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Onboard Realtek AC97 vs. PCI sound card?

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February 26, 2010 1:09:25 PM

Hello, all;
Being pretty new to computers, I read a lot. I've read that I can save some CPU capacity for game graphics
by shifting sound duties to a plug-in card, but I've also read that the gain will be minimal. I've read that some
motherboards (mine's an ECS 661FX-M7) have a sound chip that can't be bypassed, and I've seen AC97 de-
scribed as: Onboard sound (in my system info); an effects system; a driver or a repair for one; or maybe even
a card (I may have misconstrued a bit).

Question is, can I go for a card and/or should I bother? Since I have a home sound system, I'm not concerned
with music or movies; I just want to remove or reduce choppiness from fast-moving pinballs and other objects
if I can. Thanks.

GSGregg (XP MCE, Celeron 2.67GHz, 512MB RAM, MSI MX400-T128)
February 26, 2010 3:08:55 PM

tbh its really your choice, if audio isnt bothering ON THE PC, then you know, no point in getting a soundcard, saying as u already have HT.

but if u do want anyway, saying if u got decent PC speakers, you could get a card from ASUS

try ASUS Xonar DX.
February 26, 2010 3:51:40 PM

I think you're right that any gain by letting a card process sound would be unnoticeable. Get a video card, instead. The cheapest AGP card at Newegg.com ($29.99 incl. shipping) would crush what you have now and will make your pinballs zip like meteors.

Page 37 of your manual shows how to disable your onboard sound in BIOS, by the way. AC 97 is a standard for computer sound manufacturers. It specifies many things we only pretend to understand and care about, and it means approximately nothing to us users. The implementation of the standard that's on your motherboard is stereo only, unless you add an optional SPDIF thingie to port out to a receiver. But you say you don't care about any of that, so your onboard sound is fine.
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February 26, 2010 8:17:39 PM

Petrofsky said:
I think you're right that any gain by letting a card process sound would be unnoticeable. Get a video card, instead. The cheapest AGP card at Newegg.com ($29.99 incl. shipping) would crush what you have now and will make your pinballs zip like meteors.

Page 37 of your manual shows how to disable your onboard sound in BIOS, by the way. AC 97 is a standard for computer sound manufacturers. It specifies many things we only pretend to understand and care about, and it means approximately nothing to us users. The implementation of the standard that's on your motherboard is stereo only, unless you add an optional SPDIF thingie to port out to a receiver. But you say you don't care about any of that, so your onboard sound is fine.


lmao, i like your desciption about the pinballs :p 

to the OP, seriously are u playing pinball????
February 27, 2010 1:18:07 PM

To MEgamer:
I looked up the specs on some of your gear; youaintjustfartinaround,areya! Also, I'm not
too sharp on acronyms, but if 'OP' means something like 'original poster' (in this case, me),
then yes, I seriously play pinball....not that I necessarily play SERIOUS pinball, but I've
enjoyed it for a long time. My all-time favorite is Bally's Centaur, and when I found out
that the Visual Pinball folks at Nanotech had a recreation of it, well....Happy Birthday To
Me! More on that later, if desired, but probably on a different thread.

To Petrofsky:
I was surprised to see by how much the 'cheapest card at Newegg'...'would crush what I
have now'; updating the video card makes sense. I somehow failed to find that particular
($29.99 complete) card, but I looked up several and whittled the list down to a couple in a
reasonable price range: Gigabyte GV-N62256DP2-RH and EVGA 512-A8-N403-LR.
They're both based on the GeForce 6200. Notable differences are:

Memory clock (Gigabyte 500MHz/700 effective[?]; EVGA 266MHz/532 DDR)
Memory Bandwidth (Gigabyte unspecified, but the base card lists 8.8GB, while EVGA's is
only 4.4GB.
EVGA doubles Gig's 256MB RAM(?), but gives something back in bandwidth. Question is,
which is more important?
Thanks, be well and reflect;

Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from....
February 27, 2010 1:26:53 PM

GSGregg said:
To MEgamer:
I looked up the specs on some of your gear; youaintjustfartinaround,areya! Also, I'm not
too sharp on acronyms, but if 'OP' means something like 'original poster' (in this case, me),
then yes, I seriously play pinball....not that I necessarily play SERIOUS pinball, but I've
enjoyed it for a long time. My all-time favorite is Bally's Centaur, and when I found out
that the Visual Pinball folks at Nanotech had a recreation of it, well....Happy Birthday To
Me! More on that later, if desired, but probably on a different thread.

To Petrofsky:
I was surprised to see by how much the 'cheapest card at Newegg'...'would crush what I
have now'; updating the video card makes sense. I somehow failed to find that particular
($29.99 complete) card, but I looked up several and whittled the list down to a couple in a
reasonable price range: Gigabyte GV-N62256DP2-RH and EVGA 512-A8-N403-LR.
They're both based on the GeForce 6200. Notable differences are:

Memory clock (Gigabyte 500MHz/700 effective[?]; EVGA 266MHz/532 DDR)
Memory Bandwidth (Gigabyte unspecified, but the base card lists 8.8GB, while EVGA's is
only 4.4GB.
EVGA doubles Gig's 256MB RAM(?), but gives something back in bandwidth. Question is,
which is more important?
Thanks, be well and reflect;

Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from....



wat do u mean youaintjustfartinaround,areya! this are my real PC parts, and tbh they arent that gd...lol apart from the 2 speakers i own, thats probably the most expensive out of my whole gear. i dont see why you should be surprised lol, they kinda out of date to to days standards lol.
February 27, 2010 4:40:47 PM

Vista/Win7 does all sound processing on the CPU and the soundcard is nothing more than a dumb output that either converts a digital stream into analog signal or outputs that digital stream out of COAX or Optical.

