View Full Version : onboard vs. add-on card - which is better?

03 March 2003, 10:35 PM
What would you people recommend:

using onboard audio, usb, firewire, LAN, and other com ports


getting all those as separate add on cards?

For me, I like having the convenience of integrated peripherals because it keeps my PCI slots free. On top of that, I could be wrong, but I think I am conserving power.... though that's a stretch. But one thing is for sure, I avoid a lot of hardware conflicts....

But what are your thoughts about that issue? Oh yeah, exclude video cards, we all know that MUST be an add on with AGP... hehehee.... noooo integrated video... please.. -.-"

03 March 2003, 11:34 PM
now days onboard stuff is getting pretty damn good. Look at the Asus A7N8X Delux board for instance it has all thos features plus a few more onboard, and they are all really good quality. It really depends on the board. Althought onboard USB is few on everyboard there is no point in getting a USB card unless you dont have enough onboard usb ports.

And definitly stay away from onboard video :-)

It also depends on your requirements, for instance i got an Audigy 2 for my new rig because i wanted all the extra line out plus S/PDIF. But if i just wanted to play sound over normal speakers i could have used the onboard sound of the A7N8X which is actually very good.

03 March 2003, 12:26 AM
in that case, i luv my onboard audio. ^.~ It comes with 6 channel audio and SPDIF ports. ^.~ I would never use them, but hey, it's cool that they're there! =D

Btw, how well does your Audigy work out for you? I remember the Creative Live Platinum I got worked great but was horrible to setup because it kept having conflicts with everything!!

03 March 2003, 12:38 AM
I think on most brand-name boards onboard components are acceptable quality. Unless you have some special needs you don't have to get extra cards. And you can disable stuff you don't need with jumpers usually. One thing though - some onboard stuff such as USB and Firewire ports use the case's PCI slots and are connected to the board with cables, so they still take the slots.

03 March 2003, 12:46 AM
that's true. But on stuff like the Soyo, the ports are included right onto the area where the serial and paralell ports are so they're not like add on PCI adapters. The extra add ons on mine are actually wired to the front drive bays using a multimedia reader.

03 March 2003, 12:46 AM
onboard USB/USB2/firewire is pretty much the same deal as add-in cards these days. the only difference is the devices are hard-wired in rather than hanging of an extension port. they still sit on the same bus regardless.

onboard sound is a different story. you have to be a little careful of these, as many of them use very low-quality sound devices that offload much of the processing to the CPU, which is bad news. onboard and internal modems are much the same.

a good quality review of any soundcard will also include the average CPU usage when playback occurs. read up as much as you can, and check these sorts of reviews before deciding on what to buy. the 'advantage' of onbaord sounds is typically it's an extra that is not optional, and therefor deosn't feel like such a waste when you disable it and throw in a decent sound card! :)

there are a few exceptions: the nforce2 onboard "soundstorm" sound cards are quite reasonable. still more CPU intesnive than an SBLive or Audigy, but much better than the usual CMI crap on most boards these days.

03 March 2003, 12:49 AM
hahaha, I'm soooo happy I'm not an audiophile... =D

Yeah, I can't notice a difference running my SB Live and running the CMI crap on my speakers which are actually my home entertainment speakers hooked up to my Sony receiver and amp. My board is just so much easier to work with when everything is integrated. Just have to worry about the video card, but that's fine. =D

03 March 2003, 12:49 AM
What's the disadvantages of CMI? I use it and I haven't noticed any negative consequences. Nothing fancy obviously. I also use the receiver and regular speakers and I'm not an audiophile.

03 March 2003, 12:51 AM
I think the only disadvantage is that it offloads a lot of its processing to the CPU.... but with such power in a CPU these days and the very meager amount of processing I require mine to do, the onboard audio option seems fine...

But Elvis, what else can be wrong with a CMI? :bounce:

03 March 2003, 12:54 AM
Actually I usually play music on my second machine, so I thought my main workstation can live with an onboard card. Is it a bad idea?

03 March 2003, 01:01 AM
The Audigy 2 install went fine, no conflicts at all.

Yeah the live was pretty bad at conflicts, i have one in my old machine...and a via chipset tooo...death combo :-)

03 March 2003, 02:20 AM
these days unless you are hooking your system up to some massive (and massivley priced) multi-speaker digital or DTS system, quality wise there's not much difference between expensive soundcards and their onboard bretheren.

my beef is mostly the CPU handoff, and the fact that it impacts on my gaming when onboard sound gets a little intensive.

03 March 2003, 04:28 AM
On of the lesser known advantages of add on cards is....

The ability to execute hardware upgrades. Raid cards, scsi cards, modems, video cards, etc...usually have the ability to have their bios's flashed. This means some rare issues can be solved with hardware updates, instead of software patches.

Though some motherboards also include updates to their Raid controllers in their bios updates, these updates are usually not as up to date, nor do they always occur.

Here's a great example. The Supermicro P6DGU has onboard Ultra2scsi. However the onboard u2wscsi was not compatible with win2k originally. If you tried to install win2k, it would give a no boot device found BSOD.

This problem was easily fixed on the u2wscsi card from adaptec with a simple bios flash. Because of the integration of the u2wscsi card in the p6dgu, the only way to upgrade it to work with win2k was by sending the board to supermicro for an actual chip replacement. This of course is an old example, but I still feel stuff like this happens today.

Don't forget that you can move add-on cards around to other machines...while embedded is there to stay.

Oh, and to save yourself alot of trouble, try to avoid creative products in workstations, or dual cpu machines.

If you want a non embedded sound solution for a dual proc system, look into the turtle beach santa cruz. Its around 50-60 bucks, supports a large variety of OS's, and is generally much more dual cpu friendly then any of creative's offerings.

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