The Sound BarrierBy Jason Cross | Print
Re-Imagining Linux Platforms to Meet the Needs of Cloud Service Providers
Build It: Last year's $800 gaming PC was a bargain, but had significant compromises. This year's model is an $800 hot-rod gaming rig that offers impressive performance. What a difference a year makes!
If you're really on a tight budget, you can skip the sound card entirely and just use your integrated PC audio. We find that's almost always a bad idea, though. The signal to noise ratio is typically poor, 3D audio options are limited, and since all the processing is host-based, games that use lots of audio channels can slow down a bit.
The solution is a good sound card. The Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Value gets you into the very latest Sound Blaster card—basically the only game in town that offloads audio processing off the host CPU anymore—without spending much money. Note that the Audigy 2 Value is based on the EMU 10K1 chip, the same chip that powered the original Audigy card. But everything else has been updated. Your games will run faster, and you'll get to use EAX in games that support it.
|Product||Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Value|
|Pros:||Far better performance; better driver support; more compatibility for games than integrated audio.|
|Cons:||It's $50 that you don't necessarily need to spend, with integrated audio essentially "free" on all motherboards.|
|Summary:||If you're into games, it's a sound investment (pardon the pun). We wouldn't recommend it for home recording and the like, though.|