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Thread: Thinking of upgrading sound card, need help




  1. #1

    Default

    Kind of hard to find what I mean from the title, but whatever.

    Anyway, I'm looking to possibly upgrading my sound card from an onboard Realtek AC 97 to an Audigy or possibly an Audigy 2. I have no gripes with how everything actually sounds, but my main problem comes with performance. Here's my specs:
    • Pentium 4 2.5 GHz with Hyper-Threading enabled
    • 512 MB DDR333 RAM
    • Gigabyte Radeon 9800 Pro 128 MB
    • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
    • NEC Multisync 77F monitor (not great, but gets the job done)
    • SiS 650GXG-1 Motherboard (M650 chipset)
    • Realtek Ac 97 Audio (has EAX support)
    • Labtec speakers + subwoofer (good speakers, though I'm not sure of the model, as they're rather old)
    • ATi Catalyst 3.9 Drisplay Driver
    • DirectX 9.0b
    • Newest Motherboard drivers as far as I can ascertain...


    That's all that should matter...

    I'm hoping that upgrading to a newer, independent sound card should increase my performance in games, considering that I've been getting sub-par FPS, usually around 20 lower than it should be. Just as an example, I'm getting 179-ish for flyby and 55-ish for botmach on the UT2003, though I've seen similar systems which get 200/70. I've been hearing mixed opinions on message boards about sound cards making a big difference because of the CPU usage of onboard cards, but I'm not all that sure about it. I have no intention of using EAX due to the CPU use.

    On a side note, I'm wondering about possibly getting an AGP 8x supporting motherboard, seeing as I'm pretty sure mine is crap (can't find much info on it), and it only supports AGP 4x as far as I know. I've been hearing that AGP 8x doesn't make as huge a difference as it's been hyped up to...is this true?

  2. Default

    #1 Great way to test if sound card is killing your performance is to download a benchmark for your 3d video. 3dMark 2k1 and/or 2k3 are great. Aquamark 3 is another good one. Download those, run the regular benchmark, and report back with your scores. They can all be downloaded from www.guru3d.com

    #2 I highly recommend the Augidy or Audigy 2. Ive had no problems at all with any Sound Blaster cards. And I've been using them for 10 years now. Theres also lower cost solutions out there, and if you're not a 5.1 freak like me, Id look at something cheaper. Theres really not a bad sound card out there now for a regular 2 speaker setup.

    #3 8x AGP is the most overrated computer hype product ever. Your 9800 Pro would probably only see a 1 or 2% performance increase with 8x. So I wouldnt bother with that.
    The FatGuy's Rig:

    <small>AMD 1600+ XP O/C'd to 1560 mhz // Thermaltake Volcano 7+ // Aopen AK77 Pro K266(A) Chipset O/C'd to 147 mhz // 256MB Elixir PC2100 DDR CAS2 // Visiontek GeForce4 Ti4200 O/C'd to 310/580 w/ Thermaltake HSU // SoundBlaster Audigy X-Gamer // WD205BA 20GB 7200 // Sony 52x/24x/52x // Linksys 10/100 NIC // ThermalTake 480w Butterfly PSU // Silver Windowed Aluminum Mid-Tower Case (Modded) // Vantec Nexus Fan Controller// Thermaltake 80mm Blower // 3xEvercool 80mm Fans // 2xBlue Cold Cathodes // 2xSound activated Blue Cold Cathodes // Dell 17" Monitor // Microsoft Trackball // Creative 5.1 Speakers</small>

    Come Crunch with TweakTown

    <img src="http://www.statgfx.com/statgfx/folding/?&username=FatGuy3&border=0,0,0&custom =0,0,255&label=0,0,0&header=255,0,0&st ats=0,0,255&trans=yes&template=fah_origina l&.jpg" alt="www.Statgfx.com" />

  3. #3

    Default

    I've already got all of those benchmarks, let me just quickly get some scores...will edit with screens.

