Abit AN8 SLi nForce4 - do I need soundcard or network card?

I’m looking to put together a system that has an Abit AN8 SLi nForce4 motherboard (Abit AN8 SLi nForce4Audio/GB-LAN/USB/IEEE-1394/PCI-E/SATA3G/DDR/ATX 64 939).

Do I need to buy a network card (i’m guessing no) or a soundcard such as the Creative Audigy 2 ZS? I use 30$ Panasonic headphones (model RP-HT355, I think). I read in Extremetech.com that having a separate soundcard speeds game performance.

The specs say the mobo has:

  1. NVIDIA Gigabit Ethernet with NVIDIA Firewall


  1. ABIT AudioMAX
    High quality 7.1-channel Audio Card
    Optical S/P DIF Input/Output
    Supports auto jack sensing

You don’t need a network card.

Theoretically an audigy would sound better and use fewer CPU cycles. Given that you are only using $30 headphones I’d pass on the seperate soundcard.

Keep the built-in ethernet and audio. The audiomax stuff uses less cpu cycles than an audigy2. It’s the best built-in audio available to the high end.

This is simply not true.

All Abit did was move the codec from the motherboard to the AudioMax card. The codec is the ALC882M, which is a high resolution multichannel hardware codec chip. All the actual audio processing is performed on the host CPU. It doesn’t even have a hardware mixer. As a codec, it’s pretty nifty, although Realtek’s software UI is a little clunky. But it does no processing on its own.

The Audigy 2 at least has a DSP, if somewhat limited by today’s standards, and can offload audio processing from the host. The X-Fi is a beefy DSP, and can substantially offload audio processing from the host.

My recommendation on the network interface is, don’t install Nvidia’s firewall. It’s a bit buggy, with a clunky interface.

So anand’s tests were faulty in some way? Not busting your balls, I don’t own one of these myself.

I can’t speak for Anand’s testing, only my own. We’ve consistently shown that sound cards with hardware DSPs have lower CPU utliization than those with only codec chips.


Have you tested this particular solution? Anand’s tests are pretty clear.