• Guest, The rules for the P & N subforum have been updated to prohibit "ad hominem" or personal attacks against other posters. See the full details in the post "Politics and News Rules & Guidelines."

Are Creative cards really that good for gaming?

Kristijonas

Senior member
Jun 11, 2011
859
4
76
Hello, I have a Xonar D1 card, howver I was thinking of selling it and buying a Creative Sound Blaster Z. Should I ? I've read in many articles that the Sound Blaster card really makes a difference in games. Plus it has EAX, which is useful to me. So is it worth it? Would be using it with 2.0 speakers "Edifier Studio 8".
 

gorcorps

aka Brandon
Jul 18, 2004
30,699
425
126
Built in audio has been very good for quite some time. My personal opinion is that it's not worth it, but maybe I just haven't heard it recently on a decent setup to know what I'm missing.
 

Blitzvogel

Platinum Member
Oct 17, 2010
2,012
23
81
With a dedicated speaker set up (as opposed to just tv/monitor built in) its certainly worth getting a ded sound card. I'm not sure how good current audio in mobos is, but I still hear the consensus isn't completely positive as much as it's "good enough".

I've had a Xonar DS for the past 2 and half years. It's a pretty good card with decent EAX emulation and 192 Khz capability for when it's supported. It's definitely better than my 4 year old mobo's integrated audio.
 
Last edited:

railven

Diamond Member
Mar 25, 2010
6,604
560
126
If you use headphones, a dedicated card makes a difference. Onboard audio is often flat and without headphone optimizations (or powered amps) you'll be left feeling a little unimpressed.

And I say this as someone who retired their Audigy 2 and went with ALC8xxx something on my ASRock X58 only to run out and buy a Creative X-Fi Titanium within a month or two.

After my GF used my PC for a few days she asked for a dedicated card. With good headphones (even desktop speakers) you will hear the difference.

My experience, take it as it is.
 

Maximilian

Lifer
Feb 8, 2004
12,601
5
76
Hello, I have a Xonar D1 card, howver I was thinking of selling it and buying a Creative Sound Blaster Z. Should I ? I've read in many articles that the Sound Blaster card really makes a difference in games. Plus it has EAX, which is useful to me. So is it worth it? Would be using it with 2.0 speakers "Edifier Studio 8".
Marketing BS from years ago still clinging on i see... EAX is an ancient as hell dead technology, its been dead since vista.

Soundcards are useless for gaming 99.9% of the time because games use software based audio now which runs off the CPU, soundcard wont do squat anymore. I still occasionally see the "creative is better for gaming, asus for music" stuff thrown around, fact is people are kidding themselves if they think any soundcard helps in games today. Maybe in 2003 but not now.
 

Zenoth

Diamond Member
Jan 29, 2005
5,081
103
106
I guess it can be good for using Creative ALchemy which allows you to run DirectSound3D games on Windows Vista and W7 with full hardware accelerated 3D Audio and EAX support. I'm on Windows 7 now (it's been a very recent change, I've been using Vista for four years or so until that move) and I haven't yet installed most of my games but I remember using Creative Alchemy for Diablo II, Star Wars: Empire at War and I believe it was Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds as well (can't recall clearly).

As far as the sound quality goes I think that on-board audio in most of today's motherboards is good enough. I've used the on-board audio from my ASUS P8P67 Pro's Realtek ALC for a few days and honestly I don't remember being disappointed by the audio quality it provided for most games, although I don't think I listened to any music when I used it. The only potential "problem" I can think of is perhaps that some on-board audio would be limited to lower number of maximum-supported channels, like having only 8, or 16 audio channels when a game for example would have options for 32, 64 or 128 channels which a dedicated audio card could support.
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,548
345
126
I think this is actually a very good question important to gamers. I use Sounblaster, so nothing to compare it to.
 

KaOTiK

Lifer
Feb 5, 2001
10,876
7
0
Asus Xonar cards as in many cases are better than Creative cards nowadays.
 

cmdrdredd

Lifer
Dec 12, 2001
26,835
278
126
Marketing BS from years ago still clinging on i see... EAX is an ancient as hell dead technology, its been dead since vista.