    EDIT: Sorry about the wait...and note that I was stuck with default settings for Aquamark 3 and 3DMark 2003.



    ^ Should be getting 15000+



    ^ Should be at least 5500, I think...



    ^ Think I should be getting 40000+ based on other results

    I have nothing like Vsync, Norton, etc. on while running the tests, except for IE, and that shouldn't be too much of a performance hog.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    1,393

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Fatguy3
    #1 Great way to test if sound card is killing your performance is to download a benchmark for your 3d video. 3dMark 2k1 and/or 2k3 are great. Aquamark 3 is another good one. .
    I believe that 3mark01 doesn't have sound, and aquamark doesn't test sound either....:rolleyes2 , the only one out of those 3 is the last tests on 3dmark03......:rolleyes2

    Either go with the Audigy 2 or the Audigy 2 ZS which gives you a great bundle of games, I think one of them is Tomb Raider Angel of Darkness.
    CPU: Opteron 165 @ 311x9 - 2817.8 mhz - 1.47v
    Mobo: Abit KN8-SLI
    RAM: 2x512 Crucial Ballistic Tracers500 @ 202 mhz 2-2-2-5 T1
    GFX: Asus EAX1950pro @ 648/1408
    PSU: Thermaltake 500w
    SC: Audigy 2 zs
    LCD: 22' Samsung 225bw
    Speakers: Klipsch ProMedia 5.1 Ultra
    Mouse: Logitech G5

  5. Default

    Hmm, that doesnt look too bad, but you're right it could be better. Id suggestion going to the windows forum and look at the top for the winxp tweaking guides. Those are really good. The system optimization for gamers is excellent to make sure your BIOS is set properly. Nothing is far off enough that it would be a huge problem. You should be getting better FPS out of UT2k3 however. Id try turning off the sound and music in UT2K3 and see if that helps, just as a quick spot check. If it does, then ya, go pick up a new sound card. If you're not using EAX or 5.1, the Audigy is nice, but not neccesary. But dont spend any cash til ya go through the xp guides. Going to bed now, Peace.
    The FatGuy's Rig:

    <small>AMD 1600+ XP O/C'd to 1560 mhz // Thermaltake Volcano 7+ // Aopen AK77 Pro K266(A) Chipset O/C'd to 147 mhz // 256MB Elixir PC2100 DDR CAS2 // Visiontek GeForce4 Ti4200 O/C'd to 310/580 w/ Thermaltake HSU // SoundBlaster Audigy X-Gamer // WD205BA 20GB 7200 // Sony 52x/24x/52x // Linksys 10/100 NIC // ThermalTake 480w Butterfly PSU // Silver Windowed Aluminum Mid-Tower Case (Modded) // Vantec Nexus Fan Controller// Thermaltake 80mm Blower // 3xEvercool 80mm Fans // 2xBlue Cold Cathodes // 2xSound activated Blue Cold Cathodes // Dell 17" Monitor // Microsoft Trackball // Creative 5.1 Speakers</small>

    Come Crunch with TweakTown

    <img src="http://www.statgfx.com/statgfx/folding/?&username=FatGuy3&border=0,0,0&custom =0,0,255&label=0,0,0&header=255,0,0&st ats=0,0,255&trans=yes&template=fah_origina l&.jpg" alt="www.Statgfx.com" />

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    1,393

    Default

    You should be getting higher scores in all your benchs....for 3dmark01=14000-17000. 3dmark03= 5800-6600. AquaMark 3= 38,000-44,000.
    CPU: Opteron 165 @ 311x9 - 2817.8 mhz - 1.47v
    Mobo: Abit KN8-SLI
    RAM: 2x512 Crucial Ballistic Tracers500 @ 202 mhz 2-2-2-5 T1
    GFX: Asus EAX1950pro @ 648/1408
    PSU: Thermaltake 500w
    SC: Audigy 2 zs
    LCD: 22' Samsung 225bw
    Speakers: Klipsch ProMedia 5.1 Ultra
    Mouse: Logitech G5

  7. #7

    Default

    I'll look at the Windows XP tweaking, though I've checked stuff out on Tweak Town before, and it didn't help all that much. I'm beginning to think that my motherboard is the problem, possibly a slow bus or something, but I'm not really sure. I'll have to look into that. A mobo upgrade isn't really a viable option right now, though, so the tweaks will have to do.

