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New sound card worth the upgrade?

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July 14, 2006 6:05:28 AM

Hey all,

My $y$tem specs...
--------------------------------
CPU: AMD 64 3200+ (2.0GHz)
Mobo: Epox 9npa+ultra
GPU: X850XT 258mb PCIe (Core @ 545MHz Mem @ 1200MHz)
RAM: 1Gig PQI PC3200 400mhz
HD: 80Gig 7200RPM 8mb cache
Sound Card: Some Cheap 16bit from wolly world (Type Creative SB PCI128 Ensoniq ES5880 Sound Card) :( 
--------------------------------

Now obviously almost any sound card would be better than this one but I do mostly gaming and listening to music....and I've heard that a good sound card can affect up to 10fps in game. I was wondering if upgrading to this card would boot system performance a bit and help me keep a more steady frame rate? Now, I know it won't be a hugh difference, but if it will help take some stress off my cpu sound wise then I might be willing.

BTW, I was also looking to setting up two 80gigs on RAID-0 in the future, but unfortunately it's either the sound card or drives for now...any thoughts on which would be the best upgrade first for overall gaming performance?

Thanks. 8)
July 14, 2006 4:10:20 PM

Quote:
Hey all,

My $y$tem specs...
--------------------------------
CPU: AMD 64 3200+ (2.0GHz)
Mobo: Epox 9npa+ultra
GPU: X850XT 258mb PCIe (Core @ 545MHz Mem @ 1200MHz)
RAM: 1Gig PQI PC3200 400mhz
HD: 80Gig 7200RPM 8mb cache
Sound Card: Some Cheap 16bit from wolly world (Type Creative SB PCI128 Ensoniq ES5880 Sound Card) :( 
--------------------------------

Now obviously almost any sound card would be better than this one but I do mostly gaming and listening to music....and I've heard that a good sound card can affect up to 10fps in game. I was wondering if upgrading to this card would boot system performance a bit and help me keep a more steady frame rate? Now, I know it won't be a hugh difference, but if it will help take some stress off my cpu sound wise then I might be willing.

BTW, I was also looking to setting up two 80gigs on RAID-0 in the future, but unfortunately it's either the sound card or drives for now...any thoughts on which would be the best upgrade first for overall gaming performance?

Thanks. 8)


Yeahp, that Audigy 4 is right in the sweet-spot of price/performance...especially since its a Creative and its APU will free up your CPU for other stuff...like gaming. I don't know if you'll see a 10fps increase with even an X-Fi EP, but any increase you see will likely be with Creative gear, and the card you picked is handsome.

Go with the soundcard. RAID-0 is overrated, nice, but overrated...unless you're gonna run two high-end drives like Raptor's. One Raptor is probably a sweet hard drive choice and there's no risk of R-0 data loss. I'd step up my audio experience first since you already have a decent hard drive. I'm running R-0 in two 7K 8MB Maxtor's now in my audio rig, just for faster load times, etc. I now realize that one Raptor would likely have slammed this in performance. My Dell (in hibernation for the past 2 months) with 2 Raptors in RAID-0 is ...just plain crazy fast, but since I don't game its prolly a waste. 1 Raptor, but get the soundcard first.
July 14, 2006 4:25:44 PM

The drives will speed up level loading but make little if any difference to in game speeds, bear in mind that while the Audigy will speed things under the settings you are probably running now if you enable the EAX effects your card is capable of then you will probably find the game runs a little slower for it.
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July 14, 2006 4:33:28 PM

Actually, I've heard reports that Doom 3 sees a significant performance boost from striping.

But I would go with the sound card. I have an X-Fi XtremeMusic, and I'll never use onboard again. EAX and Battlefield 2 go great together. If you can shell out $30 more (newegg.com), I would suggest the X-Fi. It has EAX 5.0, and a new feature called Crystalizer, that makes music sound much better. I would definitely choose my X-Fi over an Audigy.

And why would he see a drop in performance enabling EAX? The sound card handles all that, and not through software emulation. If you have a good sound card, by all means juice up the audio quality - that's what it's made for. 8)
July 14, 2006 6:33:42 PM

First of all, thanks for all the responses :) 

I'm definitely leaning more toward the sound card now, rather then the drives. The reason I think a sound card would benefit me a little more for the price is that in certain games, when nothing is happening on my screen but I'm hear a lot of firing, etc. off in the distance I can feel my fps drop...I'm assuming the sound card is dumping the majority of the sound process on my cpu. After all...that Audigy 4 must be one heck of a sound card to require a cpu 1GHz or greater and a 64bit processor. lol

Quote:
If you can shell out $30 more (newegg.com), I would suggest the X-Fi. It has EAX 5.0, and a new feature called Crystalizer, that makes music sound much better.


Well, I found this one. It would run me about $15 more than the previous one I posted. I will definitely consider it...I just didn't plan on spending more than $80 on a sound card, but if it's as good as people say then maybe it's worth it.

I was mainly gonna set up the RAID eventually too reduce/get rid of the stuttering during the beginning of a game and of course boost overall system performance such as load times and start up time.

