Does sound quality settings affect game performance?

Sadaiyappan

Golden Member
Nov 29, 2007
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#1
^^ I have my Realtek HD sound software set to 24 bit 192,000 Hz sound. Does this make a difference in games? My laptop came default with it set to DVD quality.
 
Jun 2, 2000
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#2
In some games, yes.

Higher sound quality results in more CPU cycles devoted to sound playback, which means less power for the graphics.
 

Sadaiyappan

Golden Member
Nov 29, 2007
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#3
I was thinking this too, but then I started thinking the sound card could be doing all the work.
 

motsm

Golden Member
Jan 20, 2010
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#4
I was thinking this too, but then I started thinking the sound card could be doing all the work.
Integrated motherboard sound uses the CPU for it's processing. If you had an add in PCI/E soundcard however, it would be doing the processing in games that support hardware sound, so performance would be very minimally impacted, if at all.
 

Sadaiyappan

Golden Member
Nov 29, 2007
1,120
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#5
Yeah but I don't have PCI/E sound card, I'm using build in sound card.. So there is a performance impact for me?
 

zebrax2

Senior member
Nov 18, 2007
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#6
Didn't windows vista and above remove hardware acceleration for audio?
 

thedosbox

Senior member
Oct 16, 2009
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#7
Didn't windows vista and above remove hardware acceleration for audio?
Yes. The only cards that benefited from hardware acceleration were Creative's, and even then we're talking about 2-4% of the CPU (as of a few years ago). Older games can kinda still use it via Alchemy, but I'm not aware of more than a handful of titles in the last 2-3 years that benefit from it.

Nowadays, most games have moved to software sound engines, so it makes no difference to CPU usage whether you're using a Creative card or onboard sound.
 

motsm

Golden Member
Jan 20, 2010
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#8
Yeah but I don't have PCI/E sound card, I'm using build in sound card.. So there is a performance impact for me?
Yes. That setting doesn't need to be cranked to 192khz however, as no audio you will be listening to on your laptop will ever be recorded at that sampling rate. It's often worse to set it to such a number, as more files will be uselessly converted, which technically speaking, actually reduces sound quality regardless if it's converting it to a higher sampling rate. It's best to set the number based on what you will be doing most with your laptop. DVD's standard sample rate is 48khz, CD's and most music are 44.1khz, and most games are 44.1khz, with the exception being the games that offer digital sound like DDL, in which case your talking 48khz again (You'd probably know if you were using that kind of feature though). So in other words, 44.1khz is likely best for a gamer.

Didn't windows vista and above remove hardware acceleration for audio?
No, it just removed Direct Sound acceleration, which is what most older games used. Hardware OpenAL is still supported, and most Creative soundcards come with Alchemy, which is a software layer that converts Direct Sound into OpenAL, so they can still be played using hardware sound as well. As thedosbox said above though, many games now a days don't use hardware sound, since the majority of them are ports.
 

Ross Ridge

Senior member
Dec 21, 2009
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#9
^^ I have my Realtek HD sound software set to 24 bit 192,000 Hz sound. Does this make a difference in games? My laptop came default with it set to DVD quality.
You won't notice a difference in audio quality or performance. It only takes a tiny percentage of the CPU of a modern computer do all the sound processing a game would ever need. Most of the work from decompressing MP3 or other music formats, and that's done on the CPU regardless. Sound processing also can be easily done in a seperate thread where it can be offloaded to a CPU core that sits idle most of the time anyways.
 
Jul 15, 2003
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#11
I seem to recall Battlefield 2 was supposed to bring back high end hardware sound along with the X-fi cards, unfortunately it didnt work. Shortly after it came out a bunch of devs announced they would be sticking to software or some sort of open standard for their audio.

In fact I think I recall John Carmack of ID saying that hardware sound was just a big scam and he was making it a point to use software audio in Doom 3. But I think later on they did add support for EAX.
 

