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Which Sound Card or Speakers should I buy with a limited budget?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hi, I am completely new when it comes to sound/audio components but I am interested in getting a sound card or better speakers for my desktop. There is currently alot of boxing day sales and I am totally confused on what to buy. I have quite a tight budget ($100 CAD preferred, $150 max before tax) for either a sound card or better speakers or maybe even both. I currently do not have a sound card (using onboard) and my speakers are dreadfully old and cheap (Soundworks sw320). I would prefer that the items can be bought online using stores such as NCIX, newegg, tigerdirect, bestbuy, futureshop etc. Any suggestions on what to buy?


I also want to mention that for a sound card, the interface needs to be PCI-E 16x (the longer one) because I am running 2 GPUs and a network adapter card which takes up the only PCI slot (the other PCI slot is blocked by my GTS 250), the only remaining slot is the 2nd PCI-E 16x slot which is actually worrying me because i'm afraid the sound card won't fit since main GPU heatsink is almost over the 2nd PCI-E 16x slot and if it does, the sound card will block one of the intake fans for the GPU. Should I be concerned?

Image of mobo layout (insert image is not working for me): http://img808.imageshack.us/i/69551248.jpg/

EDIT: It might be hard to see but the 2nd PCI-E x16 is the red slot to the left of the MSI GPU
Edited by kingtiger888 - 12/27/10 at 8:08pm
post #2 of 7
From what I know, any PCI device will work in a PCIe slot, though not the other way around.
You budget is pretty tight. Either you will get a pretty crappy sound card, (like mine), or a pretty crappy set of speakers. If you try for both they will both be not so good.
My advice is to get EITHER a nice set of headphones to use with your onboard sound, or the best card you can afford to use with your current speakers.
Then wait and save up for the other piece of the configuration.
I'd get the Xonar D1, although the sound quality it puts out is going to be restricted to your speakers or phones, so you might not notice a lot of improvement.
The I would look for a nice set of headphones or a headset, as a quality speaker set for your computer will set you back quite a bit more for lesser quality sound.
I was given a set of the Razer Carcharias for xmas. I personally like them quite a bit, but others on this forum don't seem to care for the whole "Gaming headsets". Matter of personal preference IMO. You'll notice a much better sound from a good set of headphones regardless of your soundcard, and once you add a nice card the difference is even better.
Anyway, that's my advice.
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Blue Fury
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post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
post #4 of 7
I would go with the ASUS Xonar D1 or better.
The Creative is much flashier, but the drivers from Creative are...not the best, at least IME.
I'd go with this.
The speakers seem alright, I haven't been following Logitech lately so I can't say for sure. I noticed that they don't have a digital toslink in, so that feature on the Fatal1ty isn't going to help you much.
The only reason I tend to go with headphones over a speaker setup is the usual lack of space to set them up properly. But that comes down to your own personal area of use.
I'm sure there are other posters that could give you more information than I have.
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post #5 of 7
If your only open slot is a PCI-E 16x then any 1x will work in it. The Xonar D1 posted was PCI, which will not fit.
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post #6 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by kingtiger888 View Post
That card you posted is nice and at a good price. I have that card but without the face.

I also have had the Xonar. In truth they are both nice cards. I think the Xonar drivers are easier to use than the Creative for sure. However once the drivers are loaded I don't see much difference in the two.

When it comes down to it, it will become a Ford vs. Chevy discussion so get the one you like.

As far as your speakers go I have no experience with those so I can't comment on them. I will tell you that I am a quality for my money kind of guy. So if you can't afford some good speakers now replace your sound card, save up and then get some speakers.

Nixuz is right when he said "although the sound quality it puts out is going to be restricted to your speakers or phones, so you might not notice a lot of improvement."
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post #7 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimwest View Post
If your only open slot is a PCI-E 16x then any 1x will work in it. The Xonar D1 posted was PCI, which will not fit.
Ok, I was wrong in the understanding that normal PCI cards would work in PCIe slots.
You can really put a tiny PCIe1x card into a full 16x slot and have it work?

In that case, I would go with This.
It's the same price as the Creative refurb, but it's got a $20 gift card rebate which you could use toward your speakers or whatever.
Edited by Nixuz - 12/27/10 at 3:53pm
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