i am building a new computer. i do some gaming(counter-strike, civilizationIII), listne to mp3's, and will be watching tv(when i get my AIW radeon). should i get a sb live or just use the integrated ac'97 card in the abit th7II? what advatntages are there to gettting the live? also, is the sb live with the live drive worth the $89, or should i just stick with the bare pci card? what are the advantages of the live drive that i would use? the only one that i can think of is using the headphone jack for when my girlfriend doesn't wnat to hear the "crap" that i play. what else is there? oh yeah and one more thing, do you need a program running in the backround to get the benefits of the sb live or the live drive or can you turn all that crap off and still use the goodies?
Im building a new System as well...And i listen to alot of Mp3's and stuff and i was wondering if the OnBoard will Cut it..Im not a gamming Freak, but i guess thats because i never really had a good system with a nice GRaphic's card, i play alot of the console Games..ANYWAY... What i think im gonna do since im killing my Wallet already on this Dream Machine...Im gonna use the Onboard and if i think it doesn't cut it i will add a Better card something like the Extigy, i like all the knobs and stuff with that External Hardware..
Another thing..My dad has a SB card in his PC and I completely HATE IT!!! Almost on every MP3 i have to Adjust the Equilizer to get a decent sound... On my comp now i have OnBoard and i just play an Mp3 and crank up the speakers and it sounds great! if anything Turtle Beach Makes great cards..i would either get the Beach or an Extigy
If you do not plan on having surround sound on your computer, or do not plan on spending anymore than $50 on a pair of speakers, I recommend that you try the onboard sound and if you like it, stick with it. I have a SB Live 5.1 hooked up to a 500 Watt Dolby Digital Reciever, using its 6.1 inputs as well as digital in and out (using the <A HREF="http://www.tracertek.com/sblive.htm" target="_new">Hoontech SB III</A> Add on card. It gives me all the conviences of the live drive, except that it is on the back of the computer (Which I like as having all the cords on the front would not look so nice and the remote control, which is not needed as I have a wireless mouse. If you plan on needing the digital connections, I recommend this combination as it has worked flawlessly for about a year; if you do not need the digital hookups, don't buy it and just stick with the on-board sound or another internal sound card.
Don't bother considering the Live since the Audigy OEM is only a few bucks more and is significantly better. The Live (or Audigy) Drive is generally a waste of money unless you're a musician. Also, keep in mind that Creative products sometimes have issues with VIA chipsets due to PCI bugs that some VIA chipsets have.
Anyway, most games today use EAX and EAX 2. As far as I know, EAX 2 is only supported by the Live! and Audigy. In addition, the Audigy supports the new EAX HD, which games are sure to implement. For a hardcore gamer like me, the Audigy is the only way to go, since compatibility is my number one priority.
But since it appears that you *aren't* a hardcore gamer, there are good alternative solutions. Some have already been suggested. Also, the Hercules GTXP is pretty good. But for gaming, the Audigy rules.
Hmm I just checked and you're right (my mistake), but you'll also find on most reviews (try 3dss.com) that the EAX and EAX 2 emulation used by the Sensaura and QSound reverb engines (used by the cards you mention) is noticeably inferior to Creative's own implementation. I would say a hardcore gamer's best option is to stick with Creative because that's what game companies design around.