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Onboard sound v. separate sound card

Last response: in Motherboards
July 28, 2010 9:08:14 AM

I have an Intel DG41RQ mobo which has onboard sound (believe it to be 5.1). I was wondering if its better to get a separate sound card (7.1) for gaming. The thing is, I'm using over-the-ears headphones and am pretty happy with it. Will a separate sound card make a difference? I know it will on speakers, but on headphones, will there be a noticeable difference in the quality of the sound?


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July 28, 2010 3:48:38 PM

Numbers and statistics indicate that Discrete sound cards offer better sound quality than onboard, period. However, since onboard sound is already pretty good (if you're not using an AC-97 device), the difference is either small or unnoticeable, depending primarily on your ears and your headphones. The biggest bottleneck is really your ears, but it's hard to upgrade those. The next biggest bottleneck is your headphones/speakers. Unless you have rather good pro/studio quality headphones, it's unlikely you'll be able to discern a difference as your headphones would be too shitty in both cases. It's possible that a discrete sound card can make a noticeable difference if you have good headphones/speakers.
July 28, 2010 3:49:39 PM

If you have high end headphones it will, if your headphones are 3.5 not usb.
I have cheap headphones and i notice no difference but my buddys a dj and his headphones where $200, i have tried both onboard and sound card and there was a huge difference in pitch
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July 30, 2010 8:07:19 AM

I've my sennheiser hd 515 g4me paired up with an asus xonar essence stx sound card.. Though the amp on the card is not necessary to drive my headphones, the sound is better none the less when compared to my previous card (creative sound blaster live 24bit).. Nevertheless, a dedicated sound card will surely help in providing cleaner audio compared to the onboard sound chip..
August 2, 2010 5:56:14 AM what I gather here is that a sound card would make the difference provided you're using high end headphones. Is that correct? Btw, my headset is 3.5 and not USB
August 4, 2010 9:51:29 AM

Best answer selected by namelessonez.