Question Do I need a sound card? (And other questions)


Dec 7, 2011

Building a gaming PC and I'm looking for a more immersive experience with sound.

Motherboard is an ASUS Maximus XI (wifi). It's supposed to have solid on-board sound, but I just don't know if it will need help.

is 7.1 worthwhile over 5.1?

I saw lots of reviews for 5.1 speakers but none for 7.1. If it's just gaming and occasional streaming (I tend to move to the TV to watch most shows/movies).

I have not yet purchased, but will buy a set of audiophile headphones, they may or may not have a high power need. Any suggestions? My old headphones (Audio-Technica) are wearing out after 5ish years.

If I do need a sound card what's good?


You don't need 5.1 or 7.1 surround for gaming. If you don't like how the onboard sound card sounds you can always replace it later. When you go get headphones, depending on the model you may need to get an amp to drive them, at that time you can change things out for an external USB DAC and headphone amp.

What headphones and what DAC depends on how much you want to spend on them. You can get into the cost of a used car for those, or about $200 for a decent set. There are dozens and dozens of headphone and amp reviews already out there to look at, what you get depends on what you like. I am perfectly happy with my laptop audio and a $100 set of HyperX Alpha headset. I have been using them with my small Fiio BTR1K dac/bluetooth adapter at times running with USB and it makes it sound better. Both of those cost me about $100 since I got the headset used. I got the Fiio for my car but then got a decent free bluetooth adapter from Tautronics so using that in my car and brought the Fiio in to use on computer since it cleared up the audio from the stock laptop sound card.

With playing around with audio, I have not found anything over $200 to make it worth spending my money on vs using that money for something else, in either headphones or amp/dac. I'd rather take a trip with family than spend $500 on headphones, so what you get depends on you.
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