Building a new PC, should I buy a sound card?

#1 Posted by Super_Yosh_64 (126 posts) -

I'm  building a new gaming pc.  Should I buy a sound card or better yet how much of an sound improvement is there with a sound card?  I've been away from the PC scene for a while now and I hear that the onboard sound cards have improved greatly over the past few years.  Any info is appreciated.

#2 Posted by Azteck (7449 posts) -

Nah, it's not really necessary. Most if not all motherboards these days support at least 5.1 sound, and the increase in sound quality is minimal, certainly not enough to warrant buying an extra card.

#3 Posted by MikkaQ (10294 posts) -

Unless you're a musician and you need advanced recording abilities, I don't think a sound card is very necessary anymore. Most modern motherboards have great on-board audio, and even optical ports for surround sound. 

#4 Posted by HitmanAgent47 (8576 posts) -

It's not necessary, it sounds good without one. I get my sound out of my videocard right to the hdtv though hdmi, but still, I don't think it's necessary. I don't have a soundcard and alot of other ppl too. The mobo is good enough for sound.

#5 Posted by Geno (6477 posts) -

The short answer is, using the money to buy better speakers >>> buying a sound card. 

#6 Posted by Driadon (2998 posts) -
@XII_Sniper said:
" Unless you're a musician and you need advanced recording abilities, I don't think a sound card is very necessary anymore. Most modern motherboards have great on-board audio, and even optical ports for surround sound.  "
And even then, you'd want a USB card in that case, as they would have MIDI inputs and whatnot, where as standard PCI/PCI-E cards do not.
#7 Edited by Super_Yosh_64 (126 posts) -

Thanks for the quick replies guys.  Anyone know how good the onboard audio is compared to let's say a killer fatality sound card?  The reason I used the killer fatality is because my old gaming PC from 2007 used to have that and the sound was crazy.  Also I have pretty good speakers and I won't be using 5.1 for the PC.

#8 Posted by Jadeskye (4367 posts) -

Yeah it's crazy how far it's come really. I still use my creative X-fi from years ago because back then (Pentium 4 era) the on board sound quality was really tinny and crap. these days i can barely tell the difference from my sound card to a good modern on board audio set up.


the only real difference i've noticed is in some games that actually take advantage of it, the bass and sound depth is a little better. Not enough to warrant the price.
#9 Posted by Driadon (2998 posts) -
@Super_Yosh_64 said:
" Thanks for the quick replies guys.  Anyone know how good the onboard audio is compared to let's say a killer fatality sound card?  The reason I used the killer fatality is because my old gaming PC from 2007 used to have that and the sound was crazy. "
A single frame a second and, possibly, 7.1 surround sound vs 5.1? (depending on what board you have, of course).
Any problems you get with onboard sound depend on what kind of software/drivers the motherboard uses for it's audio. I had a similar issue as you with my old M2N32 Deluxe board that used an old version of SoundMAX that FUCKED with everything. That said, if that is the case, just go with a card that is inexpensive and you know does not have wierd ass drivers, since anything more expensive will either have inputs you do not need, or are simply cash-ins like the Fatality bullshit.
#10 Edited by Marz (5655 posts) -

nah you don't reallly need one, unless you need multiple input and outputs of different sorts or EAX.

#11 Posted by Hardgamer (610 posts) -
@Marz said:
" nah you don't reallly need one, unless you need multiple input and outputs of different sorts or EAX. "
#12 Posted by Super_Yosh_64 (126 posts) -
@Hardgamer: Love the picture.  The king lives in LA, soon to be 6 time NBA champ.
#13 Posted by Super_Yosh_64 (126 posts) -

A big thank you goes to all who posted and helped me out.

#14 Posted by Hardgamer (610 posts) -
@Super_Yosh_64 said:
" @Hardgamer: Love the picture.  The king lives in LA, soon to be 6 time NBA champ. "
Thanks. But so far, things haven't been according to plan.
#15 Posted by KaosAngel (13765 posts) -

I use one on my home theater PC as it offers a richer sound experience.  

If you don't really care about the sound quality or use headphones, skimp on it.


-Posted from my MacBook Pro using Chrome 11
#16 Posted by dagas (2841 posts) -

If you want better quality then buy an external DAC (Digital-to-Analog-Converter) like the Cambride Audio Dacmagic rather than a sound card, but you will need really awesome speakers to tell the difference.

#17 Posted by MightyMayorMike (423 posts) -

I'd say if you do, go for a cheap one that's capable rather than a really expensive one. After years without one I finally grabbed one. It's nice, but not game-changing.

