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what's the difference between onboard sound and expensive sound cards?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
well guys it looks like a silly question but is it really worth to pay a lot of money for expensive sound cards? whats the difference? well i'm using my onboard bilt-in 5.1 sound card its realtek HD sound on intel 945gccr mobo and it gives me high quality audio and gaming experience, so whats the difference? why to pay for an expensive sound card
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post #2 of 18
Well one thing is no matter how good your on board sound is, there is pretty much guaranteed to be a better add on sound card out. (XFi range for example)
Im not much of a sound card person but i think it has to do with the DAC's on the sound cards (digital to analog conversion) That makes the sound much better, coupled with various other hardware features that on board sound simply doesnt have.

The other main thing is it free's up your CPU. With on board the CPU has to process the sound for your games which usually results in slightly less FPS, but a sound card is stand-alone and processes all the sound by its self.

Hope it helped.
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post #3 of 18
There is a big difference.

If you have good speakers, a sound card would be a very good buy.
If you have bad speakers, a sound card wouldnt be that good of a buy but it would still take a load off of the CPU.

Good speakers buy a X-fi.
Bad speakers buy a cheaper sound card like a Audigy because you won't notice a difference between a Audigy and a X-fi on bad speakers.

By good speakers I mean something like Klipsch Promedia 5.1 Ultras or similiar 2.1/5.1 setups.
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post #4 of 18
Sound cards have their own processing to off load work from CPU. They are further away from the motherboard to reduce EMI. They contain much more dedicated and advanced sound processing components.
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post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
now the question is: how much percentage of performance should i gain if i buy a good sound card??? i have good speakers, what sound card should i buy and not paying a lot ?
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post #6 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by djgaby View Post
now the question is: how much percentage of performance should i gain if i buy a good sound card??? i have good speakers, what sound card should i buy and not paying a lot ?
The cheapest X-fi is what I would get. Performance wise it depends on the game, how many sounds are playing, etc.

The X-fi will allow you to play 128 sounds at the same time, while onboard doesn't allow near that high.

I've seen as much as a 5 FPS gain with a sound card in a very sound intensive application. Real world performance maybe 1-2FPS.

Keep in mind I have a 5.1 setup and that 5FPS gain was on a single core FX57. I never tested it with this computer.
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post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by djgaby View Post
now the question is: how much percentage of performance should i gain if i buy a good sound card??? i have good speakers, what sound card should i buy and not paying a lot ?
Mostly depends on the games you play. For CS:S, I have seen people go from 130 to over 150. In games like BF2/BF2142, theres an X-Fi setting that makes the game sound amazing with very accurate audio positioning.

If your a gamer and do not really need a really good sound card, I recommend the X-FI XtremeGamer. Its usually around $60 I think but since your in Lebanon so prices can vary.
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post #8 of 18
Only real audiophiles will hear the difference between the cheaper Xi-Fi cards and the High end ones.You will see overall performance in both sound quality and processor load. I went from onboard AC to SB Audigy SE and it made a very big difference.
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post #9 of 18
Well maybe i am not as much as an audiofreak as i used to be but the 5.1 creatives i have hooked up to my onboard sound on my 680i rock and i cant see spending money on a card when it could be put to much better use in other perifs.
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post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by JacKz5o View Post
Mostly depends on the games you play. For CS:S, I have seen people go from 130 to over 150. In games like BF2/BF2142, theres an X-Fi setting that makes the game sound amazing with very accurate audio positioning.

If your a gamer and do not really need a really good sound card, I recommend the X-FI XtremeGamer. Its usually around $60 I think but since your in Lebanon so prices can vary.
But that is certainly not to say the XtremeGamer is in anyway an inferior card. I went from Onboard sound on my 680i like one of the posters before me, and the change has been amazing. I've picked up a few fps, but thats not important to me, that 8800gts does pretty good fps wise by itself. It's the sound quality thats smashable.

Try picking up an X-Fi anything, and plugging up some 5.1's (Z-5500's for the best ) and youre good to give yourself a heart attack playing anything. Can't wait to start FEAR on the new 22 inch with the 5500's surrounding me.
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