I also have tucked away a Soundblaster 4.1 Digital PCI card(well actually it's a 512 or something but i was told about being able to use the 4.1 drivers which have always worked perfectly). This is, clearly, an old PCI card but works well.
The sound is output through an even older 'Seperates' amp, which was cheap and cheerful at the time, although has never given me reason to complain (40w RMS, don't intend on upgrading for a few years).
Now, i could just get off my lazy backside and do a number of changes and listen to quality differences, but i am, as stated, quite lazy.
My question therefore is this:
Will i get be better installing the old Soundblaster PCI card and using that, or using the on-board C-media? This question is both 'better' as measured by sound quality (mostly mp3's at 128 up to 192 rate) and in terms of CPU processing power (ie when i play UT2003 and have mp3 running on winamp at the same time).
Well you have the two devices. Plug in the sound card, take a listen, then switch the audio device preferences to the onboard and take another listen. Then make a decision. I really couldn'y say which is better because they are both "budget" solutions, and it's kind of like the difference between an MX400 and MX420, in that there isn't a whole lot there.