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Will a PCIE x1 sound card fit in a PCIE x4 slot ??? / What Sound Card?

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February 23, 2010 2:20:24 AM

I feel like a noob asking this but I really have no idea, I did some google searching and there seems to be a general idea that it can be done. However I haven't seen anybody who has actually done it.

My scenario:

My 2X 5870's block my PCI slots, I only have a PCIE x4 slot available, however there are no PCIEx4 sound cards, only PCIEx1 sound cards.

I know that you cannot put a x4 in a x1 slot, or a x16 in a x4 slot, but does it work the other way around ?

If you actually look at the slots on the mobo it looks like it could fit in there.


Anyways, if anyone has actually DONE this, Please tell me !


Thank you for your help.
February 23, 2010 2:33:20 AM

Yea it works fine, you can downscale, say x1 card in x16 slot, just not the other way around, putting you x1 card in x4 slot will work perfectly fine
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February 23, 2010 2:37:04 AM

Have you done this before, or do you just know it will work ?
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February 23, 2010 2:38:30 AM

I'm looking at this sound card btw, any comments on it ?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... Xonar D2X 7.1
And this one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Xonar Essence XTX

Can anyone tell me the difference between the two, both are Xonar, same price.

Xonar D2X 7.1

I really don't want to buy Creative again.

I mainly use my Steel Series Siberia Version 2 headphones, which are pretty good quality, but I do have 5.1 Z5500 speakers that I will use alot as well. Oh, and I do mainly gaming, however I listen to music with alot of bass, don't know if that matters at all ( no not rap!)
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February 23, 2010 2:47:26 AM

Due to being 15, and parents, and lack of credit card, im stuck with a 2yo dell laptop with integrated gfx, but have couple of old computers and components around and put together a nice rig for a friend a few weeks back, no i havent done it personally, but i personally assure you itll work fine
As for the card, ill agree with you on not going creative, havent heard anything good bout their cards recently... as for the actually card, i really dont know much about sound cards, but have heard good things bout the xonar series so i dont think you can go wrong :) 
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February 23, 2010 3:02:01 AM

Just to help you out, yes...it works. Like the man (kid) said...you can put x1 in x4 or x16 easily. And yes, to answer your question, I've done it. I have a couple x1 tv tuners in an x4 AND an x16 slot in my HTPC. Works great.

As for a difference in the sound cards...ugh...$200 is WAY more than I'd spend on a sound card. Both of these are aimed more at the Home Theater crowd then the gamer, but it appears the big difference between the two is the D2X supports Dolby DTS while the Essence does not. They're great cards, but probably twice as much as you need to spend. Why the aversion to Creative. They're doing much better with the X-Fi's drivers lately and a good one is about $80. That said, if you're intent on NOT getting Creative and don't mind spending a few $ more, then go with ASUS Xonar HDAV on the high-end ($240) or the Xonar DX 7.1 on the low-end ($90).
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February 23, 2010 3:17:17 AM

dkapke said:
Just to help you out, yes...it works. Like the man (kid) said...you can put x1 in x4 or x16 easily. And yes, to answer your question, I've done it. I have a couple x1 tv tuners in an x4 AND an x16 slot in my HTPC. Works great.

As for a difference in the sound cards...ugh...$200 is WAY more than I'd spend on a sound card. Both of these are aimed more at the Home Theater crowd then the gamer, but it appears the big difference between the two is the D2X supports Dolby DTS while the Essence does not. They're great cards, but probably twice as much as you need to spend. Why the aversion to Creative. They're doing much better with the X-Fi's drivers lately and a good one is about $80. That said, if you're intent on NOT getting Creative and don't mind spending a few $ more, then go with ASUS Xonar HDAV on the high-end ($240) or the Xonar DX 7.1 on the low-end ($90).


The reason I am avoiding Creative is that I had some VERY frustrating issues with what *appeared* to be the fault of Creative's drivers, or hardware on my system.

Don't get me wrong I owned an X-FI and loved it for a few years, but my new X58 mobo would have none of it.


The reason I am willing to spend 200$ is that I want the best...see my rig in the sig. lol.

What is good about the Xonar HDAV btw ?

And also, I have a BluRay drive so I can do Home Theatre too, basically I will be doing it all.
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Best solution

February 23, 2010 7:15:39 AM

YES, a PCIe 1x device will defiantly work in ANY PCIe slot ;) 

Good call avoiding Creative.
Terrible drivers and OS support aside, their current products are extremely sub par and over priced.

All the sound cards you are considering are excellent, just intended for separate market segments.
They all share the same C-Media CMI8788 Oxygen HD chipset and features, mainly being differentiated by the quality of the analogue output and a few high end features.

The Essence ST(x) has a built in headphone amplifier and is dedicated to the best Stereo analogue sound quality possible (and it does excel at this).
The down side is, again, that they are designed for Stereo analogue output.
The only way to get 5.1 surround from these cards is with DDL through the TOSLINK (which your z5500 can decode).
This card is the best currently available for headphone users.
TBH though, I am not sure if it is really necessary for you.
From what I can gather, your SS cans are quite easy to drive and the Amp will probably be going to waste.
If you decide to get a top end set of cans in the future though....

The D2(x) is more of a top end traditional sound card.
It focuses on outputting extremely high quality analogue to 7.1 channels (quality is just a bit behind the Essence).
It also supports DDL and DTS Connect through TOSLINK and includes a digital input.
For the average user, this is the current pentacle of sound cards.
It will have no issues driving your z5500 (in fact it can significantly outperform what your speakers are able to reproduce...) and should have no issues driving your cans.