    Any more help is appreciated.
    This is where my signature would go had my host not been such a Bandwidth Nazi.

  8. Default

    Mobo might be it, as the Intel Chipsets are the realy kings when it comes to performance, Springdale/Canterwood.

    One thing that might get people to help ya is to get Sandra 2k4 from www.guru3d.com and use the Mainboard Information and CPU/Bios Information and post all that info here. If theres something wrong with your FSB speeds that will make it obvious. Plus someone wiser than me might spot something wrong with your system.
    The FatGuy's Rig:

    <small>AMD 1600+ XP O/C'd to 1560 mhz // Thermaltake Volcano 7+ // Aopen AK77 Pro K266(A) Chipset O/C'd to 147 mhz // 256MB Elixir PC2100 DDR CAS2 // Visiontek GeForce4 Ti4200 O/C'd to 310/580 w/ Thermaltake HSU // SoundBlaster Audigy X-Gamer // WD205BA 20GB 7200 // Sony 52x/24x/52x // Linksys 10/100 NIC // ThermalTake 480w Butterfly PSU // Silver Windowed Aluminum Mid-Tower Case (Modded) // Vantec Nexus Fan Controller// Thermaltake 80mm Blower // 3xEvercool 80mm Fans // 2xBlue Cold Cathodes // 2xSound activated Blue Cold Cathodes // Dell 17" Monitor // Microsoft Trackball // Creative 5.1 Speakers</small>

    Come Crunch with TweakTown

    <img src="http://www.statgfx.com/statgfx/folding/?&username=FatGuy3&border=0,0,0&custom =0,0,255&label=0,0,0&header=255,0,0&st ats=0,0,255&trans=yes&template=fah_origina l&.jpg" alt="www.Statgfx.com" />

  9. #9

    Default

    Heard of that tool, never really used it, though. I'll take a look at it, and edit the post with the results.

    Uhh, is there a way to copy + paste the data?

    [b]EDIT:[b] Oh, nevermind.

    Mainboard Information

    SiSoftware Sandra

    Mainboard
    Manufacturer : Seanix
    MP Support : 2 CPU(s)
    MPS Version : 1.40
    Model : GA-8S650GXM

    System Memory Controller
    Location : Mainboard
    Error Correction Capability : None
    Number of Memory Slots : 2
    Maximum Installable Memory : 2GB
    Bank0/1 - A0 : None None None None DIMM 512MB/64
    Bank2/3 - A1 : Empty

    Chipset 1
    Model : Silicon Integrated Systems (SiS) SiS650 CPU to PCI Bridge
    Bus(es) : AGP PCI USB
    Front Side Bus Speed : 4x 100MHz (400MHz data rate)
    Maximum FSB Speed / Max Memory Speed : 4x 133MHz / 2x 166MHz
    Width : 64-bit
    SMP - MP Capability : No
    IO Queue Depth : 8 request(s)
    Priority Master Queue Depth : 7 request(s)

    Chipset 1 Hub Interface
    Type : MUTOL
    Width : 16-bit
    Full Duplex : No
    Multiplier : 1/1x

    Logical/Chipset 1 Memory Banks
    Bank 0 : 512MB DDR-SDRAM 2.0-3-3-7CL
    Width : 64-bit
    Refresh Rate : 7.80s
    Power Save Mode : No
    Fixed Hole Present : No

    Environment Monitor 1
    Model : Winbond W83697HF ISA
    Version : 6.00
    Mainboard Specific Support : No

