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Do you use a sound card?

Do you use a sound card?

  • Yes

    Votes: 56 58.3%
  • No, onboard is fine

    Votes: 40 41.7%

  • Total voters

MxPhenom 216

Corsair Fanboy
Aug 31, 2010
12,133 (4.55/day)
Seattle, WA
System Name The Battlestation
Processor Intel Core i7 4770k @ 4.2GHZ 1.275v
Motherboard MSi Z97 Gaming 5
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Audio Device(s) MSi Gaming AudioBoost ALC1150 w/ Sennheiser Game Ones
Power Supply Seasonic Flagship Prime Platinum 850
Mouse Steelseries Rival 310 w/ QCK Mass mat
Keyboard Corsair K70 w/ MX Browns and Red Backlit
Software Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit
Benchmark Scores Firestrike: 15439
I have noticed that the options for sound cards are pretty small these days, and some of the better ones are plagued with hardware or software issues. Do you run a sound card, or is onboard at that state now where sound cards are barely justifiable?
Jun 27, 2011
5,627 (2.38/day)
Processor Intel I7 4790k (stock)
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Software Windows 10 64 Bit
Going from a realtech 892 to a $10 xonar dg new seemed trivial enough for a soundcard skeptic like myself to try. I was shocked that it could be that much better, and even more so for the price. Sad to say, xonar dg's have gone up in price since then. There were noises in games, music, etc that I did not even know were there. Onboard is fine but soundcard is nice. I have been reading that an external dac is even better.
Last edited:
Jan 29, 2012
4,484 (2.09/day)
System Name natr0n-PC
Processor Phenom II X6 1100T @ 3.7 GHz - NB 3.0 GHz | Xeon E3-1290
Motherboard MSI 970 Gaming | Asus Sabertooth Z77
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Audio Device(s) X-Fi Extreme Music | X-Fi Titanium - Bookshelf system
Power Supply Corsair TX650 v1
Software Windows XP/7/8.1/10
Benchmark Scores Xeon E3-1290 cpuz world record
The issue people have with sound card software is they f*ck with them too much. Just set it and forget it is what I do. Never have an issue. Only years ago with the x-fi 4gb of ram driver conflict.


Senior Moderator
Staff member
Jul 19, 2006
42,385 (10.16/day)
Processor Intel i7 8700k
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I have a few sound cards... I'm currently not using any of them. The onboard on my Maximus Formula is very nice.
Feb 14, 2012
589 (0.28/day)
System Name No name
Processor i5 8600k@4800Mhz 1.2v
Motherboard Gigabyte Z370 UD3P
Cooling Prolimatech Super Mega + Coolink 120mm
Memory 16GB 3000Mhz
Video Card(s) Evga 980Ti SC + Accelero Xtreme III
Storage Kingston AV400 256GB, WD30PURX
Display(s) Asus MG279Q
Case CM HAF 922
Audio Device(s) Asus Xonar DS
Power Supply Seasonic G650 650W
Mouse Roccat Savu
Keyboard Asus Strix MX Brown
Software Windows 10 Pro x64
Benchmark Scores 5948 3dmark TimeSpy
Xfi XtremeGamer its almost 6 years since bought it, had no major problem with it and the games i played. But i am curious about this newer integrated sound cards and how they compare to dedicated ones like mine.


Editor & Senior Moderator
Staff member
Oct 9, 2007
34,335 (9.22/day)
Hyderabad, India
System Name Long shelf-life potato
Processor Intel Core i7-4770K
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Storage ADATA SU800 512GB
Display(s) Samsung U28D590D 28-inch 4K
Case Cooler Master CM690 Window
Audio Device(s) Creative Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe
Power Supply Corsair HX850W
Mouse Razer Abyssus 2014
Keyboard Microsoft Sidewinder X4
Software Windows 10 Pro Creators Update
Definitely an upgrade over onboard audio, drivers are quite stable.
Mar 6, 2007
678 (0.17/day)
Processor i7 4790k @ 4.8 Ghz
Motherboard ASUS Z97-E/USB 3.1
Cooling Raystorm, D5 Vario, 480 x2 Rads, EK blocks
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Display(s) Acer xb270hu 144hz 2560x1440
Case Enthoo Primo
Audio Device(s) HT Omega Claro Halo --> Yamaha Vx375 --> ATHW1000x/Energy 5.1
Power Supply EVGA 1300w G2
Mouse Logitech g400
Keyboard Tesoro Ultimate
Software W7 64 bit
Love my HT Omega. Had it for a good 3 years now. I built this rig around it. I had to have a PCI slot to run it so mobo options were limited and the 690 came to be since I didnt have enough room for 2 separate cards.

