46:03 PM

"If I go with a PCI card for sound, will I notice a gain in perforamance for my games.... and will it generally speed up my system... "

Onboard sound generally uses up about 10% of cpu power, vs. 5% for a SB Live, etc....

The framerate difference at high res would likely by less than 1 frame/sec, typically....

(SB Live Value models are down to about $25 or so on Pricewatch)

(You'd see a MUCH larger framerate gain selling both current video cards and getting a single 7900GT!)
March 21, 2006 9:59:13 PM

no secret that i love dedicated sound procs. having said that IMO you will ALWAYS get better sound on a seperate card regardless of type over onboard sound b/c mobo has so much creating backgroung static/interference.

If you are only after having less work on your proc then you have to get a creative card or an (expensive) professional one. Creative is the only consumer level card w/ a DSP, all others rely on a codec and use the CPU just like almost all mobo based sound. Lots of ppl hate creative on this forum, but I have used them exclusively since 2000. I have seen many issues on friends systems that have been traced back to AC'97 codec drivers where I have never had an issue w/ creatives drivers. (NOT their other software, it sucks... JUST their drivers, you dont need the other stuff)

I know you said you didnt want to spend $100 but if you use primarily headphones then you will have best sound on an x-fi creative card. (read the toms review) but any creative card (even a sb-live 5.1) will take some work from your cpu.

I am not saying to only buy a creative card, just if you want to offload the cpu then that is your only option... that and I like creative's stability.

Now there will be many ppl that will flame me for all of this, as they did not read that last line... they will hack and hate on me for some statement that is misread... and if they dont then my perception of many ppl on this forum will raise a touch. ;) 
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March 21, 2006 10:00:56 PM


(You'd see a MUCH larger framerate gain selling both current video cards and getting a single 7900GT!)
That's not true.
As to the soundcard issue; can you say 8 virtual speakers? Creative X-FI :) 
March 21, 2006 11:17:55 PM

Well the current drivers for creative cause a nasty problem with asus update software. However there is a minor hack for it. Creative is sweet and the performance difference will be notable in the scope of things. Plus won't suck system resources like onboard.
March 22, 2006 1:58:45 AM

If you use a PCI Sound Card, there will be a minor increase in performance, but not that much. Anyways some of the older Creative cards are good, just go to, list all, and then organize by Best Rating. Buy one with a price within your range, and really, get a set of speakers. I used to do the headset-only setup, and it was just annoying because I'd have to unplug them to get them into my MP3 player. Just a $40 or $50 set of speakers are fine, trust me.
March 22, 2006 8:43:59 AM

Well I would like to get a SB Live! I found this one but I dont know much about those sound cards... what do ya'll think?

SB Live Sound Card Link
March 22, 2006 12:43:48 PM

ya, for that card that is ok... I found an audigy SE on newegg for almost same $ and audigy is better chip:

audigy SE

Just another option... reality is as long as the card has 5.1 or more (the audigy is 7.1 above) and is a DSP (both sbLive and audigy are) then it is good and you will see an improvement. (sound quality and slight performance)
March 22, 2006 1:01:08 PM

Sojrner is right. I would spend a little extra and get a better sound card. You won't regret it. One thing that I have learned in playing around in computers is not to overlook components. Things you think won't make a difference can make a big difference.
March 22, 2006 2:47:22 PM

Back when I added I added my x-fi xtreme over onboard audio I ran a couple benches to see if there was a difference.
3dmark 05 went up 11 pts but having no audio on 05 the difference is really nothing. 3dmark03 that does tests with audio went up 215pts. The 24 sound test went up 3.5 frames per second.
I did think there was a problem in BF2 where some game slow down would occur because of sound, which was fixed when I added the audio card. I think the difference in frames can be bigger when you are maxing out the number of different sounds in game which well be exactly when there is a lot going on graphically.
March 22, 2006 7:17:37 PM

remember that the 3dmark tests are generally graphics card tests, especially when you only have the free version. There is an actual pcmark test by the same company that produces 3dmark. There is a small impact as you say but you're not testing much with 3dmark.