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Dedicated sound card over Onboard sound?

Last response: in Components
December 3, 2006 7:51:38 AM

Alright so i know that a dedicated sound card is way better than onboard sound (especially on my old crappy Asus p4sd-la) but does it improve performance in games as well? I've heard it offloads work from the CPU freeing it to do other things but how much of a performance gain would i be looking at (if any)?

Btw I'm looking at the X-fi Xtrememusic upgraded from realtekAC97 audio...


December 3, 2006 9:57:23 AM

Having a dedicated sound solution does off load some work from the CPU, but the ammount of CPU time dedicated to sound preocessing in games 3-4%. Of course this rises with advanced sound effects like EAX or any enviroment effects that you might use. What speakersare you using? Is sound a big concern for you?
December 3, 2006 11:55:34 AM

This will only affect if you are a gamer, u will get 2-3 FPS more but the most important thing SOUND QUALITY

Also if you love to listen music on the PC :wink:
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December 3, 2006 6:43:40 PM

Well I'm actually gonna be building a PCIe and C2D system soon and i havent picked out speakers yet.

What would be the best performance/$ speakers ? or headphones because i might not THAT much space in my room :p 
December 3, 2006 6:58:12 PM

Yeh but its only worth getting it good sound card if you have a good set of speakers to go with them, if not then u aint gonna notice the difference.

Valtiel: What kind of budget do you have for these speakers?
December 3, 2006 7:18:36 PM

although i truly wouldn't mind slapping in a nice soundcard if i had the money, i DON'T have the money, and my onboard suites me just fine. i'm sure though, that some of you audiophiles are cringing and going into convulsions when i say this, but i'm running onboard audio through crappy headphones right now!

true, this is because my computer is currently being humiliated as the household workhorse, its not safe and sound in my room where we can spend some... alone time.... but the real reason i want it in my room is not only to protect it from my crazy, computer-illiterate family, but also to run it through my big honkin JBLs. heh. then i may notice the need for a soundcard. 'till then, i'm good to go.
December 3, 2006 9:54:39 PM

What would you recommend? What would be a good set of speakers/headphones to pair with an X-fi card :?:

also what is the sample rate? does it affect sound quality? I was just asking because the Xtrememusic has 96Khz sample rate as compared to the Fatal1ty card which has a 192Khz sample rate?
December 3, 2006 10:59:45 PM

When converting from an analog signal to a digital one, a constant variable wave is converted into digital bits. For arguements sake lets say the sample rate of something is 1Hz, that means that every second the computer takes the sound that is currently playing and converts its pitch loudness etc. into a string of 0's and 1's. Now if something was actually sampled at 1HZ the ear would instantly pick up that it wasnt a continuous tune but rather a succession of notes.

A song sampled at 96Khz means that the analog signal is converted to digital 96000 a second.

I believe (and please do not quote me on this) that the sample rate of these sound cards only refers to their ability to record, not play back, sounds. You must remember that CD's and MP3's are all digital media and so have their own sample rate depending on how they were recorded.
December 3, 2006 11:18:44 PM

its demostrated (from reviews on the web), that internal motherboard components, need to spear resources. So when you have motherboard LAN (is not so noticed), use resource of the pc, the same whit the integraded sound card, but I see that the CROSSHAIR motherboard use a pci interface thing. But of course, internal sound, less FPS on games. :p  :p 
December 4, 2006 12:04:32 AM

so what you're saying is if I dont record sounds then it shouldnt matter what the sample rate is?
if so that would make things a lot easier on my budget :p 
December 4, 2006 12:09:56 AM

What would you recommend? What would be a good set of speakers/headphones to pair with an X-fi card Question

also what is the sample rate? does it affect sound quality? I was just asking because the Xtrememusic has 96Khz sample rate as compared to the Fatal1ty card which has a 192Khz sample rate?

hey, man, my older brother hooked me up with the JBL speakers, you may know them from car stereo components, but back in the 80s, when people still made things with QUALITY MATERIALS, they made some pretty mean home stereo stoof. only problem is they're a couple of rooms apart :evil: 

moral of the story is, if you're gonna take the audiophile route, and buy a nice sound card, you're gonna wanna run away from me: i've got onboard and headphones. i personally would stay away from that route b/c i'm fine with a $15 headset from walmart.... its a wee bit cheaper. but if you have the money, hell, i've heard amazing things about the x-fi cards. but you should consult someone who actually knows what they're talking about.
December 4, 2006 12:53:34 AM

Dedicated sound card is most importantly improves sound quality. Assuming the right speakers are used with it. In gaming it does improve performance other than just producing good accurate sound quality, by processing the sound mostly and thus giving the cpu better performance on other gaming tasks. The X-Fi Extreme Music is one of the best sound card out there and probably the most popular amongst gamers.
December 4, 2006 7:36:26 AM

Alright then that's what I'll get
December 4, 2006 11:26:22 AM

So you know what kinda speakers you are gonna get with this sound card then? If you give us a budget we could recommend u good ones, I have a fair ammount of experience with speaker set ups.
December 4, 2006 7:18:57 PM

how about... $150 ?

I dont know because I havent done much research into speaker setups

5.1 would be ideal..

but 2.1 or 2 channel would be fine too
December 4, 2006 7:49:08 PM

What would you recommend? What would be a good set of speakers/headphones to pair with an X-fi card :?

How much do you want to spend?


