Do you Need a Sound Card?

A lot of people assume they need a sound card in their PC build, but the reality is a little more complex. What are you using your PC for? Would you be better suited using an external DAC/amp? Search your heart. Let your conscience be your guide. Use the Force. Whatever works.

NCIX forums:
LinusTechTips forums:

Buy Sound Cards:

Buy DACs:

See news sources + discuss on our Forums:

Follow Us!

Episode Credits:
Host: Linus Sebastian
Writer: Riley Murdock
Editor: Kalvin Shum


Brikthor says:

what about latency?

Robert Kite says:

All I care about is being able to talk to my friends whilst playing games, does it matter what I get?

Kian Siong says:

could you use two at the same time ?

Bobbeh Mcstuffinshire says:

Mm, gotta love that Linus spit at 6:38 and 6:32

PowerLeef says:

Hey Linus,
I know this video is like a bajillion years old at this point, but I would like to bring up a caveat about not having a sound card. I want surround sound for my gaming in Windows with digital audio out going to my stereo. However, from what I can tell, if you’re just using the standard Realtek alc- whatever chip from your motherboard it will only output 2.1. There is always a delay in the sound when something happens on your desktop due to a lack of some kind of Dolby signal being constantly output by the drivers to the stereo, causing a delay in the ‘action’. There won’t be any kind of delay when watching a movie, because the content on the movie is dictating to the codec in windows what to do with the sound.

Sound cards that support optical audio out especially for gaming tend to support something along the lines of Dolby Digital live where the Direct Sound drivers that windows uses are pipped through the card’s drivers and translated into a Dolby signal that your Stereo can make sense of and keeps the loop going at all times. I’ve heard of some on board chips that in the past supported something like Dolby live (ASRock) to get this same effect but from what little I can gather, those motherboards are becoming fewer and farther between these days.
There are ways of hacking and using unsigned drivers to achieve the same kind of Dolby live signal that sound cards can output but I really don’t like the idea of opening up my operating system to using unsigned drivers to ‘unlock’ functionality that is supposedly already there for Realtek ALC family of chips. Is there some other way to achieve all of this?

Bobby Rode says:

well i use 5.1 speakers with no sound card or that stuff and I find no problem

Ahmad Qamar says:

What’s the history of Linus dropping everything ?

Mohamed Osama says:

they’re shit
all if them
still shitty digital signal

MrSuperfabio1 says:

i use a scarlett solo which is an external DAC. Im glad i got away from internal sound cards. I have to use a separate driver and different cables. I use it for music production and its a way better alternative then internal sound cards

TryForcingMe says:

amticilar amplafication or whatever? Woow so many hard words to understand xD

Darker Killer says:

I gonna build a pc whith these components
Ryzen 5 1400
8gb ram
Asus B350
Corsair spec 01
Evga 500b power supply
1tb hard drive

What should i change

Julian West says:

Microphones don’t act as ADC’s. The interface it’s connected to does. For example, I could plug a Shure SM57 Into an ancient Neve console from 1965 via XLR without issue since they’re both analog devices. If I plug it into a mic. pre-amp and a Focusrite Scarlett, the Scarlett will convert the output of the pre-amp to a digital signal through USB.

Neo FromTheMatrix says:

To be precise, microphone ISN’T “analog to digital converter” :D. It just converts air vibrations into electric field, but it’s still analog – no zeroes and ones there (same stands for analog signal from radio antenna). Sound card is the device that converts analog signal into digital which can be stored on hard drive for example.

SuperAppAttack says:

“and you’ll look like a fool” xDDDD

Abdullah Bin Nur says:

Can i add multiple speakers to DAC for better sound quality..i have 2:1 speakers and want to connect two more speakers..i couldn’t figure out how to add those for better sound quality

Ggaming Gavin says:

I love the old linus!

InGenSan says:

My sound card is a nvidia gtx 1060. It plays by hdmi to my onkyo cinema. Why U never mention about graphic card as a sound Output

mkzhero says:

Lately i get the impression that everything is just overpriced shit you don’t need anyway. I mean i always wanted to get a 120, and now 144 hz monitor and a pc that can run everything without dropping below 150fps (so the fps is stable) on decent settings on 1080 and maybe above, yet even 2 titan x’s on sli can’t run most the new ISH stuff without dropping under 150, so even after putting ludicrous amounts of money, you won’t get what you’re after in more than a handful of titles… same with sound cards and all that shenanigans, barely any difference, and the more money you put in, the less gain you get in what you’re looking for… Wonder if we’ll ever get back to the rate of amazing tech breakthroughs like we’ve seen from the start of the computer industry and to 2012~?

Dalle Smalhals says:

Or you could use your 14 year old SB Audigy2 Zs as I’ve done until now..

Thanks Daniel K

MixAndMash says:

2:25 Classic Linus.

Craig Cooper says:

I switched from analog to digital (48KHz, 24bit) and it was like the difference between mono and stereo (spdif optical to Kenwood 5.1 amp to Sony 5.1 speakers).

lux pheter says:

Hi I want to know Does sound card affect USB 7.1 headset ?

Ayush Palse says:

He should do a video with Linus Tech Tips! /s

WizzxWijnen says:

My gaming chair runs x4 SLI sounds card intergrated 7.1 Dolby surround sound


can i record with this?can i use it it to run sound inward?

joe m says:

I didn’t get my answer….

Also, is there such things as midi cards? because I might need some.

Th3GamingUniverse says:

No Linus, you put i down really fast

MitchTheRonin says:


KokaoButter says:

Linus Tech Tips is NCIX Tech Tips?

Tejas Gandhi says:

Would be nice to see something in where Laptop audio has come and stuff like that

SylverRaptor says:

Yes I do. I love my Xonar.

TinyBolts GP says:

rabbit cancer XD

Thomas Johansson says:

If you buy a 300 dollar headset it would make some sense to put at least 50 dollar on a proper DAC or sound card.

I don’t regret my Soundblaster Z one moment. So little money for such an improvement.

Joey Beckstead says:

I’m from 2030, and I have a Titan XPP++ in quad sli.

Kakarot overNineThousand says:

**The Answer is NO,*
*NO is the Answer.**

Graham Banzer says:

last time I used a dedicated sound card was in 1996/1997 with the Sound Blaster16 through the oldschool ISA slot. Today they’re just not needed


linus u cheeky mf u have two yt channels ?

Kouyioue says:

Screw the DAC analogue crap, just use USB audio devices and headsets instead of the 3.5mm. No pop, no static, no hissing, no regular cleaning of nasty optical connections.

BOB JER says:

m-audio is the best cards i ever used. because you can put many in the computer at the same time
and you can have up to 24 inputs on older motherboards you know the very old pci up to 6 pci ports yes not many a round
and still working. just been very lucky the dac units are not very well made i have to many over the years that i binned
it’s best to use very high end cards

SmurfC. Tech, Gaming, and More! says:

I need a sound card because the sound port on my motherboard just broke.

itmoin2012 drive says:

I want FM radio stations. ready to answer me???????

Jonathan Renteria says:

Wait what’s better if you’re trying to play rainbow six siege and you are trying to use surround sound to you advantage??

M F says:

Great advice from a wacky guy, knowledge and humour  🙂

Themast8rs DZN says:

Does that remove My mic noise when charging

 Write a comment


Do you like our videos?
Do you want to see more like that?

Please click below to support us on Facebook!