This thread is going to be my answer to the Question "Whats the difference between a Sound Card and a DAC". Feel free to correct me, this is more of a brainstorm. This is important because its leads to the myths that Sound Cards improve PC performance by taking the complete sound process onto a separate device. This is was once true and is no longer. Which is why "Sound Cards" dont exist. Actually most gamer sound cards both PCIE/USB reduce PC performance, which Ill explain further under "Myth" if you want to skip ahead. So, My answer to "What is the difference between DACS and Sound Cards" would be "Sound Cards no longer exist". Sure as a marketing term. But as a Device, no. There are cards that produce sound, but no "Sound Cards". To make it simple, to be a Sound Card a device must do the digital processing. A DAC soley takes a processed digital signal and converts it to analog. "Blank Card" is used to define adding processing power/chipset for a specific digital task. Capture Cards adds a chipset to capture and stream videos, Video Cards add a GPU/RAM to manage graphics. Saying a DAC is a Sound Card is like calling a USB device thats solely adds a yellow analog out for old school tvs a "Video Card". It wouldn't be a "Video Card" because its simply converting the already produced Digital signal, not producing and converting. Sound Cards no longer process or produce the sound digitally, simply convert an already processed digital signal to analog. Moderns Sound Cards are D.A.C.s (Digital to Analog Converters) and nothing more. To be a Sound Card it would also need to everything else leading up to that point. Thats what the "Sound Card" was originally defined as. A device not to convert Digital to Analog, but a device that would add the ability to digitally process/produce a digital stream to your already built in computer DAC/speakers. Computers have always had D.A.C.s. If a computer makes a sound, it has a DAC. Even if its a single beep. The reason IBM's had only a few different beeps was on the digital side, not analog. IBMs DAC and Speakers where perfectly capable of playing music. The earliest CPU's could even run sound programs, but in a limited state with full usage of processing power. So a new device is introduced. A Sound Card. A add-on device meant to digitally process sound for specific tasks. A Card not meant to improve Analog sound or even produce an Analog signal. But a Card meant to relieve the CPU of digitally computing sound and run specific programs. So in the 80's early 90's you wouldnt buy a sound card to improve or add a Analog signal, but to process the digital info for your computers onboard DAC. That means the Sound Card would contain a chipset and ram, like a modern Video Card. Early CPU's just couldn't handle processing the digital aspect sound while running other programs. Because you could run PAC MAC on that hot new IBM, but can you play it with sound brah. Nope. But then CPU's got more powerful and buying a separate card just to do the digital side of sound didnt make sense. It made more sense to have a Graphics Card or Physics Card with sound processed by CPU. Sound Cards tried to stay alive by singing contracts with game devs for upgraded sound formats. It became "Sure your computer can now process sound, but can it process "(add marketing lingo) sound?"". Which many didnt see the need for, especially when given the option to improve video performance. Even so the extra options only able to be produced by the Sound Card chipsets quickly became programs for CPU's could handle. So Sound Cards became obsolete. Until someone in a Board Room during the early 00's said "What if we made something to improve computer audio not thru the digital process but thru Digital Audio Conversion." "We will call the Sound Card" their CEO said proudly. A tech in the room reminded him the device "Sound Card" had already been invented and clearly defined as something else. That tech was immediately fired and the "Sound Card" was reborn as PCI DAC. ------MYTH------- Sound Cards will add performance to your CPU. True. But a DAC wont and as I just explained Sound Cards dont exist. Modern Gaming "Sound Cards" will hurt performance. Because those fancy spatial, reverb, bass boost, equilizer, etc are not processed by the "Sound Card", like the 80's and 90's. These are processes for your CPU, bulky processes with tangible effects. Some coded horribly and eat-up alot performance wise, especially RAM. Check it for yourself. Turn all effects off and run Benchmarking Software, turn them on and run again. Compare the results and minus the ladder from the first. Just the digital process of creating sound with no extra software takes up alot of resources, especially RAM. To give you an example of how much resources Sound Programs use up my Andriod Phone has a separate chipset to digitally process the Dolby effects on sound. That would be considered a "True Sound Card" because it actually relieves my phones cpu of a complicated task, not just convert to analog. The task of soley digitally manipulating sound uses so much resources it still gets its one chipset in some devices. --------Exceptions--------- I have found one device that could loosely count as a "True Sound Card". As it does add performance to your computer. This is because it processes Bass Boost and Spatial Sound analogue not digitally. Thus removing the need to for your CPU to digitally manipulate the sound. If you dont use Bass Boost or Spatial Sound it wont improve performance because those are the only process it will take it on. So even though the device does not have a designated chipset its still able to do a digital process via analogue saving resources. Even tho, the performance gains are minor at best. Im not going to link to it or mention it by name. I dont want to give the appearance this thread is for product placement. I hate advertising like that. "10 Myths about Audio" is actually a 30 minute paid-infomercial on why you need a certain product.