Onboard Sound Vs. Add in Sound Card

Discussion in 'Soundcards, Speakers HiFI & File formats' started by ROBSCIX, Mar 10, 2006.

  1. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    16,241
    Likes Received:
    7
    GPU:
    22" LCD on GTX260 C216
    Onboard Sound Vs. Add in Sound Card

    By ROBSCIX


    This is one of the most prevalent questions asked in this forum. I figured I would put all the info in this thread so members can find it quickly and easily. Everytime the questions is asked it will fuel a debate always ending with the same conclusion.

    Why should I get a soundcard when my Motherboard has onboard sound?

    I would say onboard sound is basically a marketing tactic used by motherboard manufacturers to sell an all-in-one solution. These soundchips undoubtedly have come along way since the first onboards, and would be fine for a basic office or home PC, but they still do not stand up to a quality add-in PCI card for many reasons.

    Onboard sound chips need to use CPU cycles to process sound. This robs your sytem of performance. If your sound chip has EAX which alot of them do these days the issue is compounded usually degrading your performance somewhere in the area of 5-15 FPS in games. This is usually the reported number of FPS that users report getting when then install a PCI sound solution. This is not the worst issue though.

    But ROBSCIX my onboard sounds fine to me?

    Of course if a user has been using their soundchips for quite a while, the ear gets used to the less than stellar sound quality boasted by onboard sound chips. When a user installs a PCI solution they are literally blown away by the sound quality. They report hearing things in games and music that previously was not noticable. Once a user is used to a PCI sound card they can hear the deficiencies inherent to onboard sound chips and will never use one again. They sound very cold and sterile. DSP effects are usually overwhelming and washed out. These chips have no qualities usually associated with good sound, so alot of times the user will not know what they are missing until they hear it. You will need a set of decent speakers to be able to hear the difference however. $10 speakers won't cut it.

    Now over the years various companies have released onboard sound chips that have tried to get over these issues. Connecting to the bus in different ways so they don't use CPU cycles etc. In terms of sound quality they are still lacking. All in all that's what we all want, I could care less about other things as long as I have great sound quality. People spend so much time building up there video subsystems, studying and reading about the best video components, but then they have an older onboard sound card connected to small multimedia speakers. Very sad indeed. If they invested half the time researching audio as they spent on video they wouldn't be using onboard sound. They would be using at least an entry level soundcard with surround sound speakers. Modern games are productional masterpieces with equal attention paid to audio as well as video. Without this hardware you're only getting half of what the game developers wanted you to experience. Sound is definitely an important part of all modern games. Indeed most new games contain EAX, surround sound support and directional audio, all used to make your game more enjoyable. Unfortunately all are limited by the sound hardware you have.

    So the choice is up to you, and the question becomes:

    Why wouldn't you replace your onboard with a quality PCI sound card? ;)
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2006
  2. alanm

    alanm Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    7,230
    Likes Received:
    38
    GPU:
    1070 AMP!
    Thanks, good one. Hopefully that will be the end of the weekly onboard vs soundcard thread.
     
  3. S_Kinton

    S_Kinton Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    1,884
    Likes Received:
    1
    GPU:
    512mb 8800GT & 22" Samsung LCD
    Hopefully...but some people seem to loose their eye sight and ignore stickies!!

    I would mention though that my motherboard has onboard soundblaster Live! 24-bit, which is one of the best onboard solutions ive come across, but my Audigy 4 still provides a noticeable difference, never bothered to check fps tho.

    Also, the MSI diamond and diamond plus have Audigy and Audigy 2 sound oboard respectively - Very good solutions if you cant afford a sound card, although the boards themselves are pretty expensive as motherboards go....
     
  4. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    16,241
    Likes Received:
    7
    GPU:
    22" LCD on GTX260 C216
    They still suffer from the same ill's that plague all onboards, performance degradation...etc. I never said there aren't decent onboards. I did say they can't compete with a decent Add in..
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2006

  5. S_Kinton

    S_Kinton Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    1,884
    Likes Received:
    1
    GPU:
    512mb 8800GT & 22" Samsung LCD
    All very true, was just saying that the onboard options have had alot of improvements, but still cant beat a seperate card, as you said
     