Ill take my sound card as far as I can. Drivers are wicked good and have not found any conflicts with anything else.
Aug 1, 2009
867 (0.28/day)
Baguio City, Philippines
System Name hmmm...
Processor Intel Core i7-4790K // AMD Athlon II X4 630
Motherboard Asus Maximus VII Gene // MSI 785GM-E65
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Video Card(s) Zotac GTX 980 Ti // Palit GTS 250
Storage Samsung 850 EVO 500gb + 3x2tb WD20EZRX // 1tb Seagate 7200.12
Display(s) LG IPS234V // AOC 2217V
Case Corsair Graphite 760T // Lian-Li PC-7 Plus
Audio Device(s) Onboard // Onboard
Power Supply Corsair AX650 // Cougar CM 550
Mouse Corsair Vengeance M65 // Logitech MK120
Keyboard Corsair Vengeance K70 // Logitech MK120
Software Windows 10 Professional x64 // Windows 7 Professional x64
Using onboard but I've been contemplating on buying a soundcard.. :)
Mar 19, 2012
377 (0.18/day)
Rizal, Philippines
System Name Poor Man's Build
Processor Intel i7 3960X 4.9Ghz Sandy Bridge E
Motherboard MSi X79A-GD65 8D
Cooling XSPC 240mm and 360MM (External) Rad
Memory 64Gb Corsair Dominator Platinum
Video Card(s) EVGA GTX770 SC ACX SLI (non water cooled yet)
Storage Intel 520 240GB SSD x2 /x2 WD Caviar Black 3TB 7200RPM 64MB Cache
Display(s) ASUS 27" 2560X1440 x3
Case Corsair 900D (upgraded from my lvl 10 gt and 600T)
Audio Device(s) Asus Xonar Essence STX
Power Supply Corsair AX1200i 80PLUS Platinum
Software Windows 7 Ultimate (FPP)
planning on getting one but still saving stuff so I can water cool my wife's rig XD.


PC Gaming Enthusiast
Jul 25, 2008
9,384 (2.73/day)
Louisiana -Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Processor Core i7-3770k 3.5Ghz, O/C to 4.2Ghz fulltime @ 1.19v
Motherboard ASRock Fatal1ty Z68 Pro Gen3
Cooling All air: 2x140mm Fractal exhaust; 3x 140mm Cougar Intake; Enermax T40F CPU cooler
Memory 2x 8GB Mushkin Redline DDR-3 1866
Video Card(s) MSI GTX 980 Ti Gaming 6G LE
Storage 1x 250GB MX200 SSD; 2x 2TB WD Black; 1x4TB WD Black;1x 2TB WD Green (eSATA)
Display(s) HP 25VX 25" IPS @ 1920 x 1080
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Audio Device(s) Soundblaster Z
Power Supply Seasonic X-850
Mouse Logitech G500
Keyboard Logitech G610 Orion mechanical (Cherry Brown switches)
Software Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (Start10 & Fences 3.0 installed)
I have definately noticed an increase in both sound volume and sound quality when using a sound card on every motherboard I have owned. My 5 year old X-fi Extreme Gamer is an improvement over the onboard in my Z68, and my son has a GB EP45-ud3p and we put an Asus Xonar in there. THAT was a huge improvement last month. no longer does he have to turn up the volume on speakers all the way just to hear dialogue, and alot of smaller noises he didn't used to hear in games are there. So no, IMO, altho onboard sound is light years ahead of where it is, a sound card that you "set and forget" like Natr0n said is almost always an improvement.


New Member
Jul 13, 2011
102 (0.04/day)
Processor AMD Phenom II 1090T BE @ 4030MHz
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-990XA-UD3
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Storage OCZ Agility 3 60GB; 1TB Samsung 2.5"
Display(s) LG Flatron E2241 21.5" LED
Case Thermaltake Commander MS-I Snow Edition
Audio Device(s) Creative Sound Blaster Audigy
Power Supply OCZ ModXStream Pro 600W
Software Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
Everything what others said. If you're mainly using headphones on your rig, a sound card upgrade (even a cheap one) will definitely make a difference. The increased sound volume is much needed with headphones. Totally worth it.
Oct 26, 2011
3,121 (1.39/day)
Processor Ci7 5960X
Motherboard RVE
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Power Supply AX 1500i
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I've used many Soundcards and some aren't worth upgrading over onboard audio, but if you pick the right one you'll notice night and day difference.

