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Best Soundcards for Gaming

Expert Reviews & Buying Guide

quadcopter reviewsBest Soundcards for Gaming

Our Recommendations

In a hurry? Here are the best products at a glance.

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How to Pick Your Soundcard

There are lots of different soundcards with even more features so it can feel tricky to pick one. No worries, though, we have got you covered. Here are the key specs to look for when shopping.

Best Soundcards for Gaming Music

Connection: Soundcards go into slots on the motherboard of your computer, but not all slots are compatible. You will need to choose a soundcard that’s compatible with your current motherboard. Make sure to take a quick peek at your motherboard’s manual before you make a purchase.

Best Soundcards for Gaming

Channels: Soundcards support different numbers of audio channels. All winners featured below either have 5.1 channels (five speakers plus bass) or premium 7.1 (seven speakers plus bass). Both work great and which type you choose comes down to your speaker setup and personal preference.

How to Pick Your Soundcard

Signal-To-Noise Ratio (SNR): Sounds complicated but it is actually pretty simple: SNR measures the level of your audio to the level of unwanted background noise that any speaker makes. SNR is the measurement of the strength of the sound you want compared to that of the unwanted static. It’s measured in decibels (dB), and higher is better.

Best Soundcards for Gaming

Digital Connector (SPDIF): The digital connector is the rectangular looking plug on the back of some soundcards. It’s used for some devices in home theaters and other digital high-fidelity systems. Most people will never use this, but others require it, so we wanted to make sure to point out which soundcards feature it.

Best Soundcards for Gaming Music

Front Panel Header Support: The front panel header is the part of your computer you can see from the outside (you guessed it, at the front). If your soundcard has Front Panel Header Support, you will be able to connect it directly with the buttons and lights you see externally on your computer, giving your convenient control.

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Size: The size of your soundcard only becomes important if you have a small motherboard or case. Rest assured, almost any modern soundcard will fit in most computer setups. However, if space is an issue then double check if the soundcard will fit. The size of the card has no connection with audio quality.

Top 10 Products

Ok, now we are ready to get into the good stuff! This list of the top sound cards for gaming and music is the result of lots of and research. We thought of it all: Games, music, movies, podcasts, and more! If you’re short on time, take a look at the Top Pick and Budget Pick. We hope they’re music to your ears!


Top Pick
The ASUS STRIX RAID PRO is hands-down one of the best soundcards ever made. It is a beast of a card, offering all cutting-edge features you can currently buy. 7.1 channels, an awesome 116 dB signal to noise ratio, and lots of connections make this our top choice. It was designed not only to provide crisp, impeccable sound but also to make it easier to toggle between in-game audio and voice chat coming from other players or teammates. Included with the card, you get a great, dial-operated remote control that you can use to adjust the volume and to focus on different tracks. Any gamer knows that their ears are just as important as their eyes for immersion and winning, and this soundcard offers an advantage that will increase your gaming pleasure and performance. It is our top pick!
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Creative Sound Blaster Audigy

Budget Pick
If you are looking for an excellent 7.1 channel soundcard but want to save money, we have got you covered! The new model of Creative Labs’ famous Sound Blaster Audigy does it all. If you have never gamed or listened to music in 7.1 channel surround sound, then you need to pause right now and get a Creative Sound Blaster Audigy soundcard. It is a whole new level of audio quality that will make your ears super happy. There’s nothing quite like rushing through a battlefield or a getting lost in your music with immersive sound like this. Are you a music person? The Creative Sound Blaster has you covered with excellent SNR and its Stereo Direct feature, which lets you listen to your music in a pure and unaltered state, and at an exceptional bit rate. Best of all, you can experience all that at a very low price. This is a great sound card that offers great value, making it our budget recommendation.
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Sound Blaster Z

The Sound Blaster Z does not just have an awesome name, it also seeks to be the best gaming sound card out there, and with features like 3D surround effects and an incredible beamforming microphone (included with purchase), they might be worthy of that title. The SNR is an impressive 116 dB, meaning your sound will be crystal clear, and gold plated jacks ensure the highest quality connections. The Sound Blaster Z also performs incredibly well with sound input. Its Crystal Voice technology cancels echo and background noise, making communication with your squad all the easier.
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This soundcard is consistently praised for its price and performance. The ASUS Xonar DGX is a smart and small card that slides into any motherboard with ease. It provides maximum convenience with a well-designed front panel, which includes the additional benefit of detecting headphones automatically and switching audio once they’re plugged in or out. Features aside, the real benefit of this card is the rich, nuanced sound it produces. The ASUS DGX is a top music and gaming sound card, and it really succeeds in immersing you fully. By the way, it differs from the ASUS Xonar DG by having a PCI-E port.
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The ASUS Xonar DG is similar to the ASUS Xonar DGX we reviewed, but with some different connections, so if you liked what you read before, but didn’t have the right port on your motherboard, this might be a good choice for you. In short, the cards are similar, with this one having a PCI port. The DG’s 5.1 channels provide for stunning cinematic sound when connected to a home theater system, and the high-definition sound processor is really noticeable when jamming to some tunes. The ASUS DG is shockingly affordable and easy to use, so there’s no reason not to pick one up.
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Ok, it is time to get serious. The ASUS Essence STX II is a force to be reckoned with and is considered by many to be one of the best soundcards for music and games. Some of its specs, like the outrageous 124 dB SNR, are completely unparalleled, and for that reason, this card is revered by audiophiles around the globe. This soundcard is also primed for high-end gaming with mind-blowing 7.1 surround sound. When you combine that with its superior stabilizing components, a truly superb audio experience is the result.
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Creative Sound Blaster Zx

The Creative Sound Blaster Zx is a gaming sound card that takes audio to another level. If the top-notch SNR and immersive 5.1 channel surround sound are not enough features for you, you can also adjust the sound remotely with a special audio control module included with this card. The module comes complete with headphone jacks, and it is even got its own internal microphone so you will be able to adjust audio levels with ease and never take your eyes off the undead hordes fighting their way through your screen.
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Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi

If you are looking for the best soundcard for music, we’d seriously recommend giving the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi a try. This powerful yet affordable soundcard is popular for listening and music production because it puts out razor-sharp sound appreciated by listeners and creators alike. It also features 7.1 audio channels so you can enjoy professional level playback. No matter if you are listening to your music or other people’s work, the X-Fi is great for all music lovers who appreciate crystal clear sound.
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The ASUS Xonar DSX is an all around great choice for a new soundcard, as it includes some excellent features for music and gaming alike. For you gamers out there, Xonar’s new GX2.5 audio engine has you covered even if your teammates do not. You will be able to hear every footstep coming up behind you in striking clarity, and every shell hit the floor as you exact your revenge. Music buffs will not be disappointed either. ASUS’s amazing 24bit playback support loses nothing in file conversion so you will hear your music as it was intended.
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Diamond XS51 XtremeSound

The Diamond XS51 XtremeSound might not be the most powerful card around, but it is still on the list of the best soundcards for gaming because it delivers what most of us are really looking for: great sound at a great price. Installation is effortless, and you will soon be on your way to 5.1 surround sound amplified by signature special effects, like the crisp Concert Hall mode, or singing along using the fun karaoke function. The special game port caters to all the joystick jockeys and the Diamond XS51’s easy connectivity to home audio equipment means you will be able to plug in anything you like.
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