AC97 onboard audio?

I want to build a PC with an Intel 815EP chipset based motherboard. I'm contemplating the EPOX EP3SPA3L or ABIT SA6. Both have onboard AC97 audio, but I wanted to know if there are different OEM chipsets used for this audio. In other words, can one AC97 implementation from one vendor be better than anothers? Is one better sounding, or perhaps more compatible in real-mode DOS?

I know that a "real" PCI sound card would be better, but for the purposes of my kid's computer, it doesn't really matter.

Has anyone compared the different manufacturers of AC97 audio chipsets?

11 answers Last reply
More about ac97 onboard audio
  1. Look, get this AC97 card out of your mind, if you want real good sound. I'm gonna buy an 815e chipset mobo, and the first thing I will do is "disable" AC97 from the Bios, and put mu brand new SB LIVE 5.1 (hoping I will NOT have the problems I have now with VIA chipset)

    Blue Skies Bring Tears
  2. You will notice the sound difference between the ac97 chip and a sb live. Try it out for a month, playing all the usual games and music cd's. Then upgrade to a sb live, for around $40. You'll probably need some good amps on your speakers, because the sb live doesn't put out a lot of power. But it's crisp and clear, unlike the 97 chip.
  3. I aggree with the comments above that if your kids are going to play games, then you should upgrade the sound as almost everthing on-board related to media (sound graphics, etc) sounds horrible compared to a PCI Device.
    To answer your original question though, there is probably not going to be any audio difference on the 2 since they are using the same hardware.

    If it works for you then don't fix it.
  4. You know I've read some of the stuff here and I have a AC97 chip on my 694D Pro (MSI) and if your just gonna run 2 speakers and a sub you'll be just fine. If you want a value upgrade go for a SB Live Player. AC97 isn't compatible with some games. Sorry I have haven't checked the various chipsets. Good Luck!!!

    "Cock-a-doodle-do" is what I say to my girl when I wake her UP in the morning!!
  5. Oh, and be careful with the Via chipset sound. It has bugs when it comes to CD playback
  6. You do not seem to be looking at Via chipsets but just wanted to say of the Via systems I have put together recently, most have opted for a PCI sound card, several however have opted for the onboard AC97 audio. I have not run across any problems enabling or using this feature. Also I was quite impressed with it's sound. I would not use it myself as I do a lot of Content Authoring but for standard home use, I have no problem saying go ahead, you will be fine, like someone else pointed out, if it does not quite meet your needs, you can always install a PCI card later.
  7. Dissenter! You will burn for your opinion!

    Just kidding. I'm just increasing my post count. ;-)

    I have the dreaded via/SB combination in my computer and have switched back and forth between the AC97 and the SB just for kicks. Either I'm deaf or there isn't a huge quality difference. If I didn't already have the SB, I'd just stick with the AC97 for stability. Pretty twisted logic, I guess, but then I've only got a CD on my IDE (and HDs on the promise controller).

    Beware the Sword of the Righteous, for it's hard to tell where the handle ends and the blade begins.
  8. I have an Epox8KTA3 MB with the AC97 sound chip on it. I used the onboard sound for about a month before upgrading to a SB16 PCI. I did not have any problems in any applications either Windows, Windows dos/box or real mode dos. Some key things to note:

    1) With the Epox at least, the onboard sound is the equivalent of a Sound Blaster Pro stereo. This means you've got stereo 8-Bit sound, about half as good as CD quality.

    2) The midi on it is kinda funky. Doesn't play all the notes exactly in DOOM I noticed.

    3) There is no on-board Pre-Amp. You will need external speakers with an power amplifier. I have a set of Generic Labtec LCS-600 from 2 years back. They did fine.

    4) There are drivers included for REAL mode dos. That's right, not a funky Windows Dos. I mean REAL dos, like version 6.22. So those finiky Dos games loved that.

    No support for EAX or anything fancy, but it IS full duplex, allowing recording and playback all at once.

    Overall, I'd say for your kid's computer, if he or she is going to be playing some older or more recent games and are more concerned with the on screen action rather than the PRECISE sound a Rocket should make than it's a decent buy. I liked it since it tided me over from my old ISA until I found some cash for a PCI sound card.

    Best of luck to ya.
  9. Thanks to all the feedback.

  10. on board audio is basicly like getting a $5 card and u shouldnt expect alot from it. if u want to play games at least get a sb live card. it will do sound in hardware so it dosnt slow down you games or much anything else to do with sound. and you wont need a new one for a while. i personaly never had any problems running a sb live card on any system but then again who knows. the value is 256 voices with limited hardware support go with the none value line of cards.all the ne live cards have 1024 voices this is a big deal if u want to hear the full amount of sound and 3d but if you play older games just get someting that makes a sound. the lives have dos based 16bit drivers. if u want to spend your money right go with a live MP3+ or g-gamer boht of those i have owned untill i got my platinum. im not sure whats with not being able to ehar a difrance i do just about everything that my card is made for and i hear a big difrence from cheaper yamahas or onboard sound. jsut buy a quality Sound Blaster and u wont need a new one for a long time

    <P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Blade2G on 04/26/01 11:51 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
  11. There is much truth in what you say.

    I have a sound blaster 16 PnP ISA from 95 and LOVE IT TO DEATH. There is no difference really between it and a SB LIVE card. Strictly speaking of course. Live has many more features and options as well as encoding and so forth, awesome midi support, and EAX and Digital, but for WAV files, MP3's, general gamming, NO noticable difference. A sound blaster will go a long way. A VERY LONG way. And besides, a 16-bit sound blaster is only around $25 these days.

    The Jolly Wizened Oaf!
Ask a new question

Read More

Sound Cards Chipsets Audio Components