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In the past (that is, in the 1990s), the requirements for sound cards were much higher. However, now for ordinary gamers, they are not really necessary, because the integrated audio built into the motherboard can usually do enough work (for desktop users anyway).

However, in some cases it would be a good idea to get a dedicated sound card-if you are playing a competitive first-person shooter on a serious level, you are running a laptop with less than ideal onboard audio, You are a content creator using audio and want to set up a home theater system, or if you are just a loyal enthusiast!

In the list below, you should find a card that meets your needs, no matter which group you are in, and no matter your budget. Be sure to read the "Things to Consider" section below to quickly understand what you need to know before buying.

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The Creative Labs Sound Blaster series is very common in the list of best sound cards, especially those that take gamers into consideration. Creative Sound BlasterX AE5 is one of the newest members of the series. Its sound quality is enough to satisfy any real enthusiast, and its multiple player-friendly features make it our top choice.

This sound card uses Sound Blaster’s XAMP technology, provides excellent headphone impedance support, Scout 2.0 provides support for headset gamers seeking online shooting advantages, true 5.1 surround sound support, and RGB reactive lighting, which can be integrated with your PC To match any of the RGB settings. You can also spend a little more money and get the audio control module separately.

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ASUS Xonar Essence STX II is one of the most powerful built-in sound cards you may find, with excellent sound quality. Unlike the other choices in this list, it fully supports 7.1 surround sound and also has professional-grade headset support. The

sound card comes with a headphone amplifier, the maximum support impedance is 600 ohms, DAC, SNR 122dB, and a depth of 24 bits. There are a large number of ports on the card and all the audio jacks needed for a complete 7.1 surround sound speaker setup.

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mid-priced built-in sound card from Amazon, suitable for those looking for better sound quality than the cheapest deal. The ASUS Xonar DSX has a sampling rate of 192 kHz and an SNR of 107, making it relatively affordable. In addition to the impressive sound quality of the

, ASUS Xonar DSX also has 7.1 surround sound, which is ideal for home theater speaker setups. The price of this is weak software and feature support, especially for headphones, of course you can still use them.

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Despite its low price, the Asus Xonar DGX still has considerable sound quality and a large number of basic software features for gamers.

This cheap built-in sound card provides Dolby surround sound support, headphone amplifier and GX 2.5 for headphone users, but at an affordable price.

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from Amazon For those who really only need a basic sound card to enhance laptop audio or similar features, the StarTech USB audio adapter is a cheap external option, such as a chip.

Although this sound card won't win any awards for its audio quality, sometimes you just need the cheapest option to get the job done, and this USB-connected audio adapter is a useful backup tool in case you need it.

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When buying a sound card, you should consider various information and terminology, unless you know something about audio, you may not be familiar with it. Below is a brief overview of all the necessary information.

DigitaltoAnalogConverter is a sub-component of the sound card, it converts the computer's digital code into continuous analog sound waves, which can be played through its output to produce (hopefully) realistic sound. The higher the bit depth / bit rate, the more information can be converted into waves and the more accurate and realistic the sound will be. 24-bit is the minimum requirement for good sound quality.

Another piece of information that determines the quality of the DAC is the sampling rate, in kHz, it affects the quality of the sound that the card can pick up and then copy. The general rule of thumb is that the sound frequency that the card can reproduce is half of its set sampling rate, so in general, you need a sampling rate of at least 96 KHz to produce 48 KHz sound, which is the DVD standard. Quality sound. However, those engaged in audio workflows will want to go higher than this to ensure that they make the most of the data that any input can capture.

SNR or SignalToNoiseRatio is a number that reflects the percentage of required signal information and unwanted background noise-in simple terms, the higher the SNR, the clearer the sound, and the background hissing sound you will hear when you turn up the volume. The less buzzing. Generally speaking, you need a sound card with an SNR of at least 91dB. Although ideally higher, if you plan to watch movies on relatively high-volume speakers, it is usually worth the money to buy a better SNR sound card, and Absolutely if you are editing audio.

Traditionally, the sound card is located inside the PC and inserted into the PCIe slot of the motherboard. You will still see several examples of this in this list. However, this has some disadvantages, which means that when connecting to an external sound card, the external sound card is now seen more frequently than before.

