"With the excellent embedded audio solution housed in motherboards I figured that soundcards would have been a thing of the past..." Wouldn't agree more... On paper motherboards audio are fine. In ads, they are brilliant. In reality - I can clearly hear difference on speakers setup 2.0 or more/headphones and any decent sound card, starting from old xonar dx. And my mb sound card is decent. z97 pro gamer motherboard. SupremeFX...! Second thing - if there is situation, like mine, where I have coil whine from my gfx, then...well, I hear coil whine on headphones/speakers using motherboards sound... Third- creatives drivers my sometimes suck, but with my current zx I haven't one single problem, and it give me enormous advantage in FPS gaming, online, just because I can hear near to perfect in 3d environment where my foes are. And react fast accordingly.