Modular

Diamond Member
Jul 1, 2005
4,938
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#12
I seem to recall Battlefield 2 was supposed to bring back high end hardware sound along with the X-fi cards, unfortunately it didnt work. Shortly after it came out a bunch of devs announced they would be sticking to software or some sort of open standard for their audio.

In fact I think I recall John Carmack of ID saying that hardware sound was just a big scam and he was making it a point to use software audio in Doom 3. But I think later on they did add support for EAX.
In Windows XP there was a huge difference in BF2's sound quality and directionality with a higher end Creative card.
 

minmaster

Platinum Member
Oct 22, 2006
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#13
i bought an X-Fi card to play BF2142 and BF2 in X-Fi ultra mode.
unfortunately, due to the static, crackling, popping, i couldn't.
a lot of others had the same problem with X-Fi mode and it was something creative couldn't fix.
 

motsm

Golden Member
Jan 20, 2010
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#14
i bought an X-Fi card to play BF2142 and BF2 in X-Fi ultra mode.
unfortunately, due to the static, crackling, popping, i couldn't.
a lot of others had the same problem with X-Fi mode and it was something creative couldn't fix.
Soundcard design often has little to do with such popping, so I'm not surprised Creative couldn't do anything about it. It's almost always traced back to the motherboard shuffling communication between the soundcard and GPU to the CPU, so when the soundcard doesn't get the attention it needs there's a pop or crackle. All soundcards suffer these issues in combination with certain motherboards unfortunately.
 

minmaster

Platinum Member
Oct 22, 2006
2,041
0
71
#15
Soundcard design often has little to do with such popping, so I'm not surprised Creative couldn't do anything about it. It's almost always traced back to the motherboard shuffling communication between the soundcard and GPU to the CPU, so when the soundcard doesn't get the attention it needs there's a pop or crackle. All soundcards suffer these issues in combination with certain motherboards unfortunately.
http://forums.creative.com/t5/Sound...Fi-Crackling-Popping-Noises-thread/m-p/251993

this thread at creative was dedicated to this issue...
they ultimately closed the thread and ended it with this post:

Hello everyone, I do have an update as to what we have found, as promised:

Further to the reported cases of crackling issues reported by owners of Sound Blaster X-Fi cards, we have extensively tested both Creative and non-Creative audio cards on motherboards where the issues were reported in an effort to isolate the root cause.

The findings indicate that circumstances causing these audio glitches only arise on Nvidias nForce 4 range of motherboards, with the exception of the newest n590 board which does not exhibit this issue.

The Sound Blaster X-Fi card was designed to meet PCI bus standards and tolerances and this is the only range of motherboards that operate in this manner.

A full technical description is detailed below, but in brief, the PCI bus data requests are not being serviced leading to "gaps" in the audio, resulting in sudden dropouts to no audio and back again which gives rise to what is perceived as crackling.

We appreciate the time taken by several of our forum members in assisting us isolate the root causes to date and appreciate the frustration expressed by several posters, but would like to assure you that we have been following the issue closely in an effort to seek resolution from the early stages. As we have identified the resolution of this issue to be beyond our control, we would advise customers experiencing this issue to escalate their concerns to Nvidia in an effort to seek a possible solution.

TECHNICAL DETAILS

We have observed through direct observation of the PCI bus on the nVidia nForce 4 motherboards that when the crackle symptoms are occuring, the Soundblaster X-Fi card PCI bus master memory requests for audio data are being held off (not serviced) for very long intervals.

We have observed peak holdoffs of up to 2 milliseconds in some cases. This is unusual chipset behavior that is beyond the ability of a hardware audio accelerator to compensate for in its internal buffering. The SoundBlaster X-Fi tolerance for these PCI holdoffs is approximately 120 microseconds peak holdoff, with a 1 microsecond average holdoff.

These design tolerances are based on observation of real PCI bus behavior on leading motherboards over a period of many motherboard hardware generations.

The nForce 4 motherboard is the first motherboard on which these extremely long PCI service holdoffs have been observed by Creative, where another PCI device in the system was not causing the holdoff.