  6. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    16,241
    Likes Received:
    7
    GPU:
    22" LCD on GTX260 C216
    Your absolutley right that they have come a very long way. I didn't know certain mobos had A1, A2 Chips installed..I wonder how the would compare to a dedicated PCI card of the same name...Intel has the HD audio mobos. Onboard has come a long way for sure I don;t think it will ever get to the point that addin soundcards will be obsolete...SAme as onboard video sure it's "good' light years ahead of what it used to be, but it can't compare to a decent addin GFX card either. These mobo manufacturers build these all-in-one solutions so OEM'S can just buy the mobo and have to add a minimum of other hardware..it'll do the trick for public schools or grandmas email, but for guys like us it's pretty mickey mouse the GFX or the Audio...it all has to go..
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2006
  7. kansei

    kansei Member Guru

    Messages:
    108
    Likes Received:
    0
    GPU:
    BFG Geforce 7800gs 475/1400
    I was a strong supporter of onboard sound ( Sound Storm ) ,and I still thinks it is great but I just bought a X-Fi xtreme music - The difference should be illegal , I could not believe how much sharper and crisper everything is . Update just played BF2 and CS:S (with headphones ) the sound is great the 3d imaging made a huge difference and I heard things I never did before. I'm sold .
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2006
  8. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    16,241
    Likes Received:
    7
    GPU:
    22" LCD on GTX260 C216
    Yeah, it's a brave new word...lol. I had to use onboard for a little while you can get it to sound "tolerable" if set right..but there is no comparison to a PCI sound solution...they are alot better sounding...
     
  9. AcceleratorX

    AcceleratorX Master Guru

    Messages:
    308
    Likes Received:
    0
    GPU:
    GTX 560 Ti OC
    However, SoundMAX onboard audio solutions have much better quality than other onboard solutions. My SoundMAX sounds at least as good as my SBLive! 24-bit in music and games (though SBLive has the edge since it can do EAX 3), and its also comparable to a VIA Envy24 quality-wise.

    Read the reviews of the SoundMAX on the net if you do not believe me.
     
  10. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    16,241
    Likes Received:
    7
    GPU:
    22" LCD on GTX260 C216
    Still suffer from the same issues all sound chips have. Your correct Soundmax is one of the better onboards but it is still just that. SO it'll take CPU cycles to process sound.-kill performance. If you want advice Get a quality add-in sound card instead of trying to justify reasons to keep a Microchip that probably cost 10 cents to employ. The thread wasn't about to argue which are better which are worse that's not the point. BTW a SB live! 24 bit is not considered a good card either. If you enjoy the sound great. Your missing alot in terms of sound quality.
     

  11. AcceleratorX

    AcceleratorX Master Guru

    Messages:
    308
    Likes Received:
    0
    GPU:
    GTX 560 Ti OC
    The problem is, I have no idea of a good soundcard for an analog speaker system. Most reviewers do thier reviews with digital speakers. I would appreciate it if you can help me in this regard. I am on a budget, though, so I'm not looking for the absolute top-of-the-line one. Thanks. :)

    EDIT:- BTW, are the VIA Envy24 based solutions OK?
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2006
  12. aircool

    aircool Don Aircooleone Staff Member

    Messages:
    13,735
    Likes Received:
    0
    GPU:
    Zotac GTX 560 Ti 448 Core
    a add in card such as a creative x-fi will improve fps in games as off loads work from the cpu
     
  13. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    16,241
    Likes Received:
    7
    GPU:
    22" LCD on GTX260 C216
    Post out in the main thread.
     
  14. gass2234

    gass2234 New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    i will like to no u
     
  15. SniperDaws

    SniperDaws Banned

    Messages:
    2,565
    Likes Received:
    0
    GPU:
    XFX7600GTXXX Zalman Vf900
    Ive just set up a media center pc in my front room, its using most of my old stuff like 9700pro and Socket A cpu with my DFI Nforce2 ultra board, now ive currently got my old SBlive retail installed, but my MOBO has the Nvidia onboard sound,

    Is the PCI SBLive the better choice or is the Nvidia onboard better?
     

  16. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    16,241
    Likes Received:
    7
    GPU:
    22" LCD on GTX260 C216
    It would depend if you had a Soundstorm or not, if the onboard was a soundstorm then it is pretty good as far as onboards go..if it's not then the SB Live is better especially if you use KX drivers...
     
  17. SniperDaws

    SniperDaws Banned

    Messages:
    2,565
    Likes Received:
    0
    GPU:
    XFX7600GTXXX Zalman Vf900
    Yeah its soundstorm, but at the moment its only coming out of my TV speakers, the speakers sound ok but are nothing special, im acctually thinking more inline with CPU usage rather than sound quality, that is untill i get some new speakers.
     
  18. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    16,241
    Likes Received:
    7
    GPU:
    22" LCD on GTX260 C216
    Well like I said you can use KX driver with that Live! and get great sound quality and alot of wicked effects if your into music composition and such. You know you can have more that one sound card in a mchine correct? Actually the soundstorms were supposed to be a different type of soundchip that doesn't acces the BUS inthe same way so it doesn't tax the CPU in the same way as a normal soundcard. Now that's the theory of it anyway I have never seen any supporting information. So it may be that whichever card you choose you will get the same performance. So it's kinda a draw?
     
  19. bug77

    bug77 Banned

    Messages:
    3,469
    Likes Received:
    0
    GPU:
    Palit 8800GT
    I didn't.
     
  20. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    16,241
    Likes Received:
    7
    GPU:
    22" LCD on GTX260 C216
    You didn't what?
     

Share This Page