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  1. #1
    Dreadlord Oogzy's Avatar
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    Sound cards and NICs. Are they worth buying?

    I've never purchased a NIC or sound card before for a computer. Well, I have purchased a sound card before, but it didn't work though I'm thinking that was due to my garbage mobo. I'm buying a new computer and am thinking about getting a NIC as well as a sound card. Are they worth it or should I just skip over them?

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  2. #2
    Nearly all motherboards have NICs them built in. It will be fine for you. The same goes for sound to be honest.

    You'll only be looking for a top end soundcard if you are driving some powerful equipment, or if you experience on-board motherboard crosstalk interference.

    Basically just buy your computer and enjoy it.

  3. #3
    Dreadlord Oogzy's Avatar
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    Is a wireless network card better than a wireless adapter?

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  4. #4
    Stood in the Fire Riaya's Avatar
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    Yeah I agree most motherboards come with those pretty basic now. Even sound is really decent (depending on the motherboard). Just look around and see what you need exactly before adding another expense. The only reason I use my Sound Blaster X-Fi now is when my baby is asleep when I play Console games I have the optical out on my TV going to the cards optical in and I play then with my wireless headset because I do not have one for consoles yet :P lol.

    ---------- Post added 2012-12-23 at 04:04 PM ----------

    wireless adapter I would get instead of the cards because least last I checked more adapters do not have very good ratings.

    ---------- Post added 2012-12-23 at 04:05 PM ----------

    Yeah looking on newegg.com the top wireless adapters/cards the adapters dominate

  5. #5
    Dreadlord Oogzy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Riaya View Post
    Yeah I agree most motherboards come with those pretty basic now. Even sound is really decent (depending on the motherboard). Just look around and see what you need exactly before adding another expense. The only reason I use my Sound Blaster X-Fi now is when my baby is asleep when I play Console games I have the optical out on my TV going to the cards optical in and I play then with my wireless headset because I do not have one for consoles yet :P lol.

    ---------- Post added 2012-12-23 at 04:04 PM ----------

    wireless adapter I would get instead of the cards because least last I checked more adapters do not have very good ratings.

    ---------- Post added 2012-12-23 at 04:05 PM ----------

    Yeah looking on newegg.com the top wireless adapters/cards the adapters dominate
    Thank you for the information. I'll probably get the same video card if only for the same reason as you :] As it'll be cheaper to get a really good headset for my PC than it would be a really good headset that works for all 3 that I have to move things around for. I guess I'll have to get an adapter when I move, then, as the people I'll probably be moving in with won't allow me to run a wire across the house to get to my computer, sadly.

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  6. #6
    only reason you would need a NIC is if say your on-board NIC got fried from lightning or some weird power surge (and the rest of the mobo wasn't fried, seen it happen once) as a replacement. other reason might be if you can get GB+ speeds and the computer doesn't support GB Ethernet. Buying a new computer makes both these points mostly moot since you wont need a replacement and most all new comps have GB Ethernet adapters.

    as for sound card, as previously mentioned unless you have a nice 5/7.1 system you should be fine. depending how good the on-board sound card is you may not even notice a differences (if had some shitty on-board before and there was a definite difference in quality)

    if your like me and like using headphones for pretty much everything, id recommend a quality set of headphones you can find some around the same price as a good quality sound card, you may even be able to find a nice wireless pair that will work for consoles and PC.

    for sole PC use i have a Logitech g930, there's not much of anything negative i personally can say about it, and the wireless range on it is excellent only place i lose reception in my house is when a running microwave is running between the headset and receiver.

    Logitec G930
    Last edited by viper1884; 2012-12-23 at 09:24 PM. Reason: Edit: Forgot Link

  7. #7
    The Insane DeltrusDisc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by viper1884 View Post
    only reason you would need a NIC is if say your on-board NIC got fried from lightning or some weird power surge (and the rest of the mobo wasn't fried, seen it happen once) as a replacement. other reason might be if you can get GB+ speeds and the computer doesn't support GB Ethernet. Buying a new computer makes both these points mostly moot since you wont need a replacement and most all new comps have GB Ethernet adapters.

    as for sound card, as previously mentioned unless you have a nice 5/7.1 system you should be fine. depending how good the on-board sound card is you may not even notice a differences (if had some shitty on-board before and there was a definite difference in quality)

    if your like me and like using headphones for pretty much everything, id recommend a quality set of headphones you can find some around the same price as a good quality sound card, you may even be able to find a nice wireless pair that will work for consoles and PC.

    for sole PC use i have a Logitech g930, there's not much of anything negative i personally can say about it, and the wireless range on it is excellent only place i lose reception in my house is when a running microwave is running between the headset and receiver.

