Asus Essence XT or external amp via optical?

I am building a new computer and I can't bring my old Asus Essence ST since its interface is PCI and the new mboard i am getting only has PCI-e (Asus P9x79 WS).

I contemplated in getting the Asus STX (with the PCI-e interface). However, I an also thinking of just using the optical out of my motherboard and connect it to a pre-amp/poweramp then to my speakers.

However, my question is, will I still be able to use the volume control in my Windows7 64bit? (which I can also control via my keyboard) or will this function utterly cease and I will need to adjust the volume from my preamp? If this is the case then I don't want to go this route since the location of my preamp will be 1.5meters away from where I sit and I always turn my volume up/down depending on the song/my mood/phone calls/etc.

Or is there a better alternative?

If the volume control works such that I can still control in Windows7 the volume of the sounds going out my optical out, then what preamp would you suggest that could output audiophile music on a 2.1 setup (i know audiophile is pure stereo but sometimes I want to crank up the bass from my subs during fast songs)

PS-In case you are wondering what I will setup, it will be an i7 3820/Asus P9x79/32GB Ripjaws Z RAM/Gigabyte 660ti/OCZ 256GB SSD/Corsair AX850 PSU/Corsair 550D. I will be using a KAI6 interface via USB which is hooked up to my Shure SM7b/Focusrite ISA One/etc. I will be using this for my video/audio editing and some games
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  1. IMO if you are thinking optical/coax to a receiver i say why bother? go with HDMI
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