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Are Creative cards really that good for gaming?

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JeffMD

Platinum Member
Feb 15, 2002
2,026
19
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Again it depends on the DAC of the sound system you use. For me going from motherboard S/PDIF straight to my Z5500 speaker setup was just as good, if not better, than instead using my old X-fi card to output via 3 separate analog cables to the same setup (plus it was easier just plugging in one cable instead of having to fuss with 3). I ended up not using my X-fi at all because of the bumps in DPC latency it was causing.
DAC has everything to do with sound quality and nothing to do with acceleration and rendering.

Yes, passing data over the S/PDIF over anything will allow you to use the probably superior dac of your receiver. That is why I stuck with HDMI for a few weeks instead of falling back to an analog 2 channel connection to my sound card.

What my post was outlying is that it is still ideal to use a sound card w/ digital connection then it is on board sound or hdmi digital connection (for gaming anyways).
 
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BrightCandle

Diamond Member
Mar 15, 2007
4,762
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Its a totally different argument when we aren't talking about games, because then we aren't comparing the 3D sound stage to headphone conversion process and the sound quality as pumped out to headphones. To some extent gamers will notice less difference with a 5.1 setup for the very reason that the game can play the sounds out natively and the sound card and its drivers don't need to do anything with it. Thus I think the primary reason is indeed for gamers with headphones (which is pretty much everyone for a microphone). Sure the DAC makes a difference, but its the 3D sound stage you'll really notice in games, the DAC much less so because game sound quality isn't normally that great.

I think buying and trying is a good strategy, nice to hear the ZXR has done away with the CMSS3D stuff. I might very well try it myself.
 

lamedude

Golden Member
Jan 14, 2011
1,206
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Hardware 3D audio is effectively dead. Most games will be using Xaudio2 which means all sound processing will be done on the CPU. Creative's only gaming advantage at this point is EAX in older games. The cheap DSP-less Creative cards prove this can be done easily on the CPU too.
 

blackened23

Diamond Member
Jul 26, 2011
8,548
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Hardware 3D audio is effectively dead. Most games will be using Xaudio2 which means all sound processing will be done on the CPU. Creative's only gaming advantage at this point is EAX in older games. The cheap DSP-less Creative cards prove this can be done easily on the CPU too.
You realize you're stating something completely obvious here? 3d hardware accelerated audio such as EAX died years ago because it ISNT NEEDED now. CPUs became fast enough to handle all such chores many years ago, which is why microsoft made the switch to not support hardware 3d accelerated audio via API anymore.

EAX is old and outdated, and no longer used. I'm not sure why anyone would bring this up because Creative updated this YEARS ago precisely because API-less 3d positional audio was the new trend. Obviously EAX didn't tie in with that so creative created CMSS3D, then THX Tru studio, and the current SBX Surround. Furthermore, 3d audio does not require acceleration and hasn't for years. All such chores are handled by the CPU, but do require a dedicated soundcard or onboard motherboard sound..... Dolby surround, THX, and SBX are the new standards currently in use and they provide accurate positional audio in games without direct application support - it just depends on how versatile your motherboard sound or discrete soundcard is.
 
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Maximilian

Lifer
Feb 8, 2004
12,601
5
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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.



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.
Using analog ofc.
 

JeffMD

Platinum Member
Feb 15, 2002
2,026
19
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Furthermore, 3d audio does not require acceleration and hasn't for years.
So I brushed up on my audio cards and found that, this seems to be the case. 3d audio acceleration has gone the way of the dodo. I will need to do further test to see if there really was a difference in audio between the x-fi and hdmi out when both are simply sending a stereo digital signal to my receiver.
 

Elcs

Diamond Member
Apr 27, 2002
6,278
6
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but isn't DTS digital, meaning, unless some additional digital processing is happening on the dedicated sound card, shouldn't they be exactly the same?
That's what they say but I've stripped out every enhancement from the Creative Control Panel that I can see besides the EAX option and the difference between the on-board and the X-Fi was noticeable to me and 2 technophobes (without me trying to add any bias).

Of course, it's all subjective but I've tried it a few times and I am convinced that I can hear an improvement in sound quality when using the X-Fi.