The hiss / static noise mentioned above. In particular, high-end motherboards combine several design features to minimize this interference (using ground protection, isolating sound cards, etc.), but it generally goes a certain degree into the higher volume output. The main disadvantage is that the internal card clearly provides a more compact and closed gaming PC. The

surround sound now offers 5.1, 7.1 and 7.2 variants (in increasing order of fidelity and immersion) for a full 3D sound experience. Surround sound support is not only used for speaker setups, but is also used by some headsets that combine multiple independent drivers and micro speakers to maximize immersion in single player games that support it. However, most competitive online gamers will continue to choose a high-quality stereo pair of headphones because their audio lag is less than the surround sound version.

In short, pure gamers don't need multichannel support on your sound card, but if you spend a lot of money on the sound card then it is an ideal feature if you plan to watch movies etc.

Especially for gamers who play first person shooter games, one thing you need to pay attention to on the sound card is the accompanying software functions, which can give you an edge in the game. Depending on the software, this usually means amplifying certain sounds in the audio mix (usually steps) over others so that you can hear them in games like Counter-Strike or Escape from Tarkov People's Voices. Scout mode is an example, which can be turned on or off at will. In addition to

, software features can often give you a more immersive experience, regardless of whether you are using speakers or headphones. For example, the GX2.5 game audio engine is proprietary software from ASUS that can achieve realistic 3D effects, and you will normally see this feature on all your sound cards. The impedance of the

headphones is a rather complicated concept, which is related to the relationship between the voltage and current of an electrical signal and its amplitude and frequency. In terms of what you really need to know: the sound card you use must have a signal impedance that matches the headphone you use; the higher the quality of the earphone, the higher the impedance. So if you want to use a high-quality pair of audiophile headphones, make sure the sound card you buy has the required impedance.

audio channels 4444 5.1 true/7.1 virtual

bit depth/sampling rate

32 bit/384 kHz

SNR

122

internal or external?

internal (PCIe)

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audio channel 4444 True 7.1

bit depth/sampling rate

24 bit/192 kHz

SNR

122

internal or external?

internal (PCIe)

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audio channels 4444 7.1

bit depth/sampling rate

24 bit/192 KHz

SNR

107

internal or external?

internal (PCIe)

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audio channel 4444 5.1

SNR and sampling frequency

105 and 192 KHz

internal or external?

internal (PCIe)

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audio channels 4444 5.1 (Windows only)

signal-to-noise ratio and sampling rate

91 and 96 KHz

internal or external?

External (USB)

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Audio Channel 44 44 True 5.1 / Virtual 7.1

Bit Depth / Sample Rate

32-bit / 384 kHz

SNR

122

Internal or External?

Internal (PCIe)

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PROS

Excellent bit depth

Excellent sample rate

Excellent sound clarity

High-end headphone impedance support

With Scout 2.0

Reactive RGB lighting

44 4 4 4 4 Only se 4 RGB true surround sound required 44 4 4 4 True RGB surround sound Separate power connection

Creative Sound BlasterX AE5 has first-class audio quality. Although the card does not match the absolute quality options in terms of having the best processing power or control system, these are for those involved in audio workflows; For most gamers, the BlasterX AE5 will be more than enough. The sound card is equipped with the latest 32-bit 384 kHz playback Saber DAC, which provides excellent range and depth for the audio signal. The sound clarity of this card is excellent too, with a signal-to-noise ratio of 122 dB.

Creative Sound BlasterX AE5 is equipped with Sound Blaster's proprietary headphone amplification technology, called XAMP, which supports headphones in the 16-600 ohm range and amplifies two headphone channels. Contains the latest version of Scout mode: Scout 2.0, which allows users to gain an advantage in competitive games. The

sound card comes with the Aurora reactive lighting system, which controls RGB and links it to your entire system; unfortunately this requires an additional Molex power connector to work (for many buyers, before buying, it may not be clear!).

From what we can see, this card's biggest flaw is that it doesn't have real 7.1 channel surround sound support, just the "virtual" feature, although this is not surprising at this price. However, if you have headphones / speakers to set up, the card supports true 5.1 surround sound. For gamers though, this is a great sound card, and you can use a separate audio control module to upgrade for an extra $ 50.

audio channels 44 44 true 7.1

bit depth / sample rate

24 bit / 192 kHz

SNR

122

internal or external?