    Temperature Sensor(s)
    Board Temperature : 28.0C / 82.4F
    CPU1 Temperature : 29.5C / 85.1F td

    Cooling Device(s)
    Auto Fan Speed Control : No
    Chassis Fan Speed : 3013rpm
    CPU1 Fan Speed : 2557rpm

    Voltage Sensor(s)
    CPU1 Voltage : 1.57V
    +3.3V Voltage : 3.33V
    +5V Voltage : 5.03V
    +12V Voltage : 12.04V
    -12V Voltage : -12.20V
    -5V Voltage : -5.05V
    Standby Voltage : 5.12V

    AGP Bus(es) on Hub 1
    Version : 2.00
    Speed : 4x
    Fast-Writes Enabled : Yes
    Side Band Enabled : Yes
    Aperture Size : 64MB

    PCI Bus(es) on Hub 1
    Version : 2.10
    Number of Bridges : 1
    PCI Bus 0 : PCI (33MHz)
    Multiplier : 1/3x

    LPC Hub Controller 1
    Model : Silicon Integrated Systems (SiS) SiS PCI to ISA Bridge (LPC Bridge)
    ACPI Power Management Enabled : Yes
    Random Number Generator Enabled : No
    Multiplier : 1/4x
    Speed : 8MHz

    USB Controller 1
    Model : Giga-Byte Technology SiS5597/8 Universal Serial Bus Controller
    Version : 1.00
    Interface : OHCI
    Channels : 3
    Supported Speed(s) : Low (1.5Mbps) Full (12Mbps)
    Legacy Emulation Enabled : No

    USB Controller 2
    Model : Giga-Byte Technology SiS5597/8 Universal Serial Bus Controller
    Version : 1.00
    Interface : OHCI
    Channels : 3
    Supported Speed(s) : Low (1.5Mbps) Full (12Mbps)
    Legacy Emulation Enabled : No

    USB Controller 3
    Model : Giga-Byte Technology SiS7002 USB 2.0 Enhanced Controller
    Version : 2.00
    Specification : 1.00
    Interface : EHCI
    Channels : 6
    Companion Controllers : 2
    Supported Speed(s) : Low (1.5Mbps) Full (12Mbps) High (480Mbps)
    Addressing Support : 32-bit
    Legacy Emulation Enabled : No

    Expansion Slot(s)
    PCI (9h) : PCI 32-bit +5V +3.3V PME Full-Length Available
    PCI (Bh) : PCI 32-bit +5V +3.3V PME Full-Length Available
    PCI (Dh) : PCI 32-bit +5V +3.3V PME Full-Length Used (D-Link Inc AirPlus DWL-520+ Wireless PCI Adapter)
    AGP (8h) : AGP 32-bit +5V Full-Length Used (Giga-Byte Technology ??? (4E48))

    Port Connector
    PRIMARY IDE : None - ATA / None
    SECONDARY IDE : None - ATA / None
    FDD : 8251 FIFO - Floppy Disk / None
    COM1 : Serial Port 16450 - 9 Pin Dual Inline / DB-9 pin male
    COM2 : Serial Port 16450 - 9 Pin Dual Inline / DB-9 pin male
    LPT1 : Parallel Port ECP/EPP - DB-25 pin female / DB-25 pin female
    Keyboard : Keyboard - None / PS/2
    PS/2 Mouse - Detected : Mouse - PS/2 / PS/2
    USB : USB - None / None

    Performance Tips
    Warning 2533 : Disabled host controllers are present. Check BIOS settings.
    Tip 2532 : Consider adding more CPUs for better utilisation.
    Notice 224 : SMBIOS/DMI information may be inaccurate.
    Warning 2507 : Mainboard has too few memory slots. Upgrading the memory may be difficult or expensive.
    Tip 2511 : Some memory slots are free so the memory can be easily upgraded.
    Tip 2546 : Large memory modules should be ECC/Parity.
    Warning 2540 : No APIC detected for MP system.
    Tip 2536 : System has no SMBus/i2c/BMB bus support.
    Tip 2 : Double-click tip or press Enter while a tip is selected for more information about the tip.

