In the context of a high-end gaming & multimedia PC, I am wondering what advantage there is to a soundcard anymore. The features of the top-end motherboards keep getting better. Is there any proof that an Audigy 2 ZS, compared to the on-board sound of an Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe, still has an advantage? Both have s/pdif optical output. The saying always was that the on-board stuff stole some horsepower from the CPU, but doesn't anything attached to the computer involve the CPU to some degree, even a soundcard? And the premium mobos like this one have additional chips that handle the audio processing don't they, I mean they aren't trying to do it all with software to save a dollar on a $200 mobo are they?
One reason I don't really want to add a soundcard is lack of slots. Even though I don't have any PCI cards, there are some ports which are not included in the backplane of the mobo but instead use card-slot connector pigtails. The serial port (for my spaceball), the firewire port, the game port and additional USB ports all take up a case slot, with this mobo. The graphics card takes up two because of the fan exhaust vent.
I could do away with one thing if there was a definite reason why the Audigy 2 ZS would be better for gaming or listening to mp3s. It's an AMD 3800+ so I doubt if I would notice a small load on the CPU, what do you think?
I asked this of Creative tech, but the guy obviously wasn't a salesman because he said he didn't know of any advantage.... haha, to their product. I don't know enough actual detail of how the hardware works to know what to believe.