With so many new chipsets including digital 5.1 sound support, buying a sound card is something that price conscious users are skipping out on.  The Inquirer sat dow to figure out how much of an effect doing do would have on gaming, not so much the sound quality as the CPU usage.  As it turns out even with the CPU technology of today, there is a significant impact.  They also point out that leaving onboard sound off of the motherboard will free up more space, something that is quickly becoming a problem.
“Quality aside, what’s the real effect on hardware-based sound on CPU use, aside from the FPS performance in games? Can it be measured, and what are the results? We know that in games, higher frame rates can be obtained in some cases, but how much do you gain when playing audio? Here we go with it…”

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Audio Corner