I don't think you understand how onboard audio works. In simplest terms, all the audio processing is handled by the cpu, but the chipset provides a serial interface to the codec, which as it's name suggests, encodes or decodes the analog or digital signal as required. The codec chip generally also provides a direct s/pdif interface for direct digital input/output. The codec chip on it's own wouldn't do a whole lot of good. That's why Intel has their HD Audio spec. You are right in surmising that the choice of codec and its implementation plays the biggest role in the quality of the analog output.ChronoReverse wrote:The P35 doesn't have built-in sound. The sound chipset is entirely dependent on the motherboard manufacturer.
For instance, my Gigabyte P35-DS3P Rev. 1.0 has the Realtek ALC 889A chipset which is fairly decent as far as onboard goes (claims 106dB SNR, haha). The Asus P5K-E comes with the ADI AD1988B chipset instead.
For my setup, I don't seem to get clicks and pops (thankfully) but if I turn the volume way up, I can hear a slight buzz that's not present with my old SB Live. Overall, I like it better than my old SB Live since I don't actually keep my volume maxed out
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