Top 10 Best Sound Cards 2018

Buying Guide

Alternatively referred to as an audio output device, sound board, or audio card. A sound card is an expansion card or IC for producing sound on a computer that can be heard through speakers or headphones. Although the computer does not need a sound device to function, they are included on every machine in one form or another, either in an expansion slot (sound card) or on the motherboard (onboard).

Sound card connections


The picture is an example of a sound card audio ports or audio jacks on the back of your computer, associated colors, and the connector symbols.

  • Digital Out (White or Yellow; words: “Digital” or “Digital Out”) – Used with surround sound or loudspeakers.
  • Sound in or line in (Blue; Arrow pointing into waves) – Connection for external audio sources, e.g. tape recorder, record player, or CD player.
  • Microphone or Mic (Pink; Microphone) – The connection for a microphone or headphones.
  • Sound out or line out (Green; Arrow pointing out of waves) – The primary sound connection for your speakers or headphones. This sound card also has a second (black) and third (orange) sound out connector.
  • Firewire (Not pictured) – Used with some high-quality sound cards for digital video cameras and other devices.
  • MIDI or joystick (15 pin yellow connector) – Used with earlier sound cards to connect MIDI keyboard or joystick.

Tip: Usually the cables connecting to the devices are also color-coded and will match or be close to the colors the cables connect into. For example, the end of the speakers cable may have a green line or be completely green.

Uses of a computer sound card

  • Games
  • Audio CDs and listening to music
  • Watch movies
  • Audio conferencing
  • Creating and playing Midi
  • Educational software
  • Business presentations
  • Record dictations
  • Voice recognition

Check out the 10 Best Sound Cards on the market right now:

1. Creative Sound Blaster Recon3D THX PCIE Fatal1ty Champion Sound Card SB1354

Creative SB1354


  •  Sound Blaster and Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel have once again teamed up to create the ultimate PC gaming audio card
  • Whether you game on a headset or through desktop speakers you’ll have a distinct tactical advantage over the competition
  • Massively powerful THX TruStudio Pro audio technologies are powered by the revolutionary SoundCore3D quad-core audio and voice processor delivering incredibly immersive surround sound with pin-point accurate audio placement
  • The included Sound Blaster advanced beam forming microphone and exclusive hardware accelerated CrystalVoice Voice Clarity technology offers a powerful new way to communicate allowing for “headset-free” communications without background noise even while using desktop speakers
  • Get the PC audio choice of Champions – Get Sound Blaster

>> Creative-Sound-Blaster-Recon3D-THX-PCIE-Fatal1ty-Champion-Sound-Card-SB1354




2. Essence STX II 7.1

Essence STX II 7.1


  • Industry-leading 124dB SNR (signal-to-noise ratio) audio quality inherited from the revolutionary and widely-acclaimed Xonar Essence ST/STX
  • Ultra-low jitter with premium TCXO clock source
  • Clean and consistent power supply thanks to high-fidelity low-dropout (LDO) regulators and WIMA® capacitors for uncompromising sound
  • Top-notch headphone amplifier supports up to 600ohm-headphone impedance with additional gain for in-ear monitors (IEMs)
  • Exclusive op-amp swap kit includes three op-amps and tool for easy tone tuning
  • Celebrated MUSES op-amps deliver true-to-life musicality
  • Ultra-fidelity (120dB SNR) 7.1-channel output via the exclusive daughterboard

>> Essence-STX-II-7.1




3. ASUS PCI-Express x1 Sound Card XONAR ESSENCE STX/90-YAA0C0-0UAN00Z



  • Industry-leading 124dB SNR
  • Built-in headphone amp drives every available headphone with <0.001% distortion
  • Nichicon “Fine Gold” capacitors offer great dynamic performance
  • Perfectly shielded EMI-free analog output path
  • Customize your sound color effortlessly via swappable OPAmp socket

>> ASUS-PCI-Express-x1-Sound-Card-XONAR-ESSENCE-STX/90-YAA0C0-0UAN00Z




4. Creative Sound Blaster ZxR PCIe Audiophile Grade Gaming Sound Card

Creative Sound Blaster ZxR PCIe Audiophile Grade Gaming


  • A signal to noise ratio or SNR of 124dB means your audio will be more than 99.99% pristine, which is over 89.1 times better than motherboard audio
  • Enjoy reduced latency with Audio Stream Input/Output (ASIO) support with the Sound Blaster ZxR. Hear your audio recordings come to life!
  • Stereo Direct lets you listen to your music pure and unprocessed at the amazing bit rate of 24-bit 192 kHz.
  • SBX Pro Studio™ sound technologies create unprecedented levels of audio realism, including stunning 3D surround effects for your speakers and headsets
  • Add studio quality audio sound tracks or voice tracks to your video clips or home videos created with hardware that uses only audiophile-grade components such as 123dB analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) with RCA Aux-in and optical inputs for outstanding recording quality. With the 600 ohm headphone amplifier, you can do studio-grade monitoring as well
  • The DBpro is another reason why Sound Blaster ZxR delivers only the best audio playback and creation. It offers optical output for outstanding audio playback, plus professional-grade ADCs with RCA Aux-in and optical inputs for studio-grade recording quality
  • Take control in style and ease with the ACM that incorporates a built-in microphone array and mic/headphone I/O connections. The knob on the ACM lets you conveniently adjust the headphone levels

