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February 15, 2013, 04:46 PM
Join Date: Sep 2011
My System Specs
there is some decently low cost soundcards/dacs that wipe the floor with nearly every onboard that is currently being used. It is and always has been about real estate, thin kof it like this onboard gpu and ethernet have come a long way from their performance side years ago, howeve,r they can only take up so much space on the motherboard to provide the functionality, so unless you are getting a mid to high end if not enthusiast grade motherboard, you are not getting anything close to the same grade.
BOM accounts for the parts being used, generally, the makers do not use anything but the minimum required by design or cost constraints, sometimes they go above to be better then certain competition boards, but overall, they end up being roughly about the same.
7.1 is only one side of it, loseless audio, filtering, SNR etc all make a difference, just like the amount of memory, tmu, rops, shaders etc make a difference or the way in which they are aranged architecturally(AMD/Nvidia/Intel)
Of course the OS has a quite profound effect on things, however, any user that I have known that has even a semi decent set of speakers or headset can telll the difference immediately between onboard and even a mid range soundcard in regards to clarity, "clean" sounds, bass or teble and such.
Onboard is night and day better then what it once was, but at the same time, it simply cannot compete directly with the real estate a dedicated unit can give, there simply is not enough room, unless the motherboard in question was built around this premise, which some are and the audio ends up being very good, but this is not the norm, the norm is realtek, which well, are ok, but have never been great either.
long spiel, but, if you are looking for "quality" for whatever reason, then yes, a dedicated sound card is worth it, generally for music/movies--gaming Asus with thier Xonar line does very well, Auzentech like Creative are by far more geared to gaming-movies---music, then some like HT Omega depending on the card, is even more tailored for specific purposes.
I have a Xonar DX which is PCI-e not pci, though the 2 newest ones are PCI based in some ways better, in some worse then this one, but there is a whole whack of cards to choose from, and all are quite different in the way they are good for certain things, generally, they use the C-Media Oxygen chips of various types, X-Fi chips, but that is your big makers overall, Asus, Creative, Auzentech, HT Omega, M Audio.
My System Specs
ASUS M5A99X EVO
Phenom II x4 955BE C3 stepping at 4.2 Ghz 1.405v Coolermaster Hyper 212+ push/pull stock fan
G Skill 2x4 8gb RipjawX 1866 9,10,9,42 1.5v at 1600 9,9,9,24,28 1.501v
ASUS Radeon 6870 with Accelro S1 Rev 2 2x xigmatech 120mm XLF Purple fans 965 core and 1140mem clocks
Agility 3 OS Caviar black 640(game) Caviar blue 1tb(junk/storage external)
Silverstone Raven 03
ASUS XOnar DX 7.1
2x ASUS B1ST
Samsung 2570HS and secondary a Acer P223W
Windows 7 64, home premium
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