You can take any pair of headphones, plug them into the audio jack on your PC, and hear the audio just fine. But what if you want more than fine? That is where buying a dedicated PC sound card comes in.
For this article, we have scoured the internet and chosen our four favorite sound cards on the current market. We’ve listed them below so you can choose which one makes the most sense for you.
- If you’re looking for the most stable, trusted sound card, check out the Creative Sound Blaster Zx. This has been on the market for years, and is the go-to sound card for many people around the world.
- If you want a model that incorporates the latest newest technology, the EVGA Nu Audio is the sound card for you. It is chock full of cutting edge audio, so it can handle anything you throw at it!
- If you are a music lover, the ASUS Essence STX II is the best option out there. It’s designed specifically for audiophiles, and pleases all who plug it into their computer.
- If you want a top-of-the-line sound card, you need to pick up the Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5. Creative is the go to brand in this space, and this model is the best they have out there.
Who Should Buy This?
Anyone looking to get better audio quality from their PC needs a proper sound card. It does not matter if you’re an audiophile who enjoys listening to high quality audio, or simply want more control over the sound for your video games or media playback, a good sound card goes a long way.
Another great use for a sound card is if you use a computer for your home theater or living room. Connecting your surround sound to a high quality sound card will give you the best possible audio quality your home computer can deliver.
Best PC Sound Card: What to Consider in 2020
Some sound cards feature an external control for your headphones. This will allow you to fully control your headphones with a physical dial right on your desk top. This handy feature is only available in certain models, but it can make your life much easier as well.
When getting a new sound card, it is vital to ensure the device has adequate ports for your audio devices (surround sound, headphones, etc). That way, you know whether or not you will have maximum compatibility with your home system.
While sound cards were once quite rudimentary, sound has come a long way. It is now possible to get RGB on your card at home. If you have a beautifully lit RGB theme in your computer, you may choose to continue that with a sound card that can match the colorful aesthetic.
Prioritizing here I would say having the most audio ports available to you would be the primary choice when choosing a quality sound card. Behind that, the external control will be a time saver and a quality of life addition. RGB is definitely not needed, and thus is bringing up the rear in order of importance.
Best PC Sound Card: Our Picks for 2020
Creative is the most widely known name in sound cards, and their Sound Blaster Zx has been a mainstay in the sound card market for years. This card is iconic, and has enough features to rival many of the cards that came after it hit the scene.
This model features a nice audio control unit that gives you full control over your sound card from a handy module that sits right on your desktop. The SBX Pro Studio sound technology gives you amazing 3d surround sound, making your games and movies more realistic and believable.
EVGA, while a very well respected name in the computer hardware space, is now taking the foray into the sound card market with the Nu Audio. This card has a gorgeous gunmetal design that will look clean in any build on top of RGB lighting and numerous high-end features.
EVGA teamed up with Audio Note to develop this sound card, which means it is going to be superb for the PC gamer. 3D audio and smart sound allow you to hear your enemies precise location and make every game world come to life. The Nu Audio software is well-designed and sleek, giving you full control over your sound card right from your computer.
ASUS may not be the first name you think of when browsing sound cards, but they have a few models. The Essence STX II is an older card, but it is still a fan favorite thanks to its great sound quality that is quite pleasing to the ear.
While a lot of the other sound cards on this list are focused at PC gamers, the Essence STX II is marketed directly at music lovers. As they tend to be the biggest audiophiles, ASUS created this sound card to give them the best listening experience in all of their favorite songs. If you’re a music lover, you should seriously consider this ASUS sound card as your primary option.
If you love the thought of owning a Creative sound card, but want something newer than the Sound Blaster Zx above, check out the Sound BlasterX AE-5. This has a gorgeous modern design that features beautiful RGB lighting across the top edge.
This is the first Creative sound card to feature their new Xamp headphone amplifier, giving you the absolute best performance from your headphones. Creatives BlasterX software that comes with this sound card is chock full of audio processing technologies, giving you full control of your sound.
Useful Tips and Resources
Finding a good pair of headphones to pair with your new sound card will ensure you’re getting the most out of the advanced technology. There are many high quality headphones out there. Just be sure to get a pair that fits your budget and comes with the high-end specs needed for an advanced listening experience.
Headphones are great, but what about when you aren’t listening with them on? To make the most of your sound card, you need a solid speaker system for your living room or theater. Picking up a high quality sound bar is a great option if you want to be able to hear high quality audio without going all-in on a full surround sound system.
A sound card is a luxury that most people don’t know they need. The audio difference if you have high quality audio gear is night and day versus the onboard sound on most motherboards. All of the cards on this list are top tier options, and any of them would be great for your computer.
Do you use high fidelity headphones? What about a sound card? Let us know in the comments below!
Andreas is an Apple and Microsoft fanboy who works with his Mac and lives with a PC at home. While he is not reading technology journals, you’ll probably find him playing online games with friends or hiking in the wild.