Soundcards are useless for gaming 99.9% of the time because games use software based audio now which runs off the CPU, soundcard wont do squat anymore. I still occasionally see the "creative is better for gaming, asus for music" stuff thrown around, fact is people are kidding themselves if they think any soundcard helps in games today. Maybe in 2003 but not now.
Dedicated sound cards have better DACs and better THD numbers. Asus cards have built in headphone amps sometimes as well.
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,939
597
126
I've seen quite a few higher-end motherboards going the extra mile to try to improve the sound quality of their on-board DSPs. I'm not sure how much it helps, but they certainly throw a lot of buzzwords out there. :p
 

cmdrdredd

Lifer
Dec 12, 2001
26,835
278
126
I've seen quite a few higher-end motherboards going the extra mile to try to improve the sound quality of their on-board DSPs. I'm not sure how much it helps, but they certainly throw a lot of buzzwords out there. :p
It helps but you need higher end headphones (i.e not turtle beach, tritton, afterglow etc) or a good set of speakers (something more than a $100 set of 5.1s)
 

KaOTiK

Lifer
Feb 5, 2001
10,876
7
0
Asus cards have built in headphone amps sometimes as well.
That was the reason I had to switch over (had an old X Fi card for awhile), when I bought my PC350's they required an built in amp, grab some Xonar (can't remember the model now) after doing some research and found it was considered a pretty damn good soundcard and was rather cheap. I've been happy with it.
 

WaitingForNehalem

Platinum Member
Aug 24, 2008
2,497
0
71
The Creative Soundblaster Z sounds incredible. It is a huge step up from the onboard ALC892 I used to use. It also has a 600ohm headphone amp built in. The drivers are rock solid. The virtual surround sound is great and there are several other useful DSP enhancements. It also comes with a mic that works really well. Overall great purchase. The only thing I don't like is the lack of Linux support but I think that will get sorted out eventually, maybe with the latest kernel update.
 

Scooby Doo

Golden Member
Sep 1, 2006
1,038
11
81
Alternatively you could always use sp/dif or toslink to a receiver and skip the sound card :whiste:
 

Elcs

Diamond Member
Apr 27, 2002
6,278
6
81
Using an Onkyo Receiver, Wharfdale Diamond 9.1's and 9.cc with some Onkyo rears, my Creative X-Fi Fatal1ty Pro is certainly a step above the onboard sound.

With decent speakers the quality is noticeable.

Whether Creative are the best soundcards or the best for your budget is not something easily decided or tested but moving from onboard sound/old Theatron Agrippa 7.1 to an X-Fi Fatal1ty Pro has been like night and day for me and my setup.
 

DaveSimmons

Elite Member
Aug 12, 2001
40,730
670
126
Using an Onkyo Receiver, Wharfdale Diamond 9.1's and 9.cc with some Onkyo rears, my Creative X-Fi Fatal1ty Pro is certainly a step above the onboard sound.

With decent speakers the quality is noticeable.

Whether Creative are the best soundcards or the best for your budget is not something easily decided or tested but moving from onboard sound/old Theatron Agrippa 7.1 to an X-Fi Fatal1ty Pro has been like night and day for me and my setup.
Are you sending analog sound to your receiver instead of digital then? What sound processing effects are you using?

My opinion:

For powered speakers under $300 (or more) you're not going to benefit from a soundcard.

For optical digital you're not going to benefit for music, but with a 5.1 speaker setup you might have a soundcard that can do real-time encoding of 5.1 audio from games instead of the stereo that most motherboards offer.

For HDMI from your video card (in a HTPC type setup) it's 5.1 lossless for games already so there is no need for a sound card.

For headphones, some soundcards might offer features like mixing 5.1 to give pseudo-surround in your phones.
 

Bryf50

Golden Member
Nov 11, 2006
1,429
50
91
If you're are using the analog outputs with decent hardware likely not "computer" speakers. Then the difference can be quite huge. I have a auzentech forte with a t-amp and a $100 pair of bookshelves. The difference between the integrated realtek and the sound card is night and day. So much so that I can't imagine someone not hearing a difference between the two.
 

BrightCandle

Diamond Member
Mar 15, 2007
4,762
0
76
I agree with the others here. I did my own set of testing when I moved to this X79 machine comparing onboard, my SB and then a new Xonar D2X. Given £20 headphones I couldn't really distinguish any one of the solutions as better than the other. However using a £500 set of headphones the two sound cards sounded a lot clearer than the onboard did. So unless you have kit that can show up the difference its likely not worth it.

When you do have the kit the choice for me was largely down to the headphone surround sound implementation. Creative has CMSS, their own propriety surround sound simulator and the Xonar has Dolby Headphone surround. Having tested both against each other I found the surround effect better and more accurate with the Dolby Headphone (the Xonar). However I also found that I needed to adjust the parameters quite a bit to find a setting I found really worked well, the default just didn't fool my ears. You don't get that kind of tweaking on the older sound blaster cards. So I prefer the Xonar after testing it for myself, but then I haven't heard the new sound blaster card, I knew it released but I don't know the second thing about it.
 

