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Stuck on stupid - sound card needed or not?

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Last response: in Components
February 27, 2011 6:07:55 PM

GOAL: Really popping surround sound for a Home Theater - not a gamer. Also am on a very tight budget.

Bottom Line: Will the three "wire" analog outputs on my motherboard deliver the signal needed for 5.1 sound?

I just ordered a shell shocker basic PC from Newegg to use as the core for a HTPC system. I see where the HDMI out will only deliver 2-channel stereo and I immediately had an oh crap moment when I realized this. The Realtek ALC888B will produce 5.1 but apparently the HDMI output will not.

The motherboard only has the standard analog green / pink / blue outputs only - no optical out. Will these "analog" three outputs deliver the signal required signal(s) for 5.1? (Actually, as I recall that is the setup used previously from the DVD player to the Home Theater In a Box system I had and the sound was excellent and was "claimed" to be 5.1 - all 4 side speakers produced crisp and separate sounds during certain movies)

I have a nice 5 speaker set from the Home Theater system that got blown up by lightning, so was thinking that a receiver would be my best sound delivery system. Maybe, I already have what I need as far as the computer goes and I just need to buy the receiver - that's where I need help/advice. I sure don't need to be spending money on anything I don't need....

The mobo also has Support for S/PDIF In/Out - Can I add pug a rear panel device into the motherboard to get correct audio out? (if the analog out is not sufficient)

If in fact I need a sound card, then I am looking for advice and recommendations on a decent, low cost card. One main question I have is should I look for a card with "optical" output? I will need to purchase cable or cables that will have to run about 35 feet from the PC to the receiver.

If a stand alone receiver will be sufficient with just the three cable input from the motherboard, then I'd love some advice on a unit that maybe goes for about $350 or less.

Here is my mobo and the audio chip info:

GIGABYTE GA-880GM-D2H - this board only has the "analog" audio out ports (

* Realtek ALC888B codec
* High Definition Audio
* 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
* Support for CD In

Thanks in advance for helping me learn more and become enabled to make a wise decision!

More about : stuck stupid sound card needed

February 27, 2011 6:17:47 PM

Many recievers only have an RCA jack for aux-in. For these, a 5.1 output is useless
If you get one with SPDIF- in, you could use that port.
February 27, 2011 6:41:45 PM

No your mobo has a spdif output. You can hook it up to a receiver via a digital connection. So the receiver will do all the work and you won't be using the onboard.

Thanks for the quick response - I don't "see" a spdif output on the photo of the rear panel on the mobo, unless I'm missing something.. I did see on the Gigabyte support page that I can buy a spdif device so guess that is a decent option. Here is a link to the mobo photo:

What's your budget for a receiver? Not much more than $300.00

Thanks again for your help!
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February 27, 2011 7:19:33 PM

You motherboard supports a s/pdif connection via a not included riser card. The part number is 12CR1-1SPINO-1*R (and the * means all versions) Ebay will be your friend for this part I think.

PS - don't forget to order a s/pdif cable too.
February 27, 2011 7:41:35 PM

Thanks popatim - I didn't think I was hallucinating when I did not see anything but analog out on my motherboard. Your advice and even part no. is just what I needed the help with to clear the muck in my brain.

I'll wait until I figure what I am going to purchase for a receiver before getting the cable with proper connections on both ends. I'll likely buy from as they seem to have great quality and value in whatever they provice

Thanks Again!

popatim said:
You motherboard supports a s/pdif connection via a not included riser card. The part number is 12CR1-1SPINO-1*R (and the * means all versions) Ebay will be your friend for this part I think.

PS - don't forget to order a s/pdif cable too.

February 27, 2011 7:43:21 PM

Dadiggle - Thanks for you help - much appreciated! I looked at the receivers and am partial to Onkyo or Yamaha. Will be a month or more before I can take the plunge, but your advice has been great!!


There's 2 you can look at my other options up there what's under 300 as well

I can't see the pic I'm on a phone but you should have a coxial/toslink input at the back where you plug it in. You need to buy the cable btw

Its got a Hdmi support. You can use the Hdmi connection which is even better. Do you have a gpu?

February 27, 2011 7:43:54 PM

Best answer selected by dougf4.
February 27, 2011 7:49:26 PM

monoprice is awesome for all types of cables !!!