Originally Posted by Paul17041993
onboard never really compares to dedicated cards, though gigabyte boards are pretty decent, the major things you lack are proper op-amps and hardware acceleration, without these you end up with higher cpu usage (as its software-only) and you wont get much punch out of your headphones and/or speakers without decent amps in either, but if you don't consider yourself and audiophile and/or are only using very basic speakers and headsets with the sound on 2 channels, 48KHz (default) the onboard should be good enough.
you'll just have to try and consider yourself whether you like the Zx or you think onboard is enough and you can sell it.
I think there is a misconception between DSP effects that are offloaded on the codecs/audio processors and actual hardware acceleration. When you say hardware acceleration, that's referring to the ability of the windows audio stack to use an API to render effects in hardware mode. This has not been possible since the XP days with the loss of DS3D.
DSP effects are taken care of by modern sound card's processors or the codecs on motherboards. You are not using extra cpu resources for this. WASAPI already mixes everything in software together, regardless if you have a sound card or not. The difference is at the audio endpoint, whether the codec/spu adds its own effects independent of the mixer. These effects are only available with realtek codecs or a creative/asus processor anyway and so dont matter in terms cpu power. They are done on the IC itself. There is no extra CPU overhead because you are using onboard, this isnt like back in the day.
One exception with this may be Razer Surround which is all software based surround and needs extra CPU cycles as it cant use a codec or spu to process this. However its optimized to not add latency or take too many cpu cycles, but downside is bad audio quality due to the re sampling engine being optimized most likely.
Originally Posted by hajabooja
I'm looking into upgrading some of my sound components and peripherals. I currently have an X-Fi Xtremegamer and a pair of Sennheiser HD555s. There's been some pretty good deals on the Sound Blaster Z lately and I've been looking to get a new pair of headphones. Will I see a huge difference between the Xtremegamer and the Z? Just trying to decide if it's worth it from a sound quality standpoint. I know it'll be much better in terms of having updated drivers and so on.
You should and will notice a decent improvement in audio quality. The DAC is much improved, as it stands as a dedicated stereo DAC, not a multichannel one which usually yields lesser quality when working with 8 channels. The amp should also give you some nice power to your cans.