Then again, if you have some kickass headphones you may want to treat them right, but the onboard stuff can be really good.

#18 Posted by Beaudacious (930 posts) -

If you use good quality headphones, you will need an amplifier, either external or one built in with a sound card. Don't buy creative sounds cards, good waste of money unless you're willing to customize. Most on board audio isn't atrocious anymore, but its no where seen dedicated sound card quality. It mainly depends on your speakers/headphones, if your using cheap headphones/speakers don't even think about it.

#19 Posted by HitmanAgent47 (8576 posts) -

I have another suggestion, I don't have a hdmi reciever, but I used to use an optical out cable from my mobo to the home theater reciever with big speakers and stuff. I found this sort of distractingly loud though, but you can probally get 5.1 sound if you were watching a movie or something, or just set it to pro logic II. Again this isn't for everyone, but it's another suggestion you can consider. I know my nvidia driver at least has a driver that outputs surround and stuff.

#20 Posted by ch3burashka (5088 posts) -

Narp.

#21 Posted by Solemn (278 posts) -

You'd probably want to spend that money getting something else (A better GPU or burgers). Soundcards aren't really that important in gaming.

#22 Posted by Super_Yosh_64 (126 posts) -
@Solemn: I'm getting a gtx 580, the burgers will do.
#23 Posted by Super_Yosh_64 (126 posts) -

I would like to thank everyone for posting.  I decided that I am buying a sound card.  I have all the equipment to really utilize it and I'm a big audio junkie.  For me sound is just as important as video.  For those who don't understand buy some beats by dre studios or pros and listen to some music and you'll get it.

#24 Posted by The_Dark_Guardian (42 posts) -
@Super_Yosh_64: What sound card are you buying? And what speakers do you have? I ask because I am tempted to buy a sound card and some quality speakers.
#25 Posted by Super_Yosh_64 (126 posts) -
@The_Dark_Guardian: Either the SoundBlaster X-Fi Titanium or the TItanium HD.  I decided to go with creative labs since the last sound card I had was a Fatal1ty series.  It's kind of pricey, but the sound was amazing.  I got bose speakers, steel series headset, and beats by dre studio headphones.
#26 Posted by Ezekeilpurger (322 posts) -

To even further the fact, you wouldn't notice a difference even if you had the most hi-fi setup available to man. On board audio is more than fine and a lot of expensive sound cards extend the range being output is for one:  further than humankind's hearing capacity and two:  further than your speakers/headphones frequency response.

#27 Posted by Super_Yosh_64 (126 posts) -
@Ezekeilpurger: I am an alien \\V//
#28 Posted by salad10203 (654 posts) -

No, only get a cheap one if your onboard is causing problems (as Realtek is somewhat infamous for doing.)

#29 Posted by jayjonesjunior (1090 posts) -
@Beaudacious said:
" If you use good quality headphones, you will need an amplifier, either external or one built in with a sound card. Don't buy creative sounds cards, good waste of money unless you're willing to customize. Most on board audio isn't atrocious anymore, but its no where seen dedicated sound card quality. It mainly depends on your speakers/headphones, if your using cheap headphones/speakers don't even think about it. "
This.
#30 Posted by 137 (481 posts) -

@Geno said:

The short answer is, using the money to buy ASTROS >>> buying a sound card.

yeah what this guy should've said/

#31 Posted by iDarktread (1206 posts) -

@137: Erm, actually, I've owned my Astro A40s and MixAmp for almost a year, and I've realized that I do, in fact, need a sound card to get the most of out them. My on-board sound doesn't output Dolby Digital Live, or Dolby Headphone.

#32 Posted by 137 (481 posts) -

@iDarktread said:

@137: Erm, actually, I've owned my Astro A40s and MixAmp for almost a year, and I've realized that I do, in fact, need a sound card to get the most of out them. My on-board sound doesn't output Dolby Digital Live, or Dolby Headphone.

Some mobo's have the pci slot sound card attachment, sounds like yours isn't one of them. the new xfi fatality got pretty good reviews at hard forums and it's around 150 bucks it's just the bloatware that creative installs with it to me makes it not worth it. Their only competitor in that market last I checked was turtle beach.

#33 Posted by ASRGT (10 posts) -

Yes on board sounds has improved but if you care about audio or listen to music through a GOOD pair of headphones then spend the money and get a dedicated card preferably one with integrated headphone amp, or if your really into it get a decent card and a stand alone headphone amp and drift away to sonic bliss :P

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