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Do I absolutely need a sound card?

Last response: in Systems
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July 25, 2012 3:46:55 AM

Do I need a sound card for gaming and web browsing? And if so, which one?

I was thinking of this:
ASUS Xonar DX 7.1 Channels PCI Express x1 Interface Sound Card
[a]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...[/a]

Motherboard:
ASUS Z9PE-D16 (Form factor: SSI EEB)
[a]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...[/a]

Special Notes:
I also need to fit two dual-slot graphics cards. And my budget is at most 200$.
I have a 5.1 surround sound system which uses 3 3.5mm jacks for input.

More about : absolutely sound card

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a b B Homebuilt system
July 25, 2012 3:52:56 AM

You would with that motherboard since it is a server board and has no audio out. It isn't meant to be used in a normal system, it isn't even meant to be used in a workstation. Notice the 5 ethernet jacks? I would definitely pick a different board given you stated your usage was gaming and web browsing, that board would be a poor choice for both.


In general most motherboards these days come with a fairly good onboard audio chipset, some better than others. I would try it with that first, you can always add a sound card later, but if you are one who doesn't notice a difference in audio quality unless it is quite significant you won't notice a difference between onboard and a discrete sound card.
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July 25, 2012 3:58:25 AM

I am upgrading from this motherboard:

ASRock Z77 Extreme4 LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

And gaming and web browsing are some of the things that aren't as intensive. I also happen to be interested in Computer Science-y stuff which consumes CPU power.




...I'll go ahead and take your answer as a "yes", you'll need a sound card.
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July 25, 2012 4:31:04 AM

Best answer selected by Shotzo.nnnI'll order the card too (motherboard is already shipped.)
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 25, 2012 12:42:51 PM

It was not a yes, it was a try it without it, most people cannot tell the difference.
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July 25, 2012 12:44:55 PM

I put the card in my existing system just to see if it worked..


No more annoying hiss when I move my mouse around. I am.. shocked! O_O
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July 25, 2012 3:08:02 PM

Why are you ordering that motherboard?
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July 25, 2012 3:23:09 PM

hunter315 said:
It was not a yes, it was a try it without it, most people cannot tell the difference.


There is quite a big difference if you game with headphones.

Moving from onboard sound to a Xonar made a huge difference. Once you use a discreet sound card you'll never use onboard again. Well worth the money.
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a b B Homebuilt system
a b Ĉ ASUS
July 25, 2012 3:29:34 PM

graemevermeulen said:
There is quite a big difference if you game with headphones.

Moving from onboard sound to a Xonar made a huge difference. Once you use a discreet sound card you'll never use onboard again. Well worth the money.


+100

Discrete sound is much much better than on board sound, anyone who says otherwise is either deaf or hasn't tried it.
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July 25, 2012 5:24:09 PM

graemevermeulen said:
Why are you ordering that motherboard?


I wanted an Intel Xeon 2687W processor, and the ability to upgrade RAM further from 32GB (Ramdisk for gaming anyone?). Quad channel memory was also nice as it increases performance.

As for the percieved benefit of using discrete sound over integrated (my previous motherboard had a Realtek 7.1 chipset), I've only noticed a difference in the SNR, which was only perceptible when not playing any music. I don't use headphones, and the bass reproduction seems to be about the same.

There might be some benefit to using the sound card though, in terms of decreased CPU usage. But without a way to compare, I cannot verify this. Then again, a 16-logical-core processor has enough spare CPU cycles when web browsing that this isn't an issue (software RAID works well enough for this reason too.)
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a b B Homebuilt system
a b Ĉ ASUS
July 25, 2012 5:28:32 PM

Shotzo said:
I wanted an Intel Xeon 2687W processor, and the ability to upgrade RAM further from 32GB (Ramdisk for gaming anyone?). Quad channel memory was also nice as it increases performance.

As for the percieved benefit of using discrete sound over integrated (my previous motherboard had a Realtek 7.1 chipset), I've only noticed a difference in the SNR, which was only perceptible when not playing any music. I don't use headphones, and the bass reproduction seems to be about the same.

There might be some benefit to using the sound card though, in terms of decreased CPU usage. But without a way to compare, I cannot verify this. Then again, a 16-logical-core processor has enough spare CPU cycles when web browsing that this isn't an issue (software RAID works well enough for this reason too.)


Discrete sound cards have vastly superior upmixing/downmixing and upsampling/downsampling which helps a lot when working with making a stereo source sound like not-crap on a multichannel setup.
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July 25, 2012 5:40:57 PM

Superior in what manner? Better algorithms (cubic interpolation vs. linear interpolation), better performance, better digital to analog converters?

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a b B Homebuilt system
a b Ĉ ASUS
July 25, 2012 6:29:09 PM

Shotzo said:
Superior in what manner? Better algorithms (cubic interpolation vs. linear interpolation), better performance, better digital to analog converters?


Pretty much yes to everything.

Onboard audio codecs do a very poor job of separating low frequency components from sources and redirecting them to the LFE channel if one is present. They tend to like to treat all speakers as full range which means that Bass will often be muted or distorted. All the Realtek codecs that I have tried have this problem, codecs based on the Creative Labs 20K2 do not.

For games that do the channel processing in software this isn't much of an issue because they will render the sound to the correct channel in the first place, no need to resample or remix. There will be a noticeable increase in some situations though though, games such as Battlefield BC2 and Battlefield 3 are noticeably better on discrete cards. The quality improvement is most noticeable on sharper sounds such as gunshots and impacts as these have high frequency components.

For Audio programs that rely on the driver and/or windows audio service to do the processing there is an extremely noticeable difference, especially for stereo sources such as most CD audio (lossy or lossless), youtube videos, etc... The bass crossover improvements are very nice here.

Most discrete sound cards use 24 bit DACs with powerful opamps that can even be changed by the user should they wish.
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