Best Internal PCIe Sound Cards for Gaming 2020 Detailed Review.
Best Internal PCIe Sound Cards for Gaming: For most people, PC sound is nothing more than an afterthought. You plug in your speakers or headphones, and sound comes out.
What Do Sound Cards Do?
Sound cards perform two simple, related tasks. First, they take the sound from your computer and convert it into a format that speakers and headphones can use. Second, they take the sound from a microphone or headset and convert it into digital data.
Conversion of digital audio to sound is performed via a process called a digital to analog converter, or DAC. Conversely, another process, called an analog to digital converter (ADC) converts microphone audio to a digital format.
EVGA Nu Audio Pro 7.1
The EVGA Nu Audio Pro 7.1 is one of the premier sound cards in today’s market. This is mostly due to its two standout features: 7.1 surround sound support, and a built-in amplifier. With this powerful pre-amp, the bass has noticeably more punch, and the treble is more clear.
This is particularly noticeable when you’re using headphones, without going through another amplifier. The output impedance is only 0.05 ohms, exceptionally low. The low impedance allows for nearly distortion-free audio, noticeable on any device. With a line out and optical outputs as well as a headphone jack, this card is compatible with most sound systems.
In addition to audio performance, the EVGA Nu Audio Pro 7.1 has built-in RGB lighting. By default, the lighting is sound-reactive, but you can tie it into your existing controller if you have one. The Pro 7.1 comes with a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty. If anything goes wrong, simply return it for a full refund.
Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 Pure Edition
To fans of PC gaming, Sound Blaster needs no introduction. For years, they were the king of sound cards. They’ve even tried their hand at some pretty sweet USB sound cards. So, how does the Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 Pure Edition compare to their reputation? In most respects, fairly well.
To begin with, you get superior bit depth, with 32 bits at 384kHz. Combined with a 122dB signal to noise ratio, you’re looking at virtually zero distortion. This remains true even when you’ve got the volume cranked all the way up.
There are built-in pre-amps for your headphone. Don’t confuse this with the universal pre-amp on the Pro 7.1. These are smaller, simpler pre-amps that provide a boost to your headphones only. Still, considering how often you’ll use headphones with your PC, this is a nice touch. It certainly makes a noticeable difference when you’re listening to music.
EVGA Nu Audio Card
Both of the above options are a bit advanced. That’s great if you’re looking for a sound card with plenty of extras. But what if you just want to take the sound processing burden off of your CPU? In that case, look no further than the EVGA Nu Audio Card. This is essentially a more basic version of the Nu Audio Pro 7.1, without any of the bonus features.
There’s no built-in amplifier, and there’s no surround sound support. On the other hand, the native x256 DSD audio support is quite good. You also get ambient RGB lighting, which will blend right in with your gaming rig.
Each one of these sound cards brings a lot of value to the table. But they all have their own quirks and unique benefits. Let’s go over what we’ve learned. First, we reviewed the EVGA Nu Audio Pro 7.1. In terms of gaming and home video, the Pro 7.1 is the best of the bunch.
The built-in amplifier adds a lot of punch, which makes gunfire and explosions stand out during gaming. That said, the price tag is a bit steep if you’re just listening to music.
Even if you’re doing audio mixing at home, the built-in amp is probably a bit much. It does more for you with headphones than it does if you’re going through a stereo anyway. For larger sound systems, you get 7.1-channel surround sound support. This is definitely the complete package.
Next, we looked at the Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 Pure Edition. It’s the best choice for music since it offers you the most bit depth. For audiophiles, it’s tough to do better. It also has some nifty features for gamers, such as the Scout Radar integration. All in all, it’s not a bad choice, and it comes with the Sound Blaster pedigree.
The last sound card we looked at was the EVGA Nu Audio Card. It’s similar in many respects to the Pro 7.1. However, it doesn’t support 7.1-channel surround sound. It also doesn’t have the same built-in amplifier.
The plus side is that it’s significantly more affordable, and it still puts out some great sound. If you just want to unburden your processor without any fancy extras, the Nu Audio Card is a solid choice.