Is buying a new soundcard worth it? Which is the best?

By gamingguy27
Nov 28, 2005
  1. Hello,

    I currently have built in 6-Channel audio on a nForce 3 chipset (Abit NF8-V) I was wondering:

    1. Would i notice a huge differnce in sound quality if i bought a Soundblaster Audigy 4? (or similar)

    2. Is it true that sound cards do on board encoding so it reduces the cpu thus making it faster?

    3. What does the db sonar value acctually mean when talking about sound cards? Is that the total volume? or quality?

    Cheers, Alex
  2. iss

    iss TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,994

    depends on how good your onboard sound is wether or not YOU would tell a big difference.

    stay away from creatives new X-FI series they have serious compaitability issues with Nforce motherboards.

    the sound cards that do DSP are pretty much limited to just a few brands. Creative is one and turtle beach is the other. most other cards require the CPU to carry the load.

    and dont forget the quality of your speakers plays a large role in the quality of the sound you hear. if your onboards ound is decent you might be better of upgrading yor speakers.
  3. Sharkfood

    Sharkfood TS Guru Posts: 1,019

    3dmark03 has some audio tests to give you some indication of CPU/performance hit with different modes. I'd recommend running the full test and using the ORB browser of other systems to see how your soundcard performance stacks up to prospective 3rd party soundcards.

    3dmark03 will run three tests- one without any sound, one with medium quality sound, and one with high-quality, positional sound. You can observe the framerates to get some idea of the performance toll your soundcard is responsible for in worst-case conditions (the benchmark is very, very CPU bound as it's at low resolution).

    For example- my roommate's on-board AC97 codec was consuming an average of 12-18% performance between tests. By upgrading to an Audigy2 PCI, this was reduces to 4-6% drop. Not a big change, but it shows how much a gain a dedicated soundcard can afford. It has made a smallish impact on some games as well.

    Check out 3dmark03 at and run the benchmark. They have a project manager if your register and publish your results so you can find similar cpu/motherboard systems with audigy, hercules and other 3rd party soundcards from which to compare.
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