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Sound card Worth it for gaming

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Is a < $80 PCI-E Sound card worth it for ONLY gaming (particularly FPS)? I would like some opinions and thoughts.

I have also heard that a sound card it takes some load off of the CPU since it is not using the on-board sound, is this true?

Thanks for any help! smile.gif

I currently have a 3-4 year old turtle beach headset I am using. If I need to upgrade those please let me know wink.gif I am not sure of the specs or anything, I am not at home currently. They are a wireless model for xbox 360.
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post #2 of 21
My Friend I use Turtle Beach X21 with onboard audio and I see No diff from that then my sound card. So y spend money I'd just get a X21 and your set for like 10 years my friend. I use onboard audio for gaming and so far (with my X21) I hear every step in COD and in battlefield my ears get ripped in half when a jet flies by. Plus Don't worry about ur CPU being under to much load, I love mine (even at stock).
post #3 of 21
Quick answer: for sure!
I used to think onboard audio on my P6X58D-E was just fine. Last year, I got an Asus Xonar DX sound card (amazing card for the price btw), and now, when I go back to integrated audio on another computer (or my laptop) I can really hear the difference.

As for gaming specifically, OH YES. You get much more accurate sound, and much better positional audio, especially if your sound card supports EAX and other in-game virtual audio profiles. In titles like Battlefield BC2 and BF3, you'll benefit immensely from a decent sound card with gaming features.

You can get a Xonar DX (PCI-E) for around 70-80$ if you look around, less after MIR. Or, you could get a cheap creative card for a little less.
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post #4 of 21
Oh, and, of course, you need to have good speakers first, thats more important. Without good speakers, you wont be able to tell the difference easily. I've got corsair's SP2500s, and they are great.
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post #5 of 21
I think there is a noticeable difference when I use my onboard sound compared to my Xonar D1 soundcard. I have AD700 headphones btw. I think the sound card is well worth it considering you can get a used or open box sound card for around $50 like I did.
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post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the replies, I was wondering about my headphones. They should be close to these. Would they be good enough for like an $80 Sound card?
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post #7 of 21
To quote a gangsta from gta san adreas:

Mos Def.

For that price, X-Fi Titaniun. Titanium HD if you can find it that cheap.
post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by linkin93;15486745 
To quote a gangsta from gta san adreas:

Mos Def.

For that price, X-Fi Titaniun. Titanium HD if you can find it that cheap.

Would my headset would be sufficient if I got an X-Fi Titanium? Or would I need to invest in a new headset? tongue.gif
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post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ironman517;15486808 
Would my headset would be sufficient if I got an X-Fi Titanium? Or would I need to invest in a new headset? tongue.gif

I would try out a Xonar DG if I were you, probably not a Titanium because they cost twice as much.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alberthynek;15486328 
Quick answer: for sure!
I used to think onboard audio on my P6X58D-E was just fine....

This post is so bad. He does exactly what I described in an earlier post: buys a new card, uses jacked up settings and calls the difference an improvement. It gets even worse when he tries to tell you about his laptop's onboard. Laptops generally have poor onboard sound because all of the electronics are so close together.

It's got me thinking, though. I have a big fat HAF 932 with lots of space inside, and he's got a small mid tower case. Maybe there's something significant about that. The majority of folks probably have a whole bunch of electrical wires flip flopping inside their case no matter how big anyway. Maybe that matters too.
Edited by cuad - 10/28/11 at 9:49am
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post #10 of 21
I will say this when it comes to sound. Most onboard sound solutions today are actually pretty good. For light use they are more than adequate. I am talking about most gaming, casual music listening, casual video consumption.

So why would someone want or need a separate sound card if their onboard is good enough for many tasks?

The more serious people get about the quality of their sound the more important things like SNR become. Most onboard solutions are noisier than a decent sound card. Depending on the amount of noise, your equipment, and your ears you may hear that noise, it will sound like white noise or a hiss that is audible while listening to a given source. So the first reason you may want to jump to a soundcard or an external DAC is to reduce noise.

Another reason a person with headphones may upgrade from onboard is that the onboard solution will not drive their headphones to the listener's desired levels. Getting a soundcard with a decent headphone amp or an external headphone amp can provide louder and cleaner sound.

There are some other features some sound cards have. My Xonar has real time Dolby Digital Live encoding. I can enable it and play back multichannel games like CoD MW over my optical out.

If you are using cheap PC speakers or even low quality headphones they themselves may be so noisy and with such poor sound that it obscures any difference one might hear. For instance I bought a pair of the Turtle Beach HPA2 multi-channel headset. Even though they retailed for about $100 and included their own amp they were very noisy. If you had no signal you'd hear tons of white noise, which of course was present when playing back anything as well. With the noisy HPA2 amp it didn't really matter if I was using onboard or a high end DAC, I was still hearing a noisy signal.

Basically the goal is to get the cleanest signal at the loudest volume to your speaker or headphones. Not that you want to listen at the loudest volumes necessarily but that you can playback your source at a high volume without distortion. For most home digital audio today it starts at the source, your sound card.
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