Some onboard are very good tho, the one that is on my RIVE is miles ahead of what was in the past on motherboards.

The best discrete I've had was an Auzentech and I recommend it even now.


Resident Wat-man
Jan 28, 2012
10,404 (4.84/day)
Concord, NH
System Name Kratos
Processor Intel Core i7 3930k @ 4.2Ghz
Motherboard ASUS P9X79 Deluxe
Cooling Zalman CPNS9900MAX 130mm
Memory G.Skill DDR3-2133, 16gb (4x4gb) @ 9-11-10-28-108-1T 1.65v
Video Card(s) MSI AMD Radeon R9 390 GAMING 8GB @ PCI-E 3.0
Storage 2x120Gb SATA3 Corsair Force GT Raid-0, 4x1Tb RAID-5, 1x500GB
Display(s) 1x LG 27UD69P (4k), 2x Dell S2340M (1080p)
Case Antec 1200
Audio Device(s) Onboard Realtek® ALC898 8-Channel High Definition Audio
Power Supply Seasonic 1000-watt 80 PLUS Platinum
Mouse Logitech G602
Keyboard Rosewill RK-9100
Software Ubuntu 17.10
Benchmark Scores Benchmarks aren't everything.
Most of the time the ALC898 works pretty well but there are times when a dedicated headphone amp and a little extra EMI shielding could be nice, but it's certainly not needed.
Sep 20, 2009
716 (0.24/day)
Processor i7 2600K | Phenom II 840
Motherboard ASUS P8Z68 Deluxe | ASUS M4A88T-M
Cooling Corsair H60 | Scythe Samurai ZZ
Memory 4x4GB Samsung Green 1600 @ 1866 | 2x2GB Corsair XMS3 1333
Video Card(s) Evga GTX 670 FTW | On Board AMD
Storage 2 x 64GB Samsung 830, Velociraptor 300GB,1TB Black,1.5TB Black |10TB server
Display(s) HP 2509m 25" 1080p
Case Lian Li PC-V1020A | Lian Li PC-V354A
Audio Device(s) Azuntech Bravuria 7.1 | On-Board (Disabled)
Power Supply Seasonic X-series 760 , Seasonic X-series 760
Software Windows 7 Ultimate X64 | UnRaid (CentOS)
I've used many Soundcards and some aren't worth upgrading over onboard audio, but if you pick the right one you'll notice night and day difference.

Some onboard are very good tho, the one that is on my RIVE is miles ahead of what was in the past on motherboards.

