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Sound and Network cards needed nowadays?

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by DublinDude, Mar 26, 2020.

  1. DublinDude


    Joined: Oct 1, 2007

    Posts: 262

    Hi all,

    Just looking into upgrading.

    I have decent speakers (Logitect Z2300) and I have bought good soundcards in the past. As I haven't upgraded in a long time, are they still the better option sound quality wise over the inbuilt sound via the motherboard?

    Also, I have a seperate network card in my current setup that I connect directly to my modem/router. Is this not necessary? Is the ethernet port on the motherboard just as good (fast) for this?

    Thanks in advance
  2. bremen1874


    Joined: Oct 20, 2008

    Posts: 10,797

    The quality of the onboard sound will depend on the motherboard. It's one of the things that differentiates models. If you're building a new system try the onboard sound and see if it sounds okay to you. Onboard sound does tend to be pretty good nowadays.

    I choose to only buy motherboards with Intel chipsets, but I'd probably not notice any difference it wasn't Intel. Again you can try it before installing a dedicated NIC. If I was installing a NIC it would have an Intel chipset.
  3. Mcnumpty2323

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Dec 21, 2019

    Posts: 2,139

    Depends who you ask
    For some on board sound with decent speakers is fine
    Audiophiles will tell you to get a sound card or dac
    At the end of the day if on board sounds OK to your ears why spend more money
    And not used a nic in years
    So on board ethernet to me is fine
  4. ChrisLX200

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jun 23, 2004

    Posts: 1,778

    Location: Macclesfield

    The audio hardware included on decent new MBs is often good, decent chips are cheap to add, but having it on the motherboard makes it difficult to isolate from the rest of the electronics close by. A PCIe card is better suited for that and can achieve superior s/n ratio for that reason (in good designs anyway). It's not just the hardware though, the software support for my own TRX40 board which hosts a Realtek SABRE class chip is very poor and there is virtually no control over the audio output beyond what you get with the basic Windows controls. If you are into gaming or critical listening with good headphones you would benefit from a better source, either a card or an external DAC. If using desktop speakers maybe not so much.
  5. b00merang69

    Perma Banned

    Joined: Sep 27, 2019

    Posts: 2,578

    Buy a "Killer NIC" go on you know you want to. :p
  6. orbitalwalsh


    Joined: Dec 1, 2015

    Posts: 16,979

    aorus have the better onboard audio hardware , EVGA Make the best Audio sound card via UK company - running this card you'd want a £500 plus headset .

    AV setup would be sweet but PC has been lagging a little with sound that isn't delivered via Headset . Woould Love a good ATMOS speaker system in a game cave for gaming
  7. DublinDude


    Joined: Oct 1, 2007

    Posts: 262

    Hmmm thanks for the replies. I won't be able to listen to audio direct from motherboard until I purchase and install.
  8. pp111


    Joined: Oct 22, 2018

    Posts: 202

    To my mind a really good audio card is way beyond "computer speakers". You really have to be talking some serious separates to make the most of even a modest audio card. So no, just get a motherboard with good onboard sound. As for a network card, well, I have tried and it really doesn't make any difference. Intel have remained the best but onboard or separate doesn't make any difference. Killer NIC's were quite useful for prioritizing individual apps, but most people hated them so they disappeared.
  9. EsaT


    Joined: Jun 6, 2008

    Posts: 7,289

    Location: Finland

    No reason to put any attention into that:
    At best it has any value for only as long as that board is in use and those marketing hype expensive boards have little value after that.
    (heck, especially Intel boards are dead ends)
    And even that very expensive marketing hype board isn't guarantee for interference free sound.
    Or any good outputs considering I've read about complaints of not enough volume with 250 ohm Beyers...
    Which standard Realtek implementation is capable to driving to hearing dangerous for long term listening volumes.

    And in case of integrated sound card turning to be bad, it's very easy to get separate sound card.
    Which can be also used over PC upgrades giving long time return for money.

    totally useless fraud incapable to doing anything to 99% of connection lag factors!
    If having network latency critical thing going while torrenting something at full bandwidth, that's OSI layer 8 fault.
  10. b00merang69

    Perma Banned

    Joined: Sep 27, 2019

    Posts: 2,578

    And/or ISP.
  11. Justintime


    Joined: Jul 24, 2006

    Posts: 8,647

    Location: Edmonton, London, UK

    Sound - passable on most newer boards, unless you're looking to send to a decent amp/speaker combo (i use a DAC with a Rotel amp and monitor audio RX1 speakers but even i struggle sometimes to hear a difference), computer speakers will be fine with the onboard.
    Network - fine for just about any broadband. i use a 10gbit LAN and a few pcs so not onboard but onboard is decent if all you need it for is internet or a basic LAN.
  12. Blue160


    Joined: Oct 26, 2010

    Posts: 2,561

    Location: Leatherhead

    I don't think there's a lot of point buying a cheap soundcard these days. I bought a Soundblaster Z as an upgrade to the onboard sound from my B450 Tomahawk and really couldn't tell any difference. I went from that to an AE-9 and the difference is night and day. This is all using Grado SR80 cans and an inexpensive Logitech2.1 setup.
  13. Avalon


    Joined: Dec 29, 2002

    Posts: 5,402

    NIC wise intel is the default safe option, unfortunately low end intel trades on a reputation of the nicer stuff and certain flavours with very insignificant looking model number differences can have significant feature removal, absolutely fine for your average consumer running W10 bare metal, not so much for your average higher end user who runs a virtual environment or server class SKU’s, then again they will likely be running a dedicated multi port NIC anyway. Unless you are saturating gigabit continually and need the hardware offload capabilities of intel or using an OS with known driver issues (eg Realtek under BSD requires compiling the newer driver for for stability), you generally won’t notice a significant difference as long as your OS supports your NIC chipset.

    Sound however is highly subjective.
  14. [-Stash-]


    Joined: May 3, 2004

    Posts: 267

    Location: Kent, UK

    No need for a sound card or a network card, just use the onboards, they're fine.

    If you really care about sound, get an external USB DAC and plug your speakers/headphones into that.

    Only buy a separate network card if you need more ports or you want faster than 1GbE – then you're looking at hundreds of £s for the NICs and a suitable switch, not to mention having to worry about cable quality as well. None of which will do anything to improve online gaming or download speeds for 99.999% of people.
  15. Joe Jones


    Joined: Dec 11, 2019

    Posts: 24

    Location: Cardiff

    I have always advocated a good DAC chip (which can be found in cheap and expensive sound cards). I used to use a Creative X-Fi XtremeMusic and replaced the op-amps (these can be just as important as the DAC) and improved the capacitors in the power supply section all to get a nice deep controlled bass response. That was great until a motherboard upgrade forced me to drop the PCI card.

    I've now got an Elfidelity card (AK4396 DAC) that I've improved the power supply circuit of and replaced the op-amps with Burson V6's (£30 for each channel - not worth it really) that does just as good a job.

    With that said I run a valve amp powering 5 foot floor standing speakers that reproduce down to 32-33hz and for gaming at night I run a pair of Meze 99-Classics (all through reconditioned AC) so I'm a long way down the path of chasing gains and is something that has evolved over the last 10-15 years.

    Avalon summed it up. "Sound however is highly subjective." What sounds good to me, maybe not to you.