Integrated onboard sound versus dedicated soundcard?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Trevor V. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

My computer includes an integrated sound card built onto the main board. In your opinion, would it be worth my time to add a dedicated sound card such as 'Creative SoundBlaster Live!' to increase sound quality and CPU performance? What do you think? "

My response:

Generally speaking: most dedicated soundcards will almost always perform better (both CPU wise and sound quality wise) because there is more hardware devoted for the task at hand (I.E.: producing sound). Comparably: a dedicated sound card has many chips and transistors to create sound, whereas many of the integrated on-board solutions have only 1 chip, few transistors, and often rely on software emulation to produce sound. This causes CPU load and can also degrade the sound experience (and even cause the sound to "stutter").

However, to best answer your question, I would suggest that you:

a) look up the technical specifications of your main board by visiting the manufacturer's web site [specifically, pay attention to the sound card and chipset specifications], and

b) compare your integrated sound solution to that of the SoundBlaster Live!, and

c) if you don't understand the specifications, ask someone who does (such as a local computer store)

This will give you the best educated decision as to whether or not it would be worth it for to you upgrade to a dedicated board. Good luck!

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