If your case has a front panel audio connector (headphones and mic), most sound cards have a plug for that. So instead of plugging into the rear of the PC you can use the front jacks.
In this case, any modern soundcard will automatically output stereo sound though the front panel jacks. It is unnecessary to switch the surround options. Also you don't need to have a 5.1 or 7.1 setup to use a soundcard with these options. For example you can use the common 2.1 setup that only has one green plug and then you just set the card to output stereo.
What card are you looking at specifically and what case do you have?