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February 15, 2013, 04:46 PM
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Brockville, ON
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
PII 955BE C3 max 4.34 Ghz 1.435v HT 2.182 CPU-NB 2867 MX4 CM Hyper 212+ push/pull stock fan
G Skill 2x4 8gb RipjawX 1866 9,10,9,27,42 1.5v at 1787 9,9,9,25,34 1.51v
MSI TFIII 7870 OC running 825/1005 .881V 58% fan 56c, 983/1375 core/mem 1.150V 74% fan 64c, 1267/1535 1.232V 87% fan 74c gaming stable one of lowest volt/high clock 7870 I have seen.
Crucial MX100 256gb Caviar black 640(game) Caviar blue 1tb(junk/storage external)
Antec GX700 yuck :(
ASUS Xonar DX
Samsung 2570HD(typical responce time 7+ms :( and Acer P223W(<1ms typical)
Windows 7 64 home premium
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