Up until recently I've considered that one sound card is just as good as another so when I've built my computers I never really put time into the sound card. What has changed my mind is the research that I've done and now I want to put the research to the test in the system I'm researching for now. I'm looking into a quad core phenom 3.4 G with at least 4 G of ram. I'm looking for either a PCI e x1 or a PCI audio card that would be good for gaming. I really only plan to play Starcraft 2 and Civilization 5 but I want to keep my options open because I may want to do something more hardcore later. Now I really don't want to spend more than $60 but if it's a really good deal I may go up to $80. Does anyone have any suggestions and if possible add a link to the card in question. I would really appreciate any help.
Before you spend any money on any sound card, check the quality of the on-board sound. Most motherboards these days have surprisingly good on-board sound. In fact, I uninstalled my Creative SB X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty (PCIe) sound card because the difference did not justify the cost. I did not see any difference in sound quality playing COD.
this is what I know, buying a sound card made a huge difference in the sound in games I was playing before it is important to use headphones. secondly the first thing to consider is you'll want to have at least one headphone jack available in the front connected to the card and another in the back for your speakers and more in the back for surround (potential)
you might prefer your cases front panel to a front panel that comes with the sound card or you might not even find a sound card that comes with a front panel or a way of connecting it to your cases front panel so you'll have no way of using a front panel with your sound card so you'll have to either only use speakers or dissconnect the speakers from the back every time you want to switch from speakers to headphones