Maybe you are looking to improve your audio experience while playing on your PC or while creating music. You should definitely know the amazing attributes that a sound card can provide you and the differences that you could enjoy from each type of sound card.
Briefly, a sound card is a device that converts the digital signal for sound and translates it into an analog signal, which you would receive on your headphones or speakers.
Naturally, if you have never tried any of these functional devices, you are contemplating the chance to get one. Generally, most computers deal with an integrated circuit. However, if the audio of your phone is noticeably better than the audio on your PC, then it is time to get the ideal card!
Let’s check out some characteristics of the best sound cards available!
Table of Contents
10 Best Internal Sound Card Reviews
|Signal to Noise Ratio
|Top Top Top
|Creative Sound Blaster Z
|5.35 x 4.98 x 0.91 in
|Top Top Top
|Creative Sound Blaster Audigy FX
|5.43 x 4.76 x 0.71 in
|Top Top Top
|ASUS XONAR DG
|9.4 x 6.5 x 2.4 in
|Top Top Top
|Creative Sound Blaster Audigy SE
|10 x 2 x 7 in
|Top Top Top
|Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5
|9.84 x 2.36 x 8.39 in
|Top Top Top
|Creative Sound Blaster AE-7
|5.71 x 0.79 x 5.04 in
|Top Top Top
|Creative Labs SB0880
|7.9 x 6.6 x 2.3 in
|CREATIVE Sound Blaster Recon3D
|11.36 x 2.44 x 8 in
|View on Amazon
|Top Top Top
|10.5 x 8.5 x 3 in
|Top Top Top
|5.8 x 5.1 x 1.1 in
By this point, we know you are not happy with the quality of your computer’s sound. Whether you need an upgrade for gaming, audio creating and editing, or movie watching, take a look at these products and find the perfect one for you.
1. Creative Sound Blaster Z PCIe Gaming Sound Card
Are you looking forward to experiencing a new level of audio realism in a 360-degree sound environment? Let this device surprise you with impressive 3D surround effects.
Whether you need it to perform for music productions or just for playing games in a glorious surrounding experience, this superior card would be an excellent choice for you.
Sound Blaster comes with SBX Pro Studio technology, which lets you enjoy your games and movies with stunning detail. But you can also optimize voice and recording qualities while creating content.
Your current processor hisses or has trouble dealing with the standards you desire for your music? Sound Blaster Z is an amazing option for you to produce music with.
Why? Because the Sound Blaster beamforming microphone generates an acoustic zone and becomes the best partner for CrystalVoice technology – the feature that clears ambient noises and any existing echo. All this will clearly help you achieve improved voice quality.
Its Stereo Direct characteristic generates pure music at the great bit-rate of 192 kHz – one of the highest in the industry. You will hear more subtle details that you haven’t noticed yet.
So, Sound Blaster Z is a fantastic piece of hardware that makes audio noticeably more satisfying, and it really highlights games that are focused on high immersion scenarios.
Nowadays, the world appreciates music, and it seems like it should be a natural transition to turn that passion for audio into the gaming world; definitely, the Sound Blaster Z is the overpass to do just that.
- Impressive 3D surround effects
- For both music producing and gaming
- 192 kHz bit-rate
- Optimizable voice and recording qualities
- A bit pricy
- There have been lots of complaints about Windows 10 drivers
2. Creative Sound Blaster Audigy FX PCIe 5.1 Sound Card – Best Affordable
Let’s move to another variant of Creative sound card. This one turns your computer into an entertainment system thanks to its brilliant 5.1 surround sound.
It includes 5.1 channel connections and provides a modern Advanced Audio Processing with SBX Pro Studio technology, which brings out the best of your projects or games.
On the other hand, if you would love to use some innovative playback and recording features, Sound Blaster Audigy Fx Control Panel puts you in full control of the SBX Pro Studio, so it is easier and funnier to create good quality pieces. Its headphone amplifier is perfect for studio-grade monitoring, as well.
