Help with new sound card for Dell XPS 410

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Help with new sound card for Dell XPS 410

Postposted on Wed Sep 03, 2014 4:14 pm

I have a Dell XPS 410 that has had numerous upgrades to include a new SSD, a Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 Ti, and a 600W PSU (also been running Win 7 for years on this PC). I am thinking about one final upgrade to this rig. I currently have the original Creative SB-X-Fi sound card (uses a PCI slot). I'd like to check out something new, perhaps an Asus sound card. Can anyone help?

For example, the current sound card uses a PCI slot (which I understand is less common now days on new PCs versus PCI Express). Do the types of cards that use PCI differ from PCI Express in terms of their efficiency or enhancements? And if I go with a sound card that uses PCI, is the following a good choice:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... -_-Product

This was a high end computer back in it's day. But it looks like the slots on the mobo are limited so I must work with what I've got to ensure compatibility for another sound card. I appreciate any replies concerning the best sound card for this rig. And if the above card is recommend, is there a better price? This ASUS Xonar D1 7.1 Channels 24-bit 192KHz PCI Interface Sound Card retails for $74.99 at newegg; which is a bit more than I wanted to spend.
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Re: Help with new sound card for Dell XPS 410

Postposted on Wed Sep 03, 2014 5:10 pm

Unless you are actually having an audible output quality issue, you're probably not going to see any changes by upgrading soundcards.

Check Asus' lineup specs, IIRC some of their cards literally are just PCI or PCI-e difference as the only change, but others (in the same lineup) are definitely going to be different.

IIRC I would probably go with a Xonar DSX, given the choice, if you have a PCI-e x1 slot...
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Re: Help with new sound card for Dell XPS 410

Postposted on Wed Sep 03, 2014 7:18 pm

Unless you have high-end speakers/headphones, or are experiencing audible issues (skipping, noise, distortion) with the current soundcard, upgrading the soundcard from what you already have is pointless, IMO. You're already got a reasonably good soundcard (so upgrading from the integrated audio isn't an incentive), and a soundcard does not even come close to taxing the bandwidth of a PCI slot (so upgrading to a PCIe card doesn't really gain you anything).

Instead of dropping $75 on a replacement soundcard, why not add something that will measurably improve performance/usability? Like say a USB 3.0 card to take advantage of the higher speeds offered by the latest external storage devices? Or hang on to the $75 and start saving for an upgraded monitor?
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Re: Help with new sound card for Dell XPS 410

Postposted on Wed Sep 03, 2014 8:20 pm

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.
Last edited by scott784 on Wed Sep 03, 2014 11:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Help with new sound card for Dell XPS 410

Postposted on Wed Sep 03, 2014 8:33 pm

PCIe x1 card should work in a PCIe x4 slot.

The issue is, unless the existing soundcard has gone bad, you could be looking at a software problem (not hardware), in which case a new soundcard won't fix it (unless it is a problem with the existing card's drivers).

Does the issue seem to happen with all audio sources, or just certain ones?

Have you tried dropping back to the onboard sound to see if the thumping/popping goes away? Even if the onboard's fidelity is dodgy, if the issues are *different* from the ones you're having with the Creative card that would help narrow things down.
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Re: Help with new sound card for Dell XPS 410

Postposted on Wed Sep 03, 2014 9:15 pm

I went into Device Manager and uninstalled the Creative sound card driver. I then restarted the PC in the BIOS and turned on the onboard audio. However, when I restart the PC, it instantly sees my Creative card and proceeds to install the latest driver. When I cut on the onboard audio, would that have overrode the Creative sound card?? I did not know if it did or not. But I can tell you that the interspersing thumping/popping noise is still there.

It is not a terrible sound, but it should not be happening, especially with my Bose Companion speakers. And I know it's not the speakers, because I tried out my old ones, and it's the same issue. thumping/popping noise that gets interspersed within the sound. The only thing I haven't tried is headphones b/c I have to replace the broken ones I've got.

As for software issues in general, I cannot imagine how that would be a factor since I did a clean install of Win 7 when I got the new SSD over a month ago. I was 'very' methodical about putting everything on the storage drive and did not allow any outdated junk. I really don't know what else to do to diagnose the problem (besides trying headphones). If I do try out a new sound card, is the one listed above for 54 bucks a good choice? Or should I look for something else that will fit exactly into my PCI connector or something made specifically for a PCI Express X4 connector? Again, these are the only two available slots that I've got left. Thanks.
Last edited by scott784 on Wed Sep 03, 2014 9:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Help with new sound card for Dell XPS 410

Postposted on Wed Sep 03, 2014 9:22 pm

If the speakers are still plugged into the Creative card, then you are still using the Creative card, not the onboard. There should be a way (via your audio control panel) to select the onboard as the default output, but if you are having trouble doing that just physically yank the Creative card temporarily.

Edit: Bottom line -- figure out whether the card is the problem before blowing cash on a new one!
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Re: Help with new sound card for Dell XPS 410

Postposted on Wed Sep 03, 2014 10:32 pm

just brew it! wrote:If the speakers are still plugged into the Creative card, then you are still using the Creative card, not the onboard. There should be a way (via your audio control panel) to select the onboard as the default output, but if you are having trouble doing that just physically yank the Creative card temporarily.

Edit: Bottom line -- figure out whether the card is the problem before blowing cash on a new one!


My fault for leaving the Bose speakers plugged into the Creative card! Yes, I have changed that. And I also went into Control panel under sounds and made the onboard sound the default sound (to test this issue). Obviously, the onboard audio is turned on as well in the BIOS. And for extra measure, I just disabled the Creative sound card driver in Device Manager.

I've haven't had time (yet) to do anything intensive. But so far (playing ITunes), there are no hickups (meaning no intermittent thumping in the background)! So this is leading me to believe that it is indeed a problem with the Creative SoundBlaster Live Audio card. If this proves to be the case (with me doing further listening), what sound card would you recommend as a replacement....given my limitations on PCI slots? Many thanks for your help!

PS I realize I could just go with the onboard sound. However, given this particular computer, I don't know how that may compare with a dedicated sound card (that was always intended for it).
Last edited by scott784 on Wed Sep 03, 2014 10:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Help with new sound card for Dell XPS 410

Postposted on Wed Sep 03, 2014 10:38 pm

Have you tried (re)installing the latest drivers for your existing card?
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Re: Help with new sound card for Dell XPS 410

Postposted on Wed Sep 03, 2014 10:50 pm

just brew it! wrote:Have you tried (re)installing the latest drivers for your existing card?


Oh yes. More than once! It has made no difference. But so far (in this short time), I've had no problems with the onboard audio acting up. Please let me know your thoughts about my previous post about a possible card replacement.

It could be just my imagination (since I haven't been listening for that long), but the 'sound stage' seems smaller listening to the Bose speakers through the onboard audio. However, again, not one single hiccup with any thumping noise in the background with the onboard audio so I feel a sense of relief about that.

I will check back on this thread tomorrow evening after work. Thanks.
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