Some might find it hard to believe, but companies are still manufacturing and selling sound cards. In this day and age when computer motherboards have perfectly capable integrated audio options that more-or-less render sound cards obsolete, there still seems to be a need for the old stand-alone card. ASUS’ Xonar DGX is one such sound card.
With a MSRP of less than $50US, the Xonar DGX is certainly affordable, but it do a good enough job that it out-classes on-board audio to justify the price? That depends on your use.
Using traditional computer speakers, the card doesn’t seem to perform any better than the on-board audio on my Gigabyte motherboard. Music sounds the same either way, as does computer game audio. Once you put on a pair of good-quality headphones, however, is where a discerning ear can pick up a slight quality difference.
The card comes equipped to offer 5.1 surround sound. While that won’t mean much to those using basic stereo headphones, computer users using a 5.1 (or higher) compatible headset such as the Astro A30 should notice a difference – especially when gaming. The Xonar DGX provides surround-sound headsets with a very immersive audio experience that most on-board integrated audio setups just can’t offer.
As far as setup goes, the ASUS Xonar DGX is quite easy to install. Fitting into a PCI-E slot, Windows 7 goes right to work ensuring the drivers are installed and updated. It should be noted, however, that the card didn’t work right away – a manual reboot of the PC was required. Whether this is by design or just a quirk of my own computer is unknown.
It should also be noted that there is a quality difference between the audio coming out of the sound card and the computer case’s the front audio jack. The better audio comes directly out of the card itself as the sound coming out of the front headset jack is much lower in both volume and overall quality. Unless the rear of your computer is inaccessible, this isn’t really a big deal.
So for roughly $40 (depending on the retailer), the ASUS Xonar DGX is a pretty good audio upgrade compared to on-board audio that gamers should appreciate quite well.
This sound card was generously provided by ASUS.