I appreciate the responses. You both make some good points. Actually, I really didn't want to upgrade the sound card at all. However, I've had some some intermittent sound issues (occasional thumping/popping sound) interspersed in the sound. I switched out the speakers and it doesn't make any difference. And when you have a nice pair of Bose Companion 20 speakers, this nuisance is not very appealing. So this is what has led me into wanting to try a new sound card.
Here's some considerations. If I understand things correctly, the PC business is getting away from the PCI card connectors and going with PCI Express. I've looked inside my Dell; and I've got limited options with the slots. If I replace the sound card and put a new one in the exact same slot, it would use a PCI card connector (just like the 7 year old Creative card). The only other option that I have (to install a new sound card) would be to use a vacant PCI Express X4 card connector on my mobo (directly under the Nvidia card). All of the other slots on the mobo are taken; and there are no other available slots to swap out.
If I use the PCI slot, what would be my best option for a sound card? And if I try to use the available PCI Express x4 card connector slot, what could I put in there? I didn't notice any sound cards online requiring a PCI Express X4 connector. But here is an example of an Asus Xonar card that goes into a PCI Express x1 connector slot. This may sound like a stupid question, but could this sound card be used in my available PCI Express x4 card connector slot?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 7AodnBAA5Q
If not, I guess I am back to the PCI card connectors only. And under that scenario, what is my best option? I am not interested in spending a fortune on this. But I would like the thumping/popping noise from the speakers resolved; and wanting to sort out my options. Thanks again for any additional feedback.