If we talk about generating your own content, you can plug in your MP3 player, sing and, in the meantime, record your own songs! Imagine the fun you can have with your friends next weekend!
The incorporated Stereo Direct also features your music at the highest level. Besides, you could watch movies on your own in a different way. Sound Blaster Audigy Fx is able to deliver 600 ohms of power, which allows you to enjoy your films without disturbing your family.
Maybe you should also have a size in mind when you choose the sound card that suits your needs. In this case, the height of this PCI sound card would be an ideal size for your home theater. Additionally, as it contains 5.1 outputs, you can connect your existing speakers.
So, if you are searching for your first sound card, Creative Sound Blaster Audigy FX could be the ideal one.
- Studio-grade monitoring
- Ideal upgrade from the motherboard to a surround audio quality
- Great size for home theater
- You can connect your preexisting speakers
- No 7.1 channel outputs
- Lacks an EMI shield
3. ASUS XONAR DG Headphone Amp & PCI 5.1 Audio Card
This one is the ideal sound card for gamers that want to be totally aware of their play environments. Do you wish to experience its 5.1 surround imaging?
Its practical design combines high definition surround with its own audio engine and headset amplifier.
One of the appreciated characteristics is that it has three gain modes for different scenarios. The first one would be the VOIP mode, which is ideal for music enjoyment and clear communications.
We have the Pro-gaming mode, which adds extra dynamics in higher frequencies, amazingly useful to enhance audio positioning.
And finally, the third mode, the Exciter, which brings a powerful bass punch and fuller sound fields.
In addition, you would like the GX2.5 technology, which brings you a lot of incredible audio effects: it can reach 128 effects simultaneously, generating a realistic experience!
The voice cancellation feature attempts to null the vocals in a song to give you an instrumental background. It is fun to try this quality option when karaoking with your friends.
So, if you are considering getting a card to bring you a new gaming experience, you should take the Asus Xonar DG into consideration. It would be a good option to start because it allows for an impressive sound, especially with headphones.
Though it is considered a good audio quality sound card with stable drivers, you won’t find many more benefits like with other options.
Give this one a chance and create your own sound.
- Powers up every sound detail in gaming
- Three gain modes for different scenarios
- 5 technology: incredible audio effects
- Voice cancellation feature
- Lacks an EMI shield
- Not the best quality for music
4. Creative Sound Blaster Audigy SE Sound Card
You should think about this option to improve your desktop’s audio. We have been mentioning these Creative Lab creations, which is one of the premier brands in computer audio. This would be an easy upgrade that allows you to remix your stereo audio into a surround sound.
It also performs well with game audio tracks, bringing a dynamic experience. The Creative Media source software can be useful to manage your music collection and to add effects. This card will also dramatically improve your MP3 music listening with its 24-bit advanced HD audio quality and CMSS surround technology.
If you simply pop this sound card into a PCI-card slot in your computer, you will have a 7.1-channel surround sound on your headphones. You would be able to hear your enemies before they could find you with the 3D positional audio over multichannel speakers.
Also, it includes smart volume management and audio clean-up, which turns down the noise and provides you with a better sound environment.
Are you a fan of 3D effects? Creative Sound Blaster Audigy works with EAX advanced HD technology, which supports several audio environments for spectacular sound in FPS (First Person Shooters) and MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online). You will feel that you are actually in the game!
- The perfect card to have a 3D positional audio over multichannel speakers
- New kind of management of the audio environment
- Remix your stereo audio into a surround sound
- 24-bit advanced HD audio quality
- Unable to save speaker configuration
- There have been problems installing it on Windows XP
5. Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 Hi-Resolution PCIe Gaming Sound Card
Let’s face a colorful experience! Do you imagine yourself seeing beautiful colors with an excellent audio environment at the same time? The majestic Sound BlasterX AE sound card has RGB Aurora Lighting System, which comes with LED stripes to illuminate and shine in different hues, so you can have fun apart from enjoying music or playing your favorite games with your friends.
