Weekend Open Forum: Are you using a dedicated sound card?



Creative Xfi-titanium Fatality edition. I have tried many different onboard sound cards in the past and they just dont transfer my voice nearly as well as a standalone card. I play alot of games online with friends and use a very expensive headset so I want them to be able to hear me and the difference from onboard sound to a standalone card is huge my friends stop complaining when I stop using onboard sound, with it they say I dont sound clear and am hard to understand. As far as on my end environmental audio is alot more accurate with a stand alone card ive noticed and the bass and treble is so much more full with a good sound card everything sounds flat and dull with the onboard realtek crap you get today.


TechSpot Paladin
Currently using a Razer AC-1 which sports a C-Media CMI8788 chip (actually a good chip but Razer cant do drivers) before this card I had an Audigy 4. Don't see whats so hard about spending $100 on a sound card when your building a $2000+ system you usually wont regret doing so.


TS Member
I use my onboard realtek hd soundcard. It does it's job for 2.1 speakers. I also have the spdif hooked up to my surround sound so if I watch movies that decodes the audio anyways.


When I first got my Foxconn bloodrage I was hoping to use the onboard Xfi. The drivers did not work however, so I an using an old PCI Sound blaster XFi gamer which works well.


Techspot old timer.....
I have to concur with one of the guest posters. I don't need one, my integrated sound is good enough. I wouldn't expect stereo quality fro computer speakers anyway. If I needed to do that I would hook up my sound to a real stereo, which I won't do - it's not worth it. I play music, video, and other stuff on my real stereo in another room. On board sound has been pretty darn good for years. Another card sucks up space and power and adds heat.


I disabled my integrated audio system and started using a creative audigy. mainly because now the sound is not choppy anymore in taxing games like crysis series and else (I always use maximum settings and antialiasing in everything) this thanks to the alchemy software that enables me to turn on again hardware accelerated sound processing in my windows 7 ultimate. :)


TechSpot Paladin
I had a Soundblaster Awe64 Value in my first PC (pentium 200).

When I replaced the card eventually it was for a Soundblaster Audigy 2 Platinum with the front plate.

I used it for years then my computer started crashing during games after an hour or so. I thought it was probably the graphics card and didnt go so far as removing the soundcard but the moment I randomly chose to switch the sound to the onboard audio, the crashing stopped.

By that point I was so fed up anyway that I bought a Dell studio xps as my next PC with 4 years replacement parts. It has motherboard sound and works really well with hdmi etc. Very happy with it. I might consider a firewire audio interface in the future if I want to make any music but apart from that there isnt much offered by the dedicated cards in my opinion (For my needs).


For the first time I'm using onboard sound since my PSU caused my Fatality X-Fi card, and other parts, to take a dump in my old build. With the Realtek ALC-889 audio chip, I swear my Klipsch Pro-Media speakers sound just as good. Drivers seem good, software interface is OK and look to be updated regularily. I still have an M-Audio Revo 7.1, which last had 64-bit driver support in Vista, and poor at that, sits in it's box.


Built-in sound has no (industry standard) ASIO driver. So I use a Delta Audiophile 192 to interface with Halion 3, Garritan, Cakewalk, etc. Yes I know about ASIO4all but have never been able to get it to work.


My ASUS RE came with an SB daughter sound card that is still sitting in the box, because it did not support hardware accelerated audio and sounded fake. I've had and use a dedicated X-Fi Fatal1ty for a few years and it still sounds amazing on my Siberia II headset.


Sound cards are awesome. I love mine and it made a considerable impact on my setup --> http://www.nrnl.org/post129.html#p129 . Whether one needs it or not is not up for debate, what sound card to get is and I say ASUS Xonar Essence ST/X. Personally got the ASUS Xonar Essence STX Soundcard recently and couldn't be more happier with it. I, too was fed up with Creative's less than stellar performance and driver reliability ever since I gave up my old SB Live! Value lol. I can't fault my card, and has been an excellent addition to my audio setup, but don't take my word for it -

Here if ya can be bothered please read some of the following reviews or opinions from many a respected source audio and computer industry wise -->


Apparently for my purpose (Playback using 2-Channel Audio + Analog out to my new high quality amp and speakers) it hands down beats the like of the Creative cards, themselves and the high end Creative cards by Auzentech, the M-Audio Audiophile 192 Card, ESI Juli@, any onboard by absolute miles, and at least on par if not better than some High-End music production cards from the likes of RME and LYNX.

