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post #1 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-11-2019, 06:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Integrated vs. Discrete Sound Cards

Hey y’all. I was curious if there’s any real differences between a discrete and integrated sound card. I haven’t really paid attention to sound cards since motherboard manufacturers started mainstreaming integrated sound chips. My board (MSI X370 Gaming Pro Carbon) I believe has an integrated Realtek chip with “Audio Boost 4 with Nahimic 2” (whatever that means), as stated by MSI’s website. Would that be preferable to a PCI-e based sound card? Or perhaps I would have a better sound experience with a discrete card?

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post #2 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-11-2019, 07:08 PM
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If your onboard sound gets loud enough to drive your speakers/headphones and there isn't any issues with interference or hiss then there's little reason to upgrade. Onboard sound is generally good enough nowadays.

Last sound card I ran was an X-Fi Xtreme Gamer in the XP days.

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post #3 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-11-2019, 07:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote: Originally Posted by The Pook View Post
If your onboard sound gets loud enough to drive your speakers/headphones and there isn't any issues with interference or hiss then there's little reason to upgrade. Onboard sound is generally good enough nowadays.

Last sound card I ran was an X-Fi Xtreme Gamer in the XP days.
Yeah, I can’t recall hearing any hisses or crackling in recent years. Perhaps in a game or two, but I typically credit that to the game itself. Thanks for the insight though. +rep

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post #4 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-12-2019, 01:07 AM
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Quote: Originally Posted by The Pook View Post
If your onboard sound gets loud enough to drive your speakers/headphones and there isn't any issues with interference or hiss then there's little reason to upgrade. Onboard sound is generally good enough nowadays.

Last sound card I ran was an X-Fi Xtreme Gamer in the XP days.
Not really, I could relive my playlist hearing new things after getting an AE-5 over the ALC1150 based integrated audio (which was supposed to be the "good enough" one). The EQ also works miles better than the Realtek+X-Fi MB software combo, giving me that bass boost without silencing details.

This was with Edifier S530D 2.1 speakers

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post #5 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-12-2019, 01:24 AM
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If you're not doing anything high end there will be little difference, and if you use an optical cable or HDMI for your audio output then your audio will be digital and a sound card would do basically nothing at all. There are some cases where a sound card can still be useful for optical audio but HDMI is the new golden standard for high fidelity audio, though not all HDMI is equal. The 4K HDMI spec specifically is the new golden standard and to really utilize it you would need to be running HDMI to a 4K certified stereo reviver as nothing else would reach that level of audio fidelity.

So basically, HDMI is replacing the need for a sound card. Personally I think quality 4K receivers are still pretty expensive and therefore I use a sound card to connect to my receiver via analog for 5.1 surround. I tried 4K HDMI for a while with a $300 receiver and it did sound really good but it caused some glitches with my TV when gaming that caused me to return it and instead use a quality sound card for analog.

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post #6 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-12-2019, 02:18 AM
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Even on garbage audio device there's no comparison between any onboard sound device and at least half decent dedicated sound card.

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post #7 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-12-2019, 02:25 AM
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Quote: Originally Posted by BroadPwns View Post
Even on garbage audio device there's no comparison between any onboard sound device and at least half decent dedicated sound card.
That isn't true. Most high/overclocking/gaming motherboards come with integrated audio that is much better than you might think, much better than on a basic cheap board and many boards come with optical output built in as well.

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post #8 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-12-2019, 02:49 AM
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They're still trash tier and it will never change.

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post #9 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-12-2019, 02:52 AM
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Quote: Originally Posted by BroadPwns View Post
They're still trash tier and it will never change.
Gee you seem so well informed.

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post #10 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-12-2019, 02:56 AM
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Audio quality doesn't end on "how loud can it play".

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