Have we mentioned colors? With this Sound BlasterX AE, you can enjoy a waterfall of light and sound. With the Aurora Reactive Lighting System, you will be able to customize RGB LEDs on its body.
Besides, it delivers high-resolution audio up to 32bit; this also helps to provide a clearer sound. The Sound BlasterX AE-5 is the first sound card in the universe to perform discrete headphone amplification. You will really enjoy your games’ sound effects.
This spectacular sound card also includes the Scout Radar option, the world’s first smart gaming company. Thus, you can see where your enemies are on the screen of your smartphone. Isn’t it incredible?
You will be so impressed with the overall performance of this PC sound card. It looks amazing in a system. Besides the cool sound, the four RGB strips that come with the Pure Edition are a bonus.
This brings us to the Sound Blaster AE-5’s most amazing audiophile characteristic: its Xamp headphone amplifier! This Xamp splits the left from the right channel and amplifies them to improve audio quality.
Moreover, this sound card supports up to 5.1 for speakers and headphone output. Internally, you will find standard HD audio jacks with the Xamp.
Creative Labs stated that this sound card is the first one with an integrated RGB lighting controller, and it should match the rest of your RGB components perfectly.
Let the sound grow on you.
- Customizable RGB LEDs
- Discrete Xamp headphone amplification
- Integrated RGB lighting controller
- Excellent audio environment
- There have been some issues with its software
- No software guidance on the interface
6. Creative Sound Blaster AE-7 Hi-Res Internal PCIe Sound Card
Enjoy another level of audio with more clarity and precision. This attractive sound card will provide you with a guaranteed 7.1 virtual surround experience.
Let´s talk about another Creative’s creation: the Sound Blaster AE-7, whose Sound Core3D performs audio effects that work while gaming. It looks like they have been listening to the customers’ requests.
Also, it is easier to customize your audio settings, as you can find the Sound Blaster Command software available at the support site. It is so practical to set up multiple profiles, and you can change from one to the other, just with a simple click.
This Hi-Res Internal PCIe sound card allows you to enjoy playback and amazingly clean audio. Besides, it has 7.1 virtual surround on headphones and speakers! It also includes a built-in microphone.
You will love to hear the difference! All you need is a pair of headphones and speakers to admire the audio skills of this Sound Blaster AE-7. The audio will be clean and clear.
It is noticeable how rich an experience it provides. You will feel the difference even if you are not an audio expert and are just listening to your tunes on Spotify. And if you spend more time on your PC than in bed, its Dolby Digital Live and DTS encoder will be very welcome.
To upgrade from motherboard audio to a Creative card is more than justified. You will find that it has definitely been a good investment.
By using high-end audiophile-grade arts, this card will be a cool pick for gamers and content creators alike.
Innovation is waiting for you.
- Quad-core processor
- Dolby Digital Live and DTS encoder
- For gamers and contents creators alike
- Discrete headphone amplification
- Drivers issues
- Problems while installing software
7. Creative Labs SB0880 PCI Express Sound Blaster
We know that this company has its eye put on innovation. This 3D positional audio tool helps minimize any noise so, when you play, you will be able to locate enemies by sound. EAX 5.0 performs effects that bring you into the game; for example, you will hear gunfire or explosions like never before.
Besides, it deals with the heavy lifting, knowing that your processor can be free to work on other tasks. That’s very important. It also delivers nice environmental effects when you play. This sound card helps you to perform exceptional audio with realistic ones, even if you use regular headphones. Besides, its 3D feature creates nine speakers for surround effects.
The X-Fi Titanium also supports Dolby Digital Live so you can connect to your home theater system for amazing 5.1 surround sound. You will also like the interface; it has a familiar styling of the X-Fi drivers for the easy location. We could set up the headphones, the EAX effects, the Mic, the mixer, equalizer, etc. and create our own place.