Also passes through surround sound through SP/DIF and TOSLINK connection in case you were wondering.

I also do prefer Dolby Digital for my games over EAX, is subjective as once again most things are with sound. If you the read numerous reviews of the STX given, then you would see that the STX is *almost* on par for games, and superior for music and movies. I do music production and listen to a massive variety of music, and as stated for my uses it suites me perfectly :) I have "bit-perfection" working perfectly too, and don't see how anyone else shouldn't either. For a description of bit-perfect and bit-accurate playback refer to this article --> http://www.nrnl.org/post115.html#p115

A few more tid bits of information; A list of games using OpenAL and aLchemy:
aLchemy Games -

OpenAL Games -
http://connect.creativelabs.com/openal/OpenAL Wiki/Games.aspx

Also Unreal Engine 3 is able to use OpenAL, DirectSound3D or FMOD.


TS Rookie
X-Fi Music here, just bought a new case yesterday so it would fit in since the case I had before didn't have the room. You don't really realize how much of a quality difference it makes until you use a dedicated card your whole life and switch to an onboard one. I guess you need the quality speakers or headphones to make it worthwhile, but the difference is quite significant.


TS Rookie
Been a couple of years since I've used one. The last one I used was the Creative X-Fi Xtremegamer and the drivers weren't that great.


Using Creative X-Fi Titanium.

Onboard sound was my choice until I started having problems with games identifying my speaker setup.


TechSpot Paladin
Creative Sound Blaster Live 24bit...Paid £20 for it and never looked back.

The software that came with it was worth enough to begin with.


I used onboard audio with P965, P35, P45, P55 and P67 builds. But compared to my $40 X-FI Platinum that I picked up on sale, it pales in comparison. If a person really enjoys their music quality, onboard audio is like IGP of graphics. And X-FI isn't even the best sound card....I will not build a rig without a dedicated sound card.

Julio Franco

TechSpot Editor
Staff member
Over the years I purchased numerous sound cards, a majority of which were from Creative. The last one I used belonged to the X-Fi series, so it wasn't so long ago, however I recall having driver issues on Vista and I didn't want to be bothered anymore. That's when I switched my 5.1 PC speakers to a simplied 2.0 setup (Logitech Z10) connecting through USB, that's when I gave sound cards the boot.


TechSpot Chancellor
Currently using onboard as I used my budget for other things. I've always wanted to get a dedicated sound card just always seem to spend my money else where =X. Hopefully I'll get myself a sound card one of these days :) .


TS Enthusiast
So, was considering a Xonar STX, that is, until I took a look on the ASUS forums....
Driver nightmares! I gave up on dedicated audio years ago after Creative could not produce a decent, stable driver to save their lives.
Looks like things haven't changed... sigh.


Recently I built a machine which my M/B ASuS P8P67 Pro has Sound Chip but the first thing I did was to disable it in BIOS.

The only part I kept from my old PC is the X-Fi Fatal1ty Platinum Champion. Along with my Logitech Z-5500 5.1 just can't stop using this combination. Total sound and extreme details in games. EAX 5, DTS etc... I'm used to listen from which side the enemy coming. Love that effect. Dunno if the on board sound can do that but just don't wanna know...


TS Rookie
I have the old school idea of using a card. I dont like creatives bloatware so I use Auzentech Xfi.


i use a creative audigy platinum sound card. i have always used a sound card in every pc set up i have used. the sound card runs altec lansing 2.1 fx4021 sysyem. i always listen to music while on the pc when im not playing games.