This is largely taken from Smiddi's
work over at OCAU, found HERE
Not because I am lazy (though this plays a large factor) but because he has gone out and purchased many of the leading soundcards and done head to head comparison. So, go over, register and have a read yourself
. Here is the final results he came up with, i've also linked the staticice.com pricing next to each for reference.
Overall order for Music:
Xonar STX - $215 StaticIce
Xonar D2X = Auzen Forte $225 & $225 StaticIce D2X
: StaticIce Forte
Xonar DX $103 StaticIce
X-Fi Titanium $136 StaticIce
Auzen X-plosion 7.1 $142 StaticIce
Xonar U1 $46 StaticIce
X-Fi Xtreme Music - not really in production anymore (but sub $100 on fleabay)Overall order for Gaming:
Xonar STX = Xonar DX
X-Fi Xtreme Music
Auzen X-plosion 7.1
Having heard the STX, i must say its absolute win for music, especially when paired with some higer end headphones. The D2X has got nothing but good reviews, and ranks high in both categories. The DX, its little brother, goes damn well as well.
- Quality Stereo
Headphones or Speakers
- Importance is Music over Gaming
- Happy to spend the moneyCard:
This is a PCI-E soundcard, make sure you understand that. Recommend it because of the quality DAC it was, thus only using analogue outputs will give the results.
- Quality 5.1 Speaker System
- I gotz da cash yoCard:
Xonar D2 or Xonar D2X
with consideration to the ForteNotes:
Analogue outputs to say a Z5500 system (so 3 stereo plugs) will greatly improve sound quality over using crappy optical from the mobo (since the Z5500 then uses its DAC, which isn't great)Conditions
- Im just a GamerCard
: XFi Titanium or ForteNotes:
Check if they are PCI-E or not. The Forte has a break out cable for most of its outputs, jsut another thing that can break or be lost, but otherwise a solid card.Conditions
- I'm on a Budget!Card
: Xonar DXNote:
Basically these Asus cards are awesome. Don't touch Creative with a 10 ft poll.
Note on Creative: The XFi chip is quite nice, and in gaming it does do very well. Creative's problem is that they aren't great music cards, and some people have driver issues. But as Shin will say, he hasn't had a problem with them, neither have I really. However, these Asus cards are hard to pass up!FANSCase Fans
9 long blades, these things move A LOT of air at very low noise levels. Compared to most other fans, these guys are great, and cheap. Pick according to how loud you can put up with, with the 1900rpm the only one you would really hear above other pc components.$19 Slip Streams
(500/800/1200/1900 rpm)Heatsink/Radiator Fans
- keep in mind the difference between these and a ordinary fan would be a few degrees at most
Although something like the slip stream would suffice, their design is for high cfm, low noise, with not the best static air pressure (the higher the better for radiators and heatsinks). Thus fans with closer together blade orientation are better for this job. Two better ones include the Scythe S-Flex and Noctua NF-P12.$29.90 NF-P12$29.95 S-Flex
Notice how the blades are wider, and less gaps = higher static air pressure, generally.
However, at pccg, the Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme package now has the option to choose the S-Flex over the Scythe LED one. Saving a few bucks. If you don't mind paying 10 bucks more, the TU120E and P12 are probably the best option, though temp difference would be minima
EDIT: Props Goes to Thrasher and Shinanigans, most of this put together by Thrasher and Edited/updated by Shinanigans.