Does a Hardcore Gamer NEED a dedicated sound card?

Hey guys, I just read the sticky about sound cards in todays new systems and cut-pasted it below:

Sound Cards
With CPUs getting more powerful with more cores, and memory cheaper, the old argument of performance enhancement doesn't make as much sense. At one time using a PCI sound card such as a Soundblaster helped your computer run better while playing those demanding games such as Quake II

These days, onboard sound can be found on every motherboard you will buy. It works, and does not noticeably slow your computer. Occasionally it fails to work, just like other parts of your motherboard. Your motherboard will produce surround sound that will probably sound just as good to you as some fancy Audigy sound card.

Some folks have ears and brains wired a bit differently. They notice a difference in movies, games, and music when they use a modern sound card. These same people will have expensive 2.1, 5.1, or even 7.1 speaker systems.

In a nutshell it doesn't answer my question. I have a new system here to build. Below are the specs (check the onboard audio, especially)

Intel Core i7-860
4GB Corsair DDR3 1600mhz
2x WD Caviar 1TB (Raid 0)
Asus P7P55D Motherboard (w/onboard 8-channel HD audio CODEC enables high-quality 192KHz/24-bit audio output, jack-sensing feature, retasking functions and multi-streaming technology that simultaneously sends different audio streams to different destinations)
Asus HD 5870 Video Card
Windows 7 64-bit

Now, I am not interested in an add-in PCI-e sound card to off-load my CPU. Nay, instead I am interested in all of the awesome EAX sounds that..say a PCI Express Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium can provide.

However, I understand that with Windows 7, MS did away with Direct Audio completely and Creative Labs is using a program called "Alchemy" to work around this and that not all EAX-compatible games are fully working yet with it.

Soo, where does this leave me? do I stick with my onboard audio solution and do without the lovely EAX or pay $100 for the add-in card and pray the games I play most can do EAX effects in Windows 7 through Alchemy?

Thanks everyone in advance. Maaaann, it has been over 4.5 years since a new PC build and this is so exciting so I really wanna get this right. Ya know?

9 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. lowstandards said:

    Creative Labs is using a program called "Alchemy" to work around this and that not all EAX-compatible games are fully working >>>> yet <<<<<with it.

    pay $100 for the add-in card and pray the games I play most can do EAX effects in Windows 7 through Alchemy?

  2. Best answer
    Need has nothing to do with it. Now want is another story :D.

    Anyway newer games use other means to achieve directional sound such as Open AL or Dolby. Directional sound via Direct sound isn't as good ^_^. Anyway, EAX has been pushed by the wayside and only makes a difference in older games. If you can get your Xi-Fi creative to work on your build (I hear it's a driver nightmare in Win7), then go for it. If you find the onboard sound good enough for your ears, then just stick with the onboard sound. I say try the onboard sound first and then make your judgement. ASUS usually does a pretty good job with the onboard sound.
  3. Personally I use A Razer Barracuda Ac-1 card. Its been outstanding and i recommend it for all the builds i do, That being said its normal price is 200 bucks so its on the high price end. It works well with win xp vista and 7the only thing i would change about it if i could is it is a pci card, though if they changed it to Pcie or Pcie x1 it might just be way to efficient :). I got it for how sound is rendered and the fact that Razer built it from ground up which means it doesn't use anything from Creative at all which is a plus. Though as stated above there is far less need for any after market card.

    Its just my opinion that like creative anything dealing with realtek just tend to have alot of issues getting it to work right and not cause some bottlenecking.
  4. My board does 8 Channel HD audio, just put your system together and see how you like it, if you want better sound you can always buy a card later.
  5. <+1+> ... Now THAT *does* make a whole lotta sense !

    Besides ... if you (in the end) do decide that your finnacky ears simply cannot abide the onboard sound ... then ... You just might want to trot over to your local "Guitar Center" store and select a premium sound card from their pro-audio counter (since audio is their focus and they maintain a broad selection).

    = fussy ! =
  6. thanks folks for the input! think I am staying with the onboard 8 channel audio for now.
  7. Best answer selected by lowstandards.
  8. Thanks folks for all of your suggestions. I have been using my onboard HD audio solution and love it! Think I will stick with this setup for a while.
  9. Idk My Soundblaster Xfi titanium works great with my 5.1 system. If you have a 2.1 system or headphones I'd say you're okay with onboard sound. But my 5.1 system is the difference between night and day between onboard and my sound card. The encoder of the SB X-Fi is great and directional sound works great in games.
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