Thanks for the help. 8)
July 14, 2006 7:19:09 PM

Quote:
Well, I found this one. It would run me about $15 more than the previous one I posted. I will definitely consider it...I just didn't plan on spending more than $80 on a sound card, but if it's as good as people say then maybe it's worth it.


That's the one I have, I didn't know the price had dropped in the two weeks since I bought it 8O .
July 14, 2006 7:42:50 PM

Cool they dropped the price on the X-fi, go for that.

Anyone know of a non-creative card that boosts performance?
July 14, 2006 7:43:48 PM

Auzentechs are pretty good, but the X-Fi series are the best cards available.
July 15, 2006 11:31:24 AM

Unfortunately, I think Creative is the only manufacturer that offers cards with an APU that relieves the CPU of audio processing.
July 15, 2006 11:52:45 AM

IMHO I would seriously advise you to get the X-Fi Extreme Music especially for the small difference in price, It's an awesome card for the money and it'll really improve your gaming sounds and framerates with the added benefit of the chrystaliser for music...Get it and prepare to be imressed :-)

JKay6969
July 15, 2006 12:32:42 PM

Quote:
IMHO I would seriously advise you to get the X-Fi Extreme Music especially for the small difference in price, It's an awesome card for the money and it'll really improve your gaming sounds and framerates with the added benefit of the chrystaliser for music...Get it and prepare to be imressed :-)

JKay6969


It seems that just about everyone that has an X-Fi that is not experiencing the *Rice Crispy Effect* is very pleased. Its highly-rated gear.
July 15, 2006 3:49:47 PM

Even those who have experienced it :-)

I was having big problems when I first got mine, but after a bit of trial and error, and new drivers, I have overcome the 'Squealing Banshee' problems. Re-seating the card into a PCI slot that isn't shared with my onboard SATA2 controller was probably the biggest help in resolving this issue, for me anyways.

I have heard a lot of people blaming creative for this, or worse, blaming the X-FI cards themselves. I personally believe it's more to do with the current PC architecture's sharing ideal. I believe if PCI slots are shared with high bandwidth onboard components, they should be clearly marked as such...Like, Low bandwidth PCI slot, Shared PCI Slot or similar. This would reduce the likelyhood of this being such an issue now and into the future.

JKay6969
July 15, 2006 10:58:24 PM

Yeah, I'll probably go with the X-Fi since the prices are so close.

Quote:
although im not sure everyone would agree with me, i would think an extra gig of ram might help with load times as well. just something to think about as long as you don't have 2 512MB dimms which you probably have.


I have contemplated upgrading RAM as well...just not at the same time as the sound card/drives. Yes, I'm running 512x2 dual channel memory. However, when I upgrade my memory...it will definitely be a 2GB kit performance RAM instead of this value ram that doesn't allow overclocking hardly at all. I wasn't sure on upgrading the RAM so much though...as how they now have DDR2 out and it will become the 'standard'. So, I figure just to wait and upgrade the CPU, Mobo, and RAM all at the same time....that will definitely be much later though.


Again, thanks for everyone's help. 8)
July 18, 2006 4:14:04 PM

if you want to use a digital connection (1 cable to you receivver or speakers) id recommend the auzentech xplosion...i just bought one and its fu*kin ridicoulus. both music improvement over onboard and the addition of dts surround.

incaseu u were wondering there is NO CREATIVE CARD TTHAT CAN GIVE U SURROUND SOUND OVER A DIGITAL CONNECTIOn as none of them encode to dts or ddl.

you could also get the mystique which is the same as the xplosion just not dts encoding but still has ddl.

but i wouldnt recommend a sound card just for more fps in games. thats just plain stupid to me. get a proc ram or vid card upgrade for more fps. get a sound card for better sound! get raid if u already have everything else (lol)
July 18, 2006 4:42:11 PM

Quote:
if you want to use a digital connection (1 cable to you receivver or speakers) id recommend the auzentech xplosion...i just bought one and its fu*kin ridicoulus. both music improvement over onboard and the addition of dts surround.

incaseu u were wondering there is NO CREATIVE CARD TTHAT CAN GIVE U SURROUND SOUND OVER A DIGITAL CONNECTIOn as none of them encode to dts or ddl.

you could also get the mystique which is the same as the xplosion just not dts encoding but still has ddl.

but i wouldnt recommend a sound card just for more fps in games. thats just plain stupid to me. get a proc ram or vid card upgrade for more fps. get a sound card for better sound! get raid if u already have everything else (lol)


Actually sound cards do affect fps in-game, sure not by much, but they still affect them. How? Sound cards have a processor of their own to process the sound obviously. If you have a crappy sound card as myself, then it can't handle processing a lot of sound at one time and relies on the main CPU to help. Like I said in the first post...I'm not looking for any hugh increase in performance by no means...not from a sound card anyway. Something just to help stabilize fps when a lot of action is going on (sound-wise).

I agree though, if you're wanting to increase more than 5fps then upgrade your cpu, vid card, and/or mem. I don't think any of those things a really bottle necking me so much now, except for the memory...an extra gig wouldn't hurt...and of course RAID for loading times, etc.

Peace out- 8)
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