I've never actually tried the analogue outputs, not sure if I'd get a better result with the 3.5mm jacks Vs. 1 optical cable with my X-Fi and Onkyo receiver. Would be nice if someone could comment on that.
 

Maximilian

Lifer
Feb 8, 2004
12,601
5
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You realize you're stating something completely obvious here? 3d hardware accelerated audio such as EAX died years ago because it ISNT NEEDED now. CPUs became fast enough to handle all such chores many years ago, which is why microsoft made the switch to not support hardware 3d accelerated audio via API anymore.
Have to say.... nothing about EAX or soundcards is obvious at all, its a convoluted mess. I still see plenty of "creative is bettar 4 gamez cause EAX hurp a derp" thrown around various forums. I wont even go into the people with high end soundcards using a digital cable but they exist.

It takes a bit of digging to find out wtf the deal actually is with audio cards, EAX was replaced by EFX which uses openAL? But nothing uses that either because its all done on the CPU... its apparently the reason the complex x-fi chip was ditched in favor of the simpler core3D one because the x-fi chip sits idle most of the time nowadays. None of this is obvious or readily available information.
 

Kristijonas

Senior member
Jun 11, 2011
859
4
76
Have to say.... nothing about EAX or soundcards is obvious at all, its a convoluted mess. I still see plenty of "creative is bettar 4 gamez cause EAX hurp a derp" thrown around various forums. I wont even go into the people with high end soundcards using a digital cable but they exist.
I have to ask. Do I connect my speakers to my sound card well?
This is the end of exactly my speakers:
http://www.elektronika.lt/_sys/storage/2013/07/10/04.jpg
This is the end of exactly my sound card:
http://www.overclockersclub.com/vimages/asus_xonar_d1/07.jpg

What cable should I use and where should I insert which end of the cable? Sorry if it sounds like a dumb question, I just want to make sure I don't connect it dumb. ^_^

As for EAX, it is actually important for people like me. For example I want to replay all Thief series. I also play some other old games with EAX quite often.
 

Maximilian

Lifer
Feb 8, 2004
12,601
5
76
I have to ask. Do I connect my speakers to my sound card well?
This is the end of exactly my speakers:
http://www.elektronika.lt/_sys/storage/2013/07/10/04.jpg
This is the end of exactly my sound card:
http://www.overclockersclub.com/vimages/asus_xonar_d1/07.jpg

What cable should I use and where should I insert which end of the cable? Sorry if it sounds like a dumb question, I just want to make sure I don't connect it dumb. ^_^

As for EAX, it is actually important for people like me. For example I want to replay all Thief series. I also play some other old games with EAX quite often.


If the cable looks like that then just go ahead and plug it into the sound card socket labelled "front". If that's what you've got then its correct and your sound card is actually being used.

Meh, EAX can be emulated on many cards, usually at least up to EAX 4 can be emulated. Theres different versions of EAX (EAX 1.0 - 5.0) which further confuses things. With old games i would be more concerned about actually having them work to begin with than trying to get stuff like EAX working, each to their own though ;)
 

blackened23

Diamond Member
Jul 26, 2011
8,548
1
0
I have to ask. Do I connect my speakers to my sound card well?
This is the end of exactly my speakers:
http://www.elektronika.lt/_sys/storage/2013/07/10/04.jpg
This is the end of exactly my sound card:
http://www.overclockersclub.com/vimages/asus_xonar_d1/07.jpg

What cable should I use and where should I insert which end of the cable? Sorry if it sounds like a dumb question, I just want to make sure I don't connect it dumb. ^_^

As for EAX, it is actually important for people like me. For example I want to replay all Thief series. I also play some other old games with EAX quite often.
You will be able to emulate EAX through creative's software for EAX specific titles, although I don't have experience trying this - from what I remember creative has included software to allow this functionality in their software suite. But you dont have to do that, but if you choose to do so you can. For the most part, you'll always want to use SBX surround, which works with all titles to provide a 3d soundstage (and sounds very nice, as well) without requiring native application support.

