I have been having a terrible, terrible time with my onboard Realtek audio. After a year of faithful service, it started popping, grinding, and skipping once every 15-300 seconds (depending on the driver version used) about 3 months ago. The problem is present in every playback scenario I tested (mp3, flac, flash, video games). It even persisted through a complete reformat and a motherboard RMA so I am left convinced that there is some incompatibility between Windows 7 64-bit and the Realtek chip on the Asus P6X58D-E.
I have decided the best option left to me is to just man up and get a dedicated sound card. My budget was a firm <= $100 and PCI-e 1x was almost required (I have 2x PCI slots, but one is filled with a wireless card and the other is -really- close to my video card and would seriously impede its airflow). After quite a bit of looking around I had decided to get an Asus Xonar DX ( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829132006 ). Unfortunately, however, newegg ($70) is out of stock and all of the other sites I saw were considerably more expensive ($90).
While looking for other options, I ran into a deal on Amazon for the Creative X-Fi Titanium for $60 (+ free shipping) (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829102024) and I jumped at it 1) because it looked like a very good deal and 2) I am going to f***ing shoot myself if I have to deal with these pops and skips any longer (I listen to music ~8 hours a day... 15-200 pops/hour * 8 hours = what I've been dealing with for 3 months and I can't take it anymore).
All of that said, I am beginning to worry a bit about my choice. My use is currently 85% music, 10% games, and 5% movies -- though I just picked up a keyboard with USB midi (Casio PX-330) and plan to do some light recording with it in the future -- and I would be using the card with a set of Logitech Z-5500s (that I use primarily as 2x 2.1 rather than 5.1) and a pair of ATH M50.
Music is by far the most important thing to me and it seems to be that the general consensus is that the Xonar DX is better for music. Further muddying the waters are the facts that Asus sound drivers are reportedly massively more stable and less bloated than Creative's, but the Xonar DX has an issue with the AISO drivers which lead to timing inaccuracies/noticeable delays when used to record voice/instruments.
Sorry for the long post... I guess ultimately my questions boil down to:
- What, in your opinion, is the best sound card for music that $100 can buy.
- Is a $60 Creative X-Fi Titanium (normally $90) better than a $90 Asus Xonar DX
- Will I even be able to tell the difference between the two with Z-5500s or M50s?
Thanks for the help!