>> Creative-Sound-Blaster-ZxR-PCIe-Audiophile-Grade-Gaming-Sound-Card




5. HT OMEGA Claro Halo PCI Sound Card

HT OMEGA Claro Halo


  • CMI8788/PCI Oxygen HD Audio Processor
  • Built in 120db TI headphone amp supports up to 600ohm with selectable impedance levels
  • 24-bit/192kHz AK4396VF DAC; 24-bit/192kHz AK5385BVF ADC line in
  • S/PDIF optical 5.1ch input/output; onboard CD digital in, coaxial in/out requires 2pin (CA1) cable
  • Front panel audio support with auto mute feature: 10 pin (AC97 compatible)

>> HT-OMEGA-Claro-Halo-PCI-Sound-Card




6. Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD Internal Sound Card with THX SB1270

Creative SB1270


  • Engineered for high-end sound performance, the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD internal sound card offers an exceptional signal-to-noise ratio for high-quality playback of music, games, and movies
  • This sound card has been constructed using high-grade components, which help minimize distortion and augment audio playback
  • The card also features customizable op-amps, so you can tailor sound to fit your preferences
  • And thanks to EAX 5.0 technology, your games will sound more realistic
  • Optimized for use with Microsoft Windows 7 and Windows Vista systems, the X-Fi Titanium will satisfy demanding audiophiles
  • NOTE: this sound card is not compatible with Mac systems
  • High-fidelity, distortion-free playback with signal-to-noise ratio of 122 dB
  • THX TruStudio and Dolby Digital and DTS audio technologies for pristine, surround sound playback
  • Customizable op-amps allow users to tweak sound coloration

>> Creative-Sound-Blaster-X-Fi-Titanium-HD-Internal-Sound-Card-with-THX-SB1270




7. Sound Blaster Z PCIe Gaming Sound Card

Sound Blaster Z PCIe Gaming


  • This Sound Blaster Z is an ideal all-round solution for your PC gaming and entertainment needs
  • It comes complete with the Sound Blaster beamforming microphone for crystal clear voice communication
  • Sound Blaster product philosophy comes from a total system approach
  • They’ve designed the Z series cards to give the best experience for not only those wishing to experience content, but those wanting to create it as well
  • This includes optimizations for voice chat and recording in addition to all of the amazing SBX Studio Pro audio output enhancements
  • The Z card is equipped with gold plated connection points to ensure the card delivers the best possible audio signal

>> Sound-Blaster-Z-PCIe-Gaming-Sound-Card-with-High-Performance-Headphone-Amp-and-Beam-Forming-Microphone




8. StarTech 7.1 Channel Sound Card, PCI Express PEXSOUND7CH



  • With this 7.1-channel PCIe sound card, you can create a high-quality home theatre sound system
  • It offers SPDIF input and output ports which deliver crystal-clear digital optical audio, for the ultimate listening experience
  • Versatile performance The versatile sound card can be used with a variety of audio devices
  • And with SPDIF digital optical or 3.5mm analog output, you don’t need to worry about the connection types on your devices
  • You can output digital audio to your optical receiver or DAC, or analog audio to your sound system
  • With up to 24-bit and 192KHz playback and recording, this 7.1 surround sound adapter card delivers high-definition audio for superb sound quality
  • Simple installation Unlike typical sound cards, this card is designed to fit in low-profile computers, making it ideal for home theatre personal computers (HTPC)
  • It spans the multiple ports across a main card plus an innovative separate header bracket
  • The card is configured with standard profile brackets and includes low-profile (half-height) brackets
  • The 7.1 channel surround sound card is easy to install
  • It’s perfect for anyone looking for a simple solution to upgrade their listening experience, such as music enthusiasts or mixing professionals
  • Multiple input options For added scalability, you can quickly connect a microphone or other recording devices to your computer through two 3.5mm stereo or SPDIF digital audio input jacks

>> StarTech-7.1-Channel-Sound-Card,PCI-Express-PEXSOUND7CH




9. Rosewill 5.1 Channels PCI Interface Sound Card RC-701

Rosewill RC-701


  • Upgrade to 5.1 audio for a PCI enabled desktop without breaking your bank
  • The Rosewill RC-701 PCI sound card supports earphones, 2/4/6 channel speaker mode and features a built-in 16-bit CODEC
  • Full duplex allows you to play and record at the same time
  • With Microsoft DirectSound and Direct Music support, the Rosewill RC-701 PCI sound card is perfect for music playback and recording as well as gaming on your Windows PC
  • This sound card is also ACPI power management compatible

>> Rosewill-5.1-Channels-PCI-Interface-Sound-Card-RC-701




10. SIIG SoundWave 7.1 PCI Sound Card IC-710012-S2

SIIG SoundWave IC-710012-S2


  • SIIG’s Sound Wave 7.1 PCI allows you to enjoy high-definition 7.1 surround sound from your desktop computer system
  • This brilliant PCI sound card supports 8-channel output (Dolby Digital EX and DTS ES 6.1/7.1CH DVD audio formats) and delivers a 24-bit/96KHz digital output audio quality
  • It features unique karaoke functionalities such as microphone echo, key shifting, and vocal cancellation, and allows user to utilize the power and surround sound of EAX audio technologies to customize internet audio properties
  • The Sound Wave 7.1 PCI also automatically places speakers to preferred positions via its speaker shifter technology without having to move actual speakers
  • The Sound Wave 7.1 PCI sound card supports the latest in 3D audio technologies, including Sensaura EAX, A3D, DirectSound and most industrial standards of PC 3D sound for gaming
  • It conforms to PCI specification, revision 2.2 and PC99 specification
  • It is also FCC Class B (DoC) and CE regulatory approved, and RoHS compliant
  • The Sound Wave 7.1 PCI is fully compatible with a wide variety of Windows operating systems

>> SIIG-SoundWave-7.1-PCI-Sound-Card-IC-710012-S2