The best discrete I've had was an Auzentech and I recommend it even now.
Would have to agree. I use the Auzentech Bravuria 7.1 (Built in headphone amp) and it is a flawless card for the past 3 years.
May 13, 2010
4,423 (1.59/day)
System Name RemixedBeast
Processor Intel i5 3570K @ 3.4Ghz
Motherboard ASRock Z77 Pro3
Cooling Coolermaster Hyper 212 Evo
Memory 16GB Corsair XMS3
Video Card(s) EVGA Nvidia GTX 650 Ti SSC 1GB
Storage 1.5TB Seagate/128GB Samsung 840
Display(s) Samsung SyncMaster P2350 23in @ 1920x1080 + LG Flatron 19in Widescreen 1440x900
Case Antec Three Hundred Two
Audio Device(s) Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 80 // Fiio E7 Amp/DAC
Power Supply 620w Antec High Current Gamer HCG-620M
Mouse Logitech G700s/G502
Keyboard Logitech K740
Software Windows Server 2012 x64 Standard
Benchmark Scores Network: APs: Cisco Meraki MR32, Ubiquiti Unifi AP-AC-LR and Lite, Ligowave NFT-3AC
saving up for an amp+DAC and some good cans.
Aug 30, 2009
4,001 (1.32/day)
Sarasota, Florida, USA
System Name Awesomesauce 4.3 | Laptop (MSI GE72VR 6RF Apache Pro-023)
Processor Intel Core i7-5820K 4.16GHz 1.28v/3GHz 1.05v uncore | Intel Core i7-6700HQ @ 3.1GHz
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-X99-UD5 WiFi LGA2011-v3| Stock
Cooling Corsair H100i v2 w/ 2x EK Vardar F4-120ER + various 120/140mm case fans | Stock
Memory G.Skill RJ-4 16GB DDR4-2666 CL15 quad channel | 12GB DDR4-2133
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Audio Device(s) Creative Sound Blaster Z | Realtek with quad stereo speakers and subwoofer
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Software Windows 10 Pro x64 | Windows 10 Home x64
Benchmark Scores GTX 1080 please?
Most of the time the ALC898 works pretty well but there are times when a dedicated headphone amp and a little extra EMI shielding could be nice, but it's certainly not needed.
Agreed, I got the ALC 898 on my ASRock Z77 Extreme6 and I immediately noticed a difference from the older ALC 892 on my ASRock Z68 Extreme4. I use a Roccat Kave 5.1ch headset which has a built-in amplifier, but I have the sliders at about 35% as even with that I usually keep the sound card's volume at 12-30%.
Oct 13, 2007
7,693 (2.07/day)
System Name DarkStar
Processor i5 3570K 4.4Ghz
Motherboard Asrock Z77 Extreme 3
Cooling Apogee HD White/XSPC Razer blocks
Memory 8GB Samsung Green 1600
Video Card(s) 2 x GTX 670 4GB
Storage 2 x 120GB Samsung 830
Display(s) 27" QNIX
Case Enthoo Pro
Power Supply Seasonic Platinum 760
Mouse Steelseries Sensei
Keyboard Ducky Pro MX Black
Software Windows 8.1 x64
Well I was a bit surprised to find my Realtek 892 onboard on my Z77e-itx was noticeably better than my X-Fi XtremeGamer...but it is old now. So the chip itself definitely matters (as I guess is obvious); it's not always "sound card is better, period". I am still thinking about a USB sound card though...
Apr 21, 2008
5,230 (1.48/day)
System Name MASTER
Processor Core i7 3930k run at 4.4ghz
Motherboard Asus Rampage IV extreme
Cooling Corsair H100i
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Video Card(s) 2X EVGA GTX680
Storage 2X Crusial M4 256g raid0, 1TbWD g, 2x500 WD B
Display(s) Samsung 27' 1080P LED 3D monitior 2ms
Case CoolerMaster Chosmos II
Audio Device(s) Creative sound blaster X-FI Titanum champion,Creative speakers 7.1 T7900
Power Supply Corsair 1200i, Logitch G500 Mouse, headset Corsair vengeance 1500
Software Win7 64bit Ultimate
Benchmark Scores 3d mark 2011: testing
yes i have x-fi titanium but i see it's no more useful in windows 7 when use USB headset, only when put my 7.1 speaker seem a bit different over my on board sound card.
Aug 7, 2007
2,655 (0.70/day)
Processor Intel i5-2500k @ 3.8GHz
Motherboard ASRock Z68 Extreme4 Gen3
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Storage 240GB Corsair Force GT
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Case Corsair 550D
Audio Device(s) Creative SB X-Fi Fatality Professional
Power Supply Seasonic SS-760XP2 Platinum
Software Windows 7 Pro 64-bit
Still using my 5 year old x-fi extremegamer as well. Still works great. I have a second one I have brand new just for when it finally dies or gives me problems.

Question: This doesn't exactly pertain to the topic being discussed, but does digital sound like the one that can be transmitted through the HDMI cable from the video card (ex. my 5850) any good? How does it compare to a stand-alone analog card like the x-fi extreme gamer?
Aug 11, 2011
4,335 (1.87/day)
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Cooling Stock | Antec Kuhler 620 | Reeven Vanxie
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Audio Device(s) Onboard
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Software Windows 10 64bit
Question: This doesn't exactly pertain to the topic being discussed, but does digital sound like the one that can be transmitted through the HDMI cable from the video card (ex. my 5850) any good? How does it compare to a stand-alone analog card like the x-fi extreme gamer?
As good as your receiver is. The HDMI port passes an unlatered digital stream so no DAC interferes.
Aug 17, 2009
849 (0.28/day)
Argentina (South America)
System Name Classy Gal
Processor i7 2600K
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD3-B3
Cooling CM Hyper 212 plus
Memory 16GB Kingston Hyper X
Video Card(s) EVGA GTX1070 FE
Storage 2x120GB Vertex 3 - 1x1TB WD
Display(s) LG 23" 1920x1080
Case Coolermaster Cosmos S
Audio Device(s) Creative SB Titanium HD
Power Supply Seasonic M12II 750W
Software Win10 / Linux Mint
I have 2 sound cards in my system and the onboard Audio: Titanium HD, Xonar DX and the onboard Realtek (it's enable but i never use it). And a second PC with a X-Fi Titanium. Never had an issue with Creative or ASUS (although i use the unified ones) drivers.