    Logitec G930
    If someone has truly good headphones (not Logitech/Razer/Steelseries, etc) such as something from Audio Technica, Sennheiser, Shure, or AKG, they will very likely benefit from a sound card that has a built-in headphone amplifier.
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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Oogzy View Post
    Is a wireless network card better than a wireless adapter?
    USB WLAN sticks are hopeless pile of shit, not only because there isn't room for decent antenna in it, but also USB drivers arent terribly stable and you need to unplug it every few days. Always get a internal card if you really must use wireless.
    Never going to log into this garbage forum again as long as calling obvious troll obvious troll is the easiest way to get banned.
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  9. #9
    Titan
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    Honestly, i'd say there's no real benefit in buying a specific NIC unless you need a feature of it. Gigabit LAN is now standard across boards, and on the midrange+ boards, they'll often have 2 LAN ports, and software provided to allow you to "team" them together.

    Quote Originally Posted by Riaya View Post
    Yeah looking on newegg.com the top wireless adapters/cards the adapters dominate
    There's a reason for this; USB is more accessible and more readily available than a PCI or PCIE based solution. There's a lot of people who simply don't or can't open up their PC (voided warranty and/or lack of knowledge) to install a wifi card, whereas every single PC shipped these days generally has at least 4 USB ports at the back, and 2 at the front (usually they have more).

    Both the PCI/PCIE cards and the USB adapters use the same basic hardware, it's just the interface that's different. Cards do have aerial ports (and generally ship with an aerial or 2) while USB dongles serve as the aerial.

    I used a Belkin 54g wireless dongle a few weeks ago, which has been sat in storage for a few years, but bought myself an n-300 TP-Link PCIE adapter not long ago (in preparation for my ISP change which required changes to the layout which meant i'd have to connect wirelessly as opposed to via wired). For all intents and purposes, they're as good as each other with the exception that the card can obviously support faster speeds, and that i can move the PC freely and not have to worry about another cable being dragged around.

    The signal quality, strength and speed you receive depends on more than just the adapter. Positioning the adapter or the aerial (depending on chosen solution) can have a big effect on the speed you're able to get across the network but unless you're streaming media in the home, or you've got an internet connection faster than 54Mb/s, it's not worth moving up to N. With that said, N has become commonplace, and a 150Mb/s adapter will set you back only around $10-15. A 300Mb/s adapter will set you back around $15-25.

    If you're in an environment where your router is some distance from your system, or there's lots of walls or floors in the way, then N is worth looking into over G. You'll lose some speed, often a higher percentage, but you'd still be running at faster speed on N right up until you lose 82% of your signal (assuming 300Mb/s -- with 150Mb/s, it's 64%). That is, if the G signal was at 100%, then the N-300 Signal would need to be running at 28% before it was running as 'slow' as the G signal (and likewise, the N-150 signal would need to be at 36% before it was running at the same speed as the G signal). To put some perspective on that, my wireless N-300 card loses 4% signal going through a floor to a N-150 router that's only 3 meters below it. If i was to move the router to the kitchen, which would be the room furthest away, and the signal had to go through 1 floor and 2 wall and travel 25 meters total, i could expect to lose around 35% of the signal (+/-5%). Even then, the N signal would still be running almost twice as fast as the G signal (97.5Mb/s vs 54Mb/s) (wifi G, in the same situation, would probably only lose around 20% signal and thus be running at a theoretical 43.2Mb/s).

    This is irrespective of whether using a card or an adapter though. I'd recommend USB adapter for simplicity and mobility, and a card if you're interested in setting it up once and forgetting about it. If your desk is crowded or you find things falling off (especially when a cable is involved), then the card might be better. If that's not an issue for you, the USB adapter would be my recommendation.
    [...]

  10. #10
    Pandaren Monk
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    Why all the lies fellas? Saying that the built in nic card is just as good, or whatever is just pure bullshit.
    I will take the pepsi challenge with my aftermarket nic card against your built in one, ANY DAY OF THE WEEK.
    Here's why.
    1: my after market nic has a built in processor and ram of it's own,
    2:it bypasses shitty windows netstack issues,
    3: has an application for bandwidth control.
    I won't add it as 4, b/c your milage may vary, but my latency HALVED.
    A good aftermarket nic will not fix a shitty ISP, but it WILL clear up the internal lag in your computer.

