There'sa lot of great cards under $200, but most that cost over 150 are overpriced. A lot of hype went into what is call xram. It's useless so avoid paying any extra for it. And the reason it's usless is the software has to be programmed to utilize it. And since no company is gonna waste their time programming the software to use this xram, that 95% of ppl don't have, it's useless.
I recommend the Creative sb x-fi xtreme gamer, which is the one i use, it's the same as creative flagship card minus the useless xram. This card goes for about $90
I find the sound is excellent whether it's gaming or music.
Also i've had no driver issues with it and vista 64bit.
What kind of speakers are you using? If it's typical PC speakers like z5500s i wouldn't waste $200 on a sound card, you're better off spending <$100. If you have a seperates stereo system and want a decent soundcard for your system i'd recommend looking at the Auzentech ones rather than the creative ones.
<$200, there are a lot of brands among the market. If you are a new starter, I would like you recommend you to choose an basic model to have a try.
Higher level: Creative, Focusrite
Starter：KS108 USB sound card
Their products on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/XOX-Interface-High-Definition-Ent...