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SB Live! onboard or RealTek AL850?

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May 25, 2005 6:07:47 PM

I am building a new rig for games and lan parties. However I haven't got so much money to spend on a separate sound card so I am going to try and plump for an onboard solution. But I don't know which chipset to get.

The SB Live! seems an attractive offer because of its support for Dolby Digital EX and 24bit audio. Also because the chip is by Creative the quality is likely to reflect the quality of their soundcards. Does the 24bit Audio mean that I can play DVD Audio discs using a software player such as Power DVD 6? Also does the onboard Live! soundcard have support for EAX 3 and 4 like the Audigy 2 soundcards, or will I have to purchase a separate soundcard in order to enjoy the EAX 3 and 4?

The other choice is a Realtek AL850 chipset - this chipset supports only EAX 1 or 2 but supposedly it can decode live Dolby Digital unlike Creative chips (unless someone else can prove that Creative's SB Live! onboard can decode Live Dolby Digital for gaming). However the lack of 24bit audio means that I will not be able to enjoy DVD Audio.

So which audio solution is the best one for my needs - RealTek, SB Live! or a separate sound card? BTW I intend to use 7.1 Speakers with this system.

PC Spec: AMD Athlon XP 2000+, ECS K7S5A Motherboard, 768MB SDRAM PC133, Sparkle nVidia Riva TNT2 M64 32MB AGP Graphics Card, Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 6.1, Windows XP
May 25, 2005 6:15:03 PM

I would buy a motherboard based on all its specs not just which onboard audio does it have.
If you don't like the onboard sound you can still use it while you save for an audio card, but if you lose more important features just for getting better onboard audio it can hurt you in future upgrades to your system.
Post which motherboards do you have in mind or how much money are you going to spend on the mobo.

Nothing is as easy as it looks
May 25, 2005 9:06:05 PM

I have onboard RealTek AL850 and am satified with quality.

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May 25, 2005 10:14:19 PM

I am looking in the lines of MSI, Epox or Asus motherboards and I don't intend on spending too much on the features especially when the majority of the boards charge you for SLi and Wireless networking when I already have a WLAN card and I haven't got the money to utilize SLi yet! I am looking to spend about £130 max

Will the lack of 24bit audio still let my play DVD audio discs at a lower bandwith or will I be totally denied of the feature altogether?

PC Spec: AMD Athlon XP 2000+, ECS K7S5A Motherboard, 768MB SDRAM PC133, Sparkle nVidia Riva TNT2 M64 32MB AGP Graphics Card, Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 6.1, Windows XP
May 25, 2005 10:35:50 PM

I have the EPoX EP-9NPA+Ultra and I liked the onboard audio.
I have a Turtle Beach Santa Cruz audio card but the onboard audio is OK so I decided to not install it.

I don't know if my board has 24 bit audio but I can play DVDs

Nothing is as easy as it looks
May 26, 2005 7:24:34 PM

Video DVDs will play regardless of 24bit audio because the format is a lossy format much like WMA and MP3 - Dolby Digital Soundtracks are only 44.1Khz 16bit audio so they aren't exactly taxing on the soundcard. DVD AUDIO discs are encoded in 192khz in stereo and 96khz 5.1 in 24bit with a Lossless format, and I was wondering whether the RealTek ALC850 has DVD audio capability.

PC Spec: AMD Athlon XP 2000+, ECS K7S5A Motherboard, 768MB SDRAM PC133, Sparkle nVidia Riva TNT2 M64 32MB AGP Graphics Card, Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 6.1, Windows XP
May 30, 2005 9:15:55 PM

OK I'll assume that I'll need an SB Live! 24bit to get DVD Audio capabilities. Will the SB Live! 24bit handle EAX Advanced HD 3 or 4? or just the standard EAX 1 and 2 with Environmental reverb effects.

PC Spec: AMD Athlon XP 2000+, ECS K7S5A Motherboard, 768MB SDRAM PC133, Sparkle nVidia Riva TNT2 M64 32MB AGP Graphics Card, Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 6.1, Windows XP
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