Questions about gaming and sound cards

Discussion in 'Hardware Discussion & Support' started by silentbob17, Apr 18, 2007.

  1. silentbob17

    silentbob17 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2005
    Messages:
    159
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hey there. I just wanted to get some updated info about the effects of a good sound card on gaming performance and quality.

    I'm going to be building a new rig soon I've been looking at all the components that I will be getting.

    I want to know how much of an impact having a decent sound card really has. I've always just used my mobo's integrated sound but now that I'm spending a fair bit of money on a new gaming rig, I want it to be as good as it can while still on a budget. That's why I want to know if I can cut 100$ off the total without sacrificing a tonne of potential performance.

    I bought a Creative Audigy SE (30 dollar card) to see if there was any difference at all on my current rig and didn't really notice any. Obviously it's not exactly a gaming sound card but it's making me wonder and thus prompting this thread.

    What can you tell me?
     
  2. DudeBoyz

    DudeBoyz banned

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2007
    Messages:
    1,677
    Likes Received:
    11
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The disadvantage of onboard sound is that can use more CPU time, meaning things may run slower when gaming.

    However, that can be negated with Dual Core systems in XP, generally.

    If the Audigy works for you and was only $30, no reason not to use it. But if you are happy with the performance of onboard sound and don't get any stuttering, etc. during gameplay, you could just chuck the sound card and the drivers that go with it and stick with onboard. No harm, no foul. :)
     
  3. Rogacz

    Rogacz Porcupine Floyd

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2003
    Messages:
    421
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Honestly it's all about poor DAC on mobo codecs. You'll never get high quality output on mobo codec because of poor DAC quality and overall noise.
    Audigy is nice if you don't want to spent fortune on sound cards, just don't buy those cut versions.
     
  4. silentbob17

    silentbob17 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2005
    Messages:
    159
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hm, BF2 had a little stuttering and I forgot to mention that it cleared up after getting the cheap card. That's the only noticeable difference.

    My next rig will be dual core and possibly vista if it gets some updates (64bit version). So maybe my best bet is to try it out without a sound card before dropping the money on one.

    Is there any way that using a weak sound card would be worse than using on-board with a really good CPU?

    And one last question:
    Creative Labs Sound Blaster X-FI Xtreme Audio
    Creative Labs Sound Blaster X-FI Xtreme Gamer

    Only difference I can see is the name and the price (30 bucks more for the gamer). Does anyone have experience with these cards? Is the gamer version actually better/worth-it?
     
  5. Judas

    Judas Obvious Closet Brony Pony

    Joined:
    May 13, 2002
    Messages:
    39,694
    Likes Received:
    1,540
    Trophy Points:
    138

    i'm extremely impressed with Realtek HD audio,

    I mean if an onboard solution can get THX certification, it's gotta be good. (at least i had read that realtek newest chip was in for certification, lets see if it gets it)

    IMO

    If anyone was to consider onboard audio solutions, the Realtek chipsets are byfar the best. Don't ever get stuck with the AC'97 realtek solutions though, get the HD solutions, ALC882/883 are pretty steller, specially in windows Vista due to haveing utterly excellent driver support. What's more? There are many MANY more features and enhancements for realtek Vista users then XP. Performance is pretty damn well on par with any PCI card solution, i've actually had LESS troubles with realtek then creative.

    If i were to consider getting a new sound card.. i'd seriously ponder about the:

    AuzenTech

    sound cards, they seem to be quite excellent.
     
  6. silentbob17

    silentbob17 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2005
    Messages:
    159
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Ok that's pretty helpful, thanks.

    But does the onboard still put load on the CPU no matter what? Or is it good enough to really handle the processing on its own and keep it from hindering performance?
     
  7. dj_stick

    dj_stick Apple Fanboy?

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2003
    Messages:
    17,575
    Likes Received:
    204
    Trophy Points:
    88
    onboard is almost always software driven, as are some low end PCI cards

    as for the difference between the X-fi Audio/Gamer, probably none, just different software bundle (gamer probably comes with a few games)
     
  8. stormy13

    stormy13 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2003
    Messages:
    111
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    0
    There is a lot more different between the two than "probably none" For starters the X-Audio is basically nothing more than a re-badged SB Live 24 bit/Audigy SE, with no hardware processing support at all and never should have been called an X-Fi. Hell it even has its own drivers (in XP at least, and the Vista driver package for it is exactly the same as the one for those other two POS's). The card also does not support game Mode that the rest of the X-Fi's do.

    The X-Gamer is at least is a full X-Fi card and uses the same drivers and software package and Game Mode as the rest of the X-Fi's. It has the same spces as the Xtreme Music, minus the connectors on the back and is only a half-height card.
     
  9. dj_stick

    dj_stick Apple Fanboy?

