Are Sound Cards Worth It?

Do you need a sound card and are they worth it?
Furqan Shahid
Furqan Shahid
Are Sound Cards Worth It

Going back a couple of years, I still remember the first time I got my hands on a sound card. I had to do that because for some reason, my motherboard’s on-board audio was not working and changing a motherboard at that time was not the easiest. However, a couple of years have passed and I do not remember the last time I had to install a dedicated sound card in my PC.

This is not because I do not enjoy a good sound coming out of my computer; being an audiophile, sound matters a lot to me. However,I do believe that we have come so far along the line that a dedicated sound card isn’t necessary.

I am currently using a pair of Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pros hooked up to an amp/DAC combo and I never really felt like I needed to have a dedicated sound card. Why? Well, for starters, all the equipment I have does just that but I do understand that it is a bit more complicated than this and that is why we are going in depth about needing a sound card and finding out if it is even worth the trouble.

Understanding Dedicated and Integrated Sound Cards 

dedicated sound card vs integrated sound card
(image credit: ultimate pop culture wiki)

Unless your motherboard has gone through some serious damage, I can already tell you that there is going to be a soundcard on the motherboard. Almost every motherboard the market has to offer does come with integrated sound cards because as opposed to integrated GPU, needing your motherboard to output audio is more important. 

But what is an integrated sound card? An integrated sound card is a small chip that can be found installed on the bottom of your moth There were days when these connectors used to be average at best. However, over the past couple of years, they have become a lot better and well, powerful, too. A higher-end motherboard will have a much better integrated sound card in terms of the performance. So, you are good to go.

As far as a dedicated sound card is concerned, I think it more or less speaks for it. These sound cards can either be internal or external. An internal sound card will interface with the motherboard via the PCI-Express slot like an expansion card and is normally installed next to the GPU. Moving to the external sound cards, these are mostly USB based, and will interface via the USB card slot.

Now, just because you are plugging in an external sound card does not mean that the quality of your audio will increase. In many cases, the internal sound card is often better than the external one. Especially on higher-end motherboards that pay extra attention to the sound cards on the motherboards.

Why Do People Still Prefer Dedicated Sound Cards 

Dedicated Sound Card
(image credit: FabatHome)

Despite the fact that the internal sound cards often provide better overall quality than the dedicated sound cards – there are still several reasons for people to go for external offerings. For starters, the dedicated sound cards often bring more ports that you can use for better and more diverse connectivity. So, if these things are something that are important for you, going for them is not at all a problem.

Additionally, if you are talking about a dedicated external sound card, then in that case, you are looking at the portability factor, as well. Which essentially allows you to carry your sound card anywhere you want. You can plug it in your laptop or any other device that has laptop access, and in some cases, you can even go ahead and plug them in your phone; however, be wary when you are plugging an external sound card in your phone because the power draw is higher, and your phone’s battery will run out faster, too.

What Other Applications Can a Dedicated Soundcard Cater To? 

Dedicated Soundcard Cater
(image credit: 3dInsider)

It is true that dedicated sound cards are not as popular as they once used to be, the market is clearly out there. Otherwise, manufacturers would have just stopped manufacturing them altogether. So, what makes these sound cards so popular and still relevant? Well, there are a lot of reasons as to why this still happens.

For starters, one of the most common reasons why one would install a dedicated sound card is if the integrated sound card has stopped working for any reason ory is not as strong to drive powerful headphones; especially the higher end headphone offerings that need more power to drive. 

I say this because I have been a victim to both of these instances in the past and have relied on dedicated sound cards to remedy the issue. I do understand it is a hassle in the modern-day and age to find the right sound card but hey, we do need good sound.

Are Sound Cards Truly Worth It? 

Are Sound Cards Truly Worth It
(image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

I know what you might be thinking but you also have to tell yourself that this is not the first time that you are going through something like this. The same question has popped into your mind in the past; sometimes, you are thinking about the same thing when you are about to spend a good amount of money on peripherals or other components like a GPU or a new power supply.

So, it is only valid that you are thinking the same about a sound card. Are sound cards worth it? It all depends on how you are looking at the situation you are in. If your motherboard cannot provide the power required to drive your headphones, then yes, you do need a sound card, and a good one.

Conclusion

Sound cards are worth it only if you are in absolute need of one. Otherwise, you are better off without one because you would be spending money on something that is not going to be useful for you and we do not want that, to be honest. Therefore, the best thing that we can do is be sure that we are looking at all the right products and that too, without any issues.

Thankfully, the purpose of this post is to help all the confused individuals in choosing the sound card because I do understand that there are situations where things can get difficult and we are here to change that for people and help them make the right decision since it is just as important.

Furqan Shahid

I have been gaming for almost 24 years with extensive knowledge of all platforms and the gaming industry, in general. With interests in literature, art, gaming, and PC hardware.

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