Is a DAC any good for gaming?
Dec 17, 2007 at 10:26 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 22

johnanderson

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I'm thinking about getting an Alien DAC to use since most of my music listening comes from sitting in front of my computer. I just wanted to know if a DAC is good enough for gaming or if I should just get a better sound card. Right now I'm using a crappy sound blaster live that I got for $10. My options right now are:

1. Alien DAC $40
2. Chaintech AV-710 $40
3. Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic $66

I'm not really familiar with the drivers for DAC's but I have heard recently that creative stopped creating drivers b/c their sound cards weren't compatible with vista or something (someone correct me if I'm wrong here). As per my budget, I'm trying to stay below the $100 mark. I was also thinking about just getting a DAC and switching between that and my crappy sound card for music and gaming. If anyone has any other opinions please let me know.
 
Dec 18, 2007 at 3:24 PM Post #4 of 22

Capunk

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My iBasso D1 DAC reveal many aspects within gaming sound, better Bass control than my Audigy 2 ZS - Explosions inside game now sound much-much better, I might lost all EAX functions but the soundstage that produced by the DAC is much better than 'Virtual surround' stuff.

Yet, you will hear better music soundtrack within game :p
 
Dec 18, 2007 at 10:12 PM Post #6 of 22

krmathis

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I don't see why it should not be good for gaming.
A nice external DAC should improve any sound coming from the computer. Regardless if its music or game sound...
 
Dec 18, 2007 at 11:52 PM Post #7 of 22

cerbie

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Quote:

Originally Posted by krmathis /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I don't see why it should not be good for gaming.
A nice external DAC should improve any sound coming from the computer. Regardless if its music or game sound...



It's called EAX. At this point, MS and everybody else are doing all they can to avoid it. Id really turned the tide making Doom 3 w/o it (I think they had to add it later by contract--oops).

Creative made this stuff, and licensed out older versions, keeping newer and better for themselves, and then bought their competition.

As a result, you basically need a Creative card to get sound to be right if the game was designed with their stuff in mind (and remember, they like to use contracts with management, not ask developers what's best). It's gradually becoming less of an issue, but it still exists.

My vote goes to the Alien--but I'm baised against Creative, and towards DIY. I haven't heard one yet.
 
Dec 19, 2007 at 8:07 AM Post #10 of 22

Redo

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With a DAC, you get no hardware acceleration effects whatsoever. Even the most basic of 2-channel game sound processing is 100% on your CPU. In nearly all games, this means they won't allow you to use EAX, OpenAL, or any of the neat surroundsound processing effects.

With something like the X-Fi, you'll get 100% hardware support for nearly every game created in the past 12 years. This includes all sorts of processing and virtual surround, plus a performance boost in your games from taking the load off the CPU.


It's fairly easy to hook up a DAC to the X-Fi and use it as a bit-perfect transport. Go for the X-Fi, and pickup any DAC you desire in the future. You won't be limited by USB support and you'll have all the gaming power that a gaming sound card offers.
 
Dec 20, 2007 at 11:46 PM Post #11 of 22

Scrith

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I use my Benchmark DAC1 USB for gaming sometimes, and I noticed that it enables me to score more points than I used to with my old Creative soundcard. And upgrading the interconnect between my DAC and amp helped my scores even more.
 
Dec 21, 2007 at 7:27 AM Post #12 of 22

OverlordXenu

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Redo /img/forum/go_quote.gif
With a DAC, you get no hardware acceleration effects whatsoever. Even the most basic of 2-channel game sound processing is 100% on your CPU. In nearly all games, this means they won't allow you to use EAX, OpenAL, or any of the neat surroundsound processing effects.

With something like the X-Fi, you'll get 100% hardware support for nearly every game created in the past 12 years. This includes all sorts of processing and virtual surround, plus a performance boost in your games from taking the load off the CPU.


It's fairly easy to hook up a DAC to the X-Fi and use it as a bit-perfect transport. Go for the X-Fi, and pickup any DAC you desire in the future. You won't be limited by USB support and you'll have all the gaming power that a gaming sound card offers.



You took the words right out of my mouth.
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Dec 21, 2007 at 7:23 PM Post #13 of 22

LeonvB

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Quote:

This includes all sorts of processing and virtual surround, plus a performance boost in your games from taking the load off the CPU.


I have yet to find a game where the X-fi gives me any performance boost at all. Most of the time, my DAC shows a similar CPU load, but improved positioning and certainly better sound.
An upgrade might be a good idea if you feel otherwise.
wink.gif
 
Dec 21, 2007 at 8:18 PM Post #14 of 22

Redo

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Quote:

Originally Posted by LeonvB /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I have yet to find a game where the X-fi gives me any performance boost at all. Most of the time, my DAC shows a similar CPU load, but improved positioning and certainly better sound.
An upgrade might be a good idea if you feel otherwise.
wink.gif




I guess on a modern CPU it doesn't make a huge difference. However, you also don't get EAX effects or directional sound *which would be what causes the biggest performance difference*. One of the biggest differences immediately noticeable on a game like CS:S from a good sound card is how much you can actually hear. With onboard or a DAC, every sound is comparatively distant or non-audible. When first switching to a gaming card, you can hear footsteps, gunfire, and explosions for hundreds of yards.
 
Dec 21, 2007 at 8:20 PM Post #15 of 22

maarek99

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Quote:

Originally Posted by LeonvB /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I have yet to find a game where the X-fi gives me any performance boost at all.


There are many. All the EAX5 enabled games benefit pretty well from an x-fi. The difference can be 2-7 fps which might be just the thing.

cs:s is not a very good example because it doesn't use any hardware acceleration.
 

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