Is justifiable?

Only if you have good Speakers and Headphones.


It depends on the person. Me, i'm never using onboard again, with my Headphones (AKG K240 MKII & Audio Technica ATH A700) the onboard sounds lifeless compared to the Titanium HD, and the extra detail you hear in games is way ahead of what the onboard reproduce IMO.

Onboards i have listened to:

Abit IP35 Pro (Realteck ALC888), Giagabyte Z68X-UD3-B3 (Realtek ALC889), ASUS P5E Supreme FX2 (Analog Devices ADI1988D)


~Technological Technocrat~
Apr 20, 2007
17,151 (4.40/day)
System Name Codename: Rapture X Mk.VI {Still....MoonPig Edition}
Processor Intel 3930k@4.5Ghz
Motherboard Asus P9X79 PRO
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Memory 32GB DDR3 Kingston HyperX Beast 2400Mhz {8x4GB}
Video Card(s) MSI 1070 Gaming X (Samsung)
Storage 512GB Samsung 850 Pro (Boot)|1x 512GB Crucial MX100|2x 3TB Toshiba DT01ACA300
Display(s) Asus PB278Q 27"
Case Corsair 760T (White) {1x140mm NB PK-3, 2x Corsair AF140}
Audio Device(s) Creative SB Z {Speakers: Logitech Z-5500 }
Power Supply Corsair AX760
Mouse Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum
Keyboard Duckyshine Dead LED(s) III
Software Windows 7 7600 x64
Benchmark Scores ( ͡°( ͡° ͜ʖ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)ʖ ͡°) ͡°)
Been using a soundcard since i built my first PC. Obviously I didnt use one at first then i got curious and bought a Creative Audigy 2 ZS just to try out and it was one of the best investsments ever - the Audigy 2 ZS now belongs to my dad who loves it and wont give it back lol.

I used to have a XFi Xtreme Music which was awesome, I sold that to a friend who loves it very much. I had a XFi Titanium Fatality Pro which died in about a year then I went to a Asus Xonar D2X and STX and after that, back to Creative with their Sound Blaster - Z

As far as soundcards are concerned, this will most likely be my last one as I am moving over to AV recievers and bookshelf speakers in 5.1
Oct 9, 2010
1,281 (0.49/day)
Kolkata, India
System Name Kaby | HP ab221TX laptop
Processor Intel Core i5 7600K @stock | Intel Core i5 5200U
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Memory 4*8 GB Kingston HyperX Fury @2900 MHz 15-15-15-35 2T | 8GB DDR3 1600MHz
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Case Corsair Carbide 100R | HP ab221TX chassis
Audio Device(s) Realtek ALC1150 (Supreme FX) | Realtek ALC 290 with Bang & Olufsen (B&O Play)
Power Supply Corsair CS750M | 65W power brick
Mouse Logitech G300S | Synaptics SMBus touchpad
Keyboard Cooler Master Storm Devastator | Island style backlit keyboard
Software Windows 10 Pro | Windows 10 Home x64
I am using the onboard Realtek ALC 892 with Creative X-Fi MB2 drivers and sounds good enough for me. :)
Apr 10, 2010
1,675 (0.60/day)
System Name Jaspe
Processor i7 3820 4.4Ghz
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Case In Win GRone
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Power Supply Antec Signature 650
Software Windows 10 Home
Agreed, I got the ALC 898 on my ASRock Z77 Extreme6 and I immediately noticed a difference from the older ALC 892 on my ASRock Z68 Extreme4. I use a Roccat Kave 5.1ch headset which has a built-in amplifier, but I have the sliders at about 35% as even with that I usually keep the sound card's volume at 12-30%.
This. ALC 898 sounds good to me.
Apr 2, 2011
2,443 (1.00/day)
Do I own a couple: yes.

Do I use them: no.

HDMI pass through to a television for everything except gaming. A Corsair headset and mic for gaming is all I've ever needed.

Sound quality is better on a discrete card, assuming that you've got a decent mid-range stereo setup. I qualify this statement with mid-range for one reason; mid-range is the only place where the DAC would be from the computer, and not from the stereo system. My surround sound runs through my receiver, and converts the HDMI pass-through into amazing sound.

As far as headphones, they're hit and miss. USB based ones generally have more than enough oomph to beat out onboard sound. At the same time, they're more expensive than the standard mono-jacked ones that are so often utilized. With a mono output the headphones need a better sound source, that is generally not there with onboard.