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Desktops & Components

Best Sound Card

For many years, sales of sound cards declined as the on-board audio on PC's grew better and better. However, the last few years have seen gamers, audiophiles, and even ordinary computer users seeking out the best in audio quality and thus are looking again to add-on sound cards. We’ve chosen the following best sound cards because they offer a minimum of 24 bit audio reproduction for the highest quality sound reproduction. They also all possess class leading signal -to-noise ratios of at least one hundred decibels (DB) in addition to sampling rates of at least ninety-six kilohertz (Khz). Finally, all of these cards offer sound enhancement technology for the best multichannel surround sound experience you can hope for.

Asus Xonar Essence STX Sound Card

This 7.1 channel, PCIE card from top tier manufacturer Asus is aimed at audiophiles but is sure to please any user or gamer as well. It offers an unprecedented one hundred twenty-four decibel (DB) signal to noise ratio for clear, noise-free sound. This card also features a multi-layer PCB circuit board design to help eliminate unwanted noise and distortion while the analog outputs are designed with shielding from elector-magnetic interference (EMI) for distortion free analog output. It also uses an exceptional Burr-BrownDigital-to-Analog Convertor (DAC) with a 127dB signal-to-noise ratio for the clearest digital audio possible. While all this performance comes at a high price, this card delivers the absolute best in sound quality for your PC.

Creative Sound Blaster Recon3D Fatal1ty Champion Sound Card

Aimed at audiophiles and gamers, this premium two piece offering from Creative has an input/output (I/O) module that fits in an external drive bay on your computer. This provides front panel access to headphone and microphone jacks, a volume control and THX TrueStudio controls. The card offers twenty-four bit audio reproduction and a one hundred two decibel signal to noise ratio. It’s equipped with Dolby THX TrueStudio Pro sound enhancement technology and a SoundCore 3D multi-core audio processor for best in class sound reproduction. However, all these great features come at a very steep price but it’s well worth the price of admission.

ASUS Xonar U7 Sound Card

This 7.1 channel offering is different from the other sound cards on our list in that it’s an external device which connects to your computer through a SUB port. The may turn away some users, but others will appreciate that they they don't have to crack open their PC to install the card an added bonus. It features outstanding specifications with an output signal to noise ratio of one hundred fourteen decibels (DB), and one hundred ninety-two kilohertz KHz, 24 bit sound reproduction. It also features Dolby HomeTheater v4 technology for top of class surround sound reproduction. Best of all, it comes at a very affordable price which won’t break the bank.

Creative Labs SB0570L4 Sound Blaster Audigy SE Sound Card

What we have here is an outstanding 7.1 channel PCI sound card that doesn't skimp on features despite its affordable price. This card offers a one hundred decibel (DB) signal-to-noise ratio as well as full 24 bit sound reproduction. You’re also getting EAX Advanced HD audios effects for top notch sound enhancement which also provides full 3D positional audio reproduction when used with multi-channel speakers. Additionally, the card offers smart volume management, bass boost, and audio clean-up capabilities. The downside to this selection is that some users may not have a free PCI slot in their computer so make sure you have the required space available before purchasing.


This is an outstanding PCIE offering from Asus intended for gamers who simply don’t make any compromises when it comes to sound quality. It features an excellent signal-to-noise ratio of one hundred sixteen decibels as well as Sonic Pro sound enhancement technology for accurate sound location placement while playing games, a crucial factor to some users. It also features a built-in headphone amp with six hundred ohm output for the higher quality headphone bass reproduction. It’s designed with a multi-layer PCB for the best quality isolation of digital and analog outputs greatly reducing spurious noise and distortion. Best of all, it comes at a good price given its high end feature set.

Dewey Dirks
I've been involved with computers for over thirty years. I've always been fascinated most by the hardware, so I became involved in building computers pretty early on. The first machine I built was a 80386 in around 1988 and I've been building them ever pretty much ever since. From 1992 up until 2010 I ran a small company called Redline Systems that built gaming systems. I’ve also been heavily into overclocking since around 1999. I've had a great deal of overclocking experience with both Intel and AMD machines using high end air cooling, DIY water cooling and phase change cooling using a Vapochill LS. I've also been also quite active in the competitive overclocking scene for many years. Although Intel CPU's are generally more powerful, for the last few years I've been clocking primarily AMD hardware as there is a lot of challenge there. I've also been gaming on computersfor many, many years and keep up on that scene too as all that hardware begs for something to do with it.
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