Integrated (PCIe)

Amazon Store

PROS

Good bit depth

Good sample rate

Excellent sound clarity

High-end headphone impedance support

7.1 surround sound

CONS

RGB requires separate power supply connection

RGB requires separate power supply Connect

44 RGB requires separate power connection. Unlike some of the others on this list, it is an internal sound card. This special card comes with

True 7.1 channel surround sound, as well as the aforementioned headphone impedance and modifiable software control-you can get the usual mixer and output options, effects, and various DSP modes and headphone amplification ranges.

In the end, this card is not cheap, but if you are looking for an internal gaming sound card that provides 7.1 surround sound and studio-grade headset support, it is one of the best.

audio channels 4444 7.1

bit depth/sampling rate

24 bit/192 KHz

SNR

107

internal or external?

internal (PCIe)

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PROS

FairlyPriced mid-range options

support 7.1 surround sound

GX 2.5 enhanced in-game audio

excellent sampling rate

excellent SNR

CONS

portable

no headphone amplifier

no Support Dolby

headset ASUS Xonar DX is a built-in mid-range sound card that provides an excellent overall audio experience.

First of all, it supports 7.1 surround sound, which is very suitable for high-end home theater audio settings.

Second, compared with cheaper sound cards, it significantly improves the sampling rate and SNR. This means a clearer and higher quality listening experience overall.

However, the problem with the sound card is its lack of portability and additional features. Compared to some cheaper sound cards, the price increase and loss of some features is strange, but this is a trade-off between you and Xonar DSX to get good sound quality at this price. In exchange for these improvements in SNR and 7.1 surround sound, Xonar DSX sacrificed Dolby headphone support and headphone amplifier. Obviously, you can still wear headphones and enjoy good sound quality, and you can still get GX 2.5, but it doesn't have any bells and whistles that other competitive gamers might be looking for.

However, in general, you are worth the money here, and if you like running a surround sound speaker setup, as well as basic headphones, this card may be for you.

Audio channel 4444 5.1

S/N ratio and sampling frequency

105 and 192 KHz

internal or external?

Internal (PCIe)

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PROS on Amazon

Best budget option

Surround sound support

Integrated headphone amplifier

Dolby surround sound headset support

GX 2.5 for enhanced game audio

Excellent sampling rate S

44 44 Nothing Confused with its very similar cousin Xonar DSX, ASUS Xonar DGX is a low-priced sound card, but with a good sampling rate, reliable SNR and many additional features.

First of all, you have a built-in headphone amplifier that can give full play to the potential of headphones. Unlike the more expensive DSX, DGX's headphones also support Dolby surround sound, thereby providing better spatial perception in games.

Speaking of spatial perception in games, GX 2.5 is also included. This enhances and enhances the in-game audio, especially to increase your awareness of the in-game environment.

Obviously, this card has all the advantages and disadvantages of an internal sound card instead of an external sound card.

So in general, although you won't get the best sound quality, ASUS Xonar DGX is still a good sound card price, and the included extra features also alleviate this.

Audio channel 44 44 5.1 (Windows only)

S / N ratio and sample rate

91 and 96 KHz

Internal or external?

External (USB)

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PROS

An affordable option

A better option than integrated laptop audio

Supports surround sound

Integrated control

CONS

Performance is better than similarly priced internal sound card

Best Solution for Computer Audio

Sample Rate

The StarTech USB Audio Adapter is a very basic external sound card at an affordable price. For just $ 30, your audio experience can be better than built-in laptop audio.

Unfortunately, unless you're dealing with poor laptop audio or its internal sound is completely corrupted, we have a hard time recommending it. That's because it doesn't have a lot of extra features to incentivize purchases - it's a basic external sound card, not as good as the internal options.

If you're using a laptop or replacing damaged onboard audio within your budget, the StarTech USB Audio Adapter may be what you're looking for.

But if you want to improve your gaming experience in a meaningful way, you may need to keep looking.

After 48 hours of testing the 9 most popular sound cards, we finally came to the conclusion that ASUS Xonar Essence STX II is still the best sound card for gaming. This is a 7.1 channel sound card, very suitable for audiophiles. Among the sound cards we tested this is by far the best, if you don't sell it with a sound-to-noise ratio of 124dB then your own radiator will. Yes, it has its own radiator. Find out more about this premium sound card below.

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