Besides, the Sound Blaster X-Fi sound card works with ASIO drivers, which help you to get cool music recording.
Picky gamers like to use high-quality sound cards and prefer products based on X-Fi. Several professionals have chosen it, just because it amplifies the new PC gaming audio experience.
This one is a masterpiece of audio engineering. It has many aspects in common with existing X-FI designs, and a few new characteristics and modifications make some enthusiastic gamers extremely satisfied.
- More realistic gaming sounds
- Outstanding 24-bit sound quality
- Allows your processor to work on other tasks
- Nine speakers for surround effects
- Installation issues for Windows 7
- There have been reports of strange noises on headphones
8. Creative Sound Blaster Recon3D THX PCIE Sound Card
If you really love playing and you are looking for a gaming-focused sound card, Creative offers this complete one. Although it is not one of the latest releases, you can consider the Sound Blaster Recon 3D as a very good quality choice.
And if you find yourself listening to broken-up audio tracks, this sound card could be a good investment. Surely, you can enrich your experience if you have a high-quality headset.
The already mentioned CrystalVoice technology allows you to communicate with vocal fidelity in your multiplayer scenarios.
But you also have the FX morphs to turn your voice into different characters and accents! That would be extremely funny, wouldn’t it? If you are a man, you could transform your voice into a woman, and women could conversely do the same.
As a complement, to have an even more evolving experience, its Noise Reduction feature eliminates unwanted background noise, which helps you to find the rest of the players before they find you! You will be able to listen to footsteps and gunshots and surprise your enemy.
The THX TruStudio Pro Surround characteristic gives you the impression that you are adding virtual surround sound even if you use two-channel sources, like your speakers and headphones.
It is a well-featured card with a variety of connectivity options, such as for the main user, high-end headphones, and also for gamers who require multichannel speaker systems, both analog and digital.
Music performance is also quite good. You will notice a big enough difference with this one, even if you only have cheap speakers.
The Creative Recon 3D is a complete card with no big flaws that has a lot of plus points. It offers good performance and supports a good variety of setups.
It is a simple choice for complex needs, isn’t it?
- Simple option for gamers
- Improved audio performance when playing
- Supports a variety of setups
- FX morphs for voice effects
- Probably not the best choice for music makers
- Users have experienced high latency
9. Diamond XS51 XtremeSound 5.1 PCI 16 bit Sound Card
This Diamond XS51 is a nice and simple sound card that can fulfill your expectations, but you will not be amazed by any its features. Maybe it is your first sound card, a perfect upgrade if you are interested in improving your PC’s audio experience and would like to free up some of the computer system resources. Nothing fancy, but it produces great sound.
It would be ideal for all your entertainment needs, such as gaming, karaoke studio, or even to watch movies with very good quality. You will feel your home theater like a real cinema! This device will allow you to experience good level, theater-quality audio when you watch videos, listen to music, or play games all in 5.1 channel surround sound.
One of the preferred features that it provides is the Karaoke support, which definitely brings the simplicity of usage with the Net integration and the multi-songs supply functionality. This would allow you to enjoy singing with your friends in an easy and better sounding way.
Besides, this sound card contains a 6-channel audio output, which will give you enough space to plug all your devices and a 10-band equalizer, which also helps to generate the Total DVD surround sound experience.
You would not realize how poor your current sound card is until you install this one!
Maybe, this sound card would not be the correct item to produce music and get professional results, but it could be the perfect one for you to enjoy a new level of entertainment!
- Suitable for games, recordings, and movies
- Frees up some of the computer system resources
- 1 channel surround system
- Its website doesn’t contain Windows 10 drivers anymore
- There have been reports of faulty setup instructions
10. GODSHARK PCIe Sound Card
Last but not least…! Let’s talk about these simple but useful sound cards. After all the cards that we have been reviewing, this one is the only card, which wasn’t especially thought for gaming.