    CPU & BOIS Information

    SiSoftware Sandra

    Mainboard
    Manufacturer : Seanix
    MP Support : 2 CPU(s)
    MPS Version : 1.40
    Model : GA-8S650GXM

    System Memory Controller
    Location : Mainboard
    Error Correction Capability : None
    Number of Memory Slots : 2
    Maximum Installable Memory : 2GB
    Bank0/1 - A0 : None None None None DIMM 512MB/64
    Bank2/3 - A1 : Empty

    Chipset 1
    Model : Silicon Integrated Systems (SiS) SiS650 CPU to PCI Bridge
    Bus(es) : AGP PCI USB
    Front Side Bus Speed : 4x 100MHz (400MHz data rate)
    Maximum FSB Speed / Max Memory Speed : 4x 133MHz / 2x 166MHz
    Width : 64-bit
    SMP - MP Capability : No
    IO Queue Depth : 8 request(s)
    Priority Master Queue Depth : 7 request(s)

    Chipset 1 Hub Interface
    Type : MUTOL
    Width : 16-bit
    Full Duplex : No
    Multiplier : 1/1x

    Logical/Chipset 1 Memory Banks
    Bank 0 : 512MB DDR-SDRAM 2.0-3-3-7CL
    Width : 64-bit
    Refresh Rate : 7.80s
    Power Save Mode : No
    Fixed Hole Present : No

    Environment Monitor 1
    Model : Winbond W83697HF ISA
    Version : 6.00
    Mainboard Specific Support : No

    Temperature Sensor(s)
    Board Temperature : 28.0C / 82.4F
    CPU1 Temperature : 29.5C / 85.1F td

    Cooling Device(s)
    Auto Fan Speed Control : No
    Chassis Fan Speed : 3013rpm
    CPU1 Fan Speed : 2557rpm

    Voltage Sensor(s)
    CPU1 Voltage : 1.57V
    +3.3V Voltage : 3.33V
    +5V Voltage : 5.03V
    +12V Voltage : 12.04V
    -12V Voltage : -12.20V
    -5V Voltage : -5.05V
    Standby Voltage : 5.12V

    AGP Bus(es) on Hub 1
    Version : 2.00
    Speed : 4x
    Fast-Writes Enabled : Yes
    Side Band Enabled : Yes
    Aperture Size : 64MB

    PCI Bus(es) on Hub 1
    Version : 2.10
    Number of Bridges : 1
    PCI Bus 0 : PCI (33MHz)
    Multiplier : 1/3x

    LPC Hub Controller 1
    Model : Silicon Integrated Systems (SiS) SiS PCI to ISA Bridge (LPC Bridge)
    ACPI Power Management Enabled : Yes
    Random Number Generator Enabled : No
    Multiplier : 1/4x
    Speed : 8MHz

    USB Controller 1
    Model : Giga-Byte Technology SiS5597/8 Universal Serial Bus Controller
    Version : 1.00
    Interface : OHCI
    Channels : 3
    Supported Speed(s) : Low (1.5Mbps) Full (12Mbps)
    Legacy Emulation Enabled : No

    USB Controller 2
    Model : Giga-Byte Technology SiS5597/8 Universal Serial Bus Controller
    Version : 1.00
    Interface : OHCI
    Channels : 3
    Supported Speed(s) : Low (1.5Mbps) Full (12Mbps)
    Legacy Emulation Enabled : No

    USB Controller 3
    Model : Giga-Byte Technology SiS7002 USB 2.0 Enhanced Controller
    Version : 2.00
    Specification : 1.00
    Interface : EHCI
    Channels : 6
    Companion Controllers : 2
    Supported Speed(s) : Low (1.5Mbps) Full (12Mbps) High (480Mbps)
    Addressing Support : 32-bit
    Legacy Emulation Enabled : No

