Upgrading system with soundcard for gaming


I am looking to buy a soundcard for my gaming rig. I don't need extra quality or performance for music or movies, mainly for FPS games like Counter-Strike Source and Black Ops 2.

Upon reading threads and more threads and posts I've hit info overload. Still I cannot decide to buy or not too buy. Creatives seem to be frowned upon with driver problems so don't want to go down that road.

My rig:
Motherboard : ASUS P8Z68-V PRO
CPU: i7-2700k 3.5GHz
System: Win7 64
GFX: Nvidia GTX 570
PSU: Antec EA750
Headphones: Plantronics GameCom 367

Am quite happy with sound quality at the current level but would love to up the stakes. The plantronics are cheap but very comfortable for extended sessions of gaming.

I don't want to pay for something I will never use to it's full potential but I still want some form of future proofing. I have rabbits and am very leery of spending loads of money on headphones where they could chew through the cable (again).

Some options:

Xonar Xense with Senheisser 350's (two birds one stone?)

ASUS Xonar DG 5.1 PCI (cheap enough to get rid of if no improvement from on-board)

Xonar Essence STX

Any advice and guidance would be greatly appreciated. Max budget is £200. To get any real benefit from a soundcard do I need to upgrade my headphones?

3 answers Last reply
More about upgrading system soundcard gaming
  1. It's better to focus on better headphones, then the sound card. I would personally recommend getting the HD 598 for it's amazing soundstage and music performance. Your sound card should be able to perform Dolby 5.1. There is no need for an external sound card, though the Xonar DG may help a very slight bit (personally I do not feel that there is a huge difference in performance between the ALC892 and the Xonar DG).
  2. FYI creative labs has been fine for drivers since about 2008. That said, I wouldn't buy one for use with headphones.

    The DG has a built-in headphone amp, which will help quite a bit, though you might want to get an external amp that you could use with any card.
  3. Went with the Xonar Xense with Senheisser 350's, good price entry level gear.

    Not disappointed to date. Comfy fitting cans, which I can wear for long periods. Haven't adjusted much in way of settings yet, but can honestly say there is a huge (positive) difference in sound quality. If only my gaming skills were so easily upgraded.
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