It is becoming difficult to discuss the quality of soundcards with anyone, since very few people use them. We’ve gone from needing a sound card to play back a reasonable amount of channels since the onboard audio could not handle it, to saving CPU cycles by pulling the responsibility of processing audio onto a sound card, to a point where they seem obsolete. Putting aside the fact that many PCs are outputting audio and video over a single HDMI cable or onto a USB headset, most non-audiophiles will be satisfied with the variety of outputs available on the back of a motherboard and the processing power that the onboard audio Codec needs is minuscule. At The Tech Report you can read about one technophiles experiences with sound cards and his recommendation focuses more on the importance of providing yourself with a decent sound system and top of the line speakers before in preference to upgrading your sound card.
"In his latest blog post, TR’s David Morgan upgrades his integrated "In his latest blog post, TR’s David Morgan upgrades his integrated motherboard audio and wonders whether discrete sound cards are still relevant."
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