What will you be using them for?
December 4, 2006 8:07:00 PM

You can get some fairly decent 5.1 speakers for $150 (at least I think you can, Im from the UK but I think that converts to about £90?), but if you mainly want them for listening to music then I wouldnt bother, 5.1 speakers will be good for games and for watching movies. but to be perfectly honest these things aint gonna sound like home cinema speakers, I have a 4 year old set of altec lansing 641's downstairs at the moment that would blow a modern $150 set of 5.1's away. Also if ou have got the room to place the speakers then there aint a whole lot of point buying 5.1's.

What are you more concerned about, music, gameplay or watching movies? If its music then I would definatly spend the money on a good set of 2.1 speakers.
December 4, 2006 11:28:23 PM

Definitely for gaming

in order of priority
2. Music
3. Movies
December 5, 2006 2:57:32 AM

i ask about that in the forum and now i know !

if you are a gamer, you do not need a sound card to increase the game performance, save some bucks and spend more with a gpu
December 5, 2006 5:30:09 AM

i ask about that in the forum and now i know !

if you are a gamer, you do not need a sound card to increase the game performance, save some bucks and spend more with a gpu

I like to enjoy good sound quality as well as graphics and since a 7950 GT should be sufficient for what I'll be playing until DX10 becomes more mainstream than just Crysis (it'll be an eVGA ill just step up later ;p ) I'm looking at a sound card for quality not performance increase; I was simply curious as to how much of a gain it would be.
December 5, 2006 7:07:40 AM

well to have a good quality a sound card like audigy is welcome
December 5, 2006 9:16:29 AM

Well you can get some pretty cool 3d sound effects with or 4.1 or 5.1 surround sound setup and EAX enabled. The purpose of the center speaker in a 5.1 surround sound setup is actually for the dialog in movies, so people speaking sounds like its cumming from in front of you. But I believe certain games are begining to support 5.1 sound. 5.1 is pretty much the norm now so its damn hard to find a good 4.1 set.

Creative make good affordable speakers but while consistantly good they arnt the best on the market all the time. I suggest you have a look at speakers in your price range and then google search them to check out some reviews. Altec Lansing, logitech and Klipsch are all good makes.

For $150 you will gets some good speakers and as long as u posistion them right they will sound awesome in games. Just dont expect them to go massivly loud without distorting somewhat.
December 5, 2006 8:01:19 PM

Definitely for gaming

in order of priority
2. Music
3. Movies

ok, well if your on a budget and have onboard 5.1 then get Creative P5800s (about £40),

if you have a little more to spend and want to link in other devices (games consoles etc) then get the Logitech Z-5400s, (£125 on pixmania)

and if you really want the dogs get the Logitech Z-5500s, they will blow you away (£200 from ebuyer)
December 6, 2006 8:54:20 AM

Link is broken and your sentence doesnt make a whole lot of sense.
December 6, 2006 9:09:15 AM

what sense? I remember was about 8 years ago sound card M-A2 (to mine model such on a plate). The forward panel is made under food a varnish. It had the same walls in a class 12 and it cost somewhere 700-800$. There was also 50 wadded version (A 200 such model seems) and cost it 1200$. I looked narrowly at the first sound card for purchase. Well it is sick it was rather weak for fate and the priest. On children's it somehow played it (neither fire wood, nor scale there was not and in a mine) Well and the blues, a jazz were played, etc. by it well.
December 6, 2006 9:46:25 AM

Alright, I'm going to be frank here. A lot of people will argue about how the audio codecs in the Realtek, Asus, DFI and other boards have gotten progressively better over the years. Yes that is true, but at the same time some of the boards that carry these onboard codecs have to emulate the audio the information is processed through the CPU. Now if you were to go with the a dedicated sound card like the X-Fi you would be doing yourself both a service and a disservice. The X-Fi cards can simulate 5.1 in headphones and speakers. Plust many other things I cant think off the top of my head. Also added on that you can get EAX 2-5 support on the cards. That itself is a plus, but unless you really buy a good set of speakers I do not think you will be doing the card any justice. Sound quality itself is very subjective between each person. The audophiles will sometimes say you must have top of the line speakers to bring justice to the X-fi series of cards.

Now I'm speaking from personal experience, I had the ALC 650 on my MSI 7093. I tried EAX in several different games. From BIA Earned in blood all the way to FEAR Combat. Now to be honest I thought my SB live 5.1 was worse than my Realtek. But after vigorously testing the Realtek and SB live 5.1 through the Right mark Surround Sound test. The crazy thing is that my SB Live 5.1 actually muffled the noises when it was behind something like a wall. While my Realtek AC 97 didn't do that.

But let me get onto my point. The overall quality of an X-fi in my opinion will not compare to a realtek or high end on board audio solution. If your a hardcore gamer, audiophile and you have money to throw at your computer than go for it. Whatever floats your boat man, but I decided to stick with my SB Live 5.1 and am quite satisfied with it. But all in all your dedicated sound would offload some of the CPU and give you an increase in performance in your frames per second. But in the end your choice is ultimately yours. I say if you really want the better audio solution then go for it, but like that one guy say who uses the $15 headphones, if you cant afford an audio solution and just use $15 headphones than ok. But my suggestion to you is buy the card and some good headphones.
December 7, 2006 2:04:22 AM

Thanks for all the help
December 7, 2006 8:18:44 PM

All this talk of the creative X-FI got me thinking about the extra money I had in my bank account so I decided to go out and buy myself an X-Fi Xtreme music. I havent tried it in games yet but the 24bit crystaliser does make a difference to music. I wasnt blown away by the difference between it and my old soundblaster audigy 2, but there is an improvement. As Insane_Maniac points out you do need a really good set of speakers to appreciate a top of the line sound card, mine cost £770 ($1200?) so its worth me getting the best sound card. For your purposes I think its only worth it if you plan on playing a lot of games that use advanced sound effects.