Soundblaster Audigy 2 (Dell OEM) soundcard: issues and advice needed



I've picked up an old Soundblaster Audigy 2 card from an ancient Dell machine, and shoved it in my Windows 7 64bit machine. I am using Daniel_K drivers.
Sound card shown here:

As you can see, the pins for the expansion port which allowed SPDIF ports are not present. Neither are the joystick/midi pins (which aren't an issue as I have no devices that use such a port, and Windows 7 doesn't have drivers for them).

Using this card, I've noticed that my cheap little microphone sounds much better than onboard sound (higher sampling rate of 24bit/96khz). Playback at 24bit/192khz is possible, but when using it I will hear a fade in/out on system alert sounds.

Another issue that I notice is Creative's propietary 10-pin front audio header, which I would have to rewire into a standard AC97 header (which is not possible due to my cable coming from a Dell machine and only having enough cables for stereo headphones out). The only solution is to buy a rather expensive cable here:

Opinions: is this card quality and worth keeping? Is $25 a reasonable price to be able to use my front audio ports?

Thank you for your time.


Maybe there's a suitable replacement (has standard front audio ports, 5.1 and up surround, sub-50 dollar) good audio card?
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