The HDAV series are somewhat special in that they are positioned towards HTPCs.
Its call to fame is that it enables you to bitstream protected Dolby True HD and DTS Master Audio tracks to your receiver.
As your 5870's onboard codec can also bitstream these tracks, I would recommend against this series.
Instead, connect your 5870 via HDMI to your receiver and switch to its onboard codec when playing a bluray movie.

Another great option would be the $90 Xonar Dx.
While this is a somewhat cut down D2X, it still has top notch sound quality.
Other than the somewhat lower sound quality (relative to top end Xonars, it still sounds better than ANY Creative solution), the Dx is mainly differentiated by a more basic set of connectors.
You still have the basic 7.1 analouge outputs but must deal with a shared mic/line in and Optical output (with an adaptor).
If this is a non-issue, it sounds nearly as good as the above D2X for significantly less...

Unless you are planning on getting better headphones in the future, I think you would be better off with a Xonar D2X or Dx.
Reason being, either will give you a much better DAC than what is pressent in your Z5500s.
If you want the absolute best for headphones, the Essence line is where to go.
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February 23, 2010 12:52:21 PM

Any reason why the onboard Realtek ALC889A isn't good enough as it handles 7.1?
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February 23, 2010 2:04:33 PM

Best answer selected by annisman.
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February 24, 2010 3:44:15 AM

Quick question here, I have been experimenting with turning my cd's into lossless audio tracks, they sound amazing.

Will a sound card help in any way concerning lossless audio tracks ? At least over my onboard solution ?
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February 24, 2010 4:21:29 AM

In a word, yes. Look for a sound card with a S/N ratio equal to or greater than a CD provides, usually 102db or better. I rarely have seen onboard sound better than 86db. Others have mensioned the Xonar series here, I would look at HT Omega as well. I also agree that Creative is not long for this world because of thier omnipitance to quality and customer service.
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February 24, 2010 9:37:45 AM

Will it help give you a better lossless conversion? No.
Converting CDs to a lossless format is a purely digital process and is in no way effected by the sound card, only by the compression algorithm used (even then, lossless files should have all the information of the original...).

Will it make them sound better on playback? Hellz yeah!
With good equipment, you can hear major differences between standard MP3s and lossless recordings.

Think of it this way.
Comparing MP3s to lossless files is like comparing a lossy .jpg to a lossless .tiff and the sound card is like the monitor.
With a small, low resolution TN monitor (sound card), both files will look prety close to the same.
You might be able to see some minor compression artifacts on the .jpg but it will be good enough.
Effectively, the low quality of the output is masking the defficencies of the file.

Now, if you switch the crappy monitor for a top end 30" sPVA display, you will be able to see major differences between the two.
Where both looked about the same before, you will be able to resolve many more artifacts on the .jpg.
The .tiff, on the other hand, will still show the original image in all of its glory.

After you pick up your new card, do a direct comparison.
Encode the same track lossless and at several different bitrates with MP3.
You might be surprised just how much you never knew you where missing...
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February 24, 2010 3:54:32 PM

Thanks for the explanation Outlw, can you explaing something you mentioned earlier, about my 5870, why would I want to pass any audio through that ? Also, you mentioned a reciever, I don't think I have one, would I need one ?

Maybe you can explain that aspect to me some more.
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February 25, 2010 8:06:40 AM

No, you do not need a receiver.
Based on the information provided and interest in the Xonar HDAV line, I made the assumption that the system was pulling double duty as a HTPC connected to a larger TV and receiver.
If that had been the case, using the 5870s integrated codec would have allowed you to bitstream digital HDCP audio streams to the receiver (basically giving you the same functionality as a Xonar HDAV card).

As HDCP restrictions only apply to outputting Dolby True HD and DTS Master Audio digital streams, they have no bearing on your current setup.
You will either be converting to Analogue internally or outputting DD or DTS to your Z5500 (as the speakers are not capable of decoding Dolby True HD or DTS Master Audio).
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February 25, 2010 4:59:56 PM

Dang, you make it sound like my speakers are poo poo, should I upgrade ?

They say DD Pro Logic II and DTS 96/24 on them, doesn't that mean something good ?
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February 26, 2010 12:26:55 PM

No, no, not at all.
I was just trying to explain the use of your 5870's onboard codec along with what the HDAV series lets you do.
TBH, the analogue conversion a quality soundcard does offers a cleaner signal than the average home receiver.
That is to say, it will sound cleaner if you could use a receiver only as an amplifier instead of as a DAC (kinda like how you use standard computer speakers, just with higher quality amplification and speakers).

While the Z5500 may not be cream of the crop (although it is quite good as far as computer speakers go), there is nothing really wrong with them.
I was just pointing out that they will be incapable of decoding any HDCP audio streams sent to it.

As for the standards you list...

DD Pro Logic II up scales Stereo content to 5.1 surround.
That is to say it 'intelegently' decides which frequencies to play on your additional channels (beyond the basic stereo).
IMO using your Z5500's 4 channel stereo option would be much better.

DD (Dolby Digital) is a digital encoding scheme that encompasses up to 5.1 surround sound.
Your receiver is capable of decoding DD streams into proper analogue 5.1 surround.

DTS (Digital Theater Surround) and DTS 96/24 are both competing standards to DD.
Both are 5.1 digital audio streams, the DTS 96/24 being updated to encode at a 96kHz sample rate and a 24-bit depth (as compared to the standard 48/16).
Your receiver can also decode both these formats into proper analogue 5.1 surround.
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