    Expansion Slot(s)
    PCI (9h) : PCI 32-bit +5V +3.3V PME Full-Length Available
    PCI (Bh) : PCI 32-bit +5V +3.3V PME Full-Length Available
    PCI (Dh) : PCI 32-bit +5V +3.3V PME Full-Length Used (D-Link Inc AirPlus DWL-520+ Wireless PCI Adapter)
    AGP (8h) : AGP 32-bit +5V Full-Length Used (Giga-Byte Technology ??? (4E48))

    Port Connector
    PRIMARY IDE : None - ATA / None
    SECONDARY IDE : None - ATA / None
    FDD : 8251 FIFO - Floppy Disk / None
    COM1 : Serial Port 16450 - 9 Pin Dual Inline / DB-9 pin male
    COM2 : Serial Port 16450 - 9 Pin Dual Inline / DB-9 pin male
    LPT1 : Parallel Port ECP/EPP - DB-25 pin female / DB-25 pin female
    Keyboard : Keyboard - None / PS/2
    PS/2 Mouse - Detected : Mouse - PS/2 / PS/2
    USB : USB - None / None

    Performance Tips
    Warning 2533 : Disabled host controllers are present. Check BIOS settings.
    Tip 2532 : Consider adding more CPUs for better utilisation.
    Notice 224 : SMBIOS/DMI information may be inaccurate.
    Warning 2507 : Mainboard has too few memory slots. Upgrading the memory may be difficult or expensive.
    Tip 2511 : Some memory slots are free so the memory can be easily upgraded.
    Tip 2546 : Large memory modules should be ECC/Parity.
    Warning 2540 : No APIC detected for MP system.
    Tip 2536 : System has no SMBus/i2c/BMB bus support.
    Tip 2 : Double-click tip or press Enter while a tip is selected for more information about the tip.


    Hm, seems that there may be a few problems there...note that this was a pre-built system, though I got to choose most of the parts. The speakers, monitor, mouse, etc. are all my own from previous computers.
    This is where my signature would go had my host not been such a Bandwidth Nazi.

  10. Default

    The only problem I really see there is your APG Aperature. Moving it up to 128mb or 256 mb might improve your performance. Besides that everything looks pretty good. btw: you can change AGP Aperature in your BIOS. If the xp tweaking guides dont help, maybe a full reformat and reinstall would help. Beyond that I would think the only limitation is the motherboard. It doesnt look like ya need a new sound card, so perhaps getting a new mobo would do it. Id try stuff that doesnt cost money first though. A Reformat never hurt anyone.
    The FatGuy's Rig:

    <small>AMD 1600+ XP O/C'd to 1560 mhz // Thermaltake Volcano 7+ // Aopen AK77 Pro K266(A) Chipset O/C'd to 147 mhz // 256MB Elixir PC2100 DDR CAS2 // Visiontek GeForce4 Ti4200 O/C'd to 310/580 w/ Thermaltake HSU // SoundBlaster Audigy X-Gamer // WD205BA 20GB 7200 // Sony 52x/24x/52x // Linksys 10/100 NIC // ThermalTake 480w Butterfly PSU // Silver Windowed Aluminum Mid-Tower Case (Modded) // Vantec Nexus Fan Controller// Thermaltake 80mm Blower // 3xEvercool 80mm Fans // 2xBlue Cold Cathodes // 2xSound activated Blue Cold Cathodes // Dell 17" Monitor // Microsoft Trackball // Creative 5.1 Speakers</small>

    Come Crunch with TweakTown

    <img src="http://www.statgfx.com/statgfx/folding/?&username=FatGuy3&border=0,0,0&custom =0,0,255&label=0,0,0&header=255,0,0&st ats=0,0,255&trans=yes&template=fah_origina l&.jpg" alt="www.Statgfx.com" />

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