Laptop onboard audio failing, external alternatives?

My laptops onboard audio chip is slowly failiing, quality is dropping slowly with fuzzy bits and artifacts (pops/cracks). Unfortunately i do not have an express card slot or whatever they're called, can anyone recomend a decent USB sound card? Budget of £100/$150.

Also playing music is becoming very demanding on the CPU (only dual core 2.2ghz) and bringing it up to about 80% usage, is there something seriously wrong with my laptop? if i disable onboard audio in the bios, cpu idles about 4% ish when playing music via a 99 pence usb thing (really bad quality)

Thanks in advance!
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More about laptop onboard audio failing external alternatives
  1. Your sound card is failing quite badly by the sound of it. Try the Nuforce Icon uDAC2.
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