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Crosshair V Formula-Z on-board audio vs sound card

FenrusRaider
Level 7
Hey guys,
I'm posting this here as this is more of a performance question than sound "quality" question.

I have the rig below (in signature), and I am debating getting a separate sound card vs using the on-board supremeFX III. Also, all drivers are the most current.

The problem I'm trying to eliminate has to do with micro-stutter/lag in certain games like BF4. I tend to run at max settings on both graphics and audio. I've been running the BF4 diagnostics and I consistently notice a CPU spike and an approximate 0.5-1.0 second stutter whenever I get shot, which as you can imagine is fatal in FPS games.

After a lot of searching and playing around, I've isolated it down to more of an audio related issue than anything. The lower I set the audio quality, the less notable the lag stutter is... which is fine for diagnostics, but I have no intention of leaving sound quality lower... I really want it back at maximum sound quality. (just personal preference)

So the question really comes down to:
1. how much difference from a CPU utilization stand-point would it make to offload the audio to a standalone card vs using the onboard audio?
2. If there is "enough" difference, any feedback on preference of cards? At a minimum, I need 5.1 surround with a preference towards 7.1. (seems all the reviews are highly subjective between gamers vs "true" audiophiles).

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!!
Thanks in advance!
ASUS Crosshair V Formula-Z, AMD FX-9370 4.4GHz, 2x8Gb Corsair Vengence DDR3, 2x XFX HD7970 (Crossfire), 500Gb Crucial SSD, 2TB WD HDD, LG BluRay/DVDRW/CDRW, CoolerMaster silent 80 gold 1000w PSU, CoolerMaster Siedon 240M Liquid CPU Cooler, HAF-X 942 blue, Win 8.1 Pro.
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5 REPLIES 5

dertester
Level 7
What sound settings do you change?
Disable the Audio completely and try if its gone.

I doubt that another soundcard will change this. The "load" is more or less the same. The driver COULD be an issue but that will be pure luck for that one game.

I would only buy a soundcard for advanced features like integrated amps etc..

5.1 vs 7.1.. not sure. Imo most games dont make a really good use of it.
Audio is 95% of the times stereo, so no need for 5/7.1 at all.

In first person shooters its nice sometimes....
..BUT...
i personally tend to a good headphone!
Depending on your room and mony you spend on 7.1 (yes the good stuff with room adjustment, not the cheapo logitech ones)
its easier to get a better left/right feeling from the headphones than from a 7.1system.

For Movies 5.1 is most likely enough.

elesde
Level 10
My thoughts exactly... do not think that a sound card will eliminate those lags. Hardware accelerated sound is pretty much gone since Win7 and with all those spare CPU cores today it should not have any effect on FPS. As already said it could be related to drivers but then again I would not put it past EA to mess up the sound code of their game either 😄
Have you got the same problems in any other game?

As for sound quality you most likely have to invest >100$ on a card to get more out of it than good onboard sound.
Maybe you know someone with a discrete card that you can borrow for a couple of hours just to make sure it is not a driver issue.

Thanks for the feedback. I'll try some extra testing and either disable sound completely or turn it down to absolute minimal.
Personally I really don't want to buy additional hardware if I don't have to.

The sound settings that I changed, were the sound quality settings in the game itself

To the question, does it occur on other games. Not that I know of.. if it does happen, it is not noticeable.

Also, to clarify, when this does occur in BF4, what is seen isn't really a drop on FPS, but a very momentary freeze of the game.. again only for a fraction of a second, during which, the CPU utilization spikes but GPU utilization remains pretty flat.

I'll play with it some more, but based on your collective feedbacks, I'm thinking this may be more of a software/driver thing than hardware.

Thanks for the input!
ASUS Crosshair V Formula-Z, AMD FX-9370 4.4GHz, 2x8Gb Corsair Vengence DDR3, 2x XFX HD7970 (Crossfire), 500Gb Crucial SSD, 2TB WD HDD, LG BluRay/DVDRW/CDRW, CoolerMaster silent 80 gold 1000w PSU, CoolerMaster Siedon 240M Liquid CPU Cooler, HAF-X 942 blue, Win 8.1 Pro.

blppt
Level 7
"So the question really comes down to:
1. how much difference from a CPU utilization stand-point would it make to offload the audio to a standalone card vs using the onboard audio?
2. If there is "enough" difference, any feedback on preference of cards? At a minimum, I need 5.1 surround with a preference towards 7.1. (seems all the reviews are highly subjective between gamers vs "true" audiophiles)."

I highly doubt your issue would be solved with another soundcard...as people above have stated, unless you are running OpenAL accelerated audio games (i dont know if the SupremeFX even supports HW OpenAL), all the audio processing is done by the windows software stack anymore---HW acceleration went the way of the Dodo with Windows Vista. As for sound quality, I think you will be very hard pressed to notice the difference between the SupremeFX DACs versus any consumer-level soundcard, as long as you are using digital-out. Analog-out quality varies widely, though its obvious ASUS put some effort into shielding the analog outputs as much as was economically feasible for the CHF mobo.

I'm all digital---I use the HDMI audio (pretty sure all of them are Realtek) on my videocards, so I couldnt attest to the quality of the analog-out of the SupremeFX.

ross_a_mcivor
Level 7
Try disabling any features like eq and bass boost in the playback devices properties, most cpu processing will happen when it processes any effect on the waveform like eq, it was like 10-20% cpu on my old athlon xp using onboard ac97. I do have an supremefx on my new board quality is great, I cant see any cpu processing, my 9590 deals with it so fast its hard to tell if the cpu does anything too it