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Game machine sound and 24" monitor advice

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January 23, 2010 12:15:42 AM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: As soon as I have my answers

BUDGET RANGE: $2000 including OS and monitor

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Games, coding

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: All peripherals

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: www.ibuypower.com Newegg, Tiger Direct

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Dallas, TX, US

PARTS PREFERENCES: AMD (my brother works for them :)  )

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe later

MONITOR RESOLUTION: Current - 1600x1200. Adding 1920x1200

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Win7-64 bit

Would you believe my previous system lasted five years? Albeit with a couple of minor upgrades.

I'm building a new game system. I really appreciate the Recommended thread. That got me in the ballpark very quickly. I've settled on the AMD gaming system at about $1125. I've chosen to get more RAM and a bigger hard drive, but most everything else is the same.

I've built my own systems in the past. But a friend of mine pointed me at www.ibuypower.com and their price for a system with those same components is actually a few dollars less than getting everything from NewEgg, once you add in the OS. So, hey, why not let them put it together for me.

So, I'm pretty close to pulling the trigger. The one question I have is about sound. My current system uses a Creative Audigy2 ZS and I'm very happy with it. My speakers are Logitech Z-560 4.1 analog and I'm happy with those. I am toying with the idea of upgrading to a 5.1 system, maybe the Logitech X-540, which gets decent user reviews on Amazon and is inexpensive.

I do not consider myself an audiophile. And I rarely crank it up to room-shaking levels. But I do occasionally like to turn it up to what most people would call "pretty loud" and obviously I'd like to do that without a lot of distortion. Also, I play a lot of FPS games and simulations, so I'd like good support for 3D sound.

So, my question is: Is the sound on the Asus M4A79T Deluxe Good Enough when going to analog speakers? I expect the general sound quality probably is. Does it support the current 3D standards used by most games? Is there a low- to mid-range sound card (say, under $150, and closer to $100 would be better) that has better support?

I've searched a bit on here and have seen a lot of hyperbole. I am actively soliciting opinions, but I'm not trolling for anti-Creative posts. I'm looking for a fair bang-for-the-buck comparison of what's currently available vs the quality and support for on-board sound.

Separately, I'm looking to add a second monitor. I currently have a Samsung 204B 20" 4:3 monitor at 1600x1200. I'm happy with it. It seems plenty Good Enough. If there's ghosting during games, it's not enough that I have ever noticed while playing.

I did come across a thread that pointed at PixPerAn and played with it some. I didn't see how to use it to compare monitors when they're not side-by-side. But it did show me some of the persistence issues with this monitor. I recognize that those are extreme cases, used specifically to demonstrate the issues.

So, I'm looking for advice on a 24" 1920x1200 go to alongside it. Again, I had searched around a bit, but the more recent threads seemed to wander a lot and I couldn't seem to tease out a good current recommendation for a game system.

TIA,

Drake
January 23, 2010 12:33:43 PM

Seems like you answered most of your own questions.

Nothing more subjective on this planet than what is a good monitor, the best car or the right engine oil. Seriously..... I would not listen to a single persons perspective on this.

Our eyes see things differently in each of us. Go to a store and look at the monitors. Decide what really matters to you and go in that direction. I have several 24" 1900x1200 monitors on my desk and while they are different with different glass types, they all do the job just fine (to me). One cost $250, one cost $800, others in between. I would be very happy with just the $250 one. It depends how much you want to spend also....

My advice (after I said to not listen to anyone on this :ange:  ), look at a few reviews, buy one and go enjoy your system and dont second guess yourself.
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January 23, 2010 6:29:20 PM

Okay, I guess I was a little too emphatic about trolls. I am actively looking for opinions.

On the monitor, I understand that most are probably Good Enough. I guess I'm asking for suggestions on any particular models to avoid. I've looked a little at the stores, but everything is 1080, because they're using the same screens as TVs of the same size. I haven't spotted any 16:10 monitors to look at.

On the sound, again I think the main thing I'm looking for is some current discussion of support for 3D sound in games. I vaguely recall reading a few years ago about how Vista broke 3D audio. I didn't pay a lot of attention at the time because I wasn't planning on upgrading to Vista. Has that been fixed by now?

I did see one thread with one message about Creative not supporting OpenAL very well, but I think it was a few months old, and I couldn't tell if that was across their line, or just one particular card. And I didn't see any mention of whether it was a particular game that was a problem, or if it was a general issue. Are the Creative drivers still a big issue? Is there some other card that's currently well-liked by gamers these days? Albeit, I am a little hesitant to get an off-brand card. I got a Montego card long ago and had to ditch it when upgrading to Win95 at the time, for lack of drivers. At least Creative will probably be around and will put some effort into supporting their legacy products for a while.

And, again, are the add-on sound cards a waste of time and money? I think I saw one message stating that a sound card can handle more simultaneous sounds than onboard chipsets. Is that correct?

I understand about doing research myself. While I know what I'm doing in general, I'm essentially starting from scratch on the particulars. So I'm looking for pointers here. Either opinions or links to recent articles or threads. I have already done some searching. But since my questions are fairly focused I was hoping to save myself some time, rather than trying to sift through all the chaff on the 'Net by myself.

vvhocare5, I get what you're talking about on enjoying the system. I give the same advice a lot. Don't wait for the Next Great Thing six months from now. There's always something great a few months out. I'm just trying to avoid making a mistake that other people know about right now.

Thanks, again,

Drake
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January 26, 2010 4:36:25 AM

Did I chase everyone away? Nobody wants to share their opinion on 3D sound support on-board vs a dedicated sound card? Are there threads talking about particular FPS games or sims vs various sound cards?
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January 26, 2010 9:35:31 AM

I have the exact speakers you are talking about (Logitech x540) - they work extremely well and can put out ALOT of sound. I run them off my Asus MB onboard sound which supports 5.1 - I'm sure a dedicated card would be a little better but for what I need the speakers for they work great plus they have the 'Matrix' mode which gives a false 3d if surround is not supported by the application.

I have a Samsung T240 monitor and for me it's awesome - not a single dead pixel, nonglossy screen, HDMI etc etc... can't complain at all.
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January 27, 2010 1:40:51 AM

Thanks, dude.

Do you play many games that use 3D audio? Do your drivers have good support for them?

I'll look up that monitor.
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January 27, 2010 9:05:23 PM

Got some advice from someone whose opinion I trust on another forum.

He pointed out that what broke Creative's EAX was no direct-to-hardware support in the Vista/Win7 sound system. That was what I had recalled from a coupla years ago.

Therefore, on-board sound from a quality motherboard will likely be Good Enough, and will also avoid the headaches of PCI driver issues.

Also, when I really started looking at the monitors it became clear that all of the low-priced ones were TFT/TN technology. From what I've read at Dan's Data, there's probably a reasonable chance that many are manufactured at the same factory.

Therefore, the Samsung T240 is currently the least expensive at NewEgg. Chances are it will do just fine.

So I think that's what I'll be going with.
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January 27, 2010 10:18:18 PM

That's exactly what I did for the monitor (I got it wholesale cost due to the company I was working with at the time) but bang for the buck I couldn't complain. Enjoy.
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