Many new games do all of their sound on the CPU also because hardware accel'd sound is of less quality and less flexible.

If you're using digital out(COAX/Optical) then there's won't be any difference because the bitstream will be exactly the same on all sound cards unless you're using EAX or whatever. Personnally, I think EAX sounds like crap. All it does is add reverb to mimic surroundings. Doplar affect and 3D positioning is relatively easy to calculate these days.

A good quality soundcard like the Xonar is only really needed for quality analog output or if you use a nice pair of headphones. You don't pair $50+ headphones with an onboard soundcard.
February 27, 2010 4:59:08 PM

Both of those cards are from reputable manufacturers, and both are massive overkill for what you're doing with your computer video. I think that more slightly slower memory is better than half the memory at a somewhat faster rate, but if you never ask the card to use it, you shouldn't pay for it. I would simply get the cheaper one, if I were you. Or maybe I'd go the few extra bucks and get the one with twice the memory, just in case. The difference between the two cards is of historical interest only, I'd say. AGP has gone the way of Tony Blair and the dinosaurs long since, and the cards of today laugh and sneer at these two (but AGP will work best on your mobo). It's like asking what's better, a Stutz Bearcat or a Model T. Get the one you'll feel best about owning. But if all you ever do is drive on a perfect rural road to the fruit stand and back, either a Stutz or a vintage Ford will do nicely.

From what I've been able to find by googling, "effective" means "double the actual clock speed because it does two ops per clock cycle".
February 27, 2010 6:15:37 PM

I'm just thinking--if you do get an AGP card, go into BIOS, and disable your on-board video controller, and set shared memory to zero or disable it. And stop back at this thread and let us know how it went.
February 27, 2010 6:36:04 PM

Kewlx25 said:


A good quality soundcard like the Xonar is only really needed for quality analog output or if you use a nice pair of headphones. You don't pair $50+ headphones with an onboard soundcard.


and thats the reason why we get soundcards... what else???
February 27, 2010 7:20:45 PM

MEgamer said:
and thats the reason why we get soundcards... what else???


he said he plans on hooking it up to a "home sound system". Doesn't sound like "headphones" to me.. no pun intended.. or was it?
February 27, 2010 7:23:57 PM

well you know what i mean... well so long as he uses anologue inputs.
February 28, 2010 11:26:01 AM

To MEgamer:
A short history---I got this computer second-hand from a friend who had paid a builder for it back
in April of '08. When the friend decided to move to something newer, the builder wanted to take
out the video card because "Gregg will never use it" and it was apparently some great shakes...
to which the friend said, "You were already paid for it, dammit, leave it in!" Well, now we know
better.

My 'fartinaround' comment was not in reference to sheer awesomeness, but to the difference
between what you have and what I have. We're not just talkin' 10% or 20% difference, but fac-
tors of 2.4 (core clock), 3 (memory clock), 3.3 (texture fill rate), >20 (bandwidth), and 28 (texture
units)....but I shouldn't get bogged down in stats....
The CIA once wished they had as much (ell-oh-ell).

To Kewlx25
Just to clarify; my sound system is dinosaur-quality (I am old, after all), but good enough for what
I want from music or movies; all I have on the computer is a choice between headphones or PC
speakers, depending on whether anyone else might be disturbed. Thnx4thethawt,tho.

To Petrofsky:
My pending selections may be overkill, but I think massive is better than minimal. I checked into
a couple of GeForce 5-series cards, and the improvement (from specs, anyway) is hardly worth
mentioning. I agree (at least, it 'feels' right) that double-memory can tolerate a narrower band-
width, so if and when I pull the trigger on this, I'll go with the EVGA 512MB. Thanks for your input,
and remember....

Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from....

whatever stops your TOYOTA.

GSG


February 28, 2010 2:25:48 PM

man you can sure write some gd posts.:D 
February 28, 2010 3:15:12 PM

GSGregg said:
...To Petrofsky:
My pending selections may be overkill, but I think massive is better than minimal. I checked into
a couple of GeForce 5-series cards, and the improvement (from specs, anyway) is hardly worth
mentioning. I agree (at least, it 'feels' right) that double-memory can tolerate a narrower band-
width, so if and when I pull the trigger on this, I'll go with the EVGA 512MB. Thanks for your input....

Yeah, I am rightly chastis(z)ed. I never used to use "massive" like that, but between hanging out with the kids in gaming forums and watching BBC America, I don't know what language I speak anymore. Get the best card you can afford, dude. There I go again. I envy you the great happiness you will feel when you fire it up and see the wonders that had been hidden erst.
February 28, 2010 3:24:51 PM

its all about the joy.
June 11, 2010 10:21:40 AM

To MEgamer (joy, indeed!) & Petrofsky, et al:

Boy! A sharp memory sure is a wonderful..........uhh.........hmmmm....

Sorry to have left every one in suspense for 102 days, but after backing off adjustments (resolution,
shadows, etc.), I found that play was/is acceptable fur my porpoises and I got complacent.

I did indeed buy the EVGA 512MB card (along with a 400W Corsair PSU---more beef than my Austin
300W); it/they will come out of the box/es sometime soon, after being on the floor for over a month.
Turns out that my 'computer reboots when CD is detected' (or however I titled that thread) problem
all but disappeared when a new disc-drive went in; while the power supply probably is borderline, it's
been sufficient since then to fuel my complacency...as has the barely-sufficient video card. I will re-
port the results when I have some. Til then, Cheers!

GSGregg
!