Dale
Forum Moderator
Creative Labs
fwiw, i had an intel mobo. so who's fault is it really?

in the end, i don't blame everyone for getting rid of hardware sound and going software only. X-Fi mode in battlefield was a nightmare for me.
 

motsm

Golden Member
Jan 20, 2010
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#16
fwiw, i had an intel mobo. so who's fault is it really?
Considering that Turtle Beach, Hercules, and the other lesser known soundcards all suffered from the exact same issues at the time, I'd still say it had very little to do with the design of the cards, just as Creative says.

Of course I agree with you that it isn't just NForce boards, as I had the same issue on an Intel board before the X-Fi was released, using both an SB Live and Hercules card that I switched to hoping it would solve the problem. I actually found an application that allowed me to modify the PCI priority which ended up fixing the issue. Of course that was years ago, and I've never had that issue on any recent hardware.
 
Jul 15, 2003
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#17
I had a couple of nForce 4 boards and I noticed audio problems with my Audigy and Turtle Beach. Only went away when I used onboard audio. Luckily nForce 4 boards almost always used good quality audio chips cuz they were considered gamer enthusiast parts.
 
Sep 21, 2000
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#18
Is it worth having a dedicated sound card these days? I just keep moving my PCI X-Fi forward.
 
Jul 15, 2003
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#19
Is it worth having a dedicated sound card these days? I just keep moving my PCI X-Fi forward.
I have no idea what you mean by that. Is it not sitting in its slot correctly?

"These days" have actually been going on for a while. You could have gone to onboard audio a long time ago and been pleased with the performance. I think for me it really started to improve with the nForce 2 days when it was common to use the better audio chips with gamer boards. I could have avoided buying that overpriced Audigy 1 and been happy. And I got tired of setting up my 5.1 system a long time ago. No matter what the card or the game, it never really immersed me in the experience. I found I could get by with a quality 2.1 system and be very satisfied. And even if you need the 5.1, many onboard solutions do it quite nicely.
 
Sep 21, 2000
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#20
I have no idea what you mean by that. Is it not sitting in its slot correctly?

"These days" have actually been going on for a while. You could have gone to onboard audio a long time ago and been pleased with the performance. I think for me it really started to improve with the nForce 2 days when it was common to use the better audio chips with gamer boards. I could have avoided buying that overpriced Audigy 1 and been happy. And I got tired of setting up my 5.1 system a long time ago. No matter what the card or the game, it never really immersed me in the experience. I found I could get by with a quality 2.1 system and be very satisfied. And even if you need the 5.1, many onboard solutions do it quite nicely.
I meant I keep moving forward into each new box I put together. As for speakers, I just have a decent 2.0 system.
 

imaheadcase

Diamond Member
May 9, 2005
3,850
0
76
#22
I would just sell it, PCI will be gone soon anyways.
However, if he is into high end audio playback, on nice setup, a good soundcard is nice for music. For most people not a huge deal, but a high end soundcard you can notice the difference if the music is pure.
 

Ross Ridge

Senior member
Dec 21, 2009
830
0
0
#23
I meant I keep moving forward into each new box I put together. As for speakers, I just have a decent 2.0 system.
Well, I'd keep it as a spare. The best use for sound card these days is a replacement when your onboard audio fails due to things like driver issues, crackling, poping, or a broken connector.

On your next system just use the onboard audio. If you end up not liking for any reason you can always pop in the X-Fi.
 

james1701

Golden Member
Sep 14, 2007
1,853
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#24
I thought I was done with on board sound until I started messing with my RE3 Extreme. I got fed up with the sound and dug my Xfi Xtreme Gamer card out of my old rig and put in it. Asus never updated any of the audio drivers for this board. I was having several problems with Ventrillo. Vent worked great after putting a sound card. It would take off lagging for no reason. Later after switched, I found the sound card gave me a lot more in a few games, Dirt2 is one. Cool effects like echos while driving under bridges. I just wish my board did not make me go to x8 on my pcie slots in order to run a sound card.
 
Mar 30, 2007
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#25
I dumped my creative card after issues with my two nforce 4 boards. Figured creative just sucked...my bad
 
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