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What soundcard should I get?

Last response: in Components
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July 16, 2012 10:52:31 AM

I'm looking for a new soundcard for my 7.1 analog headset.
I currently have the integrated soundchip on my Asus Sabertooth Z77 (Realtek® ALC892 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC)
But this seems to be some crappy quality.

I don't really have a budget, but I want to make sure I get best bang for buck (But still at least under €200).

I only have a PCIe x1 slot free on my motherboard, since I have 2xGTX 680 4GB's in SLI. (I believe I can put one above the 2 cards, under or between is no space left)

So basicly:
What soundcard with PCIe x1 connector which is only 1 PCIe slot thick, will be best for me?



And also, won't this extra soundcard lower my GPU speeds? Since that PCIe x1 slot seems to share it's bandwidth with the other PCIe x16 slots. (They currently run at x8 3.0)

More about : soundcard

July 16, 2012 11:31:19 AM

I would recommend the $72 Asus Xonar Dx .
It has excellent sound quality and is reasonably priced.

To your other concern; no, installing a dedicated PCIe 1x device will not lower the bandwidth to your graphic cards.
All three PCIe 1x slots should use your motherboard's southbridge PCIe connectivity, leaving all PCIe lanes from the CPU fully dedicated to graphics.
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July 16, 2012 11:37:28 AM

Since I live in holland, I buy them at Alternate. I've seen this card on that site: Asus Xonar D2X/XDT. I don't really mind spending that much money on the soundcard, since I'd rather buy something good for more, than I'd regret I havent spend that money on the better one..

But what's the difference between cards like this?
July 16, 2012 12:18:00 PM

The Xonar D2X is one of Asus' more premium cards.
As such, it will offer somewhat cleaner sound than the Xonar Dx (although, it is entirely up to your headset's drivers if you will hear the difference or not).
Personally, I would not consider it enough of an upgrade to justify doubling the price, but it is a very nice card.

Looking to Geizhals, I found a pair of Dutch sites with the Xonar Dx in stock for around €70.
http://asus.zercom.eu/index.php?dispatch=products.view&...
http://www.4launch.nl/shop/get/p-4-productid-064138
July 16, 2012 1:17:30 PM

I think I'm gonna get that Asus Xonar DX then. I'm not paying €100 for a small improvement ;) 

Thanks for the help!
July 17, 2012 8:22:43 AM

That is the best choice for a great upgrade and really amazing sound.
July 17, 2012 1:12:47 PM

I have forgotten 1 thing. I'm using an optical audio cable to my Home Cinema Set. Is there any other good card wich has Optical out? Or does it just work on my motherboard as a sort of passthrough? Or does the motherboard optical out still use my Realtek chip.

(I haven't ordered yet)
July 17, 2012 1:47:41 PM

Won't matter. Digital is digital. The Home Cenema will be doing all the audio processing. Unlike the onbard, the DX gives the ability to encode to 5.1 Dolby Digital in realtime, but aside from that, the DX won't be doing any audio processing whatsoever.
July 17, 2012 6:17:57 PM

OK! Thanks for the information!

We have only talked about Asus so far, but isn't "Creative" a good sound-card brand a well? Like...... What about the Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Professional Series for example? Any other Creative products that will give me better sound? Maybe another brand?
July 17, 2012 7:54:11 PM

Not really. Creative has offered sub-par products for some time now. And if you are using the optical port, the sound cards aren't going to be doing much processing anyways.
July 18, 2012 6:48:15 AM

The DX has an Optical out. The pack comes with a jack for it and will suite your needs perfectly.
July 18, 2012 12:14:38 PM

^^ Technically, ASUS still uses Coax, but they ship their cards with a converter jack, so no problems on that front.
July 18, 2012 4:30:45 PM

So basicly, Asus is currently the top-brand for PCIe soundcards, and most recommended brand.
And optical output doesnt need processing, since the Home Cinema system I connect it with, does the processing itself?

Asus Xonar Dx stays the best option.
July 18, 2012 5:57:50 PM

More or less. I'm sure a few enhancements are done by the drivers [Volume, Environmental Effects, etc], but the major quality differences in the signal will be seen during conversion to analog, which in that case would be done with the Home Cinema system.
July 19, 2012 8:21:39 AM

Yes, it is in that budget and since I just got mine a few weeks ago, it really does blow Creative out of the door.
I always used Creative cards from the very first few and never thought that they had anything better than these for the home user. Then after a lot of reading and searching through Audiophile sites, it turns out that these have outdone the creative lot.... and now, after listening to the sound, I have to say, I can confirm the quality for sure.
This is one of those entry level low budget cards and if it can out do the high end creative lot.... than I shudder to imagine what Asus's high end cards would do....

PS: Also bear in mind that this card requires external power from a Floppy Power connector, they do have a adapter cable in the box , molex to floppy power.
July 19, 2012 11:55:53 AM

^^ Yeah, due to the PCI to PCI-E bridge chip, ASUS's PCI-E cards typically need a power connector. Not a *huge* deal though.
July 20, 2012 8:57:28 AM

I have XFX 1050W Black edition, that should be enough to power 2x GTX 680 4GB's, i7-3770k + The soundcard, or not?
July 20, 2012 9:09:20 AM

Yes, your PSU should be more than powerful enough to handle that system.
July 20, 2012 9:51:26 AM

Excessive.............. :) 
!