Sound cards aren't perhaps as prominent as they once were now that onboard audio solutions have upped their game (it also helps that today's multi-core processors are able to handle audio chores without a significant hit to frame rates), but they still exist. Enter Diamond Multimedia and its newest addition to its sound card collection, the Diamond Xtreme Sound 7.1, a low-profile PCI-Express sound card with support for 24-bit playback and recording.
The death of discrete sound cards may have been greatly exaggerated. Yes, it's true, today's onboard sound is far more capable than it was some 10 years ago, and with multi-core processors now the norm, there's really no need to invest in a discrete card for improved frame rates when gaming. However, discrete sound cards still push cleaner, crisper sound than onboard solutions, and that's exactly what Asus promises with its new ROG Xonar Phoebus Solo solution.
The newest sound card from Asus works with desktops and laptops.
One of the limitations of a notebook is that only select parts are upgradeable. The sound system isn't usually one of them, though external sound card solutions provide an end-around to achieving superior audio. One of the newest options is Asus' newly introduced Xonar U7, a compact and external USB sound card and headphone amplifier that you can use with your notebook or desktop system.
The sound card is back—but does your PC need one anymore?
If you think of your PC as a lifeboat full of components floating in the Atlantic Ocean after one of those ARM-based subs put two fish into the side of the PC’s troop transport, you can better understand the plight of the sound card.
Note: This review originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of the magazine.
I feel silly asking such a simple question—I can build a computer blindfolded, but from time to time I shock myself at the little things I haven’t learned: If I buy a USB-powered headset and install a Sound Blaster card on my motherboard, will my headset take advantage of the soundcard even though it’s plugged into a USB port (and not directly into the card)?
Who’d have thunk it? Long considered a dead zone, soundcards are making a resurgence. Driven by an outcry for audio that doesn’t sound like a box of snap, crackle, pop every time you access your USB ports, manufacturers are releasing new soundcards that surpass the free audio that comes with your motherboard. This month, we test an Auzentech card that uses a Creative Labs chip and Asus’s new entry into PC audio.
As we said with the Auzentech, we’re impressed when companies go above and beyond reference designs for products. Razer’s Barracuda AC-1 is such a product. Though it uses the same C-Media Oxygen HD chip as the X-Meridian, you wouldn’t think the two cards were related.