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Cyber Akuma

Does a soundcard really help take off CPU load?

27 posts in this topic

I know that it won't do much, but please, let's not get into a discussion on why I am upgrading an old system instead of getting a new one.

Anyway, I have integrated sound on my desktop, and I read that some PCI soundcards can help with the audio processing, so I was wondering if I could help performance by any, if at all, if I installed a PCI soundcard to take some of the load off of the CPU when dealing with audio.

Would this help at all? Even by a little? And if so, any recommendations? I only need 2.0 stereo, nothing fancy.

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Onboard Soundcards do take up CPU cycles, varies depending on audio output and how fast your processor is - Can be between 0.X% and up to 5% from what I've heard.

Using soundcards that's on the new generation of GPUs will also suck up 5-10% performance.

So it might help but it's not an exact science whatsoever, give it a shot if you have the money to spare but don't expect wonders.

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It will help. Will you notice a difference? Debatable. I always get a 2-3 fps increase in games, but others claim they see no FPS increase

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Only if you're still using Pentium 3. With the amount of cores and speed of the cpus these days, the noticeable differences are just not there.

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Only if you're still using Pentium 3.

... actually, I am.

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What are you doing with it?

If you buy one, don't spend more than $10 or so.

You can pick up a Pentium 4 / Athlon XP desktop usually for under $80 or so

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What are you doing with it?

If you buy one, don't spend more than $10 or so.

You can pick up a Pentium 4 / Athlon XP desktop usually for under $80 or so

Its my main desktop

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I have a Creative X-Fi (not the dumbed down ones), and I did not notice a difference in speed at all. In fact, I'm not even using it anymore because it adds 20 seconds of additional boot time.

Honestly, the amount of software and processes dedicated sound cards use compared to on-board ones will offset any performance advantages.

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There will be barely any difference, audio isn't that resource intensive.

In the past it mattered, now not so much.

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Some soundcards increase CPU usage http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/hardware-canucks-reviews/5599-asus-xonar-dx-7-1-pci-e-sound-card-review-8.html

I have a xonar DX and haven't noticed any decreased performance in games though. What I did notice is greatly improved audio quality. At most a soundcard would increase performance by 3-4 fps which is hardly noticable.

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Yeah, this used to be the case. Onboard sound wasn't up to much in terms of sound quality, and as processors obviously weren't particularly fast the extra cycles used to process onboard sound actually mattered. These days it's a different story. Onboard sound is generally good and quite adequate for most people, and today's processors hardly notice the extra load entailed. In your case, with a PIII, I'd say it would be borderline as to whether you really see any performance increase while gaming, for example, but a half-decent PCI card might improve audio quality for you.

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... actually, I am.

:blink:

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To be honest it may or may not make a difference, there is no way i could predict such a thing. Sure, if you used an onboard graphics card then switch for an AGP one but anything else is pointless. Your best bet is to upgrade your ram if possible and make sure the processes you have running are the ones you need.

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Onboard can be one of two: it can be one of two: built into southbridge or a dedicated DSP/chip soldered onto the motherboard connected via the PCI/PCIe bus. In the latter case, it is the same as having a dedicated sound card if the chip does all the processing. If the former, then it does utilize the CPU to do most of its tasks.

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:blink:

Why is it that surprising? Lots of people are still running old hardware, it all depends on what you use your computer for.

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Why is it that surprising? Lots of people are still running old hardware, it all depends on what you use your computer for.

Its my main desktop, which is why I mostly game on consoles nowadays, I was planning to build a new gaming rig but got laid off, still haven't found a new job, and this thign is startign to get unbearably slow even though I just reformatted and reinstalled the OS drive. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to upgrade from Windows 2000 to XP.... but I needed XP for driver support of some new networked hardware.

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:blink:

These sort of posts really get my goat!!

Why is it that surprising? Lots of people are still running old hardware, it all depends on what you use your computer for.

Well said, there are many reasons for this, the main one being financial constraints, some of the "rich kids" here presume that everyone has money to burn!

Its my main desktop, which is why I mostly game on consoles nowadays, I was planning to build a new gaming rig but got laid off, still haven't found a new job, and this thign is startign to get unbearably slow even though I just reformatted and reinstalled the OS drive. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to upgrade from Windows 2000 to XP.... but I needed XP for driver support of some new networked hardware.

There you go, the OP has just said what I was thinking before I managed to post!

Good luck with your endeavors, see if you can scrounge up some more RAM and see if that helps. How much is in the PC?

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I have a mate with a high end card, and he loves it. He finds the sound in games alot nicer then what his onboard but has not notice any diff in gaming FPS. Ive been lookin @ getting one, still wondering if i should.

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In XP it does take the load off the CPU but in Windows Vista/7, the audio stack is entirely software-based.

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It might be a little less resource hogging, but to my experience I've never really noticed any difference using different brands and types of audio cards, ranging from Creative to Terratec and M-Audio.

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Hello,

You might want to try buying a used older model of one of the Creative SoundBlaster sound cards of the same vintage as your PC build and see if using it decreases processor utilization.

Regards,

Aryeh Goretsky

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Agreed with +goretsky, get yourself an old Soundblaster (something like an Audigy 2 ZS [PCI]).

Don't expect wonders though.

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Hello,

An even older sound card (SB16 PCI?) might be even better; I'm not sure what the minimum specs are for the Audigy series. Key thing is to find one that has its own DSP on-board, so it doesn't have to utilize the host's CPU for that task.

Regards,

Aryeh Goretsky

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Hello,

An even older sound card (SB16 PCI?) might be even better; I'm not sure what the minimum specs are for the Audigy series. Key thing is to find one that has its own DSP on-board, so it doesn't have to utilize the host's CPU for that task.

Regards,

Aryeh Goretsky

Hmmm, how can I find out if it has one or not? That's not really something that would be listed in the specs would it?

I was thinking of this one, would it fit the bill?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829102012

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i have a "real" soundcard and once you go to something not on-board. it's hard to go back. the sound quality difference is HUGE.

on my older computer, games that supported EAX i would see a bit of an FPS jump, but nothing major (2-4 more)

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