I just wanted to comment in here because I feel like the OP is being misunderstood.
You guys arent following the chain of components very well.
Going Video Card w/HDMI ---> Monitor with HDMI ---> Monitor's Fixed Line Out ---> Small Amp
Is definitely better than almost any onboard sound and probably most add in cards. The only stuff that's going to consistently outperform will be Asynchronous USB DAC's.
Think about it, HDMI is just DVI+Digital Audio out. By using the HDMI out of the video card your sound is remaining digital until it hits the monitor, at which point it's being converted to analog and then sent out through a fixed line out with no volume control (hopefully).
At this point you can hook it up to a small amp with volume control and enjoy.
The only "Unknown" is the quality of DAC in your computer monitor. I know there's a lot of fuss made over DAC quality on Head-Fi, and I agree most of the time, but in this case it's an extremely low cost option and theres not a whole lot for the monitor to Eff up. All it has to do is receive the audio stream from the HDMI cable and convert it to a Line Out.
I havent tried it, but I wouldnt be surprised if your HDMI monitor is capable of a dedicated windows audio session using WASAPI which will bypass the built in Windows Mixer.
I sometimes play my Xbox 360 in this config and it sounds stellar: XB360 HDMI ---> Dell 23" LED ---> Dell Line Out ---> Fiio E7 ---> Ultimate Ears
Just felt like this needed clarification.
Edited by Snoodge - 2/26/13 at 10:54am