    But yah....sure, your mobo's built in one should be fine, it does the job, but that is ALL it does.
    You guys really make me laugh some days.
    The one part of your heavily modded and expensive computers you neglect, is the most important part when playing ONLINE.
    /facepalm
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  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Bigbamboozal View Post
    /facepalm
    My thoughts exactly when reading that shit...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigbamboozal View Post
    1: my after market nic has a built in processor and ram of it's own,
    And? Built-in NIC uses less than 1% of the CPU power of modern computer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigbamboozal View Post
    2:it bypasses shitty windows netstack issues,
    What issues?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigbamboozal View Post
    3: has an application for bandwidth control.
    http://www.netlimiter.com/ works with any NIC, integrated and aftermarket ones.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigbamboozal View Post
    I won't add it as 4, b/c your milage may vary, but my latency HALVED.
    A good aftermarket nic will not fix a shitty ISP, but it WILL clear up the internal lag in your computer.
    Good aftermarket NIC will drop your latency by 10-20. if you start from 50 it can halve it, but if you start from 100 or 200 it wont make any difference whatsoever.
    Never going to log into this garbage forum again as long as calling obvious troll obvious troll is the easiest way to get banned.
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  12. #12
    Stood in the Fire Riaya's Avatar
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    Internal lag? Considering my consisten transfers over wired LAN network of 120-140megs per second from a SSD to SSD I do not see a real "bottleneck issue". As for internet problems from a built in I have no lag issues unless something happens server side or my ISP has some kind of hiccup...

  13. #13
    So i just got myself an Asus Xonar Phoebus soundcard and Qpad QH-1339 headphones and... and...

    The sound is just amazing.
    The difference from my motherboard soundcard and the Phoebus is just incredible.

    So if you got a pretty good headset, you just have to get a decent soundcard aswell, pref with a headphone amplifier .

  14. #14
    Pandaren Monk DarkXale's Avatar
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    Integrated components are often adequate - but it should be noted they have a much lower (signal) output than dedicated solutions. In many cases, this won't matter - but sometimes you'll find the integrated NIC can't connect because it doesn't have enough power to transfer to the next router/switch at an acceptable symbol error rate. (On long connections)

    Similarly, integrated soundcards won't always output enough power to drive sound equipment properly - and they can be prone to introducing noise into the stream as well.
    This however doesn't apply for digitally-audio-out, the integrated will handle that just as good as the best dedicated solution.

    I've had to use dedicated solutions to remedy both of these problems, and even my current Asus Z77-Deluxe does not have an acceptable power output on its sound-'card' to operate some of my equipment acceptably. Thus I've had to continue using my (now very old) Sound Card, which does not have that problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by vesseblah View Post
    Good aftermarket NIC will drop your latency by 10-20. if you start from 50 it can halve it, but if you start from 100 or 200 it wont make any difference whatsoever.
    Which only indicates something else is going on. Your NIC is only responsible for the communication and processing time required to and from the first router (whether thats a home gateway or the router of your ISP). And those are times which in correctly configured systems should be below 1ms on a good line.

    The default settings can be altered to reduce latency, though at a potential cost of slight CPU power at high throughputs. (Though you'd need to be running +100mbps for that to be a concern)
    Some NICs may have overly defensive defaults - but a settings correction should fix that.
    Last edited by DarkXale; 2012-12-24 at 04:06 AM.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Bigbamboozal View Post
    Why all the lies fellas? Saying that the built in nic card is just as good, or whatever is just pure bullshit.
    I will take the pepsi challenge with my aftermarket nic card against your built in one, ANY DAY OF THE WEEK.
    Here's why.
    1: my after market nic has a built in processor and ram of it's own,
    2:it bypasses shitty windows netstack issues,
    3: has an application for bandwidth control.
    I won't add it as 4, b/c your milage may vary, but my latency HALVED.
    A good aftermarket nic will not fix a shitty ISP, but it WILL clear up the internal lag in your computer.

    But yah....sure, your mobo's built in one should be fine, it does the job, but that is ALL it does.
    You guys really make me laugh some days.
    The one part of your heavily modded and expensive computers you neglect, is the most important part when playing ONLINE.
    /facepalm

    Generally speaking, if someone has to ASK these questions in the first place, they don't NEED anything like what you are talking about. Use some common sense. High-end solutions are not for everybody.

