Are sound cards really important?



Indeed, many factors go into making a good PC. They simultaneously affect the excellent performance of these devices. The general components that gamers specifically invest in are the HDD and SSD, a powerful CPU, and a high-quality GPU. Not to mention, the RAM storage is necessary too, and usually, 8-16GB of it is enough.

However, what about a sound card? Indeed, many people forget about this component, mostly because most PCs already have an integrated sound chip. Most users are more than satisfied with it. So, do you still need to invest in dedicated sound cards regardless? In this article, you would get a clearer picture of this, and then you can choose your next step.

What are sound cards?

Sound cards are external additions that one can add to the PC to improve sound quality. In terms of gaming, many people use this to improve audio quality during intense games. High-intensely battle games like PUBG and CS need a good audio experience.

Yet, in terms of regular use, most people would not notice much of a difference whether they are using it or not. This is incredibly specific for listening to songs, and right speakers and headphones work just fine. This is more useful for gamers who play interesting games regularly. They would get a better experience after investing in a high-quality dedicated sound card.

Of course, as mentioned before, the sound card works with the gaming headset and speaker to correctly highlight the sound quality. Otherwise, it would not give its desired effect.

Differences between Dedicated and Integrated Sound Cards

Most of the motherboards today are pre-fitted with integrated sound cards. These do not look like chips generally and are integrated into the motherboard directly. Additionally, the front of the motherboard includes some excess connections for audio. Mostly though, the connector points are present on the backside of the panel. The placement depends on the model of the motherboard largely.

On the other hand, dedicated sound cards either come as external cards or internal cards. The former works through the USB point, while the latter fits into the motherboard through a PCIe slot. It is similar to an expansion card in this regard.

In terms of the sound quality, that depends on the model you choose, its brand, and its price.

The comparative features of both are:

  • The internal version of the sound cards gives better sound quality.
  • The external sound cards are portable and more uncomplicated to install.

Do sound cards give better audio?

In terms of deciding whether sound cards are performing well or not, it depends on the listener. After all, people have different standards; some may find the sound satisfactory while others may want more.

Most people do not own laboratory equipment at their homes that they can use to understand the difference. The main thing that would give you a better idea regarding the sound quality is if you hold blind listening comparison tests.

While this is true, it is also necessary to mention that the difference in sound is not easy to notice during gaming. This happens because of two reasons.

  • The source audio of the games is not of higher quality to begin with. So, it does not matter what kind of hardware you use.
  • The sound is not the most crucial aspect for many gamers, but the visuals are. So, they do not notice any particular change in the music.

Overall, gamers do get the chance to listen to better surround sound during games with this. However, not always. If the games have a surround sound medium that works with hardware audio, this works for them. Plus, there is the ability to surround sound in some sound cards that affect the source audio and optimize it. Both of this help give high-quality sound.

When do you need a sound card?

In some cases, there are not many connectors in the integrated audio card on the motherboard. Or, they do not have the correct connectors that you would require. These factors can cause issues for the listening experience, specifically in terms of surround setups.

There are six primary audio connections you would typically see on a motherboard. These include:

  • Line-in (blue)
  • Mic-in (pink)
  • Headphones/stereo speakers (green)
  • Side speakers (grey)
  • Rear speakers (black)
  • Subwoofer/center channel (orange)

While most motherboards have them all, some do not contain the orange,  grey, and black connectors. This is usually the case for compact or cheaper choices. Another issue arises in some other systems, where the main connectors available are optical and RCA.

In these cases, a motherboard would need extra help to cover the lack of connectors for surround sound. Here, a suitable sound card would work wonderfully.

Is it beneficial?

In case you want better audio quality during games, then adding a sound card is not your priority. Most of the time, you would not even hear any variation. Plus, some of the titles do not give good audio regardless of what hardware you use to supplement it.

Not to mention, the main focus for most people during gaming is the visuals. Audio is mainly for the background vibe, and aside from some audio sequences, most do not notice it. Hence, in this concern, it is not the best plan to invest in sound cards unnecessarily.

On the other hand, if you need surround sound, that is a different matter altogether. A lot of the integrated cards do not manage to give this quality very well. Thus, whatever you hear would sound poorly staged or flat, even with a headset. Here, a sound card would help you a lot.

Indeed, for listening to music or watching movies, a sound card is an excellent addition to consider. You would notice a more significant difference when you use it for this. Plus, using other tools like a big subwoofer would add to the whole experience.

To summarize, sound cards are an excellent option to use when you need to upgrade your system’s sound quality. But you have to consider what you would use your PC mainly for. Otherwise, it is an unnecessary expenditure.


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