Maximise your PC gaming audio experience with our sound card review. Whether you are an audiophile or a passionate PC gamer, a sound card is essential for maximum audio enjoyment. Game studios spend thousands if not millions hiring the best sound producers and composers to create epic soundtracks for your entertainment.
If you think you are going to get the full experience of Hans Zimmer’s amazing Crysis 2 soundtrack on your standard onboard sound card, you should reconsider that thought. In our sound card review we will show you how to get the most out of your sound card and get the best audio experience possible from your computer.
Dedicated Sound Card vs Onboard Sound Card
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All motherboards these days come with a built-in onboard sound card. However, a motherboard needs to be small enough to fit in your computer tower, therefore the on-board sound card has limited space. This means, your on-board sound card will never be able to match the quality of a dedicated sound card.
Also a dedicated sound card reduces the amount of workload forced upon your CPU by handling all the audio needs of your computer. This is a great advantage for PC gamers, because it means increased frame-rates during your gaming sessions.
A good sound card gives you higher quality sound, higher signal-to-noise ratio and 192-kHz resolutions. Don’t worry if these words don’t mean much to you, just know that if you invest the time and money into a good sound card you will reap the benefits.
Onboard sound cards are by no means bad, they are great for everyday use. But for those that want higher quality audio and sound, you will need to spend some time and money to build your own PC audio setup.
Getting the Most Out of Your Sound Card
Simply buying a good sound card is not enough to get good audio from your computer. To truly maximize your audio experience you will also need to invest in a set of high quality speakers or headset. This is one of the reasons why the majority of PC gamers don’t or cannot get high quality audio from their computer.
We recommend that you go for the high-end products, because mid-range products offer very little improvement over your standard sound card. Building a high quality PC audio setup is for hardcore audiophiles and people who are willing to spend a significant amount of time and energy. You need the correct audio files/formats, equipment and audio settings to get the most out of your hardware.
Sound cards are not for everyone, if you aren’t willing to invest time and money, or are just on the casual side of things, your onboard sound card will be able to cover all your gaming and sound needs. However, if you really want higher quality audio and are willing to put the effort into creating the best audio setup you possibly can, we have compiled a list of the best sound cards in our sound card review.
Sound Card Reviews
ASUS Xonar Essence STX
The ASUS Xonar Essence STX is on top of our sound card review list because it is one the best sound cards on the market right now. It offers everything you need for gaming and overall high quality audio. The sound card itself looks sleek and sexy, and features a cool little illustration on the card itself.
It looks amazing and it sounds great, it offers everything you would want as a gamer and an audiophile.
Check out the official ASUS product website for all the technical specifications for the ASUS Xonar Essence STX.
The ASUS Xonar Essence ST is a product that is very similar to the ASUS Xonar Essence STX. The thing that separates the two apart is the slot it uses in your computer. The ASUS Xonar Essence ST uses a PCI slot and the STX uses a PCIe slot (newer technology).
If you have more than one PCIe slot (most new motherboards these days do), the STX provides everything the ST does for cheaper. However, if your motherboard only has one PCIe slot and it is in use (usually by your graphics card) then you may want to purchase the Xonar Essence ST, so you can use it on one of your PCI slots.
Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Pro
Creative is a company most known for its Sound Blaster sound cards and ZEN MP3 players. The Sound Blaster sound cards are made specifically for gaming and game audio. Most game studios use OpenAL and EAX when developing game audio, and Creative are the inventors behind these APIs and audio technologies.
Buying a Creative Sound Blaster sound card gives you access to many tweaks and settings that aren’t available to other sound cards. Buying a product from a company that merges high quality hardware and software together gives you an edge in putting together your ideal PC audio setup.
The ASUS Xonar series will output superior audio, but for gaming the Creative Sound Blasters are held in higher regard. They are also the industry standard, therefore games will support more of the card’s features.
We highly recommend this card for gamers and the ASUS Xonar series for overall higher quality audio.
Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD
The Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD is a great card for those looking for a decent upgrade to their onboard sound card. This great little card comes at an affordable price and offers great performance for what it is worth. We know that we said you should go for the high-end products, but the Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD is featured on our sound card review list because it is a specialist product that does what a specific job very well.
The X-Fi Titanium HD was built specifically for gaming, it offers a decent upgrade for everyday audio, but the sound card really comes to life when you are gaming. Creative sound technology is the standard for game development, and the X-Fi Titanium HD utilizes the technology to the fullest.
If you are tried of your enemies sneaking up behind you without you noticing, or not being able to hear which direction your enemies are coming from, you should consider picking up the X-Fi Titanium HD.
As we’ve said before, a dedicated sound card is not for everyone. If you aren’t willing to spend that extra time and money on your PC audio setup, then you won’t be getting the most out of your hardware and the money you spent. We hope that from reading our sound card review you now have the knowledge to build a powerful PC audio setup.