  16. #16
    If you can get a sound card. I have never heard of someone who got one and didn't like it. If you do care about sound and your immersion in games and quality of music get a sound card and a decent headset. On board audio on any mother board will almost never compare to some of the cheapest sound cards. And if you want a recommendation go with an asus xonar. At any price the xonar line is outstanding, i'm running a xonar essence right now and short of my graphics card it was the best upgrade for gaming I ever got. The sound quality is amazing and I am hearing things in games I didn't think existed. If you are serious about it get a sound card, a 40 dollar sound card can beat any on board audio. period.

  17. #17
    Dreadlord haxs101's Avatar
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    Don't let anybody tell you a sound card "isn't worth it" It depends on the person. Sounds is sound, yes, but you CAN tell a major difference in sound cards from that onboard junk. Its something you have to hear to know the difference.

    I have an Asus Xonar DX. This is the best card you can get for the money. I think its worth it because, you can put it in your computer if you happen to get a new computer build, and it never has to be replaced. There are old school sound cards from years ago that are far better than todays onbard. Also if you do get a sound card, spend money on some nice cans (headphones) don't get crap from walmart or some apple ear plugs. Also headsets are gimmicks, get a standalone mic and a nice set of headphones. You can get a good pair under 100$.
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  18. #18
    I am Murloc! Cyanotical's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigbamboozal View Post
    Why all the lies fellas? Saying that the built in nic card is just as good, or whatever is just pure bullshit.
    I will take the pepsi challenge with my aftermarket nic card against your built in one, ANY DAY OF THE WEEK.
    Here's why.
    1: my after market nic has a built in processor and ram of it's own,
    2:it bypasses shitty windows netstack issues,
    3: has an application for bandwidth control.
    I won't add it as 4, b/c your milage may vary, but my latency HALVED.
    A good aftermarket nic will not fix a shitty ISP, but it WILL clear up the internal lag in your computer.

    But yah....sure, your mobo's built in one should be fine, it does the job, but that is ALL it does.
    You guys really make me laugh some days.
    The one part of your heavily modded and expensive computers you neglect, is the most important part when playing ONLINE.
    /facepalm
    typically im on the side of independent specialized components, but with this im gonna have to side with the onboard

    1, so does an onboard nic
    2, no it doesn't
    3, because you need that on a lan side nic
    4, has little to do with adding a secondary nic

    i would assume by the wording of your post that you have one of those stupid bigfoot killer nics, those are crap, and net techs like to make fun of people using them

    get an intel nic and be done, if your onboard is already intel, you are fine, you will not gain anything by adding a PCIe card, and im willing to prove this

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  19. #19
    Legendary! Evil Inside's Avatar
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    Unless you have some top-notch audio equipment there is no point buying a soundcard.
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  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Rodpad View Post
    Nearly all motherboards have NICs them built in. It will be fine for you. The same goes for sound to be honest.

    You'll only be looking for a top end soundcard if you are driving some powerful equipment, or if you experience on-board motherboard crosstalk interference.

    Basically just buy your computer and enjoy it.
    While this is 100% true for NIC, it is not for sound. People who can hear the difference and own a soundcard will swear by always having one, to anyone else it could be something they want to try or something they don't care about. Where as with a NIC the only real reason to buy one is to bridge it with your onboard and use 2 modems.

    ---------- Post added 2012-12-24 at 03:25 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyanotical View Post
    typically im on the side of independent specialized components, but with this im gonna have to side with the onboard

    1, so does an onboard nic
    2, no it doesn't
    3, because you need that on a lan side nic
    4, has little to do with adding a secondary nic

    i would assume by the wording of your post that you have one of those stupid bigfoot killer nics, those are crap, and net techs like to make fun of people using them

    get an intel nic and be done, if your onboard is already intel, you are fine, you will not gain anything by adding a PCIe card, and im willing to prove this
    I'm with you cy, I'd even go so far as to say having a "specialized component" in this case is just more stuff in the way and more stuff that could potentially fail. I mean atm I should have 2 6950's a Capture card a massive heatsink(had to put GPU in conveniently broken other pc on purchase) so its like yes I could potentially stuff a nic or soundcard beneath my gpu and cover the fans and completely remove CFX possibilities or I could just go with not doing that, I already have a decent enough onboard sound that goes directly into a receiver and amp.

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