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2003
    Messages:
    17,575
    Likes Received:
    204
    Trophy Points:
    88
    oh i need to re-read the creative product list - that post described the situation back with the old audigy series
     
  10. Rogacz

    Rogacz Porcupine Floyd

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2003
    Messages:
    421
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Short:

    Avoid X-Fi X-Audio sound card.

    And yeah - Auzentech cards look nice.
     
  11. silentbob17

    silentbob17 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2005
    Messages:
    159
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hm ok, good to know. But again, does anyone have experience with the difference in performance when it comes to having a sound card or having just integrated? Obviously you can get a bit more quality with a card as I found with even my crap Audigy SE ($30 card) but what's the difference performance wise for say:

    Integrated vs Audigy SE (crap card) vs X-Fi Gamer (more expensive $100+ card)
     
  12. Rogacz

    Rogacz Porcupine Floyd

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2003
    Messages:
    421
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Up to 5 or even 10% of CPU usage without sound card if you have single core CPU.

    Depends on number of sounds and additional effects (such like EAX).
     
  13. thomasabarnes

    thomasabarnes Long Time ***** Friend

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2003
    Messages:
    1,404
    Likes Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Onboard sound has poor DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) and ADC (Analog to Digital Converter). What this means is that recording is poor with onboard sound compared to A PCI soundcard. And I know of no OnBoard sound that has ASIO drivers. ASIO drivers alow for mutitrack audio recording.

    The important difference with low priced PCI cards and the higher priced ones lies mainly in the (SNR) signal to noise ratio and Bit Depth and Sample rate capability. If you can find a sound card with SNR of 100 db or higher, you will do OK by getting it because you will have better sound quality.

    Another thing to consider as a Gamer is that the non Creative cards will not have the Advanced High Definition feature of EAX or no EAX support at all. So if you value EAX, go with Creative.

    Then, you have to consider if you want the sound feature of the newer Creative cards, such as Enhanced MIDI playback and such.

    You could get a Audigy 2 from ebay for under $100.

    I would say to ditch the onboard sound. I have soundMAX onboard HD audio, and the sound quality is far below that of my Audigy (even though the sound quality of the onboard sound is advertised to be 192kHZ/24Bit). Now I have an Audigy 2 ZS Platinum Pro. I got it refurbished from Creative on ebay for $99.99 free shiping. And the onboard sound isn't close to how good the Audigy 2 ZS is.

    Plus, I have a external box where I can connect two Line ins and a Mic, and if I want to setup for Karaoke at a family Cookout, the Mic works great!

    Bottom line is it's worh the investment to get a Audigy 2 or higher, if you can afford it!
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2007
  14. dj_stick

    dj_stick Apple Fanboy?

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2003
    Messages:
    17,575
    Likes Received:
    204
    Trophy Points:
    88
    nForce 2 Soundstorm ;)
     
  15. thomasabarnes

    thomasabarnes Long Time ***** Friend

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2003
    Messages:
    1,404
    Likes Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    48
    LOL OK DJ.:) and hi man!
     
  16. Rogacz

    Rogacz Porcupine Floyd

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2003
    Messages:
    421
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Yeah, soundstorm was promising. Too bad they abandoned it.
     
  17. silentbob17

    silentbob17 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2005
    Messages:
    159
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Roger that, thanks a lot for all the info. Greatly appreciated.

    I'll stick with my crap card in my secondary system and grab a good card (when I can afford) for my new system (which is arriving any day now!).
     
  18. thomasabarnes

    thomasabarnes Long Time ***** Friend

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2003
    Messages:
    1,404
    Likes Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Cool. Congrats on the new PC, and a PCI card is really best at present day. However, onboard sound may really get truely better than what it is like now, in the future.
     
  19. Judas

    Judas Obvious Closet Brony Pony

    Joined:
    May 13, 2002
    Messages:
    39,694
    Likes Received:
    1,540
    Trophy Points:
    138
    Soundmax (by Analog Devices) is a pure CRAP onboard solution, like i said, realtek is the leader in Onboard Solutions.

    However i must state that the Intel Chipsets with Realtek has recently shown some oddities that my Realtek Solutions on ATI AMD chipsets.

    What people really neglect is that alot of people think a sound card is going to improve things with terrible speakers, it doesn't matter what your audio source is, if your speakers suck.... well should be obvious.

    Now as far as i know the auzentech with Dolby Digital and DTS Hardware Decoding built right onto the pci boards shows an absalutely better audio reproduction then the creative lineup, and what's more amuseing, i can get the auzentech top card for roughly 15% cheaper then the 2nd from the top Creative X-fi.
     
  20. dj_stick

    dj_stick Apple Fanboy?

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2003
    Messages:
    17,575
    Likes Received:
    204
    Trophy Points:
    88
    Judas, i've actually found, through experience, and reading reviews, that the soundmax onboard solutions have sound quality superior to that of the realtek solutions - don't know about the driver situation though, never went too indepth there.

    i know you're a realtek fan, but as you can see with creative, being the "leader" has nothing whatsoever with being the best available.
     

Share This Page

visited