I'm somewhat cynical about this because I figured it would be common knowledge, but I suppose not. Anyway, around 7 years ago, microsoft removed 3d hardware accelerated audio from directsound, because frankly, it isn't needed. 13-14 years ago it provided a benefit because CPUs weren't fast enough to handle it - that has since changed long ago so there is no benefit for 3d hardware sound acceleration. Keep in mind this doesn't change the fact that you still need a sound card (whether onboard or discrete) and they will still vary considerably in terms of quality and what 3d sound is supported - most cards support only dolby surround, while the SB Z line of cards supports that in addition to SBX surround. None of these require native application support - but SBX surround is excellent. Very convincing 3d soundstage which sounds as good as CMSS3D to my ears.

So long story short, 3d hardware accelerated audio died many years ago and is a non issue. But this doesn't change the fact that there are still vast differences between the best and worst sound chips/cards, and all of these cards have considerably different 3d sound capabilities. Some chips have no 3d sound capability, while many have dolby surround. SBZ uses dolby surround, THX and SBX surround. There is a big improvement going from plain onboard motherboard sound to a good discrete card. But, don't take my word for it (I've said this a million times) - try it yourself and you will notice the difference. Trust me. As long as you have high quality audiophile headphones, the difference between basic Realtek motherboard audio and a SB ZxR, for example, is huge. Hearing is believing if you have high quality cans.
 
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Mem

Lifer
Apr 23, 2000
21,476
13
81
Asus Xonar cards as in many cases are better than Creative cards nowadays.

Agreed!!!..Best thing I did was got rid of my Creative sound card and installed Asus Xonar DX sound card,its been great in gaming with zero issues over the years.
 

aigomorla

Cases and Cooling Mod PC Gaming Mod Elite Member
Super Moderator
Sep 28, 2005
18,974
1,412
126
I think this is actually a very good question important to gamers. I use Sounblaster, so nothing to compare it to.
nah... SB has had many many issues back when sound cards were popular with vista and w7.

Asus was the brand i moved to and never moved back until i realized sound cards are kinda moot when u already have a high end board.

Asus Xonar cards as in many cases are better than Creative cards nowadays.
+1 Asus Xonar cards were solid.
I also really loved turtle beach.

The only sound card you ever need (still have mine)
AWE32!!!

I had one... filled it with ram also...



One thing to note.. unless u have a really really expensive reciever, 99.9999% of the time u wont notice any difference between a dedicated sound controller, and onboard.

Its not like GPU's here...

Also lately, my PCI ports are filled to even support a dedicated sound card with GPU scaling.
 

DaveSimmons

Elite Member
Aug 12, 2001
40,730
670
126
I had one and the Roland MIDI duaghterboard. Woo!

For gaming, I just use a $75 Logitech 5.1 setup with motherboard analog out since I'm not too picky.

It's music where I demand lossless FLAC, optical connection, a receiver and good speakers.
 

JeffMD

Platinum Member
Feb 15, 2002
2,026
19
81
Never had an awe, way to much money, instead I had the sb16 with roland card. Still have the roland card but saddly no way to use it. :(



I was big into using soundfonts with the SBlive though. I still get my midi on with XMplay these days.
 

WaitingForNehalem

Platinum Member
Aug 24, 2008
2,497
0
71
It's funny because I used to be like all of these people saying onboard is just fine...until I bought a sound card.
 

blackened23

Diamond Member
Jul 26, 2011
8,548
1
0
It's funny because I used to be like all of these people saying onboard is just fine...until I bought a sound card.
Yeah, just how I feel, I agree completely. I guess a lot of it is folks with cheap headsets and what not. If your output device is borderline garbage, a soundcard will not help. But a great discrete soundcard will definitely amplify quality audiophile cans.

I guess it all boils down to how much one values high end sound for music and what not, and gaming features. I've always considered myself a junkie in that respect and can definitely tell a difference - i've tried to like motherboard sound. Newer asus motherboards use the high end realtek chips as well. But they just don't do it for me. ;) Hearing is believing I suppose. And it all depends on the output device as well (eg quality cans vs cheap headset)
 

imaheadcase

Diamond Member
May 9, 2005
3,850
7
76
No not worth it. Onboard is just fine, the only upgrade you need is a cheap amp for headphones for a notable difference.

I used to spend a fortune upgrading sound system, nothing was worth it.
 

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