This Godshark sound card would be ideal for editing audio because it is extremely easy to work with its tools. So you can cut, copy, paste, and delete your track, and it will allow you to go back the number of steps that you like to.
On the other hand, if you really enjoy mixing, this card will provide you with an unlimited number of prints, so you already can be sure that you can spend hours and hours recording. You can organize as many audio folders as you wish to have.
Besides, talking about sound benefits, its ingenious and useful technology helps to remove static, hum, or any background noise from your recordings. So, you won’t need more time searching and applying extra filters; you will be already recording with clear quality.
This device contains a 16-bit multimedia digital signal editing decoder inside, and it supports 64-bit audio processing or playback.
You will probably not choose this one if you are looking for a card to be used specifically with games, because its system could bring some boost effect for voice and filters. That said, if you want to enjoy movies and record audio, this Godshark PCIe sound card will be the best one for your needs.
Test it and sail on the sound…
- Very friendly for audio editing
- Unlimited number of prints while recording
- Background-noise-cancelling technology
- Supports 64-bit audio processing or playback
- Not the best for gaming purposes
- No manual included with the device
Things to Look for Before Buying a Sound Card
So, are you tired of the unbalanced audio of your computer’s speaker?
You have certainly noticed that you should consider different conditions at the time of choosing the ideal sound card. Most of them have similar purposes, but they have individual specifications that make them special.
Let’s see some of the things that you have to pay attention to so that you can decide which one of those would be the best PC sound card that perfectly suits your needs. It would not be the same choice if you want them for gaming rather than for editing voices.
What will you use it for, mostly?
It is highly recommended to choose your sound device based on your intended use, given that those intended for gamers and musicians have different tools.
Characteristics vary, though most of them include digital outputs, RCS (Rich Communication Services), recording quality settings of the highest level in the market, MIDI keyboards ports, and environmental sound enhancements for games.
There are tons of available options to take into consideration: the number of channels and outputs, if it provides curious effects, noise decreasing, editing facilities, and karaoke special tools. You have a wide variety.
Basically, you could make a list of the purposes that you will use this device for and find the one which reunites most of them. A card with two microphone outputs is better than only one; getting a high-impedance jack input would be important to connect your stuff.
The quality of the sound device that you are choosing depends on the hardware more than on the sound device.
Do you really want an internal sound card?
First, why are you thinking of getting an internal card? Unquestionably it would be great to avoid wire connections. Also, you probably want to have in mind that the external sound card devices have lower noise floor than internal sound cards, this means that if you get a lower noise floor device, you will need to raise your volume before any disturbing sound could be heard.
Maybe, external ones have extra digital input/output jacks, but certainly, the internal ones are more comfortable. So, please check if it will have all the plugs you need.
Then, if you want a sound card with the ability to deliver a more noticeable performance than your integrated motherboard, you need a 7.1 channel card. Some of the options have audio interfaces that can be used as a convertor, but not all of them provide this tool. It will be an added value when deciding, and will noticeably increase its versatility.
Compatibility with you OS
Besides, it is always recommended to check if the product is compatible with the Windows version of your system and that it will run without issues.
We are not going to tell you that there aren’t audio quality differences between the interfaces, but if we move inside a home recording studio, simplicity will always be welcomed. Remember that it also depends on the quality of your existing equipment, which also interferes with development and performance.
Are you ready to choose one?
We may conclude by mentioning the two best choices. If we had to pick a complete and amazing one, it would be the Sound BlasterX AE-5, which offers 5.1 quality, lighting experience, Scout Radar option, and amazing resolution.
Finally, Sound Blaster Z is impressive due to the immersive scenarios that it proposes with its 360° sound environment. Its 192 kHz bit-rate is of the best on the market. Also, let’s remember its acoustic option, the stunning audio detail, the voice clarity tool, and its innovative effects.
Scream your choice!