Maximilian

Lifer
Feb 8, 2004
12,601
5
76
Dedicated sound cards have better DACs and better THD numbers. Asus cards have built in headphone amps sometimes as well.
Yeah but that dosent mean squat for games, game audio comes in all sorts of quality and it dosent matter if you have the best DAC in the world if the source is crap.

My STX has good DAC's and a headphone amp, its good for music, its good with my some bookshelf speakers but for gaming meh... onboard would give similar results. Same story with the creative titanium-HD i had previously.
 

Kristijonas

Senior member
Jun 11, 2011
859
4
76
My STX has good DAC's and a headphone amp, its good for music, its good with my some bookshelf speakers but for gaming meh... onboard would give similar results. Same story with the creative titanium-HD i had previously.
Have you tried many games? I find it hard to believe the difference would be so minimal.
 

Maximilian

Lifer
Feb 8, 2004
12,601
5
76
Have you tried many games? I find it hard to believe the difference would be so minimal.
Yeah quite a lot. Various console ports and pc specific games, fallout 3/nv, mass effect series, elder scrolls series etc. FPS like BF3, planetside 2, CoD 4 and a ton of RTS games.

With the titanium HD/onboard/xonar STX i could hear people behind me/to the side of me in any game where it mattered (FPS) and the sound quality was pretty much the same for all three. Music sounded better with the sound cards. Im using wharfedale diamond 10.2 speakers.
 

cmdrdredd

Lifer
Dec 12, 2001
26,835
278
126
Yeah quite a lot. Various console ports and pc specific games, fallout 3/nv, mass effect series, elder scrolls series etc. FPS like BF3, planetside 2, CoD 4 and a ton of RTS games.

With the titanium HD/onboard/xonar STX i could hear people behind me/to the side of me in any game where it mattered (FPS) and the sound quality was pretty much the same for all three. Music sounded better with the sound cards. Im using wharfedale diamond 10.2 speakers.
How are you using the speakers? Analog out to a receiver or are you using HDMI or something out to a receiver? I am sure you are aware that if you go digital out you remove the specs of the soundcard from the equation pretty much entirely.

Yeah but that dosent mean squat for games, game audio comes in all sorts of quality and it dosent matter if you have the best DAC in the world if the source is crap.

My STX has good DAC's and a headphone amp, its good for music, its good with my some bookshelf speakers but for gaming meh... onboard would give similar results. Same story with the creative titanium-HD i had previously.
I'd you did an a and b test using the same game on both solutions with the proper speakers or headphones you should hear a difference. Not everyone probably could though I guess. Most newer titles should have pretty decent audio quality.
 
Last edited:

mmntech

Lifer
Sep 20, 2007
17,504
12
0
A good sound card definitely does make a difference, but only if you're using analogue outputs. Mainly due to them using better quality digital-to-analogue converters (DACs).

There was a time when using dedicated audio processing made a difference. On board audio has improved enough and multi-core CPUs can better handle the performance hit. If you're outputting digitally, most of the processing is done on the receiver end.

As for EAX, it's been dead for some time now. I can't remember the last game I have that explicitly supports it. Creative considers it a legacy standard now and switched to OpenAL some time ago. Most games use Dolby Digital.
 

Juddog

Diamond Member
Dec 11, 2006
7,849
2
81
If you have a high end receiver just plug in the optical from your motherboard and use the DAC of the receiver; it bypasses the sound quality issue altogether.

If you're using headphones it's worth getting a dedicated soundcard, since you're reliant upon the soundcard DAC.
 

Elcs

Diamond Member
Apr 27, 2002
6,278
6
81
Are you sending analog sound to your receiver instead of digital then? What sound processing effects are you using?

My opinion:

For powered speakers under $300 (or more) you're not going to benefit from a soundcard.

For optical digital you're not going to benefit for music, but with a 5.1 speaker setup you might have a soundcard that can do real-time encoding of 5.1 audio from games instead of the stereo that most motherboards offer.

For HDMI from your video card (in a HTPC type setup) it's 5.1 lossless for games already so there is no need for a sound card.

For headphones, some soundcards might offer features like mixing 5.1 to give pseudo-surround in your phones.
Sending a 5.1 DTS signal via optical cable to my receiver.

There was a tangible difference using this setup over the 5.1 DTS signal sent from my Theatron Agrippa DTS and motherboard audio.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY