HotHardware Holiday Buyer's Guide 2008

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Music to Your Ears

To fully enjoy all that your PC has to offer, you’ll want to hear every detail from those games and movies. Check out these two sound cards that are sure to please your ears. Or, if you feel your money is better spent elsewhere, then look for a motherboard that offers acceptable onboard sound capabilities.

Creative X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Professional - $130

You’ll hear more realistic sound effects and 3D positional audio with this upgrade card. The Creative X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Professional also supports Dolby Digital Live encoding. For games such as Quake 4, Battlefield 2, Prey, and Unreal Tournament 3 that can take advantage of X-RAM, you’ll get an additional performance boost as well. In terms of connectivity, the X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Professional has line in / microphone in (shared 1/8" mini jack), speaker out (4x 1/8" mini jacks), optical out (TOSLINK), optical in (TOSLINK), and Intel HD Audio Compatible Front Panel Header (2x5pin).

ASUS Xonar DX - $76

For a slightly less expensive sound card, let us suggest the ASUS Xonar DX 7.1. This card delivers fine-tuned audio quality and technologies like Dolby Home Theater and DS3D GX for crisp and clear audio and rich sound effects. With a 116dB SNR (Signal-to-Noise Ratio), this card delivers up to 35 times cleaner audio in comparison to many onboard